Nuclear Power vs. Conventional Power


Written by Jo vdD
12 Monday 12th April 2010

Round 1
Using coal to produce electricity releases a very high level of contaminants into the atmosphere where it is impossible to manage, contributing to the greenhouse effect and causing acid rain. Though the waste caused through producing nuclear power is highly toxic it is all contained and therefore manageable, rather than released into the environment.
Winner: nuclear power

Round 2
Planning and building a nuclear power plant costs billions of pounds and can take about 10 years to set up. The cost of storing waste and that of decommissioning a plant has never been calculated as it takes so long! On the other hand, there are already plenty of coal and oil power plants in action, and they require considerably less money to construct or decommission.
Winner: conventional power

Round 3
There is very little oil left but there is enough coal to power the world for about 200 years; however there is enough uranium with the potential to provide earth with power for billions of years!
Winner: nuclear power

Round 4
While studies have shown that nuclear power plants have little effect on the surrounding area or the people around them we do not know the long term effects, including the risk of genetic mutation. While there is little risk of horrific consequences years down the line with fossil fuels, resulting air pollution causes 3 millions deaths a year.
Winner: draw

Round 5
Fossil fuels, in particular oil, rely on access to relatively volatile countries; uranium can be mined in several, more 'stable' countries, such as Canada and Australia, meaning Western countries can be more self-sufficient in their energy production.
Winner: nuclear power

Round 6
A nuclear plant costs very little to run once it is established; energy plants running on fossil fuels always cost significantly more to run.
Winner: nuclear power

Round 7
Nuclear power plants could secretly be used to make nuclear weapons of mass destruction; but it's quite hard to make a WMD using fossil fuel!
Winner: conventional power

Round 8
We do not know how long nuclear waste takes to decay to safe radioactive levels, will the world become full of barrels of radioactive waste while we wait for it to become safe?; waste from conventional energy plants is not stored.
Winner: conventional power

Round 9
Nuclear power stations sometimes have to run at reduced operation during very hot weather as they would otherwise overheat; conventional power stations remain fully operational at high temperatures.
Winner: conventional power

As the two energies have won four rounds each we will take them to a sudden death round to decide who is the overall winner:

Sudden death round
Nuclear power produces the most energy per unit of raw material used and produces the least amount of waste compared to any other power source - the amount of nuclear waste produced per person in their lifetime is the same size as a can of coke; conventional power requires significantly more raw material and produces much more waste to produce the same amount of energy - coal produces thousands of tons of waste per person in their lifetime.

Overall winner: nuclear power!


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