Nuclear Power or Coal Power?

Climate and environment blog

In these times, more and more countries are investing in renewable energy sources and climate-smart solutions on energy issues.

This is very encouraging, and the technology has evolved rapidly in recent decades.

Unfortunately, however, we are currently forced to continue using the old energy sources, which have a significantly more negative effect on the environment – both in the short and long term.

All over the world, we are still dependent on our coal and nuclear power plants, although we are most aware of both the risks and the environmental impact these two have. After the major nuclear accidents in Chernobyl and Harrisburg, many governments promised to work to abolish nuclear power, but work is slow.

The big question is how to replace this powerful energy source, as our needs and our electricity consumption increase every year. Can we really get rid of the nuclear power of the type of society we live in today?

Is coal power not really worse for the environment at present?

Nuclear power produces only 10% of all energy on a global scale since nuclear power plants are considerably more expensive to build than coal power plants.

The biggest differences between them are their different ways of influencing the climate and the environment. A nuclear power plant has low carbon dioxide emissions throughout its lifetime and stands for a stable and powerful electricity generation.

The disadvantage of a nuclear power plant is, of course, the radioactive waste, the nuclear fuel, which continues to be active and harmful for hundreds of thousands of years after it has been used.

This makes nuclear power a real future problem. After the Chernobyl accident, we also learned about the enormous disasters that await if something goes wrong in a nuclear power plant.

However, a coal-fired power plant works differently. These energy producers have a large immediate climate impact through high carbon dioxide emissions. They produce roughly as much and as stable energy as a nuclear power plant, but the immediate impact is much worse in a coal-fired power plant. Coal mining also has a major negative impact on the environment.

A matter of cost

Both options give us access to large amounts of energy, at a low price.

The biggest reason why coal-fired power plants are so popular in large parts of the world is that they are cheap to build. A major investment is needed to build a nuclear power plant, and after the accidents in Fukushima, Harrisburg, and Chernobyl, few governments are even considering building a nuclear power plant.

Our energy consumption has doubled since the 1990s, and at present, it is difficult to replace both coal power and nuclear power with only renewable energy, as it is not as reliable and can deliver equal quantities at the same cost.

The big problem we are facing now is that many nuclear power plants are getting old and need to be restored and renewed to continue to operate safely. The coal power plants also need to be renewed with environmentally friendly technology, which involves large investments from all the countries that depend on coal.

At present, energy is one of the most difficult problems to solve for many countries, where one cannot afford to invest but still need access to cheap electricity.

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