One thing to point out before I start is that ANY form of power generating source, has a negative impact on the environment. But I'll go to nuclear power first, and then I'll do a brief one on the other form just for additional information.
Nuclear power station
the disadvantages are namely:
- an isolated location (i.e. suitable location);
that is far enough with at least a 5km buffer zone from the nearest human settlement.
- the inherent risk of a nuclear melt-down accident;
the melt-down of the reactor core due to the temperature exceeding its MCOT (Maximum Core Operating Temperature), resulting in an uncontrolled explosion.
- storage of the nuclear waste material;
like coal fired power plants, which emits carbon dioxide and other forms of gaseous toxins, nuclear power plants leaves behind the spent nuclear waste, in the form of nuclear energy rods. While no longer suitable for energy production purposes, it still has a significant amount of power to pollute the environment through radiation. Storing them away requires specialized containment vessels and facilities. Because the half-life (time for the isotope to decay away) is generally over 1000 years at a minimum, proper storage, monitoring and containment of both the waste and the facilities is a permanent effort.
Now for the advantages:
- the overall footprint of the nuclear power plant is smaller than that of a coal fired power plant, and with modern advances and miniaturization, a lot of these equipment are small yet more efficient than their predecessors.
- less amount of pollution produced compared to coal or oil fired power plants, the most significant by-products being steam and water, hence removing the need to install smog and air scrubbers, reducing long term maintenance cost.
- the same amount (weight) of the fuel (nuclear vs. coal / oil) produces huge differences in the amount of energy being produce over the same period of time,...