The Instigator
dajavinator
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
mildred2013
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The US should increase its use of nuclear energy

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
dajavinator
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/23/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,011 times Debate No: 41024
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

dajavinator

Pro

There will be 4 rounds.
1st round, both teams just post their arguments, no rebuttals.
2nd round, pro refutes neg's round 1arguments, neg then refutes pro's round 1 arguments and pro's round 2 rebuttal.
3rd round, pro will refute neg's round 2, neg will refute aff's round 3.
4th round, both teams give closings.


Nuclear energy is the future of powering the United States’ massive and ever-growing infrastructure. It is intuitively and statistically the safest, most reliable, and most efficient method of producing electricity, which is why I support the topic that the US should increase its use of Nuclear Energy

My arguments will be tiered, with smaller arguments as a part of the bigger ones.

Argument 1: The current system, with a majority of energy being produced by coal and natural gas (41.9, 24.8) is harmful to the United States

1a)Generating energy with coal plants has many harmful side effects
According to the UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) in Environmental impacts of coal power: air pollution “Coal plants are the nation’s top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary cause of global warming. In 2011, utility coal plants in the United States emitted a total of 1.7 billion tons of CO2. Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution.”
1b)The acquisition of Natural Gas has many harmful side effects
From The week staff, in an article titled “Natural gas: As bad for the environment as coal?” published April 13th, 2011 “Natural gas has been widely hailed as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, but a new study by Cornell University researchers suggests it's not as green as many people think.” Because I’ve already shown that coal is bad, this evidence proves that natural gas is no viable alternative either.

Argument 2:There are many benefits of nuclear energy

2a)Nuclear energy is much cheaper to produce then its counterparts
According to the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in an article titled “How Competitive is Nuclear Energy?” published in 2010 “Nuclear Energy is much cheaper to produce then its counter parts, within the USA Nuclear energy only costs 4.9 cents per Kilowatt hour as opposed to 7.2-7.5 for coal, 6.8 for coal with CCS, 7.7 for Gas CCGT (Combined cycle gas technology), and only being marginally beat by wind with 4.8 cents per Kilowatt hour.” This is significant, because although nuclear plants may cost a fair amount to build up front, in the long run they are much cheaper and profitable to run.
2b) Nuclear energy helps lead to the decommissioning of nuclear warheads
According to Clay Dillow in Old Soviet Warheads Fuel America's Nuclear Power Industry published Nov. 11, 2009 “Decommissioned nuclear warheads provide much of the fuel powering America's 104 nuclear reactors. But here's the real kicker: nearly half of that low-enriched uranium comes from recycled Soviet nukes. Over the past 20 years, nuclear disarmament has become a huge part of the electricity industry, making President Obama's talks with Russia on a new arms treaty poignant to utilities. But if those talks don't extend the current program for dismantling Soviet nuke cores beyond its 2013 expiration date, there could be a supply gap for nuclear fuel.” This point is remarkably significant because the reduction of nukes around the world leads to a less threatening environment but it also helps boost the benefits of nuclear energy by providing a fuel source for it without much hassle.
2c) Thorium can decrease our dependance on foreign oil
According to Colin Daileda from Mashable in an article titled “This Radioactive Element Could Power the Planet” published Nov. 7th, 2013 “If your car was powered by thorium, you would never need to refuel it.” The article concludes “One car, eight grams of Thorium, and a century of driving.” This is significant because if the US switches to Thorium technologies we can stop our dependence on foreign oil and also US consumers can save money which could be better spent elsewhere.
2d) Commercial use of nuclear power for space is expanding
According to a SpaceX dossier from January of 2010 titled SpaceX Propulsion Space exploration technologies the company has in the works plans to use a nuclear thermal rocket to power future space flight. The article says the “Technology has been verified with over 17 Hours of hot-@257;re tests, including restarts. No additional developmental, terrestrial tests (with nuclear) fuel are required” this future of spaceflight would allow us to streamline space travel and leverage the positive impacts of nuclear energy as we move forward.

