nuclear power and global warming

Nuclear power is far too slow a response to the urgent problem of climate change. Even if there were political agreement today to build nuclear power stations, it would be at least 15 years before the first one could deliver electricity. Some have suggested 25 years would be a more realistic estimate,………..
building nuclear power stations would actually increase greenhouse pollution in the short term, and in the long term they put much more carbon dioxide into the air than renewable energy technologies like solar and wind power. ………..

Nuclear power can only reduce carbon dioxide released from electricity generation. There are actually five classes of greenhouse gases, other than CO2, recognised by the Kyoto Protocol as contributing to global warming. These other gases have significantly higher global warming potential and last longer in the atmosphere than CO2. Australian Greenhouse Office figures show that only 35% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity production. Sixty-five per cent of emissions come from transport, landfill, industrial process emissions, agricultural processes and land clearing. So all this attention is being devoted to just 35% of the problem.

ACF – Is nuclear power part of Australia’s global warming solutions?

A typical 1200 MW nuclear power (pdf file 1.55MB) plant produces 32 PJ per annum, so to provide for 700 EJ around 20,000 nuclear power stations would have to be built. To fuel this number of stations, around 4,600,000 tonnes per annum of uranium would be required.

However the emerging economies of China and India are setting the pace for growth and rising energy demand, so to meet their aspirations the initial requirement for the building of 20,000 nuclear power stations is likely to be insufficient…………

Carbon dioxide is released in every component of the nuclear fuel cycle except the actual fission in the reactor. Fossil fuels are involved in the mining, milling and enrichment of the ore, in the fuel can preparation, in the construction of the station and in its decommissioning and demolition, in the handling of the spent waste and its re-processing and in digging the hole in the rock for its deposition. The lower the ore grade, the more energy is consumed in the fuel processing, so that the amount of the carbon dioxide released in the fuel cycle depends on the ore grade.

Why nuclear power is not the answer to global warming – On Line Opinion – 16/2/2005

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