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Many environmental groups fundamentally contest the idea that nuclear energy is a renewable source of energy, on the basis, that it produces harmful products and depends on extractive industries to acquire fuel like uranium. Even so, pro-nuclear officials and the nuclear industry of countries such as France, have been attempting to brand nuclear energy a renewable, on the basis that nuclear energy produces no or little greenhouse gases (Miller, and Spoolman, 2008). However, attempts to brand nuclear energy as a renewable source of energy has made little headway with all the resistance surrounding it. Despite this, the truth of the matter is that this is the most sustainable source of energy. The current main sources of energy are natural gas, oil and combustion of coal, all of which are non-renewable. Solar energy can only be used in countries with sufficient amount of sun light and entails exceedingly high costs. In light of this, nuclear energy remains the cheapest and most sustainable source of energy (Ollhoff, 2010).
Advantages of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy has several advantages over the other sources of energy. One of them is minimal pollution of the environment, since nuclear power produces no air pollutants like particulates, sulfur and green house gases. This keeps the environment clean, avoids acid rain and formation of ground-level ozone. It has no significant adverse impact on land, habitat, air and natural species.
Nuclear energy is a cost effective source of energy, which provides predictable power at constant prices necessary for providing a reliable source of energy for all countries. Nuclear plants also have long periods of operation, since they are designed to run continuously. These plants can run close to 2years before closing down for refueling. This makes them efficient for use in industries as it avoids disruptions during power outrages (Miller & Spoolman, 2008).
According to Miller and Spoolman, (2008), nuclear power plants operate in well-regulated and controlled environments, making it extremely safe for the staff working at plants, the surrounding communities and the environment at large. There are stringent safety standards that govern nuclear power production. So far, there are no deaths reported in the United States or significant radiation detected. By contrast, injuries, deaths and illnesses resulting from working with other sources of energy are widespread.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
Despite the stated benefits, a number of people still consider it unclean and unsafe source of energy. The biggest disadvantage of nuclear energy is radiation and nuclear accidents. These accidents have recurred three times in Japan, USA and Russia in the past 30years, exposing people and other alive organisms to harmful influence of radiation. Nuclear waste disposal is the other concern than environmentalists have over the nuclear energy. Nuclear reactors are prohibitively expensive, and it is hard to dispose the waste. Currently, waste from nuclear plants is stored in over 430 locations in the world, as individual reactors and radioactive materials continue accumulating. This is a serious hazard in waiting.
Feasibility and Economic Viability
Nuclear energy requires massive capital investment and a long gestation period. Construction of one plant may take between 5-10 years, which results in heavy costs overrun (Ill-off, 2010). Moreover, there are many regulations governing nuclear energy, and conformity to consume a considerable amount of investments. Lastly, there are concerns over fuel dangers since uranium is the main fuel used, but it is only available in a few countries.
It is certain from the above case study that nuclear energy seems to offer the most reliable source of energy to the world, considering the massive demand for energy. The benefits are massive ranging from stable prices to reduced environmental pollution. However, there are several limitations to be considered before any government embarks on nuclear energy. First, the governments need to put in place regulations that will govern production and disposal of waste products, and safety of the staff and the communities around. When the critical regulations are in place, then investments in nuclear energy can be made.