The positive environmental impacts of nuclear energy supply are inherent in comparison to other forms of energy production.
Is it possible to supply nuclear energy that has a positive impact on the environment?
The positive environmental impacts of nuclear energy supply are inherent in comparison to other forms of energy production. The use of limited resources, as well as the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are two key factors in environment management, which are both addressed in the nuclear power industry.
Nuclear power uses natural resources, including the radioactive Uranium-235 isotope, meaning that the industry is not strictly speaking renewable in the same way as wind and solar energy, which make use of unlimited natural sources of energy. However, Uranium is far more efficient than other non-renewable sources of fuel. A 1-gram pellet of uranium produces comparable amounts of energy to burning 3 tonnes of coal, or 2 tonnes of oil. As less fuel is required to produce the same amount of energy these natural resources will be used up far less quickly.
The nuclear power industry also has zero carbon emissions, much like solar and wind power, due to the lack of burning fossil fuels. Once a site has been set up it can produce energy all year round for many years, and requires minimal energy expenditure in terms of maintenance and the procurement of more fuel.
There are however a number of different environmental concerns related to the industry. The disposal of radioactive material is a key concern, though all necessary steps are taken to safely dispose of radioactive waste. There is also risk of significant environmental damage in the event of a serious malfunction, such as in the case of Chernobyl or Fukushima, but these occurrences are very rare. Also, a number of projects involve the development of habitats in the local area during the construction of facilities. This is recognised by environmental agencies as a positive impact that somewhat cancels out the aforementioned risks.