Nuclear power to fix climate change? The numbers don’t stack up.

NuClearNews No 90 3. 26 Nov 16  

The kind of analysis pioneered by No2NuclearPower in 2005 on the contribution nuclear power might make to tackling climate change (1) has been updated by Fairewinds Associates.

The World Nuclear Association industry trade group estimates that an additional 1.1 Gigatonnes of CO2 would have been created in 2015 if natural gas plants supplied the electricity instead of 438 nuclear stations. That’s 1.1 additional Gt out of 36 Gt – only a 3% difference. Put another way, each of the 438 individual nuclear plants contribute less than seven thousandths of one percent to CO2 reduction. (2)

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) has a plan to build 1,000 new nuclear plants by 2050 (1,000GW) – that means commissioning a new plant on average every 12 days for the next 33 years. It says this is what we need to mitigate global warming. MIT says annual emissions will increase to 64Gt per year by 2050 even if Paris is implemented successfully.

If we build 1,000GW of nuclear capacity we could decrease CO2 emissions by 6.15%

For humanity the $8.2 trillion represents an opportunity cost. Precious time and money wasted. CO2 concentrations will grow by 34ppm in the atmosphere by 2050 while we’re waiting for those nuclear plants to come on line. The 6.15% offset will never be enough to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by 34ppm. Solar costs have dropped from about 7c/kWh to 3c/kWh since 2013. Electricity from Hinkley Point C will cost about 12c/kWh

Constructing these reactor would cost $8,200,000,000,000 = $8.2 trillion

Lazard Financial Advisory and Asset Management, with no dog in the fight, says the $8.2 TRILLION could be better spent on less expensive alternatives to get more bang for the buck! Lazard also estimates that solar or wind would be 80% less expensive for the equivalent amount of peak electric output. (3)


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