IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Nuclear energy and climate change      

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Is nuclear power a zero-emissions energy source?

  • Nuclear energy is also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Uranium extraction, transport and processing produces emissions. The long and complex construction process of nuclear power plants also releases CO2, as does the demolition of decommissioned sites. Nuclear waste transport and storage.
  • At COP26, environmental initiative Scientists for Future (S4F) presented a paper on nuclear energy and the climate. Which stated that “Taking into account the current overall energy system, nuclear energy is by no means CO2 neutral,”


How much CO2 does nuclear power produce?

  • A report released in 2014 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), , estimated a range of 3.7 to 110 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
  • Netherlands-based World Information Service on Energy (WISE) calculated that nuclear plants produce 117 grams of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour.

How climate-friendly is nuclear compared to other energies?

  • If the entire life cycle of a nuclear plant is included in the calculation, nuclear energy certainly comes out ahead of fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.

Can we rely on nuclear energy to help stop global warming?

  • Nuclear power plant construction times are too long and the costs too high to have a noticeable effect on climate change. It takes too long for nuclear energy to become available.
  • Nuclear power plants are about four times as expensive as wind or solar, and take five times as long to build.
  • Combination of excessive costs, environmental consequences and lack of public support are all arguments against nuclear power.
  • Nuclear energy itself has been affected by climate change. During the hot summers, several nuclear power plants have already had to be temporarily shut down or taken off the grid.
  • Power plants depend on nearby water sources to cool their reactors, and with many rivers drying up, those sources of water are no longer guaranteed.