Briefing: Nuclear Power

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Putting all other arguments aside, critics say that nuclear power is going to provide too little, too late. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and author of the Hydrogen Economy, told CNN: "To get any appreciable impact on climate change you have to get 20 percent from renewable energies. For nuclear power to achieve this figure would mean building 3000 nuclear plants -- that's three power plants every 30 days for the next 60 years."

The European Nuclear Society lists a total of 439 operational plants worldwide, with a further 35 currently under construction.

The top five users of nuclear power are the United States with 104 plants, France with 59, Japan has 55, Russia 31 and South Korea has 20. Before the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the nuclear building program was experiencing rapid growth. And whilst nuclear countries have kept existing plants in operation since, building programs have slowed -- in the case of the United States, it has stopped altogether.

But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Analyst, Alan McDonald says that growth has kept pace with the expansion of world electricity supplies.

Currently, nuclear power contributes around a 5 percent slice of world energy -- and provides about 15 percent of the world's electricity. In 2007, the IAEA predicted that nuclear power would grow by between 25 and 93 percent by 2030.

But aren't they massively expensive to build? Shouldn't we be using this money to invest in renewable energy?

These are points which critics regularly voice. Nuclear power stations do cost billions of dollars to construct...

Putting all other arguments aside, critics say that nuclear power is going to provide too little, too late. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and author of the Hydrogen Economy, told CNN: "To get any appreciable impact on climate change you have to get 20 percent from renewable energies. For nuclear power to achieve this figure would mean building 3000 nuclear plants -- that's three power plants every 30 days for the next 60 years."

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