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Uranium can supply energy for the world's electricity with less greenhouse effect than virtually any other energy source. Each year well over 28 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are put into the atmosphere by human activity. In the early 1970s a fourfold increase in the price of oil alerted the world to the need for more efficient use of energy, and more diversity of supply. In OECD* countries the response to this, including greater use of electricity as a means of increasing efficiency, led to a levelling off in demand for primary energy.
Outside the OECD countries the picture is different, and primary energy demand is increasing by about 50% each decade. Any attempt to understand or forecast global energy requirements must take account of population growth. Over 90% of world population growth in the foreseeable future will be in the less developed countries, which already contain 75% of the world's people.
Even with effective energy efficiency programmes in developed countries there will be a global need for much more energy if people in the less developed countries are to improve their standards of living. Although overall energy intensity (energy per unit of GDP) fell 25% worldwide 1971 to 1997, electricity demand increased almost threefold over this period. There is more electricity generated by nuclear power today than from all sources worldwide about 40 years ago (2560 billion kWh in 2009). Every form of energy conversion, such as turning primary energy into electricity, has some environmental implications. In recent years attention has been focused on the climate change effects of burning fossil fuels, especially coal, due to the carbon dioxide which this releases into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide contributes at least 60% of the human-induced increase in the greenhouse effect. Coal-fired electricity generation gives rise to nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas per unit of power, but hydro and nuclear do not directly contribute any. Conversely, there is scope for reducing coal's carbon dioxide contribution to the greenhouse effect by substituting natural gas or nuclear power, and by increasing the efficiency of coal-fired generation itself, a process which is well under way.
At the time of the oil shocks early in the 1970s, France was heavily dependent on overseas supplies of energy.
A 1,000 megawatt electrical (MWe) coal-fired power station burning coal has a typical fuel requirement of almost 3.2 million tonnes* of black coal a year.
A nuclear power reactor of the same capacity, (after its initial fuel loading of uranium), has an annual requirement of around 27 tonnes of fuel. Coal-fired power stations worldwide consume over 4500 million tonnes of coal each year to make 40% of the electricity.
Much of the coal is used in the country in which it is mined, though often it has to be transported long distances, which requires considerable energy (and results in further greenhouse gas emissions). Emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are about 28 billion tonnes a year worldwide, of which around 38% comes from coal, 21% from gas and 41% from oil. Each year the 1000 MWe coal-fired power station produces about 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, perhaps 200,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide (depending on the particular coal) and typically about 200,000 tonnes of solids, mostly fly ash. This Figure shows the relative levels of CO2 emission from generating one kilowatt-hour of electricity from different sources. The combustion of coal may also release radioactive heavy metals (including uranium and thorium) contained in it, though these are mostly retained in the ash. If the electricity produced worldwide by nuclear reactors were generated instead by burning coal, an additional 2600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere each year. Every 22 tonnes of uranium used avoids the emission of one million tonnes of carbon dioxide, relative to coal. The total amount of used fuel resulting from operation of all the world's commercial nuclear power stations is about 12,000 tonnes per year.
Handling, storage and treatment of these radioactive wastes has been undertaken in many countries for several decades without incident.
The used nuclear fuel elements - or the separated high level wastes - are stored for up to 50 years to allow for the decay of most of the radioactivity and heat (to about 0.1% of what it was when removed from the reactor) before final disposal. Renewable energy sources for electricity are diverse, from solar, tidal and wave energy to hydro, geothermal and biomass-based power generation. Because of their diffuse nature (making them difficult to harness efficiently) and their intermittent availability (giving rise to the need for storage or back-up from other sources), their role in meeting electricity demand on any significant scale will always be limited.
All of the various means of generating electricity have a role to play in meeting the rapidly increasing demand for this form of energy.
Nuclear electricity is one part of the solution of the energy equation for today and tomorrow, particularly in the light of concerns about carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear power plants do not emit any carbon dioxide, nor any sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides. Whenever new electricity generating capacity is required, or old fossil-fuelled plants need to be replaced, it is therefore sensible to consider nuclear as a serious option. The continued and expanded use of nuclear power is one among a range of measures which will effectively limit future global carbon dioxide emissions. The policy set off a solar rush in Japan from major private investors that have flooded Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, with new large-scale solar projects. A recent estimate Yano Research Institute stated that the Japanese solar boom for large-scale solar power plants will slow after 2014 due to decreasing space and policy incentives. From weather events to human error, a range of snafus can wreak havoc for millions when they create the massive blackouts that have periodically struck regions around the world.
A full moon created an eerie skyline silhouette after New York City went dark during the blackout of November 1965.

Onlookers wait for the newly built cruise ship Norwegian Pearl to leave the Papenburg, Germany, shipyard in November 2006.
