Nuclear Power Plant
Nuclear Fission

Is Nuclear Energy Renewable?

Nuclear energy is a non-renewable energy source. Although it does not emit greenhouse gases, nuclear fuel is not unlimited and does not regenerate.

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Is nuclear energy renewable?

Nuclear energy is the energy obtained from the division of an atom or the union of two atoms. The main use of this technology is the generation of electrical energy.

Nuclear electricity is generated in nuclear power plants. Currently all nuclear power plants work through nuclear fission reactions.

The nuclear fuel they use is generally uranium or plutonium (through an artificial process). 

Nuclear Power Plants

Currently all nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to function. Nuclear fusion is a technology that has many advantages but is not yet ready to be used, mainly for technical reasons.

Nuclear power plants are responsible for transforming the energy stored in the nucleus of atoms to convert it into electrical energy.

How Does a Nuclear Center Work?

The most important part is done in the nuclear reactor. Nuclear fuel rods (usually uranium or plutonium) are deposited in the nuclear reactor and by projecting a neutron, a series of physical and chemical chain reactions begin to be generated that release a large amount of thermal energy.

The thermal energy generated in the nuclear reactor is used to heat water and convert it into high pressure steam. The steam obtained will be responsible for activating large turbines, which, connected to a dynamo, will generate electricity.

Once this electricity has been generated, it is passed through some transformers that adapt it so that it has the necessary conditions to be supplied to the electricity grid.

Why Is Nuclear Energy Not Renewable?

The nuclear fuel used in nuclear power plants is uranium.

Natural uranium is a mineral, not very abundant, that is extracted from the Earth. Our planet has limited reserves of uranium that do not regenerate. For this reason, nuclear energy is considered a non- renewable energy source.

It has a very unstable structure and it is very easy for it to change its atomic structure. This property is ideal for its use, since precisely what is intended is to change its atomic structure. Even before it is used in a nuclear power plant, it goes through a nuclear fuel processing plant where it is enriched and becomes even more unstable.

The other material used is plutonium. Plutonium is another material present in the periodic table that is not found in nature, it is a material obtained artificially. It is a residue from nuclear fission reactions with uranium.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

Advantages of the unification of this non-renewable energy resource:

  • A large amount of electrical energy can be obtained with a very small amount of nuclear fuel.
  • It does not emit greenhouse gases to the outside, so it does not contribute to global warming of the planet.
  • All the energy generated by nuclear power implies a reduction of the energy produced by thermal power plants. Therefore, a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
  • Weather conditions do not influence the production of electrical energy obtained. Thanks to this, an electrical production planning can be established.

Disadvantages of harnessing nuclear energy:

  • Although few accidents occur, the accidents that do occur are extremely dangerous for the environment and public health.
  • The nuclear fuel used is limited.
  • Nuclear power plants are potential targets for attacks.
  • The management of the nuclear waste they generate is not very well resolved and it takes millions of years for it to lose its radioactivity.

Published: May 25, 2016
Last review: January 21, 2022