What Are Some Good Things About Nuclear Energy?

good-things-nuclear-energy Credit: Rodrigo Gómez Sanz/CC-BY-2.0

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear energy offers the capability to generate extremely large amounts of electricity without producing greenhouse gases or other air pollutants. Like fossil fuel technologies, nuclear power plants can scale their output to meet demand, and they are extremely fuel-efficient. A single kilogram of uranium can produce up to 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, where a kilogram of coal produces around 3 kilowatt-hours.

In addition to their advantages over fossil fuel technologies, nuclear power plants have some advantages over renewable energy systems as well. Unlike solar and wind, nuclear plants can produce electricity 24 hours a day. While new technologies can greatly extend the effective electricity production of renewables, both wind and solar suffer from generation downtime when the sun goes down or the wind dies. Nuclear energy also requires considerably less land for power generation, with nuclear plants comparable in size to fossil fuel electricity generation facilities. Solar plants require considerable amounts of space, up to 31 square miles, and wind farms may require placement throughout a region for effective electricity generation. Hydroelectric plants are technically more compact, but they require the construction of dams that can create lakes that span several miles.