A lack of power poses plenty of inherent problems, but massive blackouts can also lead to bad behavior. On August 15, 2003, a mass of New York commuters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on foot during a blackout that robbed 50 million people of power for as long as two days in southeastern Canada and the Northeastern United States.
Historic winter storms decimated this electrical tower and other parts of the grid in China's southern Hunan province during February 2008.
On November 10, 2009, the power supply dried up at the massive hydroelectric works at the Itaipu Dam and plunged 67 million people into darkness, including these SA?o Paulo pedestrians waiting to cross the street. The Solar Impulse 2 gets one more big step closer to finishing its historic trip around the world.
Without it our planet would be vastly colder (by 33°C on average), and present life forms would be very different. A major source of this today is the burning of fossil fuels to provide energy, particularly electricity.
Today the world uses a great deal of energy and the usage is increasing dramatically in developing countries.
Between 1973 and 1985 primary energy demand in the OECD remained unchanged despite an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of 33%. In China, power generation requirements are expected to almost double in 15 years, with much of this being met by nuclear. The share of electricity in total energy consumed will rise from 16% in 2002 to about 20% in 2030. The most important fuel for generating electricity is coal which provides 40% of all electricity generated.
Electricity generation is one of the major sources of this carbon dioxide, giving rise to about 9.5 billion tonnes per year - 40% of it, or about one quarter of the human-induced greenhouse increase. If the amount of nuclear power were doubled, emissions from electricity generation would drop by one quarter.
Nuclear power is well suited to meeting the demand for continuous, reliable electricity supply on a large scale (ie base-load electricity), the major part of demand.
Producing this amount of uranium fuel requires the mining of 45-70,000 tonnes of typical Australian uranium ore, or even less Canadian ore. The 1000 MWe nuclear power station requiring 27 tonnes of fresh fuel per year means an average of about 74 kg per day, which would fit in the back of a car. The ash contains several hundred tonnes of toxic heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, vanadium and mercury which remain toxic forever.
Every 22 tonnes of uranium (26 t U3O8) used saves about one million tonnes of CO2 relative to coal.
This can be compared with the target of a 5% reduction (600 million tonnes per year) in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2010, as agreed in 1997 at Kyoto just for the developed countries. When the electricity comes from coal, every kilowatt hour of it results in about a kilogram of carbon dioxide being emitted.
About two-thirds of this is treated as waste, while the rest is reprocessed to recover useful fuel material. Nuclear power is the only energy-producing industry which takes full responsibility for all its wastes and costs this into the product.
Today the waste disposal issue is not a technical problem but one of public and political acceptance.
Apart from hydro power in the few places where it is very plentiful, none of these is suitable, intrinsically or economically, for large-scale base-load power generation.
A 20% contribution to grid supply is the maximum conceivable for non-hydro sources, and about half of this is likely.
Without nuclear power the world would have to rely almost entirely on fossil fuels, especially coal, to meet demand for base-load electricity production.
Their wastes end up as solids and, though requiring careful handling, are very much less than the wastes from burning coal and are easily managed. According to prediction made by Bloomberg, the global capacity of solar power installed will outpace wind power for the first time. The country consists of many islands and the mountainous terrain of its four major islands is not rich in fossil fuel sources. Since the last year, Japan’s solar growth has outpaced the capacity of the Japanese energy grid to manage the added and intermittent input of solar power.
However, the land of the rising sun has had a tremendous start to its solar revolution and the rush may last longer than expected if the country manages to innovate its energy infrastructure on a systems level to overcome its current energy quagmire.
In a world that's increasingly dependent on constant power, massive electrical outages are a common concern and may strike systems across the globe.Major power disturbances can be triggered by storms, heat waves, solar flares, and many other sources, but all have roots in the mechanical and human vulnerabilities of the power grids themselves. Soon after, on its trip down the River Ems, the ship indirectly caused a two-hour power outage for some 10 million people on the evening of November 4.The German power company E. A lightning-sparked outage in 1977, which left 9 million New Yorkers without power, lasted only about 24 hours on July 13 and July 14. In Chenzhou, some 4.5 million people were without power for nearly two weeks, thanks to the effects of the worst storms in 50 years. Brazilian energy officials said storms short-circuited several vital transformers, completely cutting off power from the second largest hydroelectric source in the world.About one third of all Brazilians lost power for four hours, including those living in the nation's two largest cities. Water vapour is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for some three quarters of the greenhouse effect, and nothing we do is likely to change it very much. Human activity, particularly since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, seems to be turning up the heat.

It offers great flexibility of distribution and use, is relatively efficient, very safe for the consumer, and environmentally benign in end-use. Nuclear power now provides 78% of its electricity, it has become a major exporter of electricity (60 billion kWh per year), and it now has a high level of energy independence.