Argument 3:There are multiple ways to acquire the benefits of nuclear energy

3a) Thorium based reactors are clean, safe, and waste free
According to Sebastian Anthony’s article for ExtremeTech “Thorium nuclear reactor trial begins, could provide cleaner, safer, almost-waste-free energy” written Jul 1, 2013 “Natural thorium, which is fairly cheap and abundant (more so than uranium), doesn’t contain enough fissile material (thorium-231) to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. By mixing thorium oxide with 10% plutonium oxide, however, criticality is achieved. This fuel, which is called thorium-MOX (mixed-oxide), can then be formed into rods and used in conventional nuclear reactors. Furthermore, the thorium-MOX fuel cycle produces no new plutonium; it actually reduces the world’s stock of plutonium. Oh, thorium-MOX makes for safer nuclear reactors, too, due to a higher melting point and thermal conductivity.” This is significant because we can reap the tremendous benefits of Nuclear Energy without any of the drawbacks, and also it extends upon the impacts made earlier about increasing safety by decreasing warhead proliferation.
3b) Nuclear fusion is safe, uses relatively little fuel, and produces extreme amounts of energy
The Way to New Energy." ITER. (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) Jan. 2013. “Fusion fuels are abundantly available and inherently safe. […] In fact, a fusion reaction is about four million times more energetic than a chemical reaction such as the burning of coal, oil or gas. While a 1,000 MW coal-fired power plant requires 2.7 million tons of coal per year, a fusion plant of the kind envisioned for the second half of this century will only require 250 kilos of fuel per year, half of it deuterium, half of it tritium. In addition, fusion emits no pollution or greenhouse gases. Its major by-product is helium: an inert, non-toxic gas. There is no possibility of a "runaway" reaction because the conditions for fusion are precise—any alteration in these conditions and the plasma cools within seconds and the reaction stops. Fusion has the capacity to furnish large-scale quantities of energy, with a low burden of waste for future generations” This just furthers the fact that we can have extremely high amount of energy with little to no drawbacks.
3c) Fission reactors are safe, effective, and have high yields
According to Teri Ehreesman from the Idaho National Laboratory “Just one uranium fuel pellet – roughly the size of the tip of an adult’s little finger – contains the same amount of energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil”For the reducing the impacts of current energy technologies, providing economic benefits, subduing international conflicts, and having a multitude of options with very good results I urge a Pro vote.
mildred2013

Con

We are told that USA & the world at large faces an energy crisis unless we build new nuclear power plants. First the pemis of an energy crisis is fake & secondly nuclear energy is more of a risky & expensive solution, it creates layers of problems, we should rather invest cheaper renewable energy sources like hydroelectricity, wind farms, solar farms & salt water into hydroelectricity.

1. Nuclear reactors are pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction and pose an unacceptable risk. We need to eliminate, not proliferate them. An attack could render a city like Manhattan a sacrifice zone and kill hundreds of thousands within weeks.

2. More reactors can"t halt climate change in time. We would need 300 in the U.S. and 1,500 worldwide just to make a dent in greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. One reactor takes seven to ten years to build.

3. Devoting scarce resources to shore up nuclear takes away from the real climate change solutions " conservation, energy efficiency and renewables like wind and solar.

4. Building enough reactors to offset climate change is cost prohibitive. Reactors cost $4 billion or more each a decade ago and the price hasn"t gone down.

5. Nuclear reactor proliferation means more waste with no place to put it. A new Yucca Mountain-style dump every four years would be needed if 1,500 new reactors were built.

6. Nuclear power is not emissions-free. From uranium mining, milling and enrichment to construction and waste storage, nuclear uses fossil fuels.

7. Reactors at the beginning and the end of their lifespans are at their most dangerous, prone to breakdown and accident. Most of the 103 operating now are nearing the end of their cycles. Adding new ones doubles the risk of accident.

8. Electricity is not the biggest problem. It"s fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Adding nuclear won"t address this or reduce these major ghg emitters.
Debate Round No. 1
dajavinator

Pro

So first I'd like to begin by stating that you gave no evidence for most of your points although some of it is implied.

1. For this point I have two responses.
First, there has never been a terrorist attack against a plant and most arguments along this line are just plain fear mongering.
Second, even if a nuclear fallout was to occur the consequences wouldn't be too great. Chernobyl is the only evidence of nuclear fallout deaths in history. Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute, printed 2013 "However, empirical evidence indicates that the April 1986 Chernobyl accident was the world’s only source of fatalities from nuclear power plant radiation fallout. According to the latest assessment by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), 43 deaths are conclusively attributable to radiation from Chernobyl as of 2006."

2. My response to this is twofold.
First, please do keep in mind the topic says "The US should increase its use of nuclear energy." It doesn't say the US shouldn't increase it's US of other sources of energy. So this gap could be bridged with renewables easily in that time.
Second, you could replace the current reactor systems with Thorium based reactors and easily produce a much greater amount of energy.

