Energy management in Australia and Japan – nuclear vs. fossil fuels

Proposition of nuclear energy as a potent energy alternative to coal, oil and gas in the modern world have been advanced on various grounds. Firstly, out of their finite nature, there has been a necessity to reduce overdependence on such energy sources to avoid their rapid exhaustion and increase energy security (Bodansky 2004, p. 7). Despite propositions on the rate at which such resources are depleted being equivocal, the long-term sustainability of these sources is not possible. For instance, major sources of oil currently are located in a single region – the Persian Gulf – thus heightening the competition for such resources (Bodansky 2004, p. 7). Depletion of oil resources in this region could therefore lead to economic and political crises as countries compete for the diminishing resources. Although the natural gas depletion rate may be lower than that of petroleum, e.g. out of comparably minimal uses, its speculative nature may affect the reliability of such a source to meet increasing energy demands (Bodansky 2004, p. 7).

Secondly, an aspect favouring generation of nuclear energy to replace fossil fuels is the latter’s adverse environmental impacts. For instance, the major drawback of coal, despite its substantial reserves, is its high pollution characteristic (Bodansky 2004, p.7). Coal and other fossil fuels are critical emitters of carbon dioxide, which when not captured and sequestered, poses significant environmental threats, through its contribution to the alteration of global climate (Bodansky 2004). Through these climatic impacts, fossil fuels have an indirect effect on the amounts of renewable sources of energy – e.g. hydroelectric power – thus affecting the contribution of such renewables to energy sustainability. Apart from CO2, contaminants such as sulphur dioxide are a health hazard in coal-mining environments (Bodansky 2004, p.7).

Cost implications also favour the development of energy from nuclear resources as compared to fossil fuels. Although the capital costs for constructing nuclear plants are enormous, low costs after the installation provide a means to recoup the capital expenditures on infrastructure (Bodansky 2004). Out of concentration on a small region and formation of cartels the prices of petroleum fluctuate more often thus affecting planning process aimed at meeting future demand. In case of uranium, the absence of cartels and distribution of producers in various parts maintain the prices at relatively stable rates (WNA 2010; 2011). These factors thus favour nuclear energy in terms of cost as compared to fossil fuels.

Despite its advantages, nuclear energy has disadvantages principally related to emission of radiation. Radiations bear harmful effects to various life forms, with exposure to heavy doses being fatal (Bodansky 2004). Resulting from such radiation and the long half-lives of radiation-generating materials, the disposal of waste products from nuclear energy-generating plants is challenging (Bodansky 2004). Accordingly, nuclear energy installations necessitate high capital investments that take account of security structures to avoid leakage of radioactive material. Due to the high capital investment, building sound nuclear plants may thus pose a challenge for many countries. Proceed to the conclusion here.

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