Nuclear power cannot address climate change. There are some other tangental issues that also rule nuclear power out of the climate solutions mix. It is too expensive, and part of the reason for that is due to the immense safety risks, and the unsolved radioactive waste management challenge. These issues are addressed in the separate booklet chapters on Costs, Safety and Waste. The pursuit of nuclear energy as a climate change solution inhibits the necessary rapid development of solutions that are available, less expensive, safer and more environmentally effective. When nuclear power is said to have “zero emissions,” this refers only to the electricity generation phase and only to greenhouse gas emissions. There are emissions at this stage, especially heat and radioactivity. Certain emissions during reactor operations, such as carbon-14 in CO2 form and methane, are greenhouse gases. However, there are plenty of carbon emissions involved in making a nuclear power plant a reality. Therefore, when discussing the carbon footprint of nuclear energy compared to other energy forms, the entire uranium fuel chain needs to be taken into account. In doing so, nuclear energy compares poorly to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Lifecycle emissions along the nuclear fuel chain occur through uranium mining and milling, transportation, plant construction, operation, reactor site decommissioning, and nuclear waste management.
Beyond Nuclear 3rd July 2019 read more »