Nuclear Energy and Renewable Power
To create the most efficient power grid, instead of just using renewable energy sources or just nuclear energy, we must rely on renewable sources paired with nuclear power. Even though to create a complete carbon-free power grid society must utilize both nuclear power and renewable sources, Climate deniers have argued we can complete this power grid with just renewables. Climate deniers have also argued that this carbon-free way of power is too expensive to prove to be reasonable. With the largest contributor of global warming being carbon-based energy sources, these climate deniers must realize that in order to create a complete carbon-free power grid we must remove the burning of fossil fuels and utilize renewables and nuclear power side by side.
Some climate deniers believe that we can create a completely carbon-free power grid with only using renewable sources and making nuclear power obsolete. While renewable sources of energy are a great way to produce clean energy, they are not always reliable, and they cannot keep up with the energy demand. From “Perspectives on The Environment” in their article “Renewable Energy: Why Don’t We Use It More If It’s So Great?” the author explains, “Renewable energy is also not completely reliable even though it is sustainable. We cannot control when we receive it and how much we receive. It often relies on weather like the sun or water.” Every day our energy consumption increases, and if we don’t have completely reliable sources of power that would become a huge problem. The fact that the wind doesn’t blow as strong every day or some days it is not that sunny renewable sources will struggle to produce optimal power for society. According to the he National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in their article “Electrification & Decarbonization: Exploring U.S. Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Scenarios with Widespread Electrification and Power Sector Decarbonization” they explain, “Under our reference case, total U.S. electricity consumption grows from approximately 3,860 TWh in 2016 to 5,260 TWh in 2050. Consistent with results from other analyses of electrification impacts on electricity demand…” Knowing that power usage increases every day, unreliable sources like renewables will not be able to solely keep up with the growing demand of power.
The combination of renewable sources alongside nuclear power, will be able to obtain optimal power production for societies growing need for power. When renewable sources are not able to produce at a maximum capacity due to weather issues, nuclear power can always produce energy. Unlike renewables, nuclear power does not rely on optimal weather conditions. In bad weather conditions nuclear power can still operate at maximum capacity. Nuclear power plants can make up for the lack of productions renewables may encounter when conditions are not optimal for max production of power.
Another major argument is the issue with price. Many climate deniers argue that renewables and nuclear are too expensive and are not worth it because of the high prices. Burning fossil fuels is attractive in the energy production industry because of the low price. But what many people do not realize with renewables and nuclear energy is the only expensive part of them is the upfront cost. While it is expensive to build a nuclear power plant, solar field, or wind farm they are sustainable for a long period of time. The energy nuclear power plants and renewable plants produce will eventually pay for themselves. They are all able to produce energy with no raw material added, unlike popular coal plants.
Continuing the argument with the concern of high price, when we think of the high price of these nuclear power plants or renewable plants, many forget we are also paying a higher cost to save lives. From the article “Every Day 10,000 People Die Due To Air Pollution From Fossil Fuels” the author Roger Pielke explains, “A study published last week in the journal Cardiovascular Research estimated that in 2015, the deaths of more than 3.6 million people worldwide could have been avoided if air pollution from fossil fuels were reduced to zero.” 3.6 million seems like of people dying from climate change at first but when you put that number into perspective it seems like an even larger amount of deaths, every year around 3.6 million people die because of climate change. While some people may say nuclear is just as dangerous or more dangerous then burning fossil fuels, the deaths from nuclear do not even come close to the deaths from climate change or burning fossil fuels. To put this in perspective we can look at the largest user of nuclear power, France. They generate almost all their power from nuclear power plants. From the article “France: A Study of French Nuclear Policy After Fukushima” the author makes the claim, “France has the largest percent of nuclear in total domestic electricity generation according to the International Energy Association and exports about 44.91 billion kWh of electrical energy per year. With 58 nuclear reactors, France has now depended on nuclear energy for many years without ever having a serious accident.” With having very few incidents France has only had one death from nuclear since they started utilizing nuclear power in 1964. If society could stop using carbon-based energy production and switch over to a power grid that utilizes nuclear and renewables, we can save 3.6 million lives every year. Even if the upfront price is higher than burning fossil fuels.
A power grid that utilizes both nuclear power and renewable sources is essential to create a fully carbon-free power system. This is necessary to reduce greenhouse gasses in our environment to eventually stop global warming. If we do not do this the death rate from global warming and releasing carbon dioxide will continue to rise. The argument of the high cost of renewable sources will pay themselves off in time. The high price should also be justified to save millions of people’s lives every year. Even though some climate deniers want to solely use renewable sources. Nuclear is necessary to produce optimal power and create a complete carbon-free power grid.
Renewable Energy: Why Don’t We Use It More If It’s So Great? (2015, February 13).
Pielke, R. (2020, March 10). Every Day 10,000 People Die Due To Air Pollution From Fossil Fuels.
France: A Study of French Nuclear Policy After Fukushima. (2012, July 17).
Steinberg, D., Bielen, D., Eichman, J., Eurek, K., Logan, J., Mai, T., … Wilson, E. (2017). Electrification and Decarbonization: Exploring U.S. Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Scenarios with Widespread Electrification and Power Sector Decarbonization. doi: 10.2172/1372620