Overview Of Nuclear Energy
The main use of nuclear energy is to generate electricity. This is simply a clean and efficient way of boiling water to make steam which drives turbine generators. Except for the reactor itself, a nuclear power station works like most coal or gas-fired power stations. Nuclear energy is best applied to medium and large-scale electricity generation on a continuous basis (ie meeting "base-load" demand). The fuel for it is basically uranium. 16% of world electricity is generated from nuclear power, using uranium as the fuel.
It is used because in many places it produces electricity cheaper than alternatives, and does so cleanly - without toxic or carbon dioxide emissions. The electricity produced is continuous, reliable and on a relatively large scale, thus meeting the main kind of demand.
Today the environmental virtues of nuclear power are increasingly attractive also - it produces virtually no emissions.
Canada' Uranium Production:
Mining methods have been changing. In 1990, 55% of world production came from underground mines, but this shrunk dramatically to 1999, with 33% then. From 2000 the new Canadian mines increase it again.
- Canada produces about one third of the world's uranium mine output, most of it from two new mines.
- After 2007 Canadian production is expected to increase further as more new mines come into production.
- About 15% of Canada's electricity comes from nuclear power, using indigenous technology.
- After a decade of falling mine production to 1993, output has generally risen since then and now comprises 60% of demand for power generation.
In 2005 production was as follows:
|in situ leach (ISL)
Production from world uranium mines now supplies only 55% of the requirements of power utilities.
Western World Uranium Production and Demand 1945-2001
Source: World Nuclear Association
- It is an economical energy source
In 2002, 16 countries produced over 99 percent of the world's uranium. Canada's and Australia's uranium mines account for over 50 percent. Compared to natural gas, a fuel also used to generate electricity, uranium is already relatively low in cost and less sensitive to fuel price increases. And a little goes a long way: one uranium fuel pellet---the size of the tip of your little finger---is the equivalent of 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal, or 149 gallons of oil.
- It has the lowest impact on the environment
Of all energy sources, nuclear energy has perhaps the lowest impact on the environment, especially in relation to kilowatts produced, because nuclear plants do not emit harmful gases, require a relatively small area, and effectively mitigate other impacts. In other words, nuclear energy is the most "eco-efficient" of all energy sources because it produces the most electricity in relation to its minimal environmental impact. There are no significant adverse effects to water, land, habitat, species and air resources
- It is an emission-free energy source
Nuclear energy is an emission-free energy source because it does not burn anything to produce electricity. Nuclear power plants produce no gases such as nitrogen oxide or sulfur dioxide that could threaten our atmosphere by causing ground-level ozone formation, smog, and acid rain. Nor does nuclear energy produce carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases suspected to cause global warming.
World Nuclear Association
Uranium Information Centre Ltd
Ux Consulting Company LLC