According to the report by World Nuclear Association, the global demand for cleanly generated electricity will further accelerate in the coming future. By the year 2040, the demand for electricity will be twice as more than the demand of energy. Currently, the nuclear power is used for providing 18% electricity to the OECD countries and also meets 10% of the global demand for electricity (Chang & Yoo, 2019). The research conducted by the major organizations has declared nuclear power as the most efficient and sustainable of producing cleanly generated and reliable electricity. Therefore, it becomes important to debate that whether nuclear power can be considered as an alternative for future or not.
The demand for electricity has accelerated over the years because of electrification of the basic uses of an individual. The increased prevalence of ICT, space cooling and transport has contributed to the overall global demand for electricity. With development and increase in the purchasing power of individuals in the economies, the number of households without electricity has substantially reduced (Vainio et al., 2020). In the era of increased global demand for electricity and energy, all the developed and developing economies are dealing with the challenge of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 1.7% which is 70% higher than the concentration in the year 2010 (Vainio et al., 2020). According to the report by World Health Organization, approximately seven million people die to the deteriorated quality of the air. The findings of the report also dictate that most of the air pollutants in the air arise from power generation processes taking place in industries or from the electricity use in indoors. Therefore, it can be evaluated that the quality of air has been reduced over the years which makes it further more important to switch towards a sustainable way of generating clean electricity.
In the year 2018, a study was conducted by the Institute of MITEI on low carbon generation technologies. The findings of the study stated that the system cost of electricity with high carbon constraints is very high (Deng et al., 2019). The study suggested that it becomes important for the economies to attain the decarbonisation levels in order to reduce the social and health costs related to air pollution. However, without the adoption of nuclear power the attainment of these decarbonisation levels can prove to be costly for many economy. The combination of nuclear power energy and low carbon generation technologies can prove to be a cost effective method for achieving the decarbonisation levels. There is a need to build new nuclear capacity along with level playing fields for the adoption of this effective combination of nuclear power energy and low carbon generation technologies. However, it might prove to be difficult to build new nuclear power plants in the economies where markets are not price regulated or where private companies own electricity plants. Similarly, the development of nuclear power plants can be expected in price regulated markets and the economies where government operate such plants and facilitate invest for projects in the energy sector (Neumann et al., 2020). Therefore, it can be evaluated that the adoption of nuclear power can still prove to be challenging for some economies but its adoption can help economies in achieving decarbonisation levels in cost effective manner.
One of the factors that make nuclear power not exactly an alternative for future is that the presence of the time lag involved from planning phase to the operation phase. According to the statistics, the nuclear power plants that have been built till now have taken 10 to 19 years to complete (Ramírez-Villegas et al., 2020). For example, the decision to build The Hinkley Point nuclear plant was taken in the year 2008 and it is estimated that the project will complete by the year 2027. Therefore, looking at the current global demand levels for energy and electricity, this time lag can prove to be a factor that decreases the attractiveness of nuclear energy as an alternative.
On the basis of above discussion it can be concluded that nuclear power energy has surely the capability of becoming an alternative in the future. The adoption of nuclear energy can help the economies in meeting the demand for energy and electricity without compromising the quality of the air. The increased quality of air will eventually help in lowering the social and economic costs associated to air pollution. The issue of time lag needs to attention and adoption of effective strategies. Apart from this, it can be believed that nuclear energy is an alternative for future.
Chang, Y. S., & Yoo, J. J. (2019). Alternative projection of the 2040 nuclear power for eight countries. International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy, 15(4), 396-412.
Deng, Y., Zou, S., & You, D. (2020). Financial performance evaluation of nuclear power-related enterprises from the perspective of sustainability. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-15.
Michalski, M. Ł. (2019). Development of nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. Acta Innovations, (30), 38-47.
Neumann, A., Sorge, L., von Hirschhausen, C., & Wealer, B. (2020). Democratic quality and nuclear power: Reviewing the global determinants for the introduction of nuclear energy in 166 countries. Energy Research & Social Science, 63, 101389.
Ramírez-Villegas, R., Eriksson, O., & Olofsson, T. (2020). Environmental Payback of Renovation Strategies in a Northern Climate—the Impact of Nuclear Power and Fossil Fuels in the Electricity Supply. Energies, 13(1), 80.
Vainio, A., Paloniemi, R., & Varho, V. (2017). Weighing the risks of nuclear energy and climate change: trust in different information sources, perceived risks, and willingness to pay for alternatives to nuclear power. Risk Analysis, 37(3), 557-569.
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