Carbon-Free Power Grid
With global warming daunting as a major issue, society must switch to a power grid that utilizes nuclear power with renewable sources of energy. Global warming is caused from carbon dioxide being released into the air. Currently one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions is our carbon-based power grid. To reduce carbon emissions society must replace carbon-based power plants like coal plants to sources of energy that are carbon-free. But to avoid problems renewable sources like wind and solar should be utilized alongside nuclear power plants. If we rely strictly on renewable sources large amounts of land will have to be dedicated to power fields, and conditions are not always optimal for power production. A large portion of society believe that nuclear power is unsafe and should not be used because of this. But contrary to popular belief nuclear power is extremely safe, especially with new technological advancements. When using nuclear power and renewable sources together we can create an efficient power grid that utilizes both power sources strengths and eliminates their weaknesses.
When renewable sources are strictly used for all of power production large amounts of land will have to be dedicated for strictly power production. From the Tedx Talk “Why renewables can’t save the planet” the speaker environmentalist Michael Schellenberger explains, “Building a solar farm is a lot like building any other kind of farm, you have to clear the whole area of wildlife.” Shallenberger goes onto explain this process is extremely expensive and invasive in terms of removing wildlife from their natural habitats. To solely use renewable sources of power to produce the worlds energy we would need to clear large amounts of land to sufficiently produce enough energy for society’s needs. In doing this we would be destroying a large amount of wildlife.
Another major problem with using strictly renewable sources of energy is conditions are not always optimal to produce energy. The two largest renewable sources of energy wind and solar require perfect conditions to produce energy efficiently “Hybrid nuclear-renewable energy systems” the author, Author Siddharth Suman explains, “Renewable energy sources are not continuous, dependent upon geographical location as well as climatic conditions, and require a very large land footprint.” Suman not only talks about the large amount of land needed for renewable sources. But also explains how climate conditions play a huge role in how effective renewable sources are in producing energy. The problem with this is the wind does not also blow perfectly and the sun does not always shine. During bad conditions renewable sources will not be suitable to keep up with our large demand of energy. Considering our use of energy increases every day only using renewable sources will become a major issue.
Contrary to popular belief because of disasters in the past nuclear energy has become extremely safe and far safer than coal plants. To begin with nuclear power plants have made huge technological advancements to make them far safer. From Applied Energy article “The benefits of nuclear flexibility in power system operations with renewable energy” the author states, “nuclear power plants are technically capable of flexible operation, including changing power output over time (ramping or load following) and providing frequency regulation and operating reserves.” This means that nuclear power plants do not have to operate at maximum power. Instead they can operate at lower levels of production making them far safer. Not only this but From the Nuclear Energy Institute in their article “Is Nuclear Energy Safe” the author Kelly McPharlin explains why nuclear reactors are safe in the modern world. McPharlin explains how nuclear reactors have many layers of safety systems. The layers of safety are used to prevent any issue the reactor might have. Not only this but the people working in the reactor now are extremely trained to handle any situation the reactor might go through. Nuclear reactors are proving to be far safer than coal plants. Coal plants cause far more deaths, and will continue to cause even more from the carbon being released into the air causing global warming
The most efficient carbon free based power grid would be utilizing nuclear power alongside of renewable sources. Since renewable sources cannot always operate at maximum capacity due to climate conditions nuclear power would be needed in times where renewable sources can not produce a large amount of energy. Going back to the Applied Energy article “The benefits of nuclear flexibility in power system operations with renewable energy” when the author explains, how nuclear power plants can operate at different levels or production. From this statement we can infer that when renewable sources are producing at maximum capacity because conditions are good, we can lower production for nuclear power plants. This goes for the same when renewable sources are not operating well due to climate issues, we can ramp up production for nuclear plants to make up for the renewable sources not producing at maximum capacity. Using renewable sources alongside nuclear energy also solves the issue of large amounts of land being used up from renewable sources. Some solar and wind fields will have to be used even if renewable sources and paired with nuclear energy, but a lot less land will be needed for solar and wind fields. Since nuclear will be utilized we can focus of using less solar fields and focus on installing solar panels are more roofs. To completely remove the use of carbon-based power plants and stop global warming, society needs to start utilizing a power grid that contains nuclear power and renewable sources working together.
Jenkins, J. D., Zhou, Z., Ponciroli, R., Vilim, R. B., Ganda, F., Sisternes, F. de, & Botterud, A. (2018, April 24). The benefits of nuclear flexibility in power system operations with renewable energy. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306261918303180
McPharlin, K. (2019, November 22). Is Nuclear Energy Safe? Retrieved from https://www.nei.org/news/2019/is-nuclear-energy-safe
Shellenberger, M. (n.d.). Why renewables can’t save the planet: Michael Shellenberger:TEDxDanubia. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shellenberger_why_renewables_can_t_save_the_planet
Suman, S. (2018, February 1). Hybrid nuclear-renewable energy systems: A review. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618302993#!