What is your opinion on nuclear energy

Timeline: Nuclear Power Plants in Germany

What is nuclear energy?

In order to be able to use nuclear energy, it must first be released. There are two ways of doing this: nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion releases energy by merging two atoms into one larger atom. The sun and all other shining stars use this nuclear reaction to produce energy and send out rays. When atoms break up into smaller atoms, it is a nuclear fission. This process also releases energy, which humans use primarily in nuclear power plants to generate electricity. In addition to energy, however, there is also radioactive radiation that is dangerous for people and the environment. Accordingly, it is necessary to take certain protective measures. In both nuclear reactions, the atoms lose some of their mass, which is then converted into thermal energy.

Nuclear energy in Germany

After the nuclear disaster in March 2011 at the Japanese nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the federal government agreed to phase out nuclear power by 2022. In 2018, seven nuclear power plants were still in operation, but their number is expected to decrease year on year. The last nuclear power plant is to be taken off the grid in 2022. With this measure, the federal government initiated the energy transition at the same time. By 2050, Germany is to obtain a large part of its energy from renewable sources. Renewable energies include wind and water power, geothermal and solar energy. In addition, the federal government appealed to the population and industry to gradually reduce energy consumption through sustainable and efficient use.

Advantages of nuclear energy

The use of nuclear power reduces the consumption of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. This also results in fewer emissions of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide. In addition, nuclear energy requires little fuel to generate large amounts of energy. This not only lowers the consumption of raw materials, but also the costs of mining, transporting and processing them. In addition, as an alternative to fossil fuels, nuclear energy improves air quality and does not contribute to global warming. Price fluctuations to which fossil fuels such as crude oil are subject only exist to a minor extent thanks to constant energy production.

Disadvantages of nuclear energy

The main disadvantage of atomic energy is the radioactive radiation that is released during nuclear fission. The nuclear accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown the devastating consequences of a nuclear accident. In addition, the disposal of radioactive waste is very complicated and dangerous because it takes centuries for this waste to stop emitting radioactive radiation. Since nuclear reactors only have a limited lifespan, new nuclear power plants have to be built again and again, which in turn cost a lot of money.

The arms industry poses a further danger. Nuclear weapons were only used once, namely in the Second World War when the atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But there is always a risk that states will continue to use nuclear energy for military purposes in the future, despite various nuclear treaties.

History of nuclear energy

In 1896, the French physicist Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity. The activity of a quantity of a radioactive substance was named after him. As a result, there were many scientists such as Marie Curie, Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr, who advanced research on atomic energy and developed various atomic models. The first nuclear power plant to generate electricity was built in Obninsk, Russia, in 1954. After the incident in the American power plant "Three Mile Island" in Harrisburg and at the latest after the disaster in 1986 in Chernobyl, the federal states increased the safety precautions in their nuclear power plants. The fact that there was another nuclear disaster in Fukushima as a result of an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 shows that dealing with nuclear energy always carries a certain risk.

Green electricity

Green electricity can be generated without nuclear energy. Learn more about green electricity.

Green electricity

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