3. I'm not quite sure what you're saying here, what makes nuclear not a "real climate change solution"?

4. Construction cost isn't the only thing one should look at when building reactors. There's two things to look at.
First is the overall levelized cost, which takes into account everything from construction and running the plant to taxes and paying employees. Which according to the EIA is 108.4 USD/MWh for nuclear. Although these costs may be more expensive then wind with 86.6, they are cheaper then other renewables such as solar which are at 144.3.
Second is the capacity factor, which is how much of the power grid these forms of energy can even power. According to the same EIA source Nuclear sits at a whopping 90% opposed to 52, 34, and 25 for hydroelectric, wind, and solar, respectively.

5. A few things.
First, you gave no source for this.
Second, According to research done by the University Of Sheffield “Volume of nuclear waste could be reduced by 90 per cent says new research” November 6, 2013 “The researchers, from the University’s Faculty of Engineering, have shown that mixing plutonium-contaminated waste with blast furnace slag and turning it into glass reduces its volume by 85-95 per cent. It also effectively locks in the radioactive plutonium, creating a stable end product.” So you can easily just reduce most of the current waste and lock in all it's harmful side effects.
Third, the Thorium reactors I proposed during my case can also easily eat through this waste solving this problem even further.

6. This argument is dishonest, you have the same transportation costs associated with forms of energy such as solar or wind. Which may usually be even more because you have to transport enough material for an entire wind farm.

7. Evidence?

8. Two responses.
First, every reduction to CO2 is good and saying that cars are the issue just diverts attention away from the actual topic.
Second, if you truly think this is the case then the renewables you proposed wouldn't be solving this problem either.
mildred2013

Con

Argument 1: The current system, with a majority of energy being produced by coal and natural gas (41.9, 24.8) is harmful to the United States
-the major polluter are cars not coal energy producing stations

1a)Generating energy with coal plants has many harmful side effects
-generating with nuclear is harmful since the end products cannot be stored safely
-i think its better for us to invest in making coal stations more efficient than building nuclear
-nuclear is also costly to maintan
-When environmental and hidden costs are factored in, nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity.

Argument 2:There are many benefits of nuclear energy
-the supposed benefits of nuclear energy are outweighed by the possible effects of
1. nuclear proliferation will increase the threat of nuclear weapons since its easy to turn nuclear reactors into nuclear weapons
2. The whole idea behind preventing global warming is to protect the Earth"s ecosystems, collectively known as the biosphere. You can"t save the biosphere if it"s irradiated by a nuclear fallout
3. Why is it worth potentially losing a region of a country, or even a whole country, just to generate electricity?
4. Besides the painful facts of ongoing meltdowns, nuclear power plants don"t need to be built because truly renewable, or perhaps more descriptively, fuelless electricity technologies, like wind, are far superior to nuclear energy.

One reason we don"t need nuclear energy is because uranium is also a limited nonrenewable resource. And its mining, refining, construction, operation, and disposal all require substantial amounts of petroleum fuels, and are all accomplished by devices and processes which are largely ill-suited to electric power. And of course the disposal problem is nowhere near a solution.

New nuclear power stations will not be built in the UK, or anywhere else, unless substantial subsidies are provided. That several such subsidies are already in place is a flagrant breach of the principle of fair competition. Subsidies may be justified for new industries and new technologies but they are not justified for nuclear power which is long-established and has had more than its fair share of support.

Cost
It appears that, where claims are made that nuclear power is cheap, the evidence has come, directly or indirectly, from the nuclear industry itself. It appears that such claims can only be made with some or all of the following optimistic assumptions: no overruns in the times or costs of building nuclear plants, ignoring all the subsidies for nuclear power and assuming that capital costs have been paid off.
When all the overt and hidden subsidies are taken into account, nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity.
To be competitive with other sources of power, nuclear power requires permanent support from tax payers or permanent support by means of market mechanisms or hidden subsidies. By contrast, most renewable forms of energy need temporary support until costs are reduced by economies of scales and refinement of technologies, and no further support after that.
In conclusion my whole argument is based on the potential devastating effects of nuclear fallout that can destroy the whole world. Why do we need such a risk.

Lets focus on improving the efficiency of renewable energy than building nuclear or coal.

"What exactly is nuclear power? It is a very expensive, sophisticated, and dangerous way to boil water." Helen Caldicott
Debate Round No. 2
dajavinator

Pro

I'd like to begin this round by pointing out two things.

First, my opponent never used evidence to substantiate their claims.

