Friday, 26 April 2013


In reality, there is no single energy source that is perfect or sufficient enough to quench the thirst for energy in any given country. Cheap and reliable energies usually come at heavier environmental impacts. Pure, renewable, and clean energies like wind, solar and geothermal tend to be expensive, unreliable and rare.

Nuclear energy can be harnessed for electricity generation at the same time leaving an environmentally clean environment due to the fact that it is a carbon-dioxide-emission-free energy source. Nuclear is a clean-air energy that is designed to release only steam rather than smoke into the atmosphere thus the reason for it being environmentally friendly. In fact, it scores highly in terms of fighting climate change since it does not emit green house gases which heavily deplete the ozone layer and cause global warming. Nuclear energy is also cost-competitive and allows us to power our homes and industries without digging deep into our pockets because it is one of the affordable sources of electricity when compared to other sources.

According to the Energy Information Center website, nuclear waste is so dense that if you piled all of the used fuel generated from all of the power plants in the United States in the past 60 years, it could fit it all on a football field. It is quite unbelievable but also a fact!!

In the United States which has the largest number of nuclear power plants in the world (104), used nuclear fuel and facilities are kept safe, controlled and regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which enforces strict safety standards for all nuclear facilities and keeps them running like new all round the year. The agency ensures that nuclear facilities comply with all environmental standards, keeping resources clean and safeguarded before any plant can operate. In the nuclear industry, compliance to a strict safety culture is not an option but mandatory. Kenya may be a failure just like any other third world country struggling to build its economic muscles. This is especially when it comes to emergency response and management of 'small' disasters or wastes but in this case, the safety culture is not a choice. All things considered, nuclear energy supports environmental stewardship and affordable energy. It gives us the ability to power our homes without emitting harmful gases into the surrounding environment while safely controlling the used fuel by-product.

Instead of fighting new initiatives for nuclear energy, we should focus on solving the real problems that prevent us from taking full use of the environmental benefits that are at disposal from the introduction and adoption of nuclear energy. Problems such as the political issues behind creating a nuclear fuel repository where we can safely house our waste and upholding the policy that prevents recycling of used nuclear fuel - a process that leads to the manufacture of nuclear weapons should be our main concerns to address the environmental issues surrounding nuclear energy.

There is no clear answer to what the perfect energy source is for us right now but it is important to note that no single energy source can satisfy our energy demands hence the reason to have a diversified energy mix. However, it is worth noting that each energy source has a limited maximum capacity of supply that can be exploited and having a diversity in electricity generation would help complement the capacity of each rather than to bring competition of sources. This is key in the Kenyan case. It is therefore important to keep a strong mix of energy sources to maintain affordability while at the same time promoting environmental stewardship in this era when the world is faced with the challenge of addressing a carbon-filled environment.

When analyzing the sources of our energy, it is important to consider the playing field and what is at stake, make knowledgeable decisions, and not allow our good intentions to lead us down the wrong path for lack of knowledge, factual information and/ or perspective. We would all wish to leave a livable country where our next generations will enjoy energy security and economic development. Let us unite to support the move towards sustainability in the energy sector. Nuclear energy has transformed super-powers like the U.S, China and the U.K. We too, can only emulate them, learn from the mistakes done by others and embrace best practices in the nuclear industry for us to reap from the safe application of nuclear technology for electricity generation.