That headline is pretty easy to understand, isn't it? We've written about the topic or something related to it more times than I can count, but for every time we've addressed the topic, we always seem to need to do it again.
After reading an article about the downside of biofuels in the Guardian, Geoff Wells wrote the following on his blog concerning nuclear energy and total life-cycle emissions:
A similar absence of lifecycle accounting has distorted the nuclear energy debate. Nuclear power stations are being promoted as clean and green–as emitting no greenhouse emissions. However, a full life-cycle analysis takes into account not only what is emitted by the power station, but the combined impacts of mining, enrichment, fuel fabrication, decomissioning and waste storage. At the highest grades of ore, nuclear stations produce more energy than they consume. But at the lower grades of ore, which are far more abundant, nuclear power stations become net consumers of energy, all of it from declining fossil fuel sources, with the resulting increase on greenhouse emissions.This isn't funny anymore. There are way too many folks like Wells out there who make claims like this based on tissue-paper thin studies that our industry keeps poking holes in.
The fact is that when you consider total life-cycle emissions, nuclear energy is comparable to renewables. I guess this comes at an opportune time, as we just beefed up the references on our Web page on the issue earlier today. For even more studies, be sure to check out this post from September 2006 that deals with the issue.