Why is nuclear energy good?


Quick Answer

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear power offers the ability to generate large amounts of energy from a relatively tiny amount of fuel, without releasing carbon dioxide and other air pollutants released by the burning of fossil fuels. Nuclear energy offers better reliability and more energy production than renewables and fewer environmental concerns than fossil fuels.

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Full Answer

Compared to fossil fuels, the chief advantage of nuclear power is the lack of carbon emissions. A single 1,000-megawatt coal plant may produce more than 6,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide in a year. A comparable nuclear plant produces only around 830 tons of waste, most of it low-level radioactive waste that requires little special handling. Modern reactors produce less waste than older designs, and some new designs reprocess existing nuclear waste and use it as fuel.

Compared to renewables, the advantages of nuclear power are energy density, scalability and reliability. To generate 1,000 megawatts, a solar facility needs approximately 12 times as much land area as a nuclear plant, and a wind farm may require 36 times as much space. Nuclear plants can also ramp up their production when demand is high and power down when demand falls, unlike wind and solar methods that produce energy only when the resource is available.

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