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It’s still a big debate if nuclear energy is a clean energy resource or not, we want to let you decide! Before arguing and deciding, we need to first understand the definition of nuclear energy and renewable energy as well as the connection between them.
What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is basically an energy source which can regenerate replenish its resources again and again in time. Five of the renewable resources of energy are geothermal energy, Wind power, Hydropower, Solar energy and biomass.
If we talk about nuclear energy, then nuclear energy results from the heat generated through a chemical reaction between atoms. The power plants use that heat to produce electricity. The heat is used to make steam from water and also to create more atoms to split apart. The steam drives a turbine to allow generator to make electricity.
The fusion of split atoms releases more energy in the form of neutrons and heat. The neutrons which are released go to hit other neurons and the process is repeated which creates more heat. Uranium is the fuel used for nuclear fusion.
What is Uranium?
It is a naturally-occurring ore found in the earth’s crust, most commonly extracted in the form of Uraninite (Pitchblende). The ore has metallic as well as radioactive properties. It is considered as a non-renewable resource, but still used as a fuel in nuclear plants.
Uranium was discovered by German scientists in 1789. Uranium got its name from the planet Uranus, also discovered around that time. Uranium also acts as the source of heat inside the core of the earth. Uranium is spread all over the world, find out here.
Nuclear as a Renewable Energy Resource
It is widely said that nuclear energy uses just miniscule amount of fuel to generate enormous amounts of electricity along with minimal emissions. This is a major aspect of nuclear energy being considered as a clean, renewable energy resource. According to the people who oppose this, there is no point in using nuclear energy to lower the carbon emissions, since there are other renewable resources available (some with absolutely zero emissions).
Bernard L Colen, former professor at University of Pittsburgh, defined relationship between the sun and the earth ‘indefinite’ in numbers. And according to him if the uranium is deposited, it would prove to last longer than the relationship between the earth and the sun, therefore nuclear energy should be considered as a renewable energy.
Nuclear as Non Renewable Energy Resource
It is argued that Uranium resources deposited in the world are limited, unlike wind and solar. The fuel which is used for nuclear energy should be sustainable for an unlimited period of time if we look upon the definition of renewable energy. Most people agree to the fact that Uranium is a non-renewable resource but nuclear energy is considered as a renewable source.
Another argument which is kept forward is that nuclear energy is not as clean as it seems to be. Although It does not release CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions, it is still harmful as it produces hazardous nuclear waste from the nuclear power reactors. The nuclear waste is a radioactive pollutant which goes against the definition of a renewable resource, since continuous reproduction of waste may not be sustainable in the long run.
Although Nuclear energy is highly efficient (One atom generates energy equal to 675 liters of oil); we need solutions for alternatives to Uranium as nuclear fuel as well as better radioactive waste management strategies. Nuclear companies also need to make radioactive waste safe enough for populations living near nuclear reactors.
Other than that, all countries need to be urged to stop using nuclear as means of war. Only then can we really use Nuclear energy solely for the purpose of electricity generation.
These matters need to be addressed before Nuclear energy is put up to IRENA (International Renewable Energy Association) for inclusion in the renewable energy resources list.
Please let us know what you think in the comments!