This yields about 200 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate which is sold, the rest stays at the mine, as tailings. However there is no economically feasible way to remove or reduce carbon dioxide from the burning of coal.
The amount of radioactivity released is negligible relative to the natural background radiation levels, but is often greater than that from nuclear power generation. A piece this size would contain the total high-level waste arising from nuclear electricity generation for one person throughout a normal lifetime. The reprocessing of used fuel results in only about 3% of it being high-level radioactive waste (which is then incorporated into glass), with the balance being recycled as fresh fuel. Renewables have most appeal where demand can accommodate small-scale, intermittent supply of electricity. Since reliability is the most important attribute of electricity supply, the role of non-hydro renewables is limited. Wind power installation have been decreasing by about 25% on a global scale, while solar power installation have been growing by about 20%.
Despite its lack of natural resources, Japan desired an ample degree of energy independence and decided to supply about a third of its energy with homegrown nuclear power. Moreover, Japan’s solar energy sector is now facing a power supply chain problem, since a lot of power is generated in the north of the country, Hokkaido, but most of the power is needed in the large cities of the south-eastern part of the country, including Tokyo and Osaka. A renewable energy success in Japan could serve as a model for future energy development and continue to drive global growth of renewable energy.
The outage's exact cause may be debatable, but the ultimate source of trouble was predictable: India's power structure is often unable to meet peak power demands. But during that time, arsonists torched buildings like these on Marmion Avenue in the Bronx, setting a reported 1,000 fires. All of Paraguay, which shares power from the border dam, also saw suspended service for a short time. Moreover the cost of electricity has declined markedly and per capita carbon dioxide emissions are half those of its neighbours. None of these emissions occur at a nuclear power station, where virtually all wastes are contained in the 27 tonnes or so of used fuel, and are therefore not released to the environment. The strong growth of solar power has been mostly driven by increased policy supports from key markets, which have helped decrease the cost of large-scale solar power installations. However, since the incident in Fukushima in 2011, nuclear power has become less and less popular among the country’s population and among local government officials.
This new problem requires a cross-disciplinary approach, since Japan’s energy grid system is fragmented into ten different regions that are administered by local government utilities. But the dead line quickly increased pressures elsewhere in the German power grid and then sparked a chain reaction across parts of Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Croatia.
Looters and rioters also ran rampant and trashed some 1,600 stores during what Mayor Abraham Beame called "a night of terror." When similar outages struck the city in 2003, however, such problems were few and far between. When this photo was taken on February 5, Chinese officials said 11 electricians had already lost their lives while attempting to repair infrastructure.Since that fateful winter, China has improved its abilities to monitor power system status and gather information that operators can use to prevent an initial failure from spreading to a much larger region. In dynamic developing economies like Brazil, China, and India, the surging demand for power poses a significant challenge for systems that often are simply not up to meeting demand.
Next door, Italy is the only industrialized European country without its own nuclear power generation, but it is also the world's main electricity importer - mostly from France. One of the major drivers of solar growth in 2013 was Japan, a country that has experienced a solar boom unlike any other. Moreover, recent news about continuing radioactive water leakage has further weakened the image of nuclear power among the Japanese and currently only 2 of Japan’s 50 nuclear power plants are active. The utilities often also use different technologies to manage their power, which creates further challenges.
A system is designed to tolerate a certain amount of disruption but past a certain point, it's simply gone too far and it falls apart."The "great Northeast blackout," which began when a power surge near Ontario set off a chain of failures across New York State and beyond, covered 80,000 square miles.
A faulty or improperly set safety relay at an Ontario power station was blamed for sparking a southbound power surge that overwhelmed systems from Vermont to New Jersey. Critics said the incident showcased the need for more universal electricity distribution policies across Europe. The case of Japan is a particularly interesting given that the country has been faced with a noteworthy energy crisis in the last years. Faced with a shortage of power supply, Japan launched a generous feed-in tariff system to promote the growth of renewable energy within the country. The Japanese have started to tackle the supply chain problem by commissioning the world’s largest battery to be built in Hokkaido by March 2015 to tackle the engineering challenge of solar power intermittency, and by encouraging the construction of solar plants outside of Hokkaido.
According to National Geographic, the size of Japan’s solar market has outpaced the photovoltaic superpowers of China and Germany, which have also undergone substantially energy transformation in recent years.
The policy, modeled after policies that spurred Germany’s Energiewende, was launched in July 2012 and ensures that renewable energy generators are paid above market rates for their electricity, more specifically 43 cents per kWh, which is nearly four times the average price of electricity in the United States and nearly twice the price of electricity in Tokyo.

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