It is evident and well-known that the current energy grid’s dependency on fossil fuels is unsustainable and requires a major shift towards more renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy. There is a wide range of more sustainable sources of energy, which include solar, geothermal, wind, hydropower, biofuel, and others. However, among all of these renewable sources of energy, nuclear energy can be considered the most scrutinized and critiqued one. The given argumentative statement will illuminate the fact that future energy grids mandate the use of nuclear energy sources, without which the shift from fossil fuels will be met with energy supply disruption and energy grid instability in general. Nuclear energy sources are essential and must be included in future power grids alongside renewable alternatives due to their reliability, low capital and operational costs, and higher efficiency.
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Nuclear Energy’s Superiority to Alternatives
It is important to note that nuclear energy sources are not novelties, and they have been supplying many nations with energy since the last century. Its core advantages are well-known and include reliability, low CO2 footprint, and low costs, but the most problematic areas involve “nuclear waste and risk of accident” (Akyuz, 2017, p. 1). Nuclear energy sources can be considered the most efficient sources of renewable energy. The primary reasons include the fact that they are one of the highest in terms of electricity generation efficiency, excluding tidal and hydro plants, and they also have one of the lowest fuel costs, maintenance costs, and capital costs (Maradin, 2020).
In other words, nuclear power plants are cheaper to build, use significantly less fuel than fossil fuel plants, and require minimal operational efforts. They are not severely restricted to specific locations or sites, and the only requirement is a water source, which can be either a natural or artificial water reservoir. However, to accurately understand why nuclear energy sources must be included in future power grids, it is critical to comparatively see the limitations and inherent flaws of other renewable energy sources.
Firstly, nuclear power plants do not have many limiting factors. They are not dependent on sunlight intensity, weather conditions, day/night cycles, the ability to store the energy acquired, and the effectiveness of conversation (Ugli, 2019). In terms of efficiency of energy production, nuclear power plants are the most efficient sources of energy, unlike photovoltaic cells, which remain the least efficient source of energy despite the latest technological advancements (Maradin, 2020). In addition, nuclear power plants do not need a large portion of land, which makes it unusable for agriculture real estate, and affects the nearby ecosystem since the temperature increases in the area due to cell heating. For instance, the maintenance of a considerable number of solar panels is another problem, which might make energy production costs economically unviable.
Secondly, nuclear power plants have the lowest capital costs and maintenance expenses among all energy sources. When compared to other alternatives, the capital costs for nuclear energy sources are twice as low, and the maintenance and operation costs are also lower than running an entire field of windmills (Maradin, 2020). It should also be noted that windmills occupy vast stretches of land, need windy regions, and might be deadly to wildlife. The energy efficiency of wind energy sources is equivalent to nuclear power plants. Thus, the arguably cleanest sources of power, wind and solar, are intermittent and involve massive storage problems, whereas nuclear power plants do not have such issues (Luthra et al., 2015). They can generate massive amounts of energy needed for transportation and industrial purposes (Mohr & Raman, 2013). Thirdly, nuclear power plants do not need specific sites to be built. For example, compared to hydro and tidal plants, nuclear power plants have similar capital and maintenance costs as nuclear power plants, but the key limitation is the dependency on the proper sites, such as large rivers (Maradin, 2020). In other words, their applicability is limited by the availability of appropriate locations. Another renewable source is biofuel, which has severe scalability issues due to dependency on biological organisms (Von Maltitz & Setzkorn, 2012).
Based on the information provided in the previous section, a thorough analysis reveals the fact that nuclear power plants are economically, geographically, and operationally superior to many alternatives regarding renewable energy sources. Energy policy needs to be based on the combination of supply and demand, taking into account minimum greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional fuels are becoming increasingly scarce and prices more unpredictable. In addition, the problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is becoming more and more urgent. Thus, now the world is at a crossroads between nuclear power and renewable sources. From the proposed options, one should be chosen that would ensure progressive, sustainable development. Some may criticize the use of nuclear energy because it cannot provide sustainable progress, as a result of which humanity will leave a toxic legacy for future generations. It is necessary to make a choice now and not rely on the invisible hand of the market economy.
The use of nuclear energy sources is essential in the fight against climate change. Renewable energy technologies are uniquely suited to fit within the framework of energy generation and consumption legislation, and in addition, they contribute to the further development and modernization of the energy sector. In addition, the use of nuclear energy sources contributes to the overall strategy for socio-ecological development. These sources reduce dependence on energy imports, thereby ensuring energy security. Nuclear energy sources increase the competitiveness of the industry and have a positive impact on regional development and employment.
