1.1. Motive for research
1.3. Problem statement and Research questions
1.4. Research method
1.5. Structure of the report
2. The pros and the cons of nuclear energy
2.1. The advantages
2.2. The disadvantages
3. Nuclear waste
3.1. Problem definition
3.2. Criteria’s for radioactive waste repository
3.3. Reprocessing plants
4. Alternative energy sources & Realization
4.1. Wind power
4.2. Water power
4.3. Solar energy
4.4. Geothermal energy
5. Conclusions and recommendations
List of Literature Appendix
The nuclear energy is a source of energy that was criticized from the beginning and observed from this skeptically. As a kind of energy that doesn't creates CO2 pollution, this energy was disposed of a clean and safe energy form. But the very first beginning of the nuclear energy was one of the biggest catastrophes in the world’s history, the two nuclear bombs that were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the year 1945. After that the power of nuclear fission started his industrial development and soon was clear, that this kind of energy production has the potential to be a very profitable one. The advantages and chances of this energy seem to be gigantic. A very high exploitation, low production costs, providing the independence of the state in the question of energy supply and the fact of a constant and regulative energy production are some important advantages of the nuclear energy.
But the world is changing and developing continuously, especially in the technology sector. In addition to that some accidents are still happening in and around the nuclear energy production systems and many questions weren't answered. The disadvantages like a possible terroristic act and, in that bizarre case the horrible impact at the environment, in total the security hole and the bargain to built a nuclear bomb, the toxic and radioactive substances that killed already many people, the toxic and radioactive substances that have a high potential to damage the environment in the long-term view or the fact of the nuclear waste, that has to be stored for about one million years in a safe way, are understandable facts to be discomposed. The mistrust of the people can be felt, especially in Germany. Here the question of a nuclear phase-out was after the catastrophes in Fukushima in Japan, very loud. More and more the politicians come under pressure and realized the mental attitude of the population at the numerous mass demonstrations and in particular at the elections. Now a rethinking takes place and the nuclear, respectively the fossil energy sources have to be replaced with environmental friendly and at the best with endless energy forms. After the comparison of the advantages and disadvantages it was clarified that the nuclear energy brings in the short-term view new possibilities and profit for the operating companies, but in the long-term view this kind of energy production is a extreme high risk for the health and safety of humans and the environment.
To deal with that liability in a conducive way, the most common alternative energy sources were analyzed at his particular advantages and disadvantages. Quite objectively considered, it is so that in the future the fossil energy resources were not exists on this contemporary scale. That means for our next generations some alternative energy production possibilities have to be developed to avoid future energy crises.
Next to the advantages of a clean and renewable energy, the development of alternative energy sources will create new possibilities for many small companies. The whole energy market will be revolutionized because of the fact that the regenerative energy sources have to supply decentralized. A new competition on this market will bring many new milestones and the hard price fights among the competitors, could have a positive effect for the consumer.
In total the result is that of every type of the regenerative energy forms, the advantages predominates the disadvantages, quasi reversed to the situation of the atomic energy. These combinations of advantages and disadvantages as well the chance for sustainability are particularly topics of the governments. Especially in Germany a forecast of future energy sources was published and shows in fact that tendency of an obsolete getting fossil energy source. Please see for this the Appendx 6.
A great breakthrough in the interdisciplinary cooperation of the specific field of the physics and the chemistry in the year of 1939 is the official starting point in the history of nuclear fission. Mrs. Lise Meitner and Mr. Otto Frisch defined the result of a nucleonic and radiochemical experiment that was realized by Mr. Otto Hahn. Consequently the production of a huge quantity of energy during the process of nuclear fission was born. A scientifically detection the world has never seen before. That was the starting point of many unimaginable options but as well many painful issues.
During the Second World War, Albert Einstein commended with a letter addressed to the President of the United States of America: Franklin D. Roosevelt, that Germany could build an atomic bomb and that this emerging power could decide the war. Einstein has known that this was realistic and possible because he has fantastic expert knowledge. And of course, Germany was very interested to build a bomb like these. But the engineers of the United States of America create the atomic bomb first and dropped furthermore in the end of the Second World War two nuclear bombs over Japan. The cities Hiroshima (06. of August 1945) and Nagasaki (09. of August 1945) both in the south of Japan were the two target points of the first and last atomic bombs detonate against human victims. In the moment of the explosions more than 92.000 people died and other 130.000 people died until the end of the year because of the nuclear consequences. Reams of people passed away painfully in the follow years because of the remote damages of the radioactive contamination. Totally more than 400.000 people died until now and the decease, 65 years after the dying still finds no end.
