Many people don’t realize the importance of electricity in our world. Almost everything that we do in our daily activities depends on electricity. Thus, without electricity, none of the modern luxuries that we enjoy today would be possible. In fact, without electricity, world economy would collapse, as production of goods will stop completely. Moreover, even basic necessities like internet would become impossible to utilize without sufficient amounts of electricity. However, the problem is the fact that electricity production depends on fossil fuels. Almost 70 percent of the electricity production in the world is created through the burning of coal, oil or natural gas.
In electricity production, fossil fuels are first burned in a combustion chamber in a thermal power plant. The burning process releases heat, which is then transferred to the coolant. Hence, the coolant takes the heat away from the combustion chamber and it is passed through a heat exchanger in order to create steam. Usually, water is used as a coolant in order to make the power plant thermodynamics become easier to handle. Once steam is created from the heat, it is passed through a turbine. As the steam creates momentum on the blades of the turbine, electricity is created and this electricity is passed on to the general electrical distribution grid. The leftover steam is then cycled through a secondary cooling cycle and a condenser, which cools down the steam to turn it back into cold water again. Cooling tower is also used to release heat as well as combustion byproducts.
The main problem with this process is that great amounts of carbon dioxide from the burning process are released into the atmosphere. This is a major problem, as high amounts of carbon dioxide increase the footprint and more importantly, it causes global warming. This has become a very important issue as global warming is not only endangering us today, but it is also endangering our future generations as well. Moreover, there are several studies to suggest that thermal power plants which burn oil and coal are one of the major causes of carbon dioxide emission in our world. Moreover, large amounts of sulfur as well as other harmful chemicals are also emitted into the environment as result of the functioning of thermal power plants. Of course, another major issue is the fact that fossil fuels are destined to run out in the next 30 to 50 years. Thus, for the reasons of preventing global warming, as well as for allowing the production of electricity to continue even when fossil fuels run out; nuclear energy production seems to be the only viable answer.
Even though renewable energy options such as solar power and wind energy exist, they account for only a small fraction for the world’s energy needs. As stated above, electricity is something that is vital to the survival of our civilization. With nuclear energy, it is possible to create enough electricity to meet the world’s energy demands.
In essence, a nuclear power plant uses the same principle of electric production as thermal power plants; but instead of burning fossil fuel, heat is generated from the fission reaction itself. Due to this, there is no burning process involved and due to this, no carbon dioxide or sulfur products are vented into the atmosphere. Instead the only venting that takes place is water vapor. Thus, from an environmental protection point of view, using nuclear power plants will actually lowers our carbon footprint in the atmosphere. Moreover, the dependency on fossil fuels will decrease and electricity can be created cheaply and efficiently.
Of course, nuclear energy also comes with several problems, as it is a process that needs to be monitored and controlled very carefully. If this is not done, it can lead to several incidents such as the Chernobyl incident. However, it has been a proven fact that it has been almost always human errors which have lead to nuclear incidents and in fact it was a gross human error and management negligence that lead to the Chernobyl incident. Thus, it needs to be understood that if it is used properly, nuclear energy can be harnessed to create almost limitless amounts of electricity to meet the global demand.
However, proper precautions will need to be taken and newer technologies will need to be implemented, so that public safety can be maintained. Unlike the technology of the 1960’s, the newer technology involving nuclear power plants involve better safety measures such as passive, inherent safety measures. Thus, a new public perspective needs to be brought forward that nuclear energy can meet our electricity demands in safe and reliable manner, especially if it is implemented properly.