What is nuclear power?
Nuclear power is energy contained in atoms. This energy can be released as heat from a chain reaction in a radioactive element such as uranium....
Nuclear power is energy contained in atoms. This energy can be released as heat from a chain reaction in a radioactive element such as uranium. Nuclear power stations use this heat to produce steam, which drives turbines to generate electricity. As the turbine spins it produces alternating current (AC) electricity which is supplied to the national electricity grid.
The steam is recondensed into water, usually by external seawater cooling and then recirculated back inside the reactor. For cooling reasons nuclear reactors are normally constructed near the coastline. Nuclear reactors built inland must be sited near large rivers and also generally use cooling towers.
One challenge of nuclear power is the waste it produces, some of which is highly radioactive. Another is the complex decommissioning required to remove all radioactive material from the site. Nuclear power stations require major investment to construct, but their relatively low running costs over a long operational life help to make them one of the most cost-effective generating technologies.
Nuclear power has the energy sector’s highest capital and water intensity and longest plant-construction time frame, making it hardly attractive for private investors. Globally, nuclear power is set to face increasing challenges due to its inability to compete with other energy sources in pricing. The Government of India intends to draw twenty-five per cent of its energy from nuclear power by 2050.
This plan includes 20,000 MW of installed capacity (currently 5,300 MW) from nuclear energy by 2020, and 63,000 MW by 2032. There are currently twenty one operational nuclear power reactors in India, across six states. They contribute less than three per cent of the country’s total energy generation, yet radioactively pollute at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. It should be noted that, while the US seems happy to export nuclear reactors, not a single nuclear plant has been commissioned in the US since the 1979.