Debate: Does the world actually need nuclear energy?

Hi everybody,

It’s been a while since we posted an update on this blog but now that the exams are over the focus can fully return to the thesis project.

As comback I would like to focus on the question whether the world actually needs nuclear energy. Of course this is a complex question without a simple yes or no answer.  There are many different angles on which we can approach the subject.  Rather than focussing on giving a one sided view I would like to know your opinion.

To help you form your opinion it might be usefull to check out this clip I found on the TED website where they also have a debate about the subject

Link

(The debate is in english but it’s possible to turn on dutch subtitels if you wish)

My opinion after watching the clip is that the world doesn’t NEED nuclear energy and that we should aim to power the world as clean and sustainable as possible.  But the potential of nuclear power can not be underestimated, certainly when the nuclear plants have already been build I think it would be a mistake if they are closed down before they have reached their full lifespan.  So we should avoid building new nuclear plants as they don’t form an answer to the current needs of the world (as stated in the video that is a project that could last 10 to 15 years to acchieve) and we should now put our focus on renewable energy alternatives whilst keeping on investing in the maintenance of our nuclear plants.  The combination between both should provide a stable and diverse energy market that is reliable for the future whilst continuing to evolve to more renewable alternatives and ending in a world without nuclear energy.

Let me know what you think!

 

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5 thoughts on “Debate: Does the world actually need nuclear energy?

  1. tijlcrauwels says:

    The view on this matter has probably changed dramatically after Fukushima. I, however, still think that nuclear energy should be used and further research should be taken in regard to nuclear waste. This being said, I’m also very much pro renewable energy, but realisticly you can not change this over night, so I think that nuclear energy should be kept in use for the next 20-40 years, while country’s develop and expand the use of renewable energy sources.
    This because if you vote for a nuclear exit, before we’re ready to support this with renewable energy sources, they will have to rely more and more on coal plants, which produce an enormous amount of CO2 in comparison to the nuclear plants.

    One thing Fukushima has shown us though is that we must be more careful where we place our nuclear plants, placing them near tectonic plates borders is just not responsible.

    Another alternative way I find very interesting is Nuclear Fusion, instead us nuclear fission that is used today. They’re working on this in France, the ITER project, which would be ready in 2020. Where they would produce 10 times the energy they initially put in it and would create a self sufficiant energy plant.

    • woutcordeel says:

      In general, I share the same opinion with Tijl. Thus I have my doubts about the nuclear fusion. I once read an article which concluded that it would take another 50, 60 years until nuclear fusion is fully integrated all over the world. During that period, the energy demand will grow exponentially and should be compensated by other sources.
      Today, India is designing thorium reactors, fourth generation reactors, which have no risk of proliferation or meltdown. Those reactors could be a good, reliable energy source for the next 40, 50 years.

      Nonetheless each country should increase their investment of renewable energy, because I believe that the future lies in this kind of energy source.

      • tijlcrauwels says:

        You’re absolutely right that nuclear fusion isn’t a solution at this given moment. I was merely trying to say that focusing only on renewable clean energy is never the way to go. I think that it will always be the best solution to find compromises untill we find one solution with all the benefits and non of the downsides. Which nuclear fusion might approach.

  2. The focus should be on renewable energy recourses. But It is not possible to say, “now we stop with nuclear energy”. There are probable enough renewable recourses to supply the entire world, like Mark Jacobson said in the TED movie, but this doesn’t mean that the world is ready yet, that the infrastructure is already there yet. Here one still needs nuclear energy, also it is smarter to use the plants until most of their lifespan is used, like Tijl Crauwels said in his post. Mark Jacobson said that there are enough recourses to supply the world and that they made a map of the wind supply over the whole world. But he has to be careful in that statement. It could be that a few days there won’t be enough wind to supply that certain region (for industry this can be dramatic), so there will be a buffer needed and a region can’t be too dependent of a certain recourse. Another alternative is to build a huge network, in a way that energy can be exchanged easy! I suggest to stop building nuclear plants, keep using the existing plants and keep investing in renewable energy.

  3. gabuglio says:

    My opinion on this case is prety much the same as the rest of you.
    Before all nuclear plants are being shutted down the renewable energy sources have to be faultless. It is clear from this movie but also from die movie about ‘die energiewende’ that this is not the case. So in my point of view is to keep the nuclear plants running as they do now and let’s focus on the improvement of the renewable energy and that they in the future can provide enough and stable energy for the whole world.

    This being said I want to say something about this kind of debat. I am really not a fan of this type of ‘knowledge’ spreading because it is just one big comedian and sensation show.
    For example the focus and speculation of Mark Jacobson that connects the nuclear energy with terrorism for example in Venezuela or the accidents that may cause a big explosion. Of course he has a point that it is possible but I don’t think that shouldn’t be one of his main arguments. Also the death rate numbers caused by emission of cars is, in my eyes, exagerated.
    On the other hand Stewart Brand makes himself ridiculous by showing his t-shirt at the end of the debat. That has nothing to do with the case and is just a stupid stunt to get attention.

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