Six years after the auspicious detection of the nuclear fission a tragedy of an unexpected and horrible extent shocked the world extremely.
After the Second World War, in the beginning of 1945 Germany capitulated and gets around the year of 1955 his sovereignty back. Referring to this the development in Germany of a commercial production of nuclear energy began with the arrangement of a special atomadministration. In the fallowing years Germany developed the atom industry with billions of DM (the analytic and development part of the atom technology) and benefits the atom economy with these appropriations and subsidies. Even the constitutions of the first atomic plants were financed in Germany with public money so as well the demolition of the first ruins. Until now Germany assists the atom energy market with around 40 Billions of Euro. The European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) supports the atom industry until now with totally more than 400 Billons of Euro. Today every year more than 200 Million Euro of public money flow in the atomic projects and researches in Germany. To this, tax privileges, government aid's, government loans and high export credit guarantees support the atomic industry effectively.
Nowadays Germany has 17 atomic power plants that produce approximate 23 % of the common supply of electricity. Compared to Sweden (37 %), Switzerland (39 %) or France (75 %) the entire production of energy with the atomic power plants is relatively low. See the complete list with all 437 atomic power plants and the rate of the total energy production in the world in the Appendix_1.
Due to the environmental changes and the recent catastrophe in Japan, the topic of the nuclear power is very important for all humans in the world. Especially in Germany this topic is very explosive because of the pressure of the common populace. That would mean that Germany is the first industrial country that wants to shutdown his power plants.
The aim of this report is to analyze the pros and cons of the energy produced by atomic plants (amongst others the risk potential and the disposal of atomic wastes) I will discuss alternative options to create energy with wind, water, the produced energy from the sun, Geothermal energy and the energy produced by Biomass. Concluding the report will give a recommendation of the sustainable power creation and give an answer of the question if the nuclear power an essential energy is or an exchangeable source of danger.
The energy production with atomic plants is much contended and the most of the German civilisation want a total abandoning of nuclear energy. The central research question is: What are the criteria’s for and against the atomic energy production?
Achieving a satisfying answer to the main research question another sub questions should be answered: Which are the alternatives to nuclear energy? Which could be realised in the nearly future? What are the possibilities to deal with the nuclear waste?
The research will be done from different perspectives to answer the research questions. The table below shows the two tools to be used and their suitability to contribute to answer the research questions.
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Chapter 1 : Introduction
The content forms the basis for the report. The motive, purpose, problem statement and research questions are defined and the method of research is described.
Chapter 2: The pros and the cons of nuclear energy
This chapter will demonstrate why the production of nuclear energy in the world is so popular. (Advantages compared to other fossil fuels). As well the disadvantages of the creation of nuclear energy will be analyzed. (Origin of Danger)
Chapter 3 : Nuclear waste
The production of atom energy has one big disadvantage and this is not a secret. It is maybe the biggest problem of the nuclear power and a sensitive long term factor that has to be elaborated separately in an extra chapter. This chapter will deliver interesting information regarding the challenge for radioactive waste repository.
Chapter 4: Alternative energy sources and realizations
After the detection of the pros and cons of energy produced by atom power plants, this chapter will discuss the possible renewable energy sources that could substitute the nuclear energy form. This part is very important in the view of sustainability and environment protection.
Chapter 5: Conclusions and recommendations
Evaluating the results from the previous chapters will Chapter 6 summarize the outcome in an analytical way and form recommendations for the future of the production of energy. The report will give a concrete situation analysis about the atomic power plants and an overview which way of energy production is realistic in the next future alternatively.
In this chapter the atom energy will be introduced and analyzed meticulously. Especially the advantages and disadvantages of atom energy and their potential status of danger will be discussed.
Mrs. Angela Merkel, the German Federal Chancellor, a person with an understanding of a scientist of the special field of quantum chemistry hold a view that by every trick of the probability, that nuclear energy is a passable energy. The German fear of the nuclear energy production, so Mrs. Merkel view, is irrational. The German people doesn't have a relationship to the probability. This opinion is based at consolidated expert knowledge.
