For decades people have been pondering on the same questions: Is nuclear energy worth betting on? Will it be the energy of the future? Is it too dangerous for the humanity to keep developing nuclear facilities around the world?
No wonder that there are many supporters and adversaries. Each party has weighty arguments.
As we know, last year nuclear energy became a special concern for the entire world. The Fukushima meltdown in 2011 (as the result of several earthquakes and tsunamis) reminded everyone that nuclear energy is as dangerous as powerful.
Shortly after the disaster, most nuclear countries started emergency testing of their nuclear power plants to find out whether they are safe enough. Some of them decided to abandon their nuclear plans.
Now let’s have a closer look at the results of such policies and the prospects of nuclear power engineering.
Nuclear Power Engineering: Significance And prospects
Modern energy production and supplies depend on natural resources. In this sector, crude oil accounts for 7%, 29% - coal and peat, 7 – natural gas.
Conventional energy sources
Nuclear energy is widely used to meet the global energy needs. These days nuclear energy is relatively cheap and efficient. In some countries, nuclear power plants are major sources of energy.
Having analyzed numerous stats, the experts of Masterforex-V Academy report that there are some 450 nuclear power plants around the world. Over 60 new plants will be put into operation in the near future. The USA is the world’s leader in terms of nuclear capacities. France is the leader in terms of the share of nuclear energy - over 78%.
Let’s look at how much various countries are dependent on nuclear power:
The image below reflects how many nuclear facilities each European country has and how many new plants are going to be built (given in brackets):
Russia’s Nuclear Sector
Russia has 10 nuclear power plants. They supply over 30% of the country’s energy needs. The Russian authorities bet on nuclear energy, thus improving and expanding the infrastructure.
Moreover, in 2011 Rosatom signed 21 contracts to build nuclear facilities abroad, including India, Turkey, Vietnam, China, Bulgaria, Armenia, Belarus and other countries. The Fukushima disaster only strengthened the confidence in the Russian technologies in the international arena because the number of contracts nearly doubled shortly after the disaster.
Rosatom is expected to increase its proceeds up to $75B by 2030.
As for innovations, not so long ago Russian developers offered to create a floating nuclear power reactor in order to supply the country’s coastal areas with electricity. This type of reactor is said to be safer than conventional nuclear facilities, which is a major factor.
Current Global Tendencies And Forecasts
The Fukushima nuclear disaster gave birth to multiple rumors. According to them, most countries are about to abandon nuclear energy, to close their nuclear facilities and to freeze their nuclear projects.
However, some experts say that the humanity has already reached the point of no return, when people just cannot do without nuclear energy, especially as the global deposits of oil, natural gas and coal keep running low. Nuclear-generated electricity accounts for 16% of all the electricity produced around the world.
Europe. The Fukushima disaster shocked the entire EU. Belgium and Switzerland were the first European countries to abandon their nuclear projects. Germany decided to suspend the work of some of its nuclear power plants. The UK and Italy came up with the same idea.
France, which is the EU’s leader in terms of nuclear capacity, speaks in favor of this type of energy. The thing is that the Japanese disaster made numerous countries revise and test the current condition of their nuclear facilities. The results appeared to be negative. Some countries are still at the crossroads, deciding whether to invest billions in modernizing their nuclear infrastructure or to simply abandon nuclear energy (thus closing all their nuclear facilities).
This year Germany has already stopped 8 of its 30-year-old nuclear power plants. The result is the lack of electricity. Therefore, Germany has to import it from the neighboring countries. However, it is rather costly (1.7 trillion euro). This year Germany is planning to built 120 wind power generators to make up for the lack of energy.
Asia. On the contrary, China is planning to develop its own nuclear infrastructure, especially as its territory is rich in uranium deposits. China’s energy capacities are based on nonrenewable resources (over 70%). Thermal power-stations are harmful to the environment. The Fukushima disaster made the Chinese authorities freeze their nuclear projects but earlier this year the moratorium was canceled.
The bottom line: It is relatively easy to close a nuclear power plant. However, before that, it is necessary to make sure that the country has enough alternative sources of energy to make up for the lack of nuclear power. Germany is a striking example of how hasty decisions can result in much heavier spending.
Alternative Energy Sources
These days many countries around the world bet on solar power. For example, next year China is planning to become the world’s leader in terms of producing solar panels. The USA is planning to increase the share of solar power up to 14% of the country’s total energy consumption. The EU has started a €400B project, which implies setting up solar panels in the Sahara desert and further transporting the energy to Europe through high-voltage underwater cables.
Renewable sources of energy are getting more and more popular with investors. In 2011 the inflow of investment capital in the sector increased by 40% up to $53.5B.
Some experts say that the share of alternative (renewable) energy sources will increase up to 20% in a decade. However, the debt abyss, in which the world is about to fall, may postpone these ambitious plans.
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