Nuclear Power: Advantages and Disadvantages


Geographical limitations - nuclear power plants don't require a lot of space; they do not need a large plot like a wind farm. But they have to be built near a large body of water for cooling purposes - using the water as a heat sink. They are usually found on the coast so there is no risk to drinking water sources.

Nuclear power stations do not contribute to carbon emissions - no CO2 is given out - it therefore does not contribute to global warming.

Nuclear power stations do not produce smoke particles to pollute the atmosphere or emit gases that contibute to acid rain.

Nuclear energy is by far the most concentrated form of energy - a lot of energy is produced from a small mass of fuel. This reduces transport costs - (although the fuel is radioactive and therefore each transport that does occur is expensive because of security implications).

Nuclear power is reliable. It does not depend on the weather.

We can control the output from a nuclear power station to fit our needs. It is relatively easy to control the output - although the time factor for altering power output is not as small as for fossil fuel stations. It is said to have a long 'start up' time. It cannot respond immediately to demand. That is why electricity companies try to 'even out' demand by using tarrifs that encourage use at off peak time perids.

Nuclear power produces a small volume of waste (although that waste is radioactive - see below)


Disposal of nuclear waste is very expensive. As it is radioactive it has to be disposed of in such a way as it will not pollute the environment.

Decommissioning of nuclear power stations is expensive and takes a long time. (In fact we have not yet decommissioned one!)

Nuclear accidents can spread 'radiation producing particles' over a wide area, This radiation harms the cells of the body which can make humans sick or even cause death. Illness can appear or strike people years after they were exposed to nuclear radiation and genetic problems can occur too. A possible type of reactor disaster is known as a meltdown. In a meltdown, the fission reaction of an atom goes out of control, which leads to a nuclear explosion releasing great amounts of radioactive particles into the environment. See Chernobyl.