Nuclear energy, the dilemma.
Since decades, the use of nuclear energy has created a passionate debate. On the one hand, there are pro-nuclear workers who extol the carbon-free virtues of this energy and, on the other hand, the anti-nuclearists who see the dangers for man and nature, especially in the long term.
We live today at the dawn of a large scale cataclysm that is global warming.
But who is right? Let’s try to find some rationality and objectivity. In reality, both sides are right but for different reasons.
We live today at the dawn of a major cataclysm that is global warming. Despite the perpetual denigration of climate-septic, 95% of the scientific community abounds in this sense and the cause is simple, human activity completely unreasonable.
In order to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, none of the solutions put in place by humans are perfect, but most of them are electric, especially for transportation.
If the electrification of the means of transport develops, the quantity of energy necessary to produce the charge of all these batteries will become gigantic. Nowadays, there is no other way to mass-produce electricity than nuclear power. Renewable energies are gaining momentum but their efficiency and regularity are still insufficient to completely replace nuclear power in the short term, despite the technological advances that make them more and more effective. Dams and hydroelectric plants pose a real problem for biodiversity. Run-of-the-river hydropower plants are developing but are facing the same problem of yield. The new generations of solar power plants have a bright future but the level of sunshine is not enough everywhere. To be realistic, the climate emergency needs to make choices and in the short term nuclear energy can produce energy without carbon.
But all this should not obscure the real consequences for man and nature that are nuclear power plants through security risks and the production of nuclear waste. We have already seen it in Chernobyl in 1986 and the Fukushima accident in 2011 came to make a serious booster shot. The use of nuclear fuel is extremely dangerous and all security measures in place will not be enough. The explosion of a nuclear power plant irradiates large areas for several thousand years and highly volatile radioactive elements pollute ecosystems around the globe.
the Fukushima accident in 2011 came to a serious wakeup call.
In addition to the immediate risks of explosion, the operation of nuclear power plants generates large quantities of waste, from mining in uranium mines to the operation of power stations. Then, each plant produces about 20 tons of waste per year that will be radioactive for several thousand years and storage solutions suggest accumulating huge amounts of highly radioactive fuels, thus creating large-scale pollution risks and serious health risks for very long periods.
Once these two arguments are made, what to do. The climate emergency and the need to reduce our production of greenhouse gases make nuclear energy a viable and stable solution for producing large quantities of electricity. But man must use all his intelligence to quickly find an alternative. Today, no “green” energy can compete with nuclear power, but it will not be possible to produce such a high level of radioactive waste for decades to come. The alliance between geothermal power plants and solar power plants seems to be a very serious track but scientists and engineers still have to work to make these solutions viable on a large scale. In the longer term, nuclear fusion technology that creates very little “waste” can be a solution.
So there are no perfect solutions or miracles in the short term, however, we must now anticipate the solutions for the future. A lot of work on energy efficiency has to be undertaken to reduce the needs, but the general and fast electrification of our daily life will increase them mechanically. So can we get out of nuclear power in 5 years? It’s impossible. Should the nuclear output be prepared now? It’s a certainty. There must no longer be a single active nuclear power plant by 2035 or 2040.
by Julien ALAIN, president of Enaura