The Case for Nuclear Energy
We are using more power than ever before, with the majority of it sourced from fossil fuels such as coal. At the same time, there is growing demand for cleaner, greener sources of energy. But the reality is that the so called greener options cannot match our energy demands. Besides that, they may not be as green as we think. We need to keep powering our shelters, workplaces and cities, however, at the same time, we also have a big responsibility to the planet.
For Daniel Lewkovitz, a keen energy security exponent and the CEO and Chief Security Evangelist of Australian security and life safety firm Calamity Monitoring, the answer lies in nuclear power.
We bring you excerpts of an interview with Daniel Lewkovitz by our sister company VOICE OF ASEAN on its talk show – Regional Powerhouses – where he made the case for this often misunderstood clean source of power.
The Dark Side of Standard Green Energy
“When talking about renewable energy, what comes to mind are wind and solar. However, wind turbines and solar panels have a relatively short lifespan, of between 10 to 20 years. When wind turbines become decrepit, they can’t be recycled, and are essentially left to rust and discarded in landfills. Similar to wind turbines, the chemicals and components of solar panel have to be removed which is a difficult and extremely costly process.
The two main problems with solar and wind power components that end up in landfills is that heavy metals and chemicals may leak and pollute local water resources, thus poisoning people. Other than that, they are inherently unreliable due to their dependence on weather conditions.
Other than landfills, a lot of companies and even nations would just dump these components on third world or developing countries and let them deal with the dangerous chemicals.
Nuclear energy however is an effective low emission energy source that generates electricity in abundance 24/7.
France, for example, has hugely reduced their emissions of greenhouse gases by moving to nuclear power, and their cost to generation has gone down so much that they are now a net exporter of power.”
“I came across something called Death Print which is the number of deaths per kilowatt hour caused by various forms of energy. Coal, on average has the highest death with about 100,000 deaths for every trillion kilowatt hours, due to lung disease and so forth.
Hydro electricity, wind and solar has killed more people than nuclear. People installing solar panels fall off rooftops, people installing wind turbines fall off the towers, people building hydroelectric dams get killed during construction.
Despite all of the hype surrounding Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island, only a few dozen people have died from nuclear power accidents. Fukushima, which is the most recent case, is a really good example, because not one single person died as a direct result of radiation from the Fukushima reactor disaster. Instead, people died as a result of the evacuation itself, such as senior citizens who died of dehydration after being hastily evacuated from aged care centre.
Because of how World War 2 ended, Japan has about 250,000 reasons to hate all things nuclear. But they don’t and are currently expanding their nuclear program considerably. The Japanese Prime Minister has even said he wants to have nine nuclear reactors up and running by the end of the year. China is also planning on building 150 nuclear reactors.”
The Future of Nuclear Energy
“Every day, there’s new technologies emerging, Fusion, which may or may not be something that happens in our lifetime is also, safer than existing technology. There’s also no particular threat of terrorists attacking nuclear plants and stealing materials from there.
Thorium is also a good example of where nuclear technology is headed, because it can’t be weaponised.
There are people getting excited about small modular reactors. However, this is an emerging technology, and there are no reasons why we can’t just build a large generator instead of just waiting for it to happen.”
“Batteries also contain metals and chemicals such as cobalt. Some of the largest cobalt mines in the world are in Central Africa, where they have these artisanal mines with children as young as six years old going into them and mining for the cobalt, which is basically child slave labour”