[Viewpoint] The key to green growth is nuclear

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[Viewpoint] The key to green growth is nuclear

Civilization of the human race started with the discovery of fire, and it could survive continuously with the use of fire. In addition, fire opened the age of industrialization through the energy revolution that started with the invention of the steam engine, an era that took the world beyond mere agriculture. Now, the clean energy of electricity has opened the way to the development of an ultra-modern digital civilization. Energy guaranteed the survival of the human race, and material abundance guaranteed the dignity and value for people. However, the continuing development of civilization has begun to threaten the very survival of the human race. The vast use of fossil fuels to gain energy is besieging the world with global warming. The comprehensive plan and the vision for the future can be defined as “green development”

Green is a color of hope and vision. Green development is not selfish development but altruistic development for continuous prosperity of our neighbors and descendants. It is a sustainable growth that reduces emission of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution by the use of low carbon-dioxide, environmentally-friendly and highly-effective green technology.

Furthermore, green technology creates new markets and jobs with the development of technologies that counteract climate change and develop new energy sources. The three-prongs of green development are the expansion of new growth engines, improvement of the quality of people’s life and environment, and the making of a contribution to international society by enhancing national status.

It should not simply be short-term development to overcome a crisis of today, but sustainable development for the future.

This requires us to make a difficult choice. There are diverse energy sources that produce energy we need. The problem is which energy sources we should choose. Naturally, green development should be accomplished through green technology, and green technology energy sources should be the driving source. Regenerative energy sources from the wind and sun are unlimited energy sources that the human race can use as long as it exists. Simultaneously, they are green energy sources that are clean and with no side effects. However, regenerative energy sources have certain problems, such as availability, viability, stability, sustainability and scale. And there is the great amount of time is needed to overcome such problems.

In short, energy sources should satisfy the requirements that they are available, technically accessible, viable, stable, sustainable, environmentally friendly and reliable. They should be available for use at all times, be provided with our own technology, be affordable economically and be supplied steadily regardless of environmental change.

And that’s not all. They should be clean and supplied continuously on a large scale, and should give confidence to consumers. However, no energy source we currently use simultaneously satisfies all these conditions.

If the best solution is not available, we should look for the second best. There is a problem with the energy produced during sunny days but not during the night and darker days. We need an energy source that can provide energy without interruption for the sustainable growth of our economy.

Nuclear energy is the answer.

Nuclear energy has been the foundation for the continuous development of our industry and economy and will now play the leading role as the energy source for green development.

Nuclear power is often compared to a rose. It is a clean energy without greenhouse gas, but it produces waste in the process of use.

Technology continuously makes developments and advancements. It is this technology that changes the negative aspects to the positive. High-level radioactive waste is no longer treated as waste that needs to be disposed of. Technologies that can extract useful resources remaining in nuclear fuel after use in a way that does not violate the nuclear non-proliferation regime, reuse them as fuel, and minimize the amount of waste and toxicity, are being developed.

The world already recognizes the excellence of Korean technology. The thorny issue of nuclear waste will also be completely eliminated with our technology and scientific capability in the near future. After all, nuclear energy is the driving force of green development we need for our survival.

*The writer is a professor of new materials engineering at Kyungpook University and co-president of the Climate Change and Energy Solution Forum.

by Hur Jong-soo
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