Is nuclear energy good for the climate?

Contact Counsellor

Is nuclear energy good for the climate?

  • Nuclear energy proponents argue that it can aid in the transition of our economy away from polluting fossil fuels.
  • The world's attempts to address the climate catastrophe are being called into doubt by the newest numbers on global carbon dioxide emissions.
  • According to a report published by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), a group of scientists who analyse emissions, CO2 emissions are expected to increase by 4.9% in 2021 compared to the previous year.

India's Nuclear Energy Situation

  • In the 1950s, Homi Bhabha proposed a three-stage nuclear power scheme in india.
  • The Atomic Energy Act of 1962 was enacted with the goal of utilising two naturally occurring elements, Uranium and Thorium, which have a high potential for use as nuclear fuel in Indian nuclear power reactors.
  • India has also signed a nuclear pact with the US.
  • Though India has made a strategic decision to use nuclear energy for power generation, still it accounts for only 3% of India’s power generation, majorly due to protests by the local public and environmentalists and political unwillingness.
  • In September 2021, the government of India has committed to increase its Nuclear Energy capacity in the coming 10 years.

Is nuclear power a zero-emissions energy source?

  • Nuclear energy is considered to be a green energy source but it also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Uranium extraction, transport, and processing all contribute pollutants when it comes to nuclear energy.
  • The lengthy and complicated building of nuclear power stations, as well as the destruction of defunct installations, both emit CO2.

How much CO2 does nuclear power produce?

  • The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a study issued in 2014 calculated a range of 3.7 to 110 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
  • Because of higher safety rules, new power plants emit more CO2 during construction than those built in past decades.
  • According to the Netherlands-based World Information Service on Energy (WISE) Nuclear power facilities emit 117 grammes of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.
  • Depending on the power mix utilised in Uranium production and other variables, the Energy Program at Stanford University projected a climate cost of 68 to 180 grams of CO2/kWh.

How climate-friendly is nuclear compared to other energies?

  • When the full life cycle of a nuclear plant is considered, nuclear energy clearly outperforms fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.
  • But, when compared to renewable energy, it emits 3.5 times more CO2 per kilowatt-hour than photovoltaic solar panel systems.
  • This amount climbs to 13 times higher CO2 when compared to onshore wind generation.
  • When compared to electricity generated by hydroelectric plants, nuclear creates 29 times more carbon.

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

  • Many governments have backed proposals to develop additional nuclear power facilities, claiming that without them, the energy industry would be far worse for the environment.
  • According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report ""Nuclear power facilities are roughly four times as expensive as wind or solar power plants, and they take five times as long to develop,"". When everything is taken into account, a new nuclear facility will take 15 to 20 years to build.
  • As per the report from the environment and society programme at the international affairs think tank Chatham House in London. ""Currently nuclear power is not being regarded as one of the primary global answers to climate change,"".
  • Excessive prices, environmental repercussions, and a lack of public support can give a good resistance to nuclear power.

Why Delay in Nuclear Power Building?

  • Due to the high expenses involved with nuclear energy, it diverts vital financial resources that could be utilised to create renewable energy, which would supply more energy faster and at a lower cost than nuclear energy.
  • Climate change has had an impact on nuclear power also, Several nuclear power reactors have already had to be temporarily shut down or removed off the grid due to the world's increasingly scorching summers.
  • Power plants rely on surrounding water supplies to cool their reactors, but with many rivers drying up, such water sources are no longer reliable