Asking about clean energy, we always ignore Nuclear Energy as a source of one of the cleanest fuels available on the planet. Let’s try to know these reasons.
Nuclear Radiation is Devastating: The Little Boy and Fat Man attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively (during Second World War) are our only memories of Nuclear Radiation and the reason why we must fear it. In reality, all the useful resources can be corrupted for potential misuse in war tactics. We expect India will show maturity, and will soon become a signatory NPT (Non-proliferation Treaty for Nuclear Weapons), thus cementing its position as a contender for NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group).
Nuclear Radiation Leakage and Chernobyl: So, we know that it happened in then USSR’s Chernobyl, which makes it a highly classified case. Being a parallel nuclear power, the US has always seen USSR as a threat to its dominance and tried telling the world its take on Chernobyl. Politicizing the issue with the help of documentaries and juxtaposing facts, US has been quite successful in its propaganda of proving USSR failed at Nuclear department.
Myth Buster of Chernobyl: Only 54 people died from the radiation leakage accident, but a lot has been stretched and the story is far-fetched. If people are exposed to a radiation leakage environment, that’s inhuman and must be investigated thoroughly. This is akin to throwing children in a pond filled with crocodiles, where only one outcome is possible. We are not denying the casualties due to the accident and its aftermath. We are only justifying that even a coal-fired power plant is dangerous when not maintained with proper safety. Rationally speaking, Nuclear Energy isn’t the villain here.
Fukushima Daiichi Leakage and lessons learned: We can learn a lot from the classic victim of Nuclear Disaster, Japan. With time, the island nation understood the reliance on cleaner sources of Energy and incorporated Nuclear Energy in its portfolio for an emission-free planet. On 11 March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit coasts of Japan, magnified into Tsunami, and affected the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors. No casualties were reported amid leakage of fuel from two of the Nuclear Reactors. The planning and design parameters of a Nuclear Power Plant are of paramount significance, and we can hail Japan for showing how such accidents can be dealt with when the whole nation was already affected by the natural disaster duo.
The curious case of Kudankulam: A lot has been said and written about Kudankulam Nuclear Plant, and we need to understand what’s the viewpoint of rural Indian villagers, who are seeing their local river to be the source of steam for a Nuclear Power Plant. The staff’s mock drills, the shrieking sounds of high intensity (during valve opening of reactors), and the extra cautious behavior of staff (not allowing locals to be around the plant site) were portrayed by few as the reason for terror. It is easiest to corrupt the mind of an unaware person. That’s what happened in the case of Kudankulam. There never has been a case of leakage, and the miscommunication with local stakeholders was the only error, which the then NPCIL staff admitted. There’s a need for education regarding Nuclear Energy because myths created without justifiable evidence only widen the communication gap between communities.
Controlled Fission reaction: An atom of heavier mass splits into two, releasing some unusual amount of energy in the form of heat radiation, gets controlled in an isolated system, and the continuous chain reaction keeps releasing this heat at the expense of saving thousands of tons of coal each day. We must be thankful for this heavy element consortium (Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium, etc.), as these can be our weapon of mass destruction in our fight against Global Warming and Climate Change. With complete combustion or fission, approx. 8 kWh of heat can be generated from 1 kg of coal, approx. 12 kWh from 1 kg of mineral oil and around 24,000,000 kWh from 1 kg of uranium-235. Related to one kilogram, uranium-235 contains two to three million times the energy equivalent of oil or coal.
If right now all the non-renewable sources are shut down, we do not have the guarantee or evidence that 100 percent renewable energy system is even possible, let alone feasible or sensible. We do not know if all the available resources including the nuclear have the capability to take the world out of the danger of climate change. But we do have enough evidence that so far nuclear has been the most effective solution for decarbonizing energy production. The evidence so far suggests that nuclear power is one of the most essential tools we have in mitigating climate change. [Source: Climate Gamble]
Ajay is currently working as a consultant at Climate Connect Technologies Limited. He is an M.Sc in Environmental Sciences. An avid practitioner of Eco-friendly lifestyle himself, he likes to advocate the same to the masses.