BEST IELTS General Reading Test 339

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 339

IELTS GENERAL READING TEST 339 – PASSAGE – 3

IELTS General Reading Test

IELTS GENERAL READING TEST – 339

READING PASSAGE – 3

Nuclear Power

One of the most significant advantages of nuclear power is that compared to coal, gas, and other electricity-generating plants, nuclear is the lowest by far in greenhouse gas release. Carbon dioxide and similar gases, known for depleting the Earth’s atmosphere, have notoriously been an issue in the climate change debate. Due to this fact, nuclear energy has once again been looked at for power production and nuclear energy produces 62 percent of all emission-free electricity in the United States. In nuclear reactors that utilise large cooling towers, it’s a common misconception that pollution is massively dumped into the air.

The large clouds people see leaving the smoke stacks are nothing more than steam. Another appealing reason for using nuclear energy is its excellent fuel to power ratio. It has the capacity to meet all needs with just one reactor, let alone multiple, and a relatively small amount of uranium can be used to fuel a 1000-megawatt electric plant providing enough electricity to power a city of about half a million people. Renewable sources, such as solar and wind, provide only enough power to meet residential needs. They don’t yet have the capacity of nuclear to handle large-scale power needs, especially in the manufacturing world.

IELTS General Reading Test

Although the initial costs to build nuclear plants are high, nuclear power produces very inexpensive electricity once up and running. Electricity generated by nuclear reactors is cheaper than gas, coal, or any other fossil fuel plants. Also, uranium is a fairly cheap fuel source, and just a little of it is needed to produce massive power. When you combine all that with a lifecycle of 40 to 60 years, the low operating costs far outweigh the high upfront costs to build. Nuclear power also improves the state of the economy and local communities are, more often than not, pro-nuclear due to the amount of jobs a new plant brings.

On average, a new nuclear plant creates 400 to 700 permanent jobs, not to mention thousands of others during its construction. This is comparable to just 90 jobs for a coal plant, and 50 jobs for a natural gas plant. The main reason local communities are so happy over nuclear plants is that each facility generates close to $500 million annually in sales of goods and services. More workers at plants means more people who need lunches and more people with money to spend.

IELTS General Reading Test

Quite possibly the most important benefit of nuclear energy is that it doesn’t rely on fossil fuels and this means it’s not affected by the unpredictability of oil and gas costs. It also means that we won’t be depleting the Earth’s supply of resources nearly as quickly, as nuclear power requires much less fuel to produce a higher amount of energy. With the current supply of uranium, it is estimated that the world has at least another 80 years before supply becomes an issue, but there are also other forms of uranium that can be used if needed, extending that timeline even further.

This is plenty of time to find alternative sources (such as nuclear fusion, the holy grail of energy), if need be. Nuclear energy, however, is not powered by a renewable fuel source. Uranium is in limited (although currently abundant) supply, whereas typical renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are in infinite supply. Uranium has to be mined, synthesised, then activated to produce energy, and it’s expensive to go through this process.

IELTS General Reading Test

Nuclear energy has a number of positive aspects, making it appealing to more and more countries worldwide; however, like all energy sources, it has its downsides. Many people are scared of nuclear power due to the few, although very significant, accidents that have taken place over the years. And while nuclear energy operates with little pollution to the environment, it certainly isn’t without its environmental impacts.

Possibly the biggest concern among nuclear energy advocates is the environmental impact of uranium as a fuel source. A typical nuclear power plant generates about 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel per year. The problem is that this spent fuel is highly radioactive and it’s not a fuel source you can take to a landfill and leave without worry. It has to be carefully handled and stored, which costs a lot of money, and it requires a significant amount of specially designed storage space. Spent nuclear fuel takes hundreds of years to decompose before it reaches adequate levels of safety.

IELTS General Reading Test

For this reason alone, it becomes an issue that other energy sources simply don’t have to deal with. As well as spent fuel, there is also a significant amount of low-level nuclear waste to dispose of. Lowlevel waste can include radioactively contaminated protective clothing, tools, filters, rags, medical tubes, and many other items. Storage sites for this are always underground in a reinforced concrete vault and covered with large amounts of topsoil, and immediately encircling the facility is a layer of impermeable backfill. The waste is stored in canisters until the radioactivity has decayed away and can be disposed of as ordinary trash.

Expense can also be a major deterrent for countries looking to build new nuclear plants. The construction of a new plant can take anywhere from 5 to 10 years to build, costing billions of dollars. Much of that and more is recouped throughout the lifetime of the plant, but it is clear how some nations might be reluctant to pursue nuclear energy. Decommissioning expenses are also significant. Although nuclear energy always provokes emotional debate, there is no denying that it remains as a viable option to solving Earth’s increasing energy needs over the next hundred years.

IELTS General Reading Test

Questions 27 – 34

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

27. Nuclear power offers better results in terms of _________________ when compared with traditional power generation.

28. It is only _________________ that comes out of the large chimneys of nuclear power stations.

29. Nuclear power stations have an extremely advantageous _________________ of uranium to energy production.

30. Current renewable energy can only satisfy _________________ requirements.

IELTS General Reading Test

31. After the length of _________________ is taken into account, the construction costs of nuclear power stations are not so significant.

32. Nuclear power stations provide more _________________ than traditional power plants.

33. Different types of uranium can lengthen the _________________ of uranium availability as a fuel.

34. _________________ is regarded as being the best non-renewable way of solving the world’s future energy needs.

IELTS General Reading Test

Questions 35 – 37

Label the diagram below. Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

IELTS General Reading Test

IELTS General Reading Test

Questions 38 – 40

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.

The Disadvantages of Nuclear Power

– Whereas renewable resources have an (38)_____________, uranium is not a renewable fuel source. · The processing of uranium is expensive.

– Most objections to nuclear power relate to the (39)_____________ of its fuel – its radioactivity means that used uranium takes a long time to be safe.

– The costs of building the power stations and the costs of (40)_____________ them are high.

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BEST IELTS General Reading Test 339

IELTS General Reading Test

ANSWERS

27. GREENHOUSE GAS RELEASE

28. STEAM

29. RATIO

30. RESIDENTIAL

31. LIFECYCLE

32. JOBS

33. TIMELINE

34. NUCLEAR FUSION

35. TOPSOIL

36. IMPERMEABLE BACKFILL

37. CANISTERS

38. INFINITE SUPPLY

39. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

40. DECOMMISSIONING

IELTS General Reading Test

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