Second, my opponent never responded to my rebuttals of their case.


Argument 1: The argument my opponent makes that "the major polluter are cars not coal energy producing stations." I refuted this earlier in the round, so I'll just restate my arguments:
First, every reduction to CO2 is good and saying that cars are the issue just diverts attention away from the actual topic.
Second, if you truly think this is the case then the renewables you proposed wouldn't be solving this problem either.


1a)
- "generating with nuclear is harmful since the end products cannot be stored safely" once again I already refuted this with evidence during round 2, I will just restate my argument. You can use Thorium to recycle current waste and it only produces an extremely small of waste, you can take this already small amount and blow into glass, further reducing the size and locking it the dangers.

-"i think its better for us to invest in making coal stations more efficient than building nuclear" even if you believe this we're projected to run out of coal in the next 10-20 years, investing in something that will run out would be fruitless. (http://grist.org...)

- "nuclear is also costly to maintan" once again, I refuted this earlier. Look at the EIA evidence I gave during round 2, nuclear is cheaper then some alternatives and more expensive then some. But it's important to look at the overall capacity factor which is how much of the US those forms of energy can power. Nuclear outclasses all the alternatives my opponent suggested.


Argument 2:
First, "nuclear proliferation will increase the threat of nuclear weapons since its easy to turn nuclear reactors into nuclear weapons" you gave no evidence to substantiate this claim. Therefore, the evidence I gave about how nuclear power directly leads to eliminating warheads is much more valid then my opponent's.
Second, what my opponent has said here is based on a false premise established in their previous point. So carry through that rebuttal. Also, "You can"t save the biosphere if it"s irradiated by a nuclear fallout" my opponent provides no evidence for this claim.
Third, once again this based upon a false claim that I refuted and is also blatant fear mongering.
Fourth, I didn't understand this point too clearly but I believe the gist of it is that alternatives are better. I've shown evidence in both my rounds and during this rebuttal about how that is not the case and that nuclear is superior.


"One reason we don"t need nuclear energy is because uranium is also a limited nonrenewable resource. And its mining, refining, construction, operation, and disposal all require substantial amounts of petroleum fuels, and are all accomplished by devices and processes which are largely ill-suited to electric power. And of course the disposal problem is nowhere near a solution."

First
, "uranium is also a limited nonrenewable resource" once again my opponent provides no evidence for this. Nonetheless, this can be alleviated with breeder reactors. According to research done by Bernard L. Cohen from the Department of Physics at the University of Pittsburgh 1983 "We thus conclude that all the world’s energy requirements for the remaining 5×10 yr of existence of life on Earth could be 9 provided by breeder reactors without the cost of electricity rising by as much as 1% due to fuel costs. This is consistent with the definition of a “renewable” energy source in the sense in which that term is generally used" What this shows is that breeder technologies can make nuclear just as sustainable as renewables. Also, cross apply the Thorium and Fusion evidence I gave during round 1 regarding nuclear energy.
Second, "And its mining, refining, construction, operation, and disposal all require substantial amounts of petroleum fuels" This same problem occurs with renewables (on a much larger scale) as I had pointed out during my round 2 rebuttal.
Third, "And of course the disposal problem is nowhere near a solution." this is just false, look to the Thorium and glass evidence I gave during round 2, and during this round as well.


"New nuclear power stations will not be built in the UK, or anywhere else, unless substantial subsidies are provided. That several such subsidies are already in place is a flagrant breach of the principle of fair competition. Subsidies may be justified for new industries and new technologies but they are not justified for nuclear power which is long-established and has had more than its fair share of support."

First, "New nuclear power stations will not be built in the UK, or anywhere else" the topic states explicitly that we are debating the US.
Second, to address your point on subsidies as whole. Subsidies are not innately bad as the Con team is implying, the government subsidizes certain technologies they view as a good investment. Nonetheless if we continue with my opponent's premise, coal which they argued in favor of earlier has received 12% of subsidies, hydroelectric has received 11%, renewables (solar and wind) have received 9%, and nuclear has received 9%. So unless my opponent can justify why all these other forms of energy are receiving subsidies their point is invalid and unfairly targeting nuclear.


