Last updated on: 10/5/2020 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Nuclear Energy Be Phased Out of Use?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Nuclear Engineering International, in a July 8, 2020 article, “Nuclear Power to 2030: Key Countries,” available at neimagazine.com, stated:

“Thirty-two countries currently operate nuclear reactors to generate electricity. While some countries such as Armenia and Slovenia operate just one reactor each, the USA operates 95 and France 57. Countries with significant nuclear power capacity are: USA, France, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea with more than 25 gigawatts (GW) installed capacity each. Canada and Ukraine operate around 13GW each. The UK, Germany, Sweden, Spain, India and Belgium have 5–10GW installed nuclear power capacity each. Another 16 countries have one or more reactors each, with installed capacity ranging from 0.4GW to 4GW.

Several countries have upcoming decommissioning during 2020–2030 and 12 countries are set to have less nuclear power in 2030 than they do today. While some of these are decommissioning old nuclear plants and do not have new capacity coming up, some countries are proactively phasing out nuclear power and switching to renewables.

Germany has already reduced its nuclear capacity to less than half its total in 2010 and is on course to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Belgium, Taiwan, and Switzerland are implementing similar programmes to phase out nuclear power by 2030.

Meanwhile, Belarus, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are in the process of acquiring new nuclear capacity with Belarus scheduled to commission its first reactor in 2020. UAE is the latest country to add nuclear power to its power mix with a 1345MW reactor due to start up this year.

Overall there are 49 nuclear reactors being constructed and set to add 53.5GW capacity during 2020–2025, of which 13.4GW or 25% is set to be commissioned in China alone through 13 new reactors. India, South Korea and UAE are the other countries with significant nuclear capacities under construction and scheduled to be commissioned during 2020–2025. These three countries are set to add 17.2GW during the period.”

July 8, 2020

The World Nuclear Association, in an Aug. 2020 article, “Nuclear Power in the World Today,” available at world-nuclear.org, stated:

  • “The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s.
  • Nuclear energy now provides about 10% of the world’s electricity from about 440 power reactors.
  • Nuclear is the world’s second largest source of low-carbon power (29% of the total in 2017).
  • Over 50 countries utilise nuclear energy in about 220 research reactors. In addition to research, these reactors are used for the production of medical and industrial isotopes, as well as for training.”
Aug. 2020

PRO (yes)

Pro

Greenpeace, in an article accessed on Oct. 5, 2020, “Nuclear Energy,” available at greenpeace.org, stated:

“Nuclear energy has no place in a safe, clean, sustainable future. Nuclear energy is both expensive and dangerous, and just because nuclear pollution is invisible doesn’t mean it’s clean. Renewable energy is better for the environment, the economy, and doesn’t come with the risk of a nuclear meltdown…

New nuclear plants are more expensive and take longer to build than renewable energy sources like wind or solar. If we are to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change, we need solutions that are fast and affordable. Nuclear power is neither.

We can do better than trading off one disaster for another. The nuclear age is over and the age of renewables has begun…

Nuclear energy is diverting attention and investment from the sustainable energy solutions we need. It’s time to stop building new nuclear facilities, phase out the ones that exist, and focus on clean energy for the future.”

Oct. 5, 2020

Pro

Gregory Jaczko, PhD, former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), in a May 17, 2019 article, “I Oversaw the U.S. Nuclear Power Industry. Now I Think It Should Be Banned.,” available at washingtonpost.com, stated:

“Fukushima provided a good test of just how important nuclear power was to slowing climate change: In the months after the accident, all nuclear reactors in Japan were shuttered indefinitely, eliminating production of almost all of the country’s carbon-free electricity and about 30 percent of its total electricity production. Naturally, carbon emissions rose, and future emissions-reduction targets were slashed.

Would shutting down plants all over the world lead to similar results? Eight years after Fukushima, that question has been answered. Fewer than 10 of Japan’s 50 reactors have resumed operations, yet the country’s carbon emissions have dropped below their levels before the accident. How? Japan has made significant gains in energy efficiency and solar power. It turns out that relying on nuclear energy is actually a bad strategy for combating climate change: One accident wiped out Japan’s carbon gains. Only a turn to renewables and conservation brought the country back on target…

This [nuclear] tech is no longer a viable strategy for dealing with climate change, nor is it a competitive source of power. It is hazardous, expensive and unreliable, and abandoning it wouldn’t bring on climate doom.

The real choice now is between saving the planet or saving the dying nuclear industry. I vote for the planet.”

May 17, 2019

Pro

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, in a July 2020 committee report, “Abolition of Nuclear Power: An Appeal from the Catholic Church in Japan,” available at cbcj.catholic.jp, stated:

“[W]e would like to call for the immediate abolishment of all the power plants in Japan…

Because of the prediction that a new disaster will occur due to another earthquake or tsunami, all the 54 nuclear plants in Japan are at risk of horrific accidents like the latest one. Therefore, in order to prevent human-generated calamities associated with natural disasters as much as possible, it is essential to eliminate nuclear plants.

