Often times when the term “clean energy” is mentioned, the image of solar panels and wind turbines come to mind. However, nuclear energy should be included in such discussions. In fact, it might be the most important option.
Nuclear energy currently makes up 20% of United States power generation, whereas, wind and solar combined make up 9.1%. That’s double the amount and is similar for the rest of the world as well.
There are exceptions.
So, why does nuclear energy never get credit for being clean?
People Have Concerns
Unfortunately, there have been several major incidents related to nuclear energy over the years. Most notably, Chernobyl and Fukushima have cemented themselves to the front of everyone’s mind.
While these events are catastrophic, the likelihood of them repeating is small.
In Chernobyl’s case, it was when security measures were still not adequate. The safety protocols are nowhere close to what they are nowadays. A similar event could never happen today due to the security measures that are in place.
Likewise, Fukushima was the result of not one, but two natural disasters. It took a magnitude 6.6 earthquake that lasted for 3 minutes and a Tsunami to cause so much damage. In fact, if it was just the earthquake, the plant would have contained everything.
As you can imagine, it’s very rare for an Earthquake and Tsunami to strike a nuclear powerplant.
While there have been smaller incidents around the world, all things considered, nuclear energy plants are pretty safe.
Coal Plants Are More Radioactive
While Nuclear plants are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of radiation, it really should be coal plants.
Yes, that’s right coal plants release more radiation into the environment than nuclear plants.
That’s because nuclear power plants are built to contain such radiation, whereas coal plants are not. Kind of a big oversight, all things considered.
Thus, if you are worried about any low levels of radiation exposure, coal plants are what you should be examining.
Nuclear Energy is Weather Resilient
Unlike renewable energy sources, nuclear energy does not depend on weather and is fully controllable. This means you can reduce the amount of energy produced when demand is weak and increase it when it is high.
Thus it works perfectly with renewable energy. And this is on top of the fact that nuclear energy is clean compared to most alternatives.
For example, if solar panels were not collecting enough energy for the electric grid, nuclear energy could make up the difference. And since it has zero emissions, its a perfect match.
How do you feel about nuclear energy? Do you consider it clean energy?