Q:

Why is nuclear energy good?

A:

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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Related Questions

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    Why is nuclear waste bad?

    A:

    The primary harm from nuclear waste comes from radiation, which can cause health problems in humans and other living organisms and degrade the quality of surrounding air, water and soil. Radioactive waste comes in the form of liquid, solid and gas. The level of radioactivity within nuclear waste varies, as does the time it remains active and capable of causing harm to the environment.

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    What is a nuclear winter?

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    How is nuclear waste disposed of?

    A:

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the disposal of radioactive waste varies by type, but generally it must be stored somewhere until radioactive decay renders it safe. Low-level radioactive waste like contaminated safety gear can be safe enough to place in traditional landfills, while high-level waste like spent fuel generally requires special storage for hundreds or even thousands of years to prevent radioactive contamination.

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    What is a nuclear fallout radius?

    A:

    The fallout radius of a nuclear detonation represents the area that may be contaminated by fallout. Fallout particles are held aloft by atmospheric winds, but begin to rain down shortly after the blast and represent a radiation hazard.

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