Black (2005) notes that within the next decade Great Britain will be unable to meet the energy needs of its population unless nuclear power becomes part of the equation. A dependence on fossil fuel sources for electricity is no longer viable, given the limited supply of fossil fuel, the volatile market for it, and the environmental concerns associated with creating and burning fossil fuels. Nuclear power is touted as at least a temporary solution to an energy supply shortfall. Many nations in Europe including Sweden and Finland are facing similar problems and have already nodded approval to investments in nuclear technology (Anderson & Crooks 2009).
Besides safety issues, nuclear power presents possible financial risks that make the technology less than ideal. Assessing the actual costs of nuclear power processing is close to impossible (Richardson 2005). Cost is sometimes framed as being irrelevant, given the rising prices of fossil fuels and the attendant costs associated with environmental harm. Johnston (2008) claims that nuclear power "will be considerably cheaper than all the alternatives" although "marginally more expensive than gas." Nuclear power manufacturers and stakeholders pitch their product as being cost-effective for marketing purposes, to attract investors. Some sources claim that as many as 80% of all future nuclear power plants will be privately funded and not supported by national governments (Black 2005).
The future of nuclear power depends on creating viable, safe, and sustainable options for nuclear waste disposal. Chernobyl taught the world that nuclear power may be one of the deadliest options for energy generation: more so than fossil fuels considering the short- and long-term effects of radiation. Research into feasible nuclear waste management yields promising but far from perfect results. Most reports detail the realistic consequences of possible fallout including financial, social, ethical, and environmental effects (Higgins, Jones, Munday, Balmforth, Holmes, Pfuderer, Mountford, Harvey & Charnock 2008). However gruesome the study may be, such estimates are crucial when planning possible nuclear power proliferation.
Nuclear power offers a reasonable, although imperfect and short-term solution, to the dependence on fossil fuels for electricity. Fossil fuels are unsurpassed in terms of their ability to power the standard internal combustion engine, and fossil fuels are also used in manufacturing in ways nuclear power cannot be used. Wind, solar, and other non-polluting potential sources for electricity offer the cleanest hope for a sustainable and safe future. Until totally clean sources of energy can provide for the abundant needs of Britain and the rest of the world, nuclear power will remain a key part of the total power package.
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