Derwick Associates on using Nuclear powerWith an energy crisis unlike nothing seen before looming on the horizon, scientists, politicians, andengineers scramble to find a solution. At Derwick Associates we believe that alternative energy, whichutilizes limitedly used renewable energy sources, may be the world’s saving grace. Wind, solar, biomass,geothermal, and even water have become or are in the process of becoming viable alternative energysources.Another potential source for energy in the future is nuclear power. Nuclear power uses energy createdfrom nuclear fission, a highly kinetic reaction that splits atoms. This energy heats water, creating steam.This steam, in turn, powers a turbine, which produces electrical power. Nuclear power is a nonrenewableenergy source, meaning its fuel is limited in quantity. Regardless, nuclear power has the potential tocompletely eradicate the global need for renewable energy.At Derwick Associates we know that nuclear energy is particularly useful because it does not emit anycarbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or any nitrogen oxides, all of which are harmful to the Earth’s atmosphere("United States Environmental Protection Agency"). Carbon dioxide, in particular, is a major contributorto global warming, a phenomena that is quickly warming our planet ("American Institute of Physics").Nuclear energy also has the benefit of being densely energetic.A pellet of Uranium the size of an adult’s pinky finger contains as much energy as 1,780 pounds of coalor 149 gallons of crude oil. Furthermore, the energy produced by a single, confined nuclear power plantwould require up to 180 square miles of wind turbines or 60 square miles of solar panels ("Idaho NationalLaboratory"). Finally, nuclear power can be used at all times of the day, in any weather condition, and inall parts of the country. Solar power and wind power, on the other hand, rely on strong, consistentsunlight and wind to operate. In the United States, sun energy this reliable is usually only found in theSouthwest ("United States Department of Energy"). Wind useful for wind energy is only found in theMidwest ("U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy").Like all currently used energy sources, nuclear power has disadvantages. For one, it produces deadly,radioactive material as a by-product. These by-products take an incredibly long time to decay, oftenthousands of years. For that reason, nuclear waste has to be stored in areas far away from civilization.Improperly stored nuclear waste can poison water tables and damage local ecosystems. This and otherproblems caused a general lack of support from the public, the second disadvantage of nuclear power.Poor public reception also results from a perception that nuclear power is inherently dangerous. Becauseof the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, many feel that all nuclearplants are susceptible to disasters, as well. While nuclear power has become safer over time, it is stillvulnerable to disaster today ("Parliament of Australia: Parliamentary Library"). A final problem withnuclear power is its often overwhelming cost. Per megawatt, nuclear power is cheaper than natural gasand coal (Dunston 3). However, construction and decommissioning costs for nuclear plants are extremelyhigh. A nuclear power plant may cost as much as $4.1 billion to decommission ("Nuclear EnergyInformation Service").
At Derwick Associates we hope that by the time the energy crisis is in full swing, the world will havefound a solution. Still, nuclear power remains a potential source of energy in the future. Nuclear power, inthe end, has an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. For that reason, tomorrow’s leaders willhave to decide if nuclear power is a reliable source of energy. Only time will tell what energy source theplanet uses in the future. Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez
Works Cited"Benefits of Nuclear Power." Idaho National Laboratory. Idaho National Laboratory, n.d. Web.26 Nov 2011.Dunston, Roger. California. Research Bureau . Benefits and Risks of Nuclear Power inCalifornia. 2002. Web."Nuclear." Parliament of Australia: Parliamentary Library. Parliament of Australia, 01 Sep 2011.Web. 26 Nov 2011."Nuclear Energy." United States Environmental Protection Agency. United States EnvironmentalProtection Agency, 08 Mar 2010. Web. 26 Nov 2011."Renewable Energy." United States Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and RenewableEnergy. N.p., 04 Dec 2010. Web. 26 Nov 2011."Solar." United States Department of Energy. United States Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 26Nov 2011."Some Important Facts About Nuclear Power." Nuclear Energy Information Service. NuclearEnergy Information Service, 31 Aug 2004. Web. 26 Nov 2011.
"The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect." American Institute of Physics. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov2011."Wind Powering America: 80-Meter Wind Maps and Wind Resource Potential." U.S.Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. United States Department ofEnergy, 19 Oct 2011. Web. 26 Nov 2011.