Nuclear Could Play Significant Role in Europe’s Future Energy Mix
From The Huffington Post
By Julian Hunt
More than two years after the devastating Fukushima nuclear disaster, the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl, the repercussions continue in Europe. Inevitably, the episode has prompted renewed debate in Brussels and EU countries about nuclear power.
For instance, Germany has decided to shut down its fission plants. Moreover, in a referendum, 95% of the Italian public opposed plans to restart a nuclear programme in the country. However, the United Kingdom has committed to building two fission power plants.
A danger in the polarised debate is that nuclear is often portrayed as a single, undifferentiated energy source. This is wrong and risks losing the opportunity to explore the role that new nuclear technologies can play.
The starting-point for debate should be the daunting energy problems that many countries face. With growing challenges to energy security, the range of energy sources must be broadened, with greenhouse-gas emissions reduced. There is also a pressing need to reduce pollution by coal and oil extraction and combustion.
So, what do new generations of nuclear fission, fusion and hybrid offer?
Fission: Modern power stations using fission, which harnesses energy from the radioactive decay of uranium and other fissile materials, are considerably safer than older ones such as Fukushima. This is because of stronger containment structures, more secure storage of spent fuel rods and emergency systems to prevent overheating.
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