Although nuclear plants have been supplying energy in the context of ‘peaceful use’ to society until now, they have also released an enormous amount of radioactive waste such as plutonium. We are going to place the custodial responsibility of these dangerous wastes on future generations for centuries to come. We must consider this matter to be an ethical issue…

We should choose anew a simple and plain lifestyle based on the spirit of the Gospel, in cases like saving electricity. We live in the hope that science and technology will develop and advance based on the same spirit. These attitudes will surely lead to a safer and more secure life without nuclear plants.”

July 2020

Pro

Carolina Lucas, PhD, Green Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Rebecca Harms, Former Member of European Parliament and Dany Cohn-Bendit, Member of European Parliament, in a Feb. 17, 2012 article, “Why We Must Phase Out Nuclear Power,” available at theguardian.com, stated:

“Fukushima, like Chernobyl 25 years before it, has shown us that while the likelihood of a nuclear disaster occurring may be low, the potential impact is enormous.

The inherent risk in the use of nuclear energy, as well as the related proliferation of nuclear technologies, can and does have disastrous consequences. The only certain way to eliminate this potentially devastating risk is to phase out nuclear power altogether…

[W]e should not wait for another disaster to finally convince us to give up on nuclear power.”

Feb. 17, 2012

CON (no)

Con

Bob Perciasepe, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, as quoted in an Oct. 1, 2018 article by Julia Pyper, “Trump Signs Legislation to Promote Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology,” greentechmedia.com, stated:

“Advanced reactors can dependably generate zero-emission electricity and useful heat, and they are scalable to produce large quantities of energy from a very small footprint. New designs hold the promise of being more affordable, even safer, and are expected to produce less waste than the current generation of reactors.

To meet our climate and clean energy goals, we must seek stable solutions that endure political transitions and maintain an ambitious pace to reduce emissions.”

Oct. 1, 2018

Con

Bob Perciasepe, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, in a Sep. 28, 2018 article, “One Small Step for Congress,” available at c2es.org, stated:

“Modeling to date clearly shows that we need nuclear power, renewables, carbon capture, and improved energy efficiency to achieve large-scale, economy-wide emission reductions. It is absolutely necessary to pursue all promising zero-emissions technologies with equal vigor.

Importantly, existing nuclear power plants are a critical bridge to our advanced nuclear future. Keeping the U.S. nuclear fleet in place for as long as practical helps avoid backsliding in emissions, helps maintain our domestic nuclear expertise, and buys us the critical time necessary to develop, deploy and commercialize the next generation of nuclear reactors and other zero-emission technologies.”

Sep. 28, 2018

Con

Jessica Lovering, PhD, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director at Good Energy Collective, as quoted by Julia Pyper in a Sep. 27, 2018 article, “How to Jump-Start a Micro Nuclear Reactor Industry in the US,” available at greentechmedia.com, stated:

“Wind and solar are really coming down in cost, they’re really expanding their deployment, and that’s great, but it’s not enough to get us to really deep decarbonization and a bigger transition away from fossil fuels. When you look at modeling grids or modeling energy transitions…having nuclear to complement renewables is a really great system; it’s really reliable, it’s really cheap and it’s really low-carbon. Nuclear has been this really big, risky, expensive project in the past. So moving nuclear more toward this manufactured project that a small city or a university or a hospital could buy off the shelf and have it delivered in a year and a half and plug in, and have it just generate power right away, that’s a very different model than nuclear’s had in the past.”

Sep. 27, 2018

Con

Michael Shellenberger, Cofounder of Breakthrough Institute and founder of Environmental Progress, in a Feb. 27, 2019 article, “Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet,” available at quillette.com, stated:

“Strange as it sounds, nuclear power plants are so safe for the same reason nuclear weapons are so dangerous. The uranium used as fuel in power plants and as material for bombs can create one million times more heat per its mass than its fossil fuel and gunpowder equivalents…

Because nuclear plants produce heat without fire, they emit no air pollution in the form of smoke. By contrast, the smoke from burning fossil fuels and biomass results in the premature deaths of seven million people per year, according to the World Health Organization.

Even during the worst accidents, nuclear plants release small amounts of radioactive particulate matter from the tiny quantities of uranium atoms split apart to make heat…

Thanks to its energy density, nuclear plants require far less land than renewables. Even in sunny California, a solar farm requires 450 times more land to produce the same amount of energy as a nuclear plant.

Energy-dense nuclear requires far less in the way of materials, and produces far less in the way of waste compared to energy-dilute solar and wind.”

Feb. 27, 2019