Saturday, 19 March 2011

Nuclear Energy - Boon or Bane?

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"Good were the days when people played Duke Nukem,
Now people just say Dude Nuke 'em"

Nuclear energy has been a controversial topic and a topic of debate from ages ago. In this post, I would like to analyse this from a layman's perspective.

Countries are growing rapidly, both economically and by population. And a commodity that seems to be needed more than ever, and the need for which will continue to grow unabated is energy. Energy is needed to do anything - Whether it is to recharge your cell phone, or to power huge machinery, it's a fundamental requirement.

And all these days, we were using thermal power for most of the energy. With passage of time and with growing demand for energy and a rapidly declining stock of coal, natural gas and oil, search for alternate sources of energy has become a high priority. And one of the top contenders is Nuclear energy.

Of course, there are other sources, but the problem is that they are not viable. Coal, natural gas and oil are fast depleting, emit a lot of smoke and gases and will not be taken into account in this discussion. So what then?

Solar seems to be a very appealing source of energy, but if the cost of panels is going to be as prohibitive as it is now, then it will never be used for anything beyond Solar Water Heaters. The solar panels are extremely expensive for the amount of energy that they give, and that is therefore not widely accepted. Of course, other problems such as "What to do when the sun don't shine?" (except kissing - for those who didn't get it) exist

Water is not a continuous source of supply, and is available in very limited places such as water falls, and building dams seem to require relocation of entire villages which will result in other problems. Geothermal energy is again limited to very few places, and doesn't result in a lot of energy. Going for sea water (tidal) is also not a great idea, since the salt seems to create a lot of problem.
Wind may seem to be really appealing - Perhaps we should try installing huge arrays of windmills in deserts and along the coast... I am not sure if it will still suffice.

As we see above, most of them are not viable because of cost, non availability, not being steady or not being sufficient. Therefore, the only alternative is nuclear. But nuclear has its own disadvantages... The best example for anti-nuclear is Japan. If a meltdown gets triggered due to a natural disaster or a terror threat, or some other way, thousands of people will be affected for hundreds of years. But at the same time, we cannot simply say that we should not go for it because of its inherent dangers, because of the huge demand supply mismatch that glares at us.

Therefore, to summarise, I believe that till a better source of energy is found, nuclear energy is the way to go ahead. Of course, the location of the reactors should be chosen wisely, and enormous safety precautions should be taken... But overall, I believe that nuclear is the way ahead.

---
An Opinion Poll on Facebook
I asked:
[A] "Nuclear energy for power is dangerous but required because nothing else can match huge release of energy after coal/oil"....
[B] "Nuclear energy costs too much, as demonstrated by the recent Japanese tragedy and shouldn't be used"...

Which of these do you support? A or B?


Responses
Prajwal M Sudarshan: ‎[A]

Prashanth Harshangi: ‎[B]

Mac Nirmal Lobo: ‎[A]

Hemanth Pai: ‎[A]

Pavithra Chowdappa: ‎[A]

Abhishek Kodankiry: ‎[A]

Chiranth Ashok: ‎[A]
Reactors should be built away from big settlements though...

Vinayraj Govindarajan: ‎[A]
But with sufficient knowledge and resources to handle crisis situations! u see its like knowledge..its not inherently bad....but u must also know how to use it!

Gurudatha Pai: ‎[A]
Clearly its A. Engineering is all about tradeoffs and business is all about risks. I read an article which says Japan was "worse than worst case" accident. The plant did what it was designed to do - automatic full shutdown. It is the residual

Dhanabal Lingasamy: [B]
There are other renewable energy which can be used instead of nuclear energy. Government needs to concentrate on those instead of big nuclear deals which are harmful and full of contradictions.

Manjunath Deepak Nayak: ‎[A]
Hey Niks, if a plane crashes do u stop flying? same way these accidents come under Force Majeure, i.e uncontrollable acts of Nature, effects can b minmised by proper design & selection of technology...

