Arni Gundersen: Nuclear power lobbyists and their marketing firms want us to believe that humankind’s current CO2 atmospheric releases would have been much worse were it not for those 438 power plants now operating. How much worse? The World Nuclear Association industry trade group estimates that an additional 1.1 gigatons of CO2 would have been created in 2015 if natural gas plants supplied the electricity instead of those 438 nukes. Worldwide, all those nuclear power plants made only a 3 percent dent in yearly CO2 production.Put another way, each of the 438 individual nuclear plants contribute less than seven thousandths of one percent to CO2 reduction. That’s hardly enough to justify claims that keeping your old local power plant running is necessary to prevent the sea from rising. Let’s fast forward to 2050. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) estimates that even if the 2015 Paris Accords (COP 21) are implemented and 1,000 new nuclear power plants are constructed, global CO2 emissions will still increase to a minimum of 64 gigatons. While this increase appears counterintuitive given the Paris agreement, it is on target because of pent-up energy demands from large populations in India, China, Southeast Asia and Africa who want to achieve the standard of living in western developed countries. Can new atomic power reactors really help cut CO2 by 2050? Unfortunately, what is past is prologue. The World Nuclear Association claims that 1,000 new nuclear power plants will be needed by 2050 to combat CO2 buildup and climate change. The MIT estimate also assumes 1,000 nuclear power plants must be in operation by 2050. Using the nuclear trade association’s own calculations shows that these new power plants will offset only 3.9 gigatons of CO2 in 2050; 3.9 gigatons out of 64 gigatons is only 6.1 percent of the total CO2 released to the atmosphere in 2050, hardly enough for the salvation of the polar bears. If those 1,000 nuclear power plants were cheap and could be built quickly, investing in atomic power reactors might still make sense. However, Lazard Financial Advisory and Asset Management, with no dog in the fight, has developed a rubric which estimates that the construction cost of those new power plants will be $8,200,000,000,000. Yes, that’s $8.2 trillion to reduce CO2 by only 6 percent.
Truthout 14th Nov 2016 read more »