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The current level of nuclear safety, enshrined in international norms and standards, is high. It takes into account the lessons of the accidents at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, and the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, which is regularly subjected to comprehensive reassessment to strengthen safety, improve regulatory oversight and improve emergency preparedness and is focused on preventing nuclear disasters in the future. Accordingly, one should not underestimate and consider the existing requirements for nuclear and radiation safety as an unnecessary burden for many countries (Luthra et al., 2015). Therefore, the introduction of concepts that offer a differentiated approach to developed and developing countries in matters of nuclear safety is unacceptable. In the context of a large-scale expansion of nuclear energy, maintaining the priority of nuclear safety over economic interests is especially important.
One might argue that nuclear energy sources are dangerous and carry a high level of risk, which is true. It is critical to understand that the provided argumentation is not about a full replacement of future energy grids with nuclear sources, but rather inclusion alongside other renewable alternatives. There is no simple solution to the problem of global climate change. Increasing the use of renewable energy sources, despite their high cost, is an important part of the solution.
However, one might consider that nuclear power can cause enormous irreparable harm to the environment. It is important to note that nuclear power is relatively safe and is essential for meeting the demand for clean energy, which is expected to grow significantly in the future (Brook et al., 2014). Therefore, the action plan should contain not only a focus on increasing the amount of energy generated from renewable energy sources but also an emphasis on incorporating the use of nuclear energy. In addition, it is necessary to confidently maintain a course toward the de-carbonization of the energy sector as a whole (Mez, 2012). Developed countries should subsidize the development of technologies related to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
To develop renewable sources and increase their efficiency, it is important to set ambitious goals. Such goals can serve as a guide for the relevant state authorities and, in addition, will be an important signal for investors, entrepreneurs, and the public. However, significant progress has been made in the field of solar technology. PV technology is now as cost-effective as traditional building cladding. Alternative energy sources are used for the production of electricity, hot water, and space heating. They can be built into the urban environment. Urban areas can be both generators and consumers of energy. Many energy needs can be met close to the point of use by applying innovative urban design techniques. The development of zero emissions, which determines the availability of renewable energy sources and high standards of thermal insulation, means that the urban environment can help meet its own energy needs.
The longer-term involves integrating generation into the urban environment and encouraging cooperative ownership of renewable capacities. In addition, in the long term, it is planned to build modern smart autonomous systems that will be combined into common networks. This approach will increase the stability of the system as a whole. In addition, it will bring energy sources closer to consumers. For consumers, this approach will develop an understanding of the importance of the problem of energy security and the fight against climate change. The first step towards this could be the beginning of the transfer of subsidies from hydrocarbon industries toward renewable energy sources.
Therefore, arguments against nuclear energy are valid and relevant, which is why the proposition and statement of the given argumentative analysis are to incorporate nuclear energy alongside other renewable energy sources. It is important to factor in the current limitations of renewable energy sources, which can be supplemented by nuclear power plants’ reliability, low costs, and efficiency.
In conclusion, nuclear energy sources are essential and must be included in future power grids alongside renewable alternatives due to their reliability, low capital and operational costs, and higher efficiency. At the current stage of energy sector development, nuclear energy remains the most efficient and practical form of non-fossil fuel energy source devoid of a multitude of limitations of renewable energy sources. Solar and wind energy sources are costly, require vast areas of land, and have low efficiency, whereas hydro and tidal energy sources are tied to specific sites. The inherent risks associated with nuclear power plants are present, but their combined use is still critical for the future stability, reliability, and capability of future power grids to quickly transition from fossil fuels.
Akyuz, E. (2017). Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy in Turkey: Public perception. Eurasian Journal of Environmental Research, 1(1), 1-11. Web.
Brook, B., Alonso, A., Meneley, D. A., Misak, J., Blees, T., & Erp, J. B. (2014). Why nuclear energy is sustainable and has to be part of the energy mix. Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 1-2, 8-16. Web.
Luthra, S., Kumar, S., Garg, D., & Haleem, A. (2015). Barriers to renewable/sustainable energy technologies adoption: Indian perspective. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 41, 762-776. Web.
Maradin, D. (2020). Advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy sources utilization. International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, 11(3), 176-183. Web.
Mez, L. (2012). Nuclear energy – Any solution for sustainability and climate protection?. Energy Policy, 48, 56-63. Web.
Mohr, A., Raman, S. (2013). Lessons from first generation biofuels and implications for the sustainability appraisal of second generation biofuels. Energy Policy, 63, 114-122. Web.
Ugli, T. J. T. (2019). The importance of alternative solar energy sources and the advantages and disadvantages of using solar panels in this process. American Journal of Software Engineering and Applications, 8(1), 32-35. Web.
Von Maltitz, G., Setzkorn, K. (2012). Potential impacts of biofuels on deforestation in southern Africa. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 31(1-2), 80-97. Web.
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