Environment Magazine

Is Nuclear Energy Renewable?

Posted on the 28 June 2015 by Rinkesh @ThinkDevGrow

Nuclear energy is the energy that is in the core (nucleus) of an atom. Atoms are small particles which make up the entire universe and everything it holds. There is a tremendous force of energy that is able to keep the atoms bonded together. What is amazing about nuclear energy is that it can be used to make electricity. In order for the energy to be “released” (i.e., produce electricity) one of two things must occur, either nuclear fusion or nuclear fission.

In the process of nuclear fusion, the energy is able to be released when all of the atoms combine together to form a very large atom. The sun is able to produce energy this way. In nuclear fission, atoms separate and split apart from all of the other atoms to create a much smaller atom, and then releasing the energy. This is how nuclear power plants produce their electricity.

If we are to meet the growing electricity demand in the United States without significantly increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, we must maintain a diverse supply of electricity, and nuclear power must be part of that mix.
-Judy Biggert

More from nuclear energy:


More About Nuclear Energy

It is already a known fact that nuclear power is a low carbon power generation source. But whether or not it is an actual renewable energy source is up for debate. Renewable energy comes from sources in which is not depleted when it is used such as solar power or wind. It comes from natural processes that are consistently replenished over time. Examples of this include electricity, wind, sunlight, oceans, biomass, hydropower, as well as geothermal resources.

So let’s look at the definition of nuclear energy. It is the energy that is in the core of an item. And atoms make up everything in the entire universe. Nuclear energy is what keeps these atoms together that hold together all of these things in the universe. And this energy has the ability to be used as electricity.

A renewable energy is one that is constantly replenished in a matter of time. So what makes nuclear energy not renewable?

If nuclear energy is created from the atoms that make up the world, then why isn’t it considered to be a renewable energy to many skeptics? Those who believe that nuclear energy is a clean source of energy but not a renewable believe this for a number of reasons. They believe this because nuclear energy is a result the heat that comes from the atom’s fission process. Power plants use team to convert their heat to electricity. At nuclear power plants, the steam is created from the heat that produced from the plant. Because it is produced from a source that is not automatically renewable over the time, it is considered not to be a renewable source.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this debate and experts have gone back and forth for many years trying to come up with a solution to the debate. The fact is, nuclear energy is created from uranium which is not a renewable source of energy. This puts a lid on the debate for many people.

  • Nuclear energy facilities in a total of 31 states provide electricity that is made of low carbon to 1 out of every five business and homes in the United States.
  • It is also extremely affordable and much of it is produced in abundance. The nuclear energy that is created that these large energy facilities is the most affordable out of all the other electricity sources.
  • They are also extremely reliable and operate at a high level of efficiency.
  • The fuel that is used inside of nuclear facilities is so different that just one pellet of fuel provides as much fuel as 149 gallons of oils. Five of these pellets of uranium have the ability to heat a home for a whole year.
  • Nuclear energy facilities all over the country are highly regulated and have Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors on site every day of the year.
  • These nuclear facilities generate over $16 billion dollars in local and state taxes which helps to benefit roads, schools, and local businesses.
  • It creates nearly 1,800 jobs in the US every single year.

Facts about Nuclear Energy

1. Nuclear power plants continue to use the process of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Even though it can potentially be made to be much safer it has not been used yet to operate a very big power plant.

2. Uranium is what creates nuclear energy which is considered to be a nonrenewable energy source that has to be mined.

3. Every 2 years or so a power plant must completely close its doors in order to remove uranium fuel which later becomes a form of radio

4. 20% of the electricity in the United States comes from nuclear power plants.

5. 30 countries all over the world use nuclear energy as a secondary source of energy.

6. Nuclear power plants use water to create production as well as for cooling purposes. Some of this water is removed from rivers which impacts fish and other creatures that live in the ocean.

7. In America, more than 70% of their emission free power comes from specific sources of nuclear energy.

8. 1 out of 5 households use some form of nuclear energy.

9. It is important to remember that power plants in the US produce over 2,000 tons of radioactive waste in a year’s time.

10. Some of the most highly regulated plants in the entire world are American nuclear energy plants.

11. Electricity that comes from nuclear energy plays no role in gas or coal prices.


Facts about Nuclear Power Plants

1. The heat from nuclear power plants is produced by the fission process in a nuclear reactor. Water vapor is then produced ad this steam is then fed to the nuclear reactor.

2. A nuclear reactor consists of fuel (uranium), coolant, control rods, pressure tubes, and a steam generator

3. A nuclear power reactor must be shut down before it can be refueled.

4. Pressurized water reactors are used to keep water under pressure so it is able to be heated up but not boil.

5. A boiling water reactor is heated by the process of fission and it boils the water in order for it to turn into steam.

6. In a nuclear power plant, water is first turned into steam which is what makes the turbine generators produce electricity.

7. The heat that is produced when the uranium atoms split is called fission.

8. No combustion occurs in a nuclear reactor.

9. Nuclear reactors help to create radioactive waste which may not be very easy to dispose of.

10. Some nuclear reactors are used to power aircraft carries and military submarines.


The debate could on and on in regards to nuclear energy and whether or not it is a renewable energy or not. The fact of the matter is, if an energy source is not created from resources within the earth then it is not a renewable source of energy. Some may be able to spin the idea that nuclear energy is a renewable energy source, but it simply is not. Regardless, experts all over the world are going to debate this over and over and may never come to an agreement.

Image credit
Toucanradio , Rodrigo Gómez Sanz

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