Avinash Ajjammanavar: [A]
Lets roll back into the past when Onion's price rose upto 70 rupees/kg (dont know how to get the rupee symbol) but we still managed to get some for our needs the same applies here i think so

To clarify myself, though dangerous for the pocket money but nothing can replace onion for the taste , @ the end of the day , paapi pet ka sawaal hai

Krithika Chandrasekaran: ‎[A]
Provided people realize the extent of added responsibility. What happened at Japan was no one's fault. this shouldn't prevent usage of existing technology. Only thing is our usual chalta-hai attitude of handling equipments or maintenance cannot and must not be allowed. Our "babus" have to realize that India has so many people squeezed in just so much place... so even a small disaster will cause great havoc

Vinay Jm: ‎[B]
More fund should go for solar energy. I think new ideas will develop if have no other options. Let solar technology come up. I can see so many A's here, but answer would have been B if japan incident happened in India and we were the victims. Few things can not be understood however emotional you are unless you are a victim.

Aditya Padaki: [A]Until an equivalent and safer technology which produces same energy per cost as nuclear is discovered/invented (if at all :P), I would go with [A]. But I would also vouch on spending extra money to ensure safety and security of such infrastructure
***
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10 comments:

shalini said...

i think if people of india are just saying blindly that nuclear energy is a bane or disaster to our country then they should also suggest some ,method or strategy to match the energy requirements of our country if not solar energy not even natural coal or thermal energy then what? ............ according to the need of the time , it should be the nuclear energy with sufficient care and safety measures and another method for now can be just to save energy to have a environment friendly and high sustainability country.

Meghana said...

nuclear energy is bane if used in a wrong way ...it depends to the user how does he exploit the certain source available to him.Today genx is so fast and want every thing quick
whether by hook or cook...so nuclear enegry in anyways can be used to save earth from present crisis if thought in a good way

anjali mathew said...

if we the people of india will say that nuclear energy is bane then GO AND HIT YOUR HEAD 5 TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!... INDIA IS 2ND LARGEST POPULATED COUNTRY AFTER CHINA SO WE NEED ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF ENERY TO MEET OUR NEEDS.YA I ARGEE THERE R SOME DISADVANTAGES BUT V SHOULD COME OVER THEM ONLY THEN OUR COUNTRY CAN DO ANYTHING. otherwise ol indians should go to hell !!!!!!!!!!!!!! IF WE CAN NOT TAKE RIGHT DECISION!!!!!!!!!!!! JAI HIND

anjali mathew said...

if v the indians say that nuclear energy is bane then go n hit ur head 5 times...india is 2nd largest populated cuntry of world so v need energy in large amount so nuclear is best option !!!!!!!!!!!!!if the indians r not able to take rit decision then ol of us must go to hell !!!!!!!!! jai hind

get it at said...

we cannot just tell it is bane it is of boon if we use it in a proper way
so i conclude that it is boon only

get it at said...

we cannot just tell it is bane it is of boon if we use it in a proper way
so i conclude that it is boon only

@nindya said...

well it ia a bane..see wat happnd 2 japan..and india is defintly goin to suffer if a tragedy of such an intensity takes place...
4get d japs nd take a look at d chernobyl disaster in ukraine 985000 people got killed due 2 premature cancer...

with such disadvantages..it can never be a bane..

we could go with other sources like tidal energy or d hydo electricity.

@nindya said...

well it ia a bane..see wat happnd 2 japan..and india is defintly goin to suffer if a tragedy of such an intensity takes place...
4get d japs nd take a look at d chernobyl disaster in ukraine 985000 people got killed due 2 premature cancer...

with such disadvantages..it can never be a bane..

we could go with other sources like tidal energy or d hydo electricity.

Bhanvi Shukla said...

I don't think nuke energy iz a bane if it comes at par with the safety and proliferation security requirements of the present world. for, in mah opinion, no1 wants taliban or lashkar-e-taiyyaba to have accesss to nuke energy plants as well as nuke warheads, other than terrorists themselvezz....

venom said...

Renewable energy sources can be combined to improve reliability. Smart Grid is what I believe the research area is called. Read the article below for details.

Relevant:
http://www.helencaldicott.com/2011/12/after-fukushima-enough-is-enough/