"It appears that, where claims are made that nuclear power is cheap, the evidence has come, directly or indirectly, from the nuclear industry itself. It appears that such claims can only be made with some or all of the following optimistic assumptions: no overruns in the times or costs of building nuclear plants, ignoring all the subsidies for nuclear power and assuming that capital costs have been paid off.When all the overt and hidden subsidies are taken into account, nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity."
First, "It appears that, where claims are made that nuclear power is cheap, the evidence has come, directly or indirectly, from the nuclear industry itself" this is just false. The evidence I gave came Energy Information Agency, which is a very reputable source especially in contrast to no evidence from my opponent.
Second, "It appears that such claims can only be made with some or all of the following optimistic assumptions: no overruns in the times or costs of building nuclear plants, ignoring all the subsidies for nuclear power and assuming that capital costs have been paid off. When all the overt and hidden subsidies are taken into account, nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity" once again this is completely false. The evidence from the Energy Information Agency speaks about the total levelized system cost, which takes into account everything and calculates the cost per Megawatt hour to run any form of electricity.


"To be competitive with other sources of power, nuclear power requires permanent support from tax payers or permanent support by means of market mechanisms or hidden subsidies. By contrast, most renewable forms of energy need temporary support until costs are reduced by economies of scales and refinement of technologies, and no further support after that."
One response, I've already refuted the point about subsidies so I won't do it again. But once again, like throughout the entire debate, you gave no evidence to substantiate such a significant claim: "most renewable forms of energy need temporary support until costs are reduced by economies of scales and refinement of technologies, and no further support after that."


In conclusion, I've shown that Nuclear is much better then it's alternatives using clear evidence and have successfully refuted all my points. Whereas my opponent dropped all of my rebuttals and never used any evidence to substantiate their claims.
mildred2013

Con

mildred2013 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
dajavinator

Pro

As I had stated during round 1, during round 4 both teams give closings, so new arguments may be brought up.

This debate in essence has come down to a couple main topics: waste, economics of plants, and claims made by my opponents(sorry for being broad). Before I move on to those points I believe it's also important that I point out how my opponent never used one piece of evidence throughout the debate. Now moving onto the arguments.

Waste
I refuted my opponent's claims about waste throughout the debate with evidence. You could use thorium based reactors, which effectively reduce waste to a minuscule amount, in tandem with blowing this waste into glass to extremely reduce the amount of waste and contain it. Which my opponent never responded to.

Economics of plants
My opponent spoke about how plants cost a lot to construct, which is true. But using evidence from the EIA I showed that an overall lifetime system levelized cost which takes into consideration everything associated with constructing and running a plant, nuclear falls in the middle of the pack. On top of this using the same EIA evidence I also spoke about the capacity factor (how much of the US power grid a certain form of energy can power), I showed that capacity factor for nuclear was much higher then all of the counterparts which my opponent proposed. Meaning that even if nuclear costs a little more, it's still much more viable power source.

I also refuted my opponent's point about subsidies using evidence from the NEI showing how the subsidies nuclear receives aren't any greater the other forms of energy and also aren't as bad as my opponents suggested.

Claims made by my opponent
Because this topic is a little broad I should clarify. Throughout the debate my opponent made claims without any evidence that were either false, fear mongering, or had some other issue. So, I what they were and where in this debate you can see my refutation of these points.

Nuclear plants are essentially nuclear bombs waiting to happen/fallout fear mongering
My refutation for this is during my round 2 response. I essentially talk about how this extremely unlikely this would be to occur and is mainly fear mongering on my opponent's part, also I gave evidence about how a nuclear meltdown's harm wouldn't be too significant.

I also refuted the point about nuclear fallout by showing how my opponent gave no evidence and how my evidence about the actual dismantling of warheads is occurring as a result of nuclear energy. This should clearly hold more impact.


So in conclusion, for the major reasons I've outlined here and other refutations you can see earlier in the debate, I urge a vote for Pro.
mildred2013

Con

mildred2013 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by TheFurryOat 3 years ago
TheFurryOat
Justice will prevail this day!
Posted by 351ClevelandSteamer 3 years ago
351ClevelandSteamer
Wind power in the United States has killed more people than nuclear in the United States. GO NUCLEAR!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
Ore_Ele
dajavinatormildred2013Tied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Debates like this need to be source intensive. Every single argument made by each side should have MULTIPLE sources. This isn't a philosophical debate. This is a cold hard facts debate, backed by science and numbers (for both sides). To go through without a single source from either side is rather shocking. Con dropped all of Pro's R1 arguments and just went into her own. Her's were easily refuted. She ultimately stopped debating and just forfeited, costing the conduct and arguments.
Vote Placed by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
dajavinatormildred2013Tied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had the more convincing arguments and did not forfeit.