Carbon Emissions and the Nuclear Industry
How does nuclear power impact on our carbon foot print?
Public opinion seems to be swinging back in favour of nuclear power, due to belief that this would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; however, this is not necessarily the case.
- Firstly, nuclear energy will never impact greatly on carbon emissions; the only significant purpose of nuclear power is the production of electricity, and only 16% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to electricity production. Therefore, nuclear power cannot impact on 84% of carbon emissions.
- Nuclear power is by no means going to reduce carbon emissions by this 16%. The nuclear process is dependent on fossil fuels for uranium mining, enrichment and transportation, and also for construction and decommission of power plants, and for transportation and storage of radioactive waste.
- The nuclear process- chain (mining transportation, operation, storage and decommissioning) produces, on average, 20-40% of the C02 of a typical gasfire power station. Powerful green house gases such as hydro- fluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride (sf6) are also produced in unknown quantities.*
- We can not forsee how much energy will have to be used by future generations in order to store and try to keep safe the waste from the nuclear power stations, which are producing the electricity, which we use today. So, we have no idea of the impact that this may have on the planet in the future.
* Nuclear energy, the energy balance. Jan- Willam Storm van Leeuweer and Philip Smith (2005 Nuclear monitor) WIS/ NIRS.
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