Would switching to nuclear power be the right choice for the UK?
In recent months the UK government announced that it would go ahead and invest heavily in a new wave of nuclear power stations. As part of the coalitions’ UK energy roadmap, the government stated that it had confirmed a list of eight sites around the country which are deemed suitable for the construction of new power plants. The government and UK energy suppliers
.have suggested that the majority of the sites would be operational by 2025
In a statement, RWE the corporate owner of npower, one of the UK’s leading electricty and gas suppliers, said: “As part of these ambitions, a joint venture between RWE and E.ON UK – called Horizon Nuclear Power – has secured land at Wylfa, on Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn, in Gloucestershire, which was sold for nuclear development by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). Our objective through – the joint venture – is to deliver around 6GW of new nuclear build, with the first station coming online at around the end of the next decade.”
The recent events in France and Japan have caused concern over the building of new power plants, but in reality the debate over nuclear power has been waged for many years and the issue is not an easy one to untangle, as there are many ethical and political concerns involved. There are many advantages to using nuclear power, but there are also serious disadvantages to be considered. It is important to know the entire story and gather as much information as possible before making a decision, as it is a very complicated subject.
Here are the major arguments for and against nuclear power:
Advantages of Nuclear Power
Here are some the advantages of nuclear power that are argued by those who are in support of establishing nuclear power plants in the UK:
• Nuclear power produces almost no greenhouse gas emissions, making it very easy on the environment.
• The nuclear power plants can be situated almost everywhere, unlike other resources such as oil.
• The technology to build and run these plants is already available.
• A single nuclear power plant can generate a huge amount of electrical energy which can be used all throughout the UK.
• Nuclear power has the possibility for long term production because new reactors can be made when the old reactors wear down and need to be replaced. Oil reserves and other fossil fuels will not be replaceable in this way.
• An aircraft carrier running on nuclear fuel can circle the earth for 30 years without having to refuel. Compare this to a diesel fueled carrier which can only travel for 3000 miles before having to refuel.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Power
Here are some of the dangers of nuclear power that those who are opposed to the UK going nuclear state in their arguments
• Nuclear power generates a dangerous form of radiation, which can cause illness and even death in those who are infected with it.
• If a nuclear power plant experienced a spill, it would be very expensive and dangerous to clean up afterwards.
• A nuclear meltdown, such as the one recently witnessed at Fukushima Power Plant after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, could possibly release an enormous amount of radiation into the atmosphere.
• Nuclear power plants produce a waste by-product which is very toxic to humans, and nuclear waste dumps have been known to explode without warning.
• Nuclear reactors also product plutonium which can be used to create incredibly destructive nuclear weapons.
• Nuclear power uses the natural resource of Uranium, which is estimated to only last for the next 3-6 decades.
• Nuclear power stations are very expensive to build and to safely dismantle afterwards.
Now that you have heard both sides of the story, what do you think? What is your opinion on whether the UK should go nuclear or not?