Nuclear power has been a significant source of electricity since the mid-20th century, originating with the advent of the Atomic Age, marked by the 1945 detonation of ‘nuclear bombs‘ during WWII.
The first civil nuclear power stations were built during the 1950s, and Britain was a pioneer, commissioning Calder Hall, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, in 1956.
Nuclear power is great
- nuclear power is incredibly efficient, providing a huge amount of energy from a small amount of uranium;
- unlike solar or wind energy, nuclear power isn’t dependent on weather conditions;
- nuclear power plants produce virtually no carbon dioxide (CO2);
- nuclear power plants can generate electricity for several decades; and
- compared to wind or solar farms, nuclear power plants require far less land to produce a comparable amount of energy.
Nuclear power is safe
Despite concerns about radiation, modern tech has considerably mitigated risks and, contrary to popular belief, radiation is not as dangerous as widely claimed.
The politicisation of nuclear power has led to ridiculous fear porn, with anti-nuclear lobbies and green campaigns frequently pushing propaganda and other nonsense.
Furthermore, a nuclear power station operates continuously, supplying a steady base-load of energy, unlike renewable sources such as wind or solar, which are subject to fluctuations due to weather conditions. This reliability means that energy needs are met even in periods of high demand.
Moreover, nuclear power is cheaper over its lifetime due to its longevity and efficiency.
The big thing is lack of knowledge.
Too many people are indoctrinated.
Knowledge is power
Fear of nuclear power usually stems from high-profile disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Chernobyl, for example, occurred due to a fundamentally flawed reactor design and inadequate safety protocols, issues that have been comprehensively addressed in modern reactors.
Put another way, human error.
Meanwhile, Fukushima was hit by an exceptionally powerful earthquake and tsunami. Thousands died, not because of a radiation leak, but because of a catastrophic tidal wave.
An article from The Register discussec the incident, argueing that the plant performed exceptionally well despite facing a disaster much larger than for what it was designed. The earthquake was absolutely massive, yet the reactors shut down automatically and remained safe. The subsequent tsunami knocked out backup power systems and, despite this, additional (automatic) safety measures prevented a major disaster.
To be clear, pretty much nobody (other than one or two rescue personnel) died from the nuclear plant, but over 16,000 people died from the tsunami.
Hügo Krüger is a South African nuclear engineer based in France, who has written a number of excellent articles on the topic, such as President’s Climate Report is “flawed, simplistic and inadequate” and Financing Options for Nuclear Plants.
Here’s my conversation with him.