|Nuclear Power Plant in France
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions to generate heat which is then cooled to create steam which in turn drives turbine generators that produce electricity. Nuclear power plants are almost identical to coal or gas fired plants in how they function with the critical difference being they don't send any nasty pollutants into the atmosphere, only harmless water vapour. Nuclear power plants with their ubiquitous water cooling towers have been in operation since the 1950's and currently supply the U.S. with 20% of it's electricity, 15% of Canada's and a whopping 80% of France's. It was high oil prices in the 1970's not fears of global warming that got France embracing nuclear power in a big way but the logic still applies if you want to reduce dependence on carbon.
|Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown
Currently only 2.5% of the world's energy consumption is supplied by nuclear power in spite of 438 nuclear power plants in 30 countries, but there are another 70 under construction with China leading the pace with 24 of the total and another 60 in the planning stages. Likewise for India which has 6 under construction now and another 50 in the planning stages. Even still it's hardly a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of energy supplied being supplied by fossil fuels.
|Coal-fired power plant
|Coal loading facility in North Vancouver - photo by Junie Quiroga
|Bruce Nuclear Power Plant