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Powering The Future Of The United Kingdom Should We Go Nuclear?

1447 words - 6 pages

Nowadays it has become apparent that the current use of fossil fuels to power the nation has had a massive impact on our environment. In recent years, the governments have had to try to take some sort of action to combat the problem of global warming and the emission of greenhouse gasses. Particularly the use of taxes and encouraging local industries to reduce their emissions by the use of grants to help implement greener systems. For the future it seems in the United Kingdom, we have two main options for the production of power other than fossil fuels. We can look towards more nuclear power plants, whilst not exactly ‘green’ they produce no carbon emissions and massive amounts of power per ...view middle of the document...

Some people would argue that many large wind farms would ruin a picturesque landscape by blocking the view or disturbing livestock. Some would even argue that large wind farms create a large amount of noise, compared to one nuclear plant hidden away by the coast. To put this into numbers, the World Nuclear Association said that last year, the UK’s nuclear plants accounted for 20% of the overall power requirements for the county. On the contrary, this means that, (according to only 4000 on-shore and 973 off-shore windmills only accounted for a measly 4% of Britain’s power requirements. Compared to only 9 nuclear plants which still manage to produce this amount of power and more. Therefore, will wind power ever become a viable source of power? It looks like that a ridiculous amount of turbines will be required before they can even compete with the power output of nuclear plants. Would it not make sense to just build 4 or 5 new plants to boost the power capacity of the UK? This would be in comparison to thousands and thousands of windmills; possibly ruining the beautiful landscape.
In addition, nuclear power plants are more efficient, have very easily accessible fuel and create virtually no pollution compared to old fossil fuel plants. By itself, a nuclear plant will not produce any pollutant gasses such as CO2. The only ‘pollution’ it will produce will be the ‘spent’ fuel. Spent fuel can only pollute if handled incorrectly, which results in radioactive poisoning of the landscape and surrounding areas. This is a rare occurrence. According to a BBC report, “Sellafield's Thorp reprocessing centre receives waste nuclear fuel from 34 plants around the world.” This can turn 96% of spent fuel waste back into useable fuel for plants. Some of it is combined with plutonium into a substance known as “mox.” This reprocessed fuel is turned into small pellets. The report also goes on to mention that, ‘British Nuclear Fuel says, “Three pellets can provide a family's needs for an entire year. Each reprocessed pellet weighs 6 grams.’” This is very significant because this shows us that these tiny pellets can produce huge amounts of power for their size, as compared to the tons of metal and resources needed to set up renewable solutions. Even better still is that the pellets are recycled from old spent fuel which is 96% efficient. This clearly shows us a major advantage of nuclear fuel over current renewable systems. Overall this shows how highly efficient these plants can be. Combine that with the ability to recycle used fuel and you clearly end up with a system which is much more cost effective versus a renewable alternative.
Nuclear fuelled plants have a long life cycle and fuel can be used for many years before needing replacing. The plants themselves are made to last many decades. According to World Nuclear, the average life span of the UK’s current reactors is about 40 years. This can then be extended by replacing parts as every single...

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