Nuclear Energy

The main use of nuclear energy is to generate electricity. Originally it was seen as more convenient and probably cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives such as coal, gas and oil. Nuclear energy has distinct environment advantages over fossil fuels, in that virtually all its wastes are contained and managed, that is, nuclear power stations do not cause any pollution.

Nuclear energy supplies some 14 percent of the the world's electricity, more than the world used from all sources in 1960. In 2012, 30 countries use nuclear energy to generate up to three quarters of their electricity.  

While the World Nuclear Association website focuses on the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity, it is important to note that nuclear energy is also used to produce the radioisotopes used in many parts of our modern world, with health services, industry and even domestic safety very dependent on them.  Many homes have smoke detectors which depend on a tiny amount of americium, derived from plutonium made in a nuclear reactor. In developed countries, about one half of all people will depend on nuclear medicine at some stage of their lives. 

Healey, Justin (ed) 2012, 'Nuclear energy debate', Issues in Society, vol. 337, p. 1.

However, nuclear power is one of the most controversial energies in use today. The fear of accidents, and the problem of what to do with nuclear waste, are both major challenges for the industry. An additional controversy is the association of nuclear materials with warfare and weapons.

Bowden, Rob 2009, 'Nuclear energy', Energy sources, Franklin Watts, London, p. 17.

Library Resources
Web Resources

Library Resources

On the shelves

Use a keyword search on the Library catalogue for find the books on our shelves that contain information about nuclear energy.

Other books that may contain topics that relate to this subject include:


Issues in society

Britannica eStax

Reference resources

General encyclopedia

Subject encyclopedia


  • Bowden, Rob, 2009, 'Nuclear energy', Energy sources, Franklin Watts, London, pp. 16-21.

Web Resources




Nuclear accidents

Chernobyl, Ukraine, Soviet Union - April 26 1986

Fukushima, Japan, 11 March 2011

Nuclear energy and the environment

Nuclear medicine

Nuclear weapons

Article Appears in: