The Trilemma around Nuclear Power
Is nuclear energy a clean and productive way to make energy or a dangerous and high-cost blunder people make for energy?
by Pranav Arun
Nuclear power is an innovative and futuristic way of getting energy using the concept of nuclear reactions. People have many different standpoints on this issue, all the way from advocating for this use of energy to demanding for the immediate reduction in nuclear power.
In 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi succeeded in using uranium to create a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. This successful reaction, known now as nuclear fission, released high amounts of energy, and immediate real-world applications were found for it. This is when nuclear power was born. Since that revolutionary discovery about nuclear fission, 448 nuclear reactors have been made, with a further 58 power reactors under construction. Nuclear power may not have the popularity of coal mines or fossil fuels, but it has seen remarkable growth in the past decade. Although this energy alternative may have gained popularity, there have also been people heavily criticizing and even being scared of this.
Here’s where this Trilemma is presented: should nuclear power be used for environmental-friendly energy and higher-paying jobs, should it not be used because of money problems and safety hazards, or is there a neutral perspective?
The Supporting Side- People for Nuclear Power
Some people, especially environmentalists, feel that nuclear power is currently used too less, and should be used more to a higher extent to promote clean energy. According to the office of nuclear energy, 55% of emissions-free energy is produced by nuclear power. If all nuclear power were to be replaced by emission-making energy, that would be the equivalent of putting 100 million new cars on the road. People who support this stance understand that nuclear power creates expensive jobs, and creates a reliable and clean source of energy. According to the Office of Nuclear Energy, nuclear power remains the most reliable energy source on the grid today. People looking at nuclear energy in this angle will understand the risks and costs of it, but feel a clean energy source is necessary. They feel that costs and potential accidents risks need to be taken in order for this clean and reliable energy source.
The Opposing Side- People Against Nuclear Power
On the other hand, some people find nuclear power to be too expensive and dangerous based on 3 global nuclear accidents, and due to high operating and construction costs. Safer reactors are being developed, but in the case of a nuclear accident, they can be unprecedented and deadly. Nuclear reactor disposal is a very risky and dangerous concept because of the high temperatures and high radiation, and it can be deadly if not disposed of correctly. The people that go by this perspective keep in mind the high operating costs for power plants and the high construction costs that discourage shareholders. It is understood that nuclear power may be clean and reliable, but for this side, having a low-cost, low-risk source of energy is preferable. This side argues against nuclear energy and calls for the reduction of nuclear energy and reactors.
The Neutral Stance
Again, nuclear power is a very futuristic and debatable source for energy, and both sides should be viewed clearly before deciding on a solution. In this case, the problem is about whether you would prefer a clean, reliable source of energy with risks and high costs or an emission-making source of energy with low risk and low cost. But, in this trilemma, is there a neutral stance? The neutral stance in this trilemma would be having a safer, well-developed reactor that reduces emissions by a sizable amount. It would be preferable by the opposing side to have a low-cost power plant, but money has to be spent to make nuclear reactors safe and government-approved. By making a power plant that has values of both sides, this trilemma can be approached from a neutral perspective.
In conclusion, all three perspectives in this trilemma are well-reasoned, and people can have good reasons for choosing any side. It is clear that you can choose any side in this trilemma and still have enough reasoning to argue for it, whether it be for nuclear power or against everything that has to do with it.