In our last post here on the Parker & Sons blog we introduced the topic of alternative energy sources. Today, in 2016, a majority of the energy in the United States is generated by traditional power plants which burn fossil fuels. However, the desire to embrace alternative energy sources is growing with rapidly. The first ever nuclear power plant opened on June 26, 1954, in Obninsk, Russia. It is a source of power which has been greatly misunderstood and often derided. In this post, our goal is to learn more about nuclear power.
Currently Nuclear Power Uses
Currently, there are 99 nuclear power reactors operated in the United States across 30 states. These reactors account for 30 percent of all nuclear power generated in the world. They produce an astounding 797.1 billion kilowatt hours of power annually, or nearly 20 percent of all the power used in the United States. The World Nuclear Association anticipates 6 new plants to open between 2016 and 2020, although several factors could cause this number to increase or see reduction.
Is Nuclear Power Clean?
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), nuclear power is more less harmful than burning fossil fuels. In fact, it has almost no contribution towards climate change or air pollution. Opponents of nuclear power cite the processing, transportation, and disposal of nuclear waste as a major environmental concern, although there are proven ways to dispose of such materials.
The Major Arguments
The major argument against the use of nuclear power rises from the risk of nuclear accidents. Nuclear power in the United States changed after the tragic Three Mile Island accident in 1977. Other accidents have occurred such as the famous meltdown of the Chernobyl plant which immediately killed 60 individuals and may have cause cancer in as many as 25,000 others. Such incidents are very rare and safety measures have increased dramatically over the years.