(cf.: Der Spiegel: “Die Kernfrage”, Ausgabe Nr. 14/4.4.11)
To the facts: Nuclear power plants produce an enormous amount of electric and thermal energy from radioactive raw materials like uranium. Because of the extreme energy potential based on the radioactive substances, the exploitation of energy in nuclear power plants is very high. In this process one environmental advantage is that there is no CO2 produced that would harm atmosphere like it is with the coal- and gas-fired power plants. In this view the atom energy market even could reach the targets of the climate protection. A further important point is that the atom power plants in Germany are often much safer than power plants in other foreign countries.
Besides this fact, another advantage is that the production of energy in nuclear power plants is comparatively to other energy productions relatively cheap. Just the building of a nuclear power plant is expensive. A new power plant with a production of approximately 1600 megawatt costs on the one hand nearly 4,5 billion euro. That is more than twice a lot than a coal-fired power station costs. Because in the case that all of the German atom power plants are depreciated, the operators of the atomic power plants have to calculate on the other hand just with the relative low cost of production. One megawatt hour in an atomic plant costs in an atomic plant around 15 - 20 Euros. In a coal- and gas-fired power plant the production of one megawatt costs 30 - 40 Euros. With a current market price of 50 Euro per megawatt hour, the atom energy operators make a lot of profit.
Another advantage for countries that produce continuously nuclear energy is that with that nuclear power plants a contribution for the security of energy supplies is created. Because the fossil raw materials like oil and gas are imported from political instable regions like from Middle East or Russia, this is import of energy is in the long term not very confident and trustable. As well the raw material uranium has to be imported from other countries, but the fuel rods have the benefit in comparison to other fossil fuels that there is a much longer storage possible.
A last big advantage of nuclear energy and all other fossil energy forms is that they produce constant power. A wind- or photovoltaic energy production form is addicted from the weather. So nuclear power could produce continuous energy and realize so a financial calculation that contain useful economically information.
After the disastrous natural happening at the 11th March 2011 in Japan, several nuclear power plants on Japans east coast gave notice of a problem. The biggest damage was announced in the nuclear power station in Fukushima. There were core meltdowns reported from the reactors 1 and 3 and the fear rises of a “maximum credible accident”. In the course of this terrible catastrophes that shocked the whole world, Mrs. Angela Merkel positive orientated opinion, that the nuclear energy is a passable energy, changes over night.
(cf.: Der Spiegel: “Die Kernfrage”, Ausgabe Nr. 14/4.4.11)
Regardless of the fact, that a combination of an earthquake and tsunami is in a European country like Germany not imaginable, other possible risks existing for the resident nuclear power plants. For example it is after the 11th September 2001 absolutely possible that a terroristic act could damage a nuclear power plant and cause a nuclear disaster with the extent like in Chernobyl or Fukushima. The German nuclear power plants could resist in the extreme case a crash of a military jet like the Eurofighter. In opposition to a crash of an airplane like an A 380, it would have diabolically consequences. Besides the fact that the contaminated area would be strongly damaged, all industry, all villages and cities with all people that are located in this contaminated zone has to be evacuated.
(cf.:http://www.handelsblatt.com/technologie/energie-umwelt/energie-technik/die-zwei- gesi chter-der-kernkraft/3 948876.html)
To visualize the dimension of evacuation, the followed example will help to understand the drastic effort. After the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in the Ukraine at the 26th April of 1986, the exclusion zone is meanwhile 4300 km2 big. The current exclusion zone in Fukushima amounts to approximately 5027 km2 and this seems not enough because of the high population density. In both examples it is more than three times of the district of London, which has an area of about 1.572 km2.
