Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists
Over 35 percent of the total energy produced in Pakistan is generated through oil-fired system, which is the most expensive mode of power generation in terms of money while emitting carbon dioxide to damage the environment means that we are burning our candle from both ends. On one hand we are spending over $16 billion on import of oil for power generation to produce power at an unaffordable price, which if continued will never allow us to get rid of nasty issue of circular debt besides rendering out exportable products uncompetitive in the world market due to excessive cost of input.
As compared to Pakistan, almost all the emerging and developed economies produced over 35 percent of their energy through nuclear while around 40 percent through coal-fired system to give a supporting hand to export-oriented industries as well as social development within the country.
China which has done a great job by setting up two nuclear power projects at Chashma, which are producing around 690MW while it is also assisting Pakistan in setting up another two nuclear power projects namely K2 and K3, which are expected to be operational in 2020.
The safety measures taken in these two upcoming projects are internationally approved, which free from much talked about threat of radiation and are behind designed to cope with any eventuality like tsunami or earthquake of even above 6.6 on the Richter scale. The foundation base of these two projects has been elevated to the level that would weather even the worst kind of tsunami if God forbid hits to coastal areas of Pakistan, said the General Manger of KANUPP while briefing a group of journalists who were taken around the KANUPP to explain the world class safety measures being exercised at the 40-year-old nuclear power plant.
In fact our total nuclear power generation is not more than 5 percent of what we are currently producing while ever-increasing demand for power calls for construction of more and more such plants to cope with the rising economic challenges and cater to the rising need of energy in Pakistan.
Nuclear power is one of the least damaging sources of energy for the environment, and the green movement must accept the expansion if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, some of the world’s leading conservation biologists have warned.
Rising demand for energy will place ever-greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the “energy mix”, they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations.
In a open letter to be published next month in the journal Conservation Biology, more then 65 biologists, including a former UK government chief scientist, support the call to build more nuclear power plants as a central part of a global strategy to protect wildlife and the environment.
The full gamut of electricity-generation sources, including nuclear power, must be used to replace the burning of fossil fuels such ass oil, coal and gas if the world is to have any chance of mitigation severe climate change, their letter says.
The letter is signed by several leading British academics including Lord May of Oxford, a theoretical biologist at Oxford University and former chief scientific adviser; Professor Andrew Balmford, a conservation biologist at Cambridge; and Professor Tim Blackburn, an expert in biodiversity at University College London.
As well as reducing the sources of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made greenhouse gas implicated in climate change, the expansion of nuclear power will leave more land to support biodiversity and so curb the extinction of species, they say.
Recognizing the “historical antagonism towards nuclear energy” among environmentalists, they write: “Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the developments of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather then simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is ‘green’.”
It is too risky to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for replacing fossil fuels because of problems to do with scalability, cost, materials and land use they explain.
“Nuclear power – being far the most compact and energy-dense of sources – could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution … It is time that conservations make their voices heard in this policy area,” they say.
A golf-ball-sized lump of uranium would supply the lifetime’s energy needs of a typical person, equivalent to 56 tanker trucks of natural gas, 800 elephant-sized bags of coal or a renewable battery as tall as 16 “super” skyscraper buildings placed one on top of the other, they said.
The letter was organized by Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania and Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide. The two co-authored a paper in the January issue of Conservation Biology outlining the scientific case of nuclear power in terms of environmental protection. Of seven major technologies for generating electricity, nuclear power and wind energy had the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, they concluded.
“Trade-offs and compromises are inevitable and require advocating energy mixes that minimize net environmental damage. Society cannot afford to risk wholesale failure to address energy-related biodiversity impacts because of preconceived notions and ideals,’ they said.
Professor Corey told The Independent on Sunday: “Our main concern is that society isn’t doing enough to rein in emissions… Unless we embrace a full, global-scale assault on fossil fuels, we’ll be in increasingly worse shape over the coming decades – and decades is all we have to act ruthlessly.
“Many so-called green organizations and individuals, including scientists, have avoided or actively lobbied against proven zero-emissions technologies like nuclear because of the associated negative stigma,” he said.
The letter aims to convince people of potential benefits of nuclear power in a world where energy demand will increase as the climate begins to change because of rising levels of greenhouse gases, Professor Corey added.
“By convincing leading scientists in the areas of ecological sustainability that nuclear has a role to play, we hope that others opposed to nuclear energy on purely ‘environmental’ – or ideological – grounds might reconsider their positions,” he said.