Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy: Superiority of the Conventional - Energy Essay Example
Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy: Superiority of the Conventional
Electricity or power production and usage have definitely been among the most commonly discussed issues in today’s society - Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy: Superiority of the Conventional introduction. Without doubt, the success of nations is partly dependent on the availability of electricity as most modern technology continuously requires power. However, the most widely used source of electricity at present, which are fossil fuels, are believed by many to be already limited in quantity. Furthermore, the use of such in energy generation has been associated with detrimental repercussions on the planet. With these in mind, some individuals are emphasizing the possibility of further utilizing nuclear means for electricity production. Even though nuclear energy is already being used worldwide, it is still for a fact that fossil fuel still accounts for a considerably greater percentage in global electricity production (International Debate Education Association [IDEA] 163). Nonetheless, even with the positive notions regarding the advantage and promise of widely transitioning into nuclear means of energy generation, there are reasons why fossil fuel is still the better option. Based upon aspects such as safety, efficiency, and cost it is certainly clear that fossil fuel is still superior to its nuclear counterpart as the main source of electricity.
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As one may expect, safety is an important concern in selecting the best means of power generation. In terms of fossil fuels, producing energy or power involves entire facilities containing storage or transfer units as well as turbines for processing (Stellman 767). In this sense, it would be expectable that the hazards present to the workers would be limited to a few aspects. Injuries from the machinery or chemical agents may arise but the occurrence of such is generally minimized through proper safety planning and facility design (Stellman 767). In contrast, nuclear plants or nuclear energy production may expose individuals or communities to radiation. Although there are ways already developed to maintain safety within the confines of a nuclear plant, the most effective means of disposing radioactive byproducts still remain as a pressing obstacle (IDEA 163). Aside from the safety of the population, it would also be best to consider environmental safety as well. In this sense, it is generally known that generating energy through fossil fuels release additional carbon dioxide unto the atmosphere; its actual effects on the environment still remain trivial however (Zedillo 22). On the other hand, it is certain that radioactive waste would detrimentally affect the environment, and it is not difficult to foresee the extent of damage if ever a disastrous nuclear meltdown occurs.
As noted beforehand, it would also be necessary to point out the differences between electricity generation from fossil fuel and nuclear sources in terms of efficiency. To clarify, efficiency in this sense pertains to whether energy generation provides an ideal balance between the power required for the process, the power produced, and the power which can actually be used; in reality, experts claim that despite the advances in technology, both processes of energy generation remain to be comparatively wasteful (Cocks 114). However, fossil fuel based power production still remain superior in this aspect which means that despite being rather wasteful it is still more efficient than its nuclear counterpart. To further explain, both means of power generation require the process of superheating in order to function and eventually generate electricity; being capable of maintaining optimal function at higher temperatures, conventional fossil fuel power plants are more efficient by 8% than nuclear power plants (Cocks 114). Taking note of such a difference or gap in efficiency is indeed important as the topic of power generation is mainly about the question of how efficient the process can be. Furthermore, efficiency is directly related to the costs associated with maintaining the energy generation process continuously, the greatest amount of usable energy should be generated with the least expenses.
Costs do not only pertain to the actual process of generating electricity but may actually be associated with the amount allocated for building additional facilities. In establishing the superior choice for energy generation throughout the world, it is also important to take note of how prevalent facilities for each respective means of production have become. It is for a fact that fossil fuel power plants are more widespread throughout the world (IDEA 163). In contrast, it is generally known that nuclear power plants are only present among a limited number of nations. Interestingly, the United States being the most capable nation in building and running nuclear power plants is actually not considering using it well into the future despite the possibility of running out of fossil fuel (IDEA 163). One may speculate that expanding nuclear energy facilities may not be the most fruitful or productive course of action. The most appropriate explanation in such reluctance would be related to the costs associated with building new nuclear power plants. The required expenses in building a nuclear plant and eventually shutting it down later on does not make it a cost-effective option even for such an advanced nation (IDEA 163).
Throughout the discussion, strong evidences in support of the superiority of fossil fuel over nuclear means of electricity generation have been presented. In relation to this, it would be appropriate to state that despite being pointed out as a potential replacement for fossil fuels, nuclear energy entails a myriad of non-beneficial, if not entirely dangerous and non-efficient, characteristics. Fossil fuel on the other hand, as proven by its current success and widespread use, is not only comparatively safer to both communities and the environment but it is also more efficient and new facilities are cheaper to build. At this point, some may once again point out the belief that fossil fuel supplies are already near exhaustion; some already refute and question this perspective. Specifically, the manner in which such projections of fossil fuel depletion may be regarded as unreliable since opportunities for locating new sources are always at hand (IDEA 163). Regardless of the real amount of its supply, in terms of safety, efficiency, and cost, using fossil fuels to generate electricity is irrefutably superior to nuclear means; nonetheless, research in finding alternatives which may even be superior to fossil fuels should not cease as humanity should always seek progress.
Cocks, Franklin Hadley. Energy, Demand, & Climate Change: Issues and Resolutions. Durhanm, NC: Wiley VHC, 2009. Print.
International Debate Education Association. The Debatabase Book: A Must-Have Guide for Successful Debate. 4th Edition. New York, NY: IDEBATE Press, 2009. Print.
Stellman, J.M. Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety. 4th Edition. Geneva, IL: International Labour Office, 1998. Print.
Zedillo, E. Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto. Washington, DC: Brookings – Center for the Study of Globalization, 2008. Print.