Skip to main content

How Green is Nuclear Power?

That's what the Christian Science Monitor is asking:
"Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."
Well it's good to see they are not spouting the anti's claims on CO2 emissions. They appear to do some homework on the issue. NEI's Paul Genoa is there to represent:
"Yes, absolutely there's carbon," says Paul Genoa, director of policy development for the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the nuclear power industry in the US. "Most studies have found life-cycle emissions of nuclear to be comparable with renewable. Some show nuclear to be extremely high, but we do not find those credible."
Stewart Peterson has a different view on the whole life cycle analysis issue here. And be sure to check out the Wall Street Journal's blog on the CSM article.

Comments

Doug said…
Anti-nuke activists love to calculate every last emission for a nuclear construction project, but never seem to subject renewables to the same analysis. You think there might be some energy used to make all the aluminum in a wind or solar project? Perhaps some concrete used to build a solar thermal plant? Uh-huh.

Probably the biggest gotcha is their method of calculating the emissions for enrichment. First they use obsolete enrichment technologies as the basis for the calculation, then they assume that all the electric power required comes from the existing mix of sources, which are, of course, dominated by fossil fuels. With this sort of circular ill-logic, doubtless their 19th century counterparts could have proven that coal/steam power was impractical because of the amount of animal muscle power needed to mine the coal. Since the product of nuclear power is electricty, a much better emissions analysis would be "CO2 per net kwh" from a project, i.e. simply deduct enrichment electrical needs directly from the plant's output.

Powered by electricity
Paul Wilson said…
This article seemed to be fairly balanced, other than an over reliance on this German study. I am amazed by the natural gas numbers produced by the German group for both emissions and cost. Where do they get such cheap methane that doesn't emit CO2 when it burns?

That said, I did some quick math on the numbers offered by the German study. By my reckoning, this study results in the following costs for CO2 emission avoidance relative to coal:
nuke: $18.60/tonne
wind: $58.50/tonne
CC biogas: $17.70/tonne
Solar: $664/tonne

Again, the NG numbers seem completely out of touch with reality. See Meier analysis referenced in article at: http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/presentations/pmeier_energy.pdf

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…