An amplification of the mantle from atom power plants could decrease the risk of a terroristic act with air planes. But especially the German energy providers bring forward the argument, that rebuilding’s like these would make the business unprofitable. (cf.:http://www.handelsblatt.com/technologie/energie-umwelt/energie-technik/die-zwei- gesichter-der-kernkraft/3948876.html)
Anyway, the German nuclear power plants belong to the safeties of the world. In the worldwide rankings the German nuclear power plants do well. But nowadays the old nuclear power plants in Germany wouldn’t be anymore a subject to authorization because of the technical progress and the developing process of secureness standards. These problems of the security holes in the old nuclear power plants exist amongst the technical development process because not every part in a nuclear power plant is able to retrofit. (cf.:http://www.handelsblatt.com/technologie/energie-umwelt/energie-technik/die-zwei- gesichter-der-kernkraft/3948876.html)
Besides the two mentioned hazardous incidents of nuclear power plants in Chernobyl, where human fail was the reason for the nuclear catastrophe, and Fukushima, where a natural disaster was the reason for the current woebegone happenings, there are known some more accidents of nuclear power plants that are listed in the appendix 2. Especially in Germany the “Block A” in Biblis in the year 1987 was short before a big catastrophe. It was the first and biggest incident in a German nuclear power plant. An important valve inadvertently wasn’t closed before the starting process of the reactor which cause the nearly catastrophe. Another nearly catastrophe in Germany was happened in Brunsbüttel, where in the year 2008 some problems during a maintenance job cause an automatic shutoff of the nuclear power plant, which wasn’t without any difficulty and danger. A further nuclear accident in Germany
happened in the city Gronau in the year 2010. There a workman in a uranium enrichment facility opened a supposed empty barrel from Sweden. But in this barrel was a kilogram uranium hexafluoride. This dangerous chemical product reacts explosively with the air, whereby the workman inhales some gram of this highly toxic substance. A cancer during months or years is very probably.
(cf. Karl-W. Koch, Astrid Schneider und Ralph Th. Kappler (Hg.), Störfall Atomkraft, Aktuelle Argumente zum Ausstieg aus der Kernernergie, 2010 VAS.)
Another argument against the production of power with a nuclear power plant is that the necessary uranium doesn’t exist everywhere. It has to be imported from countries like Australia, Canada, Russia or Niger. In contrast to the ambitious plans in the development of nuclear power of countries like China, Russia or the USA, there is a run on uranium. This will mean that in a few decades shortages will threaten and the question for another solution will be louder. As well it is in this point of view critical to mention that the nuclear energy is a clean, CO2 reduced-emission energy. It is critical to consider this opinion because fewer resources from the popular uranium mean directly a higher effort to get this steadily decreasing number of resources. And that will finally mean that a much higher pollution of CO2 in the process of uranium mining has to be accepted.
Furthermore nuclear power plants can still cause other environmental problems. Like other power plants, nuclear power plants need large amounts of water for cooling and for steam generation. The used, warm water is returned to lakes and rivers and destroy the delicate biological balance in the water.
In addition to that it is a fact that nuclear power plants deliver the decisive components for the building of an atom bomb. Without a nuclear power plant it is extremely complex and expensive to build an atomic bomb. Because of the fact that the transparency of western democracies in the peaceful use of nuclear power is not self-evident, nuclear power plants are in this point of view an unethical, unmoral and incalculable risk. Critics say that it is irresponsible that countries like France fight for their right to building nuclear power plants in every part of the world. In this correlation an ethical responsibility of all decision makers and persons who has an influence on this debate, has to be recognized. In the words of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, a famous German physicist and philosopher, the ABC - these:
“A: If atomic bombs are possible, there will be in today's mankind someone who produces them.
B: If atomic bombs are made, there will be someone to use them.
C: Both follow from the centuries-old political institution of war. So humanity has only the choice to overcome the institution of war or to destroy itself. ”
(cf.: “Hinnerk Polenski, Die Line im Chaos - Zen, Ethik, Leadership, Ein Leitfaden für Verantwortungsträger, l.Auflage 2010, Theseus.“)
The penultimate point against nuclear power plants is that the produced nuclear power isn't as cheap as the providers say. The argument of cheap nuclear power, which lowers the cost of electricity for all consumers, is not valid. How mentioned already in the pros of nuclear power, just the depreciated atom power plants actually produce really cheap electricity. But the benefit is not granted for the consumers. The operators sell the electricity, especially in Germany to the market price. And this price is determined by the last power plant, which produce electricity. This last power plant is typically a gas or coal power plants which sets the market price for all. In the end only the nuclear power plant operators profit of this market price calculations and earn lot with extreme high margins.
The last point to mention is the problem with the atomic waste. By the process of producing nuclear power, high radioactive waste, which radiates for ordinary one million years, is an inevitable side product. Because of the extreme long term factor, importance of this disadvantage, and further interesting information’s, this point will be elaborated separately in the next chapter of this report.
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