Atomic research greatly escalated after the second world war. Post Manhattan Project, civilian use for nuclear energy grew through developments from the Atomic Energy Commission. The post-war flourishing economies in the west combined with an accelerating growth of energy needs made peace-time usage of nuclear fission the natural vehicle for power plants.
But the need for greater efficiency, safety and other environmental concerns has encouraged many western countries to seek additional energy outlets. Many eastern countries, who continually face burgeoning populations have continued their nuclear expansion.
A desire and ability to independently produce energy has encouraged some countries around the world to pursue nuclear energy alternatives. These alternatives include renewable energy options: resources that are replenished naturally.
For some countries, reducing potential threat of nuclear accidents has been at the forefront of their energy decisions. The debate between renewable and non-renewable energies continues. Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide; nuclear does not. Nuclear energy produces wastes that must be properly stored; and certain other energies are difficult to sustain. A consensus is unlikely to come soon as the advantages and disadvantages are immense.
Producing Energy to Maintain Infrastructure is Critical
There are immense energy demands around the world. Producing, maintaining, and transmitting these energy levels requires drastic undertakings. Regardless of opinions surrounding energy options, reliable base-load power is achieved through nuclear power plants. Thus, it remains a vital source of energy. Consider below how these countries are meeting their energy needs by increasing their nuclear energy output for 2017.
The energy needs of China continue to grow. Consuming almost as much energy as the U.S., China intends to double its nuclear capacity with the next five years. Spurred on by growing air pollution toxicity from fossil fuels and an ever-increasing population, conditions have led to economic losses in the country. To combat these losses, March 2016 saw the 13th Five-Year Plan formalized: testing of gas-cooled plants, approval and/or construction of six to eight reactors each year and incentive to reach 58 GWe nuclear capacity by 2020. China continues to pursue nuclear power share opportunities through improved reactor design as well as increasing exports of reactor technology.
India faces similar energy demands to China. It utilizes immense amounts of coal for electricity production. An already large, and continually growing population has led India to pursue additional nuclear power options. India’s current nuclear design is “three-stage.” Large thorium reserves exist in India, but exploiting this material in energy production has significantly higher costs than uranium.
Nuclear energy goals include a focus on light, heavy and fast reactors, as well as development of original and exported design. With five reactors currently being constructed, their rich thorium reserves can be realized. India has a goal of 14.5 GWe by 2020.
As the leading energy producer in the world, the U.S. has developed over 100 commercial reactors. Additionally, America exports reactor design to other countries. Presently four reactors are under construction. Nuclear energy development in America has recently focused on removing dependency on oil and gas. Electricity infrastructure investment has ebbed and flowed, and improved upon the passing of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which incentivized investment in energy production.
Improved maintenance of nuclear power plants has also occurred. In addition, research has begun into combining nuclear and renewable energy technologies. Initial results reveal integrating the systems “have the potential to provide zero-carbon electricity, zero-carbon energy to industry, produce high value goods like synthetic gasoline, and improve the operation of the grid.” says Energy.gov. Regardless, the U.S. is one of many countries striving to produce cost-effective and sustainable energy to meet its ever-growing demands.
Russia’s nuclear energy policy plans include development of one large and two small reactors by the end of 2017, and a proposed capacity of 30.5 GWe by 2020. Since the mid-50s, the country’s reactor development has increased, bringing the total number to 25. Energy demands have risen in the country with focuses placed on light water reactors, floating plants, and financing the construction of plants in other countries.
South Korea has also followed the trend in construction of nuclear power plants. But the country has placed its focus more on research into reactor design. It has three new reactors planned for construction. Alternative energy outlets have allowed South Korea to cut down energy production costs and increase efficiency. Expected nuclear capacity is 38 GWe by 2029.
Minimize Risk and Meet Energy Demands
The demand for energy around the world continues to increase. Energy consumption increases namely due to economic and population growth. Standards of living increase and this creates more need for housing and construction. Equipment, transportation, goods, production, and services all benefit from sustainable, lower cost, continuous electrical supply.
The International Energy Outlook (EIA) projects that within 23 years (by 2040), there will be a 48% increase in energy demands. For some countries, this demand can only be sustainably met through nuclear energy production. In this non-stop world, finding a non-stop energy source is key. As of now, nuclear is that sustainable energy that produces no emissions and can create more electricity with less carbon footprint than natural gas, coal, or oil.