Explained: The Pros And Cons Of Nuclear Energy

explained the pros and cons of nuclear energy

There is a lot of debate going on about nuclear energy. While some people argue that it might be the answer for a zero-carbon future, others also worry a lot about the potential risk associated with it. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this energy source.


Pros of Nuclear Energy


The following are the benefits of using nuclear energy.


Low Carbon


Nuclear power is remarkable in that its generation does not release a lot of greenhouse gasses, methane, and CO2 into the environment. This makes it an environmentally friendly energy source.


High Reliability


Nuclear energy is highly reliable. Nuclear power plants can continuously generate energy for many months without interruptions. Apart from that, scientists expect that the current uranium reserves will last for more than 70 years, making it a very dependable energy source.


Low Operational Expenses


Setting up a nuclear power plant indeed requires a lot of initial investment. However, once the plant is in place, the operations costs can be very low. This also means that the energy generated from the plants is relatively inexpensive.


High Energy Density


Uranium is said to have a higher energy density than most fossil fuels. As a result, small amounts of uranium are used by power plants to generate enormous amounts of electricity.


For instance, the electricity generated from a nuclear fission process is a million times more than energy from a thermal power plant.


Cons of Nuclear Energy


While there are many benefits to using nuclear energy, it is not without its negative effects. The following are some of the disadvantages of nuclear power:


Environmental Impact


The generation of nuclear energy involves a lot of mining and water discharge. These processes have a substantial impact on the environment. To produce nuclear energy, uranium has to be mined, and anytime you have mining activities, the surrounding area gets affected.


Apart from the general adverse effects of mining, uranium mining is known for releasing arsenic and radon. These substances can affect the health of communities situated close to the mines.


Nuclear power plants also cause thermal pollution. The plants use water from the ocean or from lakes to cool down. This water will be heated and turned into steam which is then condensed back into water. When the water is returned to its source, it will be very hot. This has a significant impact on the chemistry of the water body it is discharged into. As you might have guessed, the high heat might render the water inhabitable to most aquatic life.


Risk of Nuclear Accidents


This is where nuclear energy and other alternatives like solar differ. The use of solar energy comes without any significant safety risks. On the other hand, a meltdown at a nuclear plant will cause a disaster of catastrophic proportions.


Nuclear meltdowns cause leakage of harmful radiation into the environment. This radiation is bad for human health, and it can lead to thousands of deaths. Those that are not killed by the radiation will struggle with health problems for a long time.




A renewable energy resource can not be depleted when used. A perfect example of a renewable energy resource is solar. Its use does not decrease the power of the sun in any way. On the other hand, nuclear energy generation utilizes uranium, which is a finite resource. The uranium used in the reactions will not be regenerated within a human lifetime. This means that it will deplete faster to a point where there won’t be enough uranium available to generate nuclear power.


The most significant concern about nuclear energy is how dangerous it can be, seeing as nuclear technology is also used in weapons of mass destruction.


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