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Nuclear Power and Solar Power - Essay Example

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The history of solar energy goes back to ancient times; however, a more sophisticated use of solar energy happened in 1776. In 1776, a solar collector, which could boil ammonium, and used for refrigeration was…
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Nuclear Power and Solar Power
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Nuclear Power and Solar Power Nuclear and solar powers are good examples of sources of energy. The history of solarenergy goes back to ancient times; however, a more sophisticated use of solar energy happened in 1776. In 1776, a solar collector, which could boil ammonium, and used for refrigeration was built. Nuclear power was recently discovered compared to solar power. The history of nuclear energy started with the discovery of the metal element uranium and its capability of producing a lot of energy in the 1950s. Solar power is a safe and convenient source of energy, which should be embraced instead of nuclear power, which is unsafe and costly.
In a nuclear power station, the element uranium is applied in the process of producing nuclear power. The process of producing nuclear energy takes place in a nuclear reactor. In the nuclear reactor, the fuel used is uranium rods, and through nuclear fission, heat is generated. Heat in the nuclear core is generated when neutrons split in half after shattering into nucleus of the uranium atoms. Thereafter, water is passed through the heat, and as a result, steam, which drives turbines, is produced. Generators, connected to these turbines produce electricity (Petersons 23). It is also possible to produce nuclear energy via fusion. Fusion generally utilizes tritium or deuterium as a fuel, while recent advances have seen boron and lithium used. This process is, however , is expensive and complex thus has yet to be utilized commercially. Spent nuclear fuel can be assimilated into fuels of mixed oxides, and this is done in large scale, in France and Britain (Petersons 34). However, France, the most efficient of the assimilators, only reprocesses 28% of fuel used yearly.
In a solar plant, sunlight is converted to electric energy via PV or CSP. CSP or concentrated solar power utilizes lenses and systems for tracking in order to focus large sunlight areas into smaller beams (Petersons 52). PV or Photovoltaics utilize Photoelectric effect to convert sunlight into energy, which is electricity. Commercial CSP plants were established commercially in the 1980s (Petersons 54). PV has been utilized since the 1860,s after fears on the “foreseeable” shortage of coal.
Rationally, the facts are stacked in favor of solar energy. Recent studies by NC WARN show that costs related to nuclear energy are going up with the most recent estimate being 20¢$/kwh, while costs related to solar energy are going down, recently estimated at 15.9¢/kwh, before transmission charges at the site (Petersons 43). Ethically, solar energy has more credibility and is more trustworthy than nuclear energy. Nuclear waste possesses a half life of over 10,000’s of years, compared to solar energy whose waste consists of used solar panels that can be recycled and re-used. No civilization ever existed as long as 10,000 years, thus; it is unethical to store waste that will take that long before becoming safe (Petersons 64). This waste is also very costly to dispose of. Sweden spent over $15 billion to manage this waste. Obviously, with all the poverty in the world, using this money to dispose waste is un-ethical. Emotionally, nuclear energy, in light of the recent accident in Fukushima also evokes plenty of negative emotions. Solar energy, on the other hand, evokes a belief in fairness among the common person in the world, since it is cheap, clean, and most importantly available wherever the sun shines. It is also reliable since the sun has not failed to shine since forever.
However, nuclear energy does have some advantages over solar energy. Sunshine is normally intermittent in some parts of the world, thus solar energy is not reliable in these parts of the world. Nuclear power plants work all the time, unless there is an accident. Solar power also cannot be stored in its initial form, while nuclear rods can be stored. Collectors of solar energy are not very efficient in utilizing light energy compared to the efficiency with which nuclear power plants utilize heat energy produced by the nuclear material (Petersons 56).
In conclusion, while both sources of energy have advantages and disadvantages, nuclear energy is without doubt the most dangerous, un-ethical, and emotive of the two. Its dangers, though not very frequent, are not worth absorbing while a cheaper, safer, and more natural source exists, ready for utilization.
Works Cited
Petersons. Green Careers in Energy. New Jersey: Petersons (2010). Print Read More
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