Via Spinneyhead and gigajoules, a coalition of Australian and international environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, has published a report entitled “Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change.” I’ve just had a chance to browse the summary report, but a few facts I’ve read should, at the very least, keep the debate over nuclear energy’s “clean and green” claims going. Among the arguments the report makes:
- Claims that nuclear power is ‘greenhouse free’ are incorrect as substantial greenhouse gas emissions are generated across the nuclear fuel cycle. Fossil-fuel generated electricity is more greenhouse intensive than nuclear power, but this comparative benefit will be eroded as higher-grade uranium ores are depleted. Most of the earth’s uranium is found in very poor grade ores, and recovery of uranium from these ores is likely to be considerably more greenhouse intensive. (3)
- There are significant constraints on the growth of nuclear power, such as its high capital cost and, in many countries, lack of public acceptability. As a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power is further limited because it is used almost exclusively for electricity generation, which is responsible for less than one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Because of these problems, the potential for nuclear power to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels is limited. Few predict a doubling of nuclear power output by 2050, but even if it did eventuate it would still only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 5% – less than one tenth of the reductions required to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. (3)
I leave these facts to speak for themselves, and, as always, invite our friends at NEI to respond.