Is Nuclear Energy the way to go?

March 11 2011, the area of Tohoku, Japan, experienced its most powerful earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.0. The earthquake lasted for 6 minutes, but the aftershocks felt after it will last forever. The tsunami crashed its towering waves onto the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, causing colossal damage to the reactor. Large amounts of nuclear waste was deposited onto the seaside, resulting in irreversible contaminated water and release of harmful radiation to the surrounding area, declaring it inhabitable for a few years. The meltdown of the reactor caused much ___ (?) to the general public, with many calling for the closure of other reactors in Japan due to the fear of it failing. This has generated much discussion about the reliability of nuclear reactors, thus we will dive into the topic of nuclear energy and find out if the benefits outweigh its drawbacks.

Nuclear energy is known to be a reliable energy source. It has the most capacity factor in relation to any other energy source. Ironic as it is, nuclear power does not release any harmful toxins, as its production of energy relies on nuclear fission rather than chemical reactions, hence there is no output of harmful greenhouse gases. There has been debate on whether uranium, the fuel for nuclear energy, is a renewable source of energy. Uranium is not considered a renewable source if we go by its textbook definition. However, there may be uranium yet to be discovered, especially in areas that require a higher cost to extract. Thus, Uranium lies in a grey area in terms of its classification.

Let us take a look at other forms of renewable energy. Solar energy has been increasingly popular over the past few years. Solar Panels can be used domestically, as it can be installed in homes and offices, not requiring a central location. However, Solar panels cannot be built vertically, thus it needs a large amount of land area in order to make it viable for large scale power usage. This eliminates the possibility for small countries like Singapore to apply this strategy. Wind energy also has the same fate as solar energy. Hydroelectric Energy has also been considered, but it has drawn controversy from environmentalists, with its construction affecting the environment and aquatic life around it.

This brings us back to the topic of nuclear energy as a source of energy. Using the case study, the meltdown was attributed to safety lapses. The plant should never have been built near the ocean in the first place. Nevertheless, people have only focused on the negatives of the accident. One can argue that Fukushima was a one-off incident, but how certain can one be? Other sources of energy do not have massive consequences compared to nuclear energy, hence people’s fears of it may be justified. This results in a tough question, is it worth the efficiency of it?

In my opinion, nuclear energy is the way to go. Governments need to have strict legislation in order to prevent accidents from happening. The disposal of nuclear waste is also another issue, but i feel with the right support from the citizens in keeping the government accountable, nuclear energy may be the hidden gem we had always dismissed.

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