• Question: Is Nuclear Power a good thing?

    Asked by sire to Alan, Caspar, Murray, Sarah on 24 Mar 2011.
    • Photo: Murray Collins

      Murray Collins answered on 23 Mar 2011:

      I think so, yes. But of course the waste product can be dangerous.

      See my more detailed answer on fuels and climate change here:


    • Photo: Alan Winfield

      Alan Winfield answered on 24 Mar 2011:

      Good question! I’m not sure ‘a good thing’ is the best way to put it. You see we humans consume a vast amount of energy. Our civilisation and way of life depends on it. So, assuming you agree that consuming a vast amount of energy is ok, then the question is really – what’s the least harmful way of generating that energy? In other words the way that does the least damage to the planet in the long run?

      The least harmful ways of generating power are methods like wind turbines, or wave power generators. The most harmful is without doubt burning fossil fuels like coal, oil or gas. I think nuclear power generation is a good thing because it’s much less harmful to the planet than burning fossil fuels. Of course nuclear power generation has dangers too – but these can be overcome by good engineering – and we know how to do that!

    • Photo: Sarah Thomas

      Sarah Thomas answered on 24 Mar 2011:

      Everyone knows that nuclear power plants are, potentially, very dangerous. But there are a lot of advantages:

      – Nuclear power plants are more efficient than ever before. New technology has made them more reliable (they break down less often) and safer.

      – Reduces greenhouse gas emissions. No coal or fossil fuels are burnt, no carbon dioxide is released into the air.

      – It’s cheap energy. One reason the costs are low is that nuclear plants need only a small amount of uranium to produce a lot of energy. In fact, if the cost of uranium doubled, costs would only be increased by 7%. 1 truck of uranium produces as much energy as 1000 trucks of coal!

      – Nuclear wastes can be safely stored underground.

      – nuclear power would reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which are a finite resource.

      It may surprise you to know that nuclear power is the primary source of energy in France. They get almost 80% of their electricity from nuclear power stations…