What's wrong with nuclear power?
MYTH: Nuclear power does not create CO2
REALITY: Although most nuclear reactors do not produce CO2 the nuclear fuel cycle does. The nuclear fuel cycle has many intensive stages (U mining, U milling, U processing, fuel enrichment, dealing with waste, and transportation). The amount of CO2 created depends mainly on the grade of the uranium ore and the method of enrichment used to process the uranium. The CO2 per kWh released depends on one’s assumptions. If we use high quality U ore and other optimistic assumptions, it produces about a third of the CO2 produced by current gas-fired stations. But assuming low quality U ore, it is even more than gas-fired stations. Most rich uranium seams have already been exhausted meaning that CO2 amounts released in the extraction ofuranium will increase in future.
MYTH: Producing UK electricity with nuclear can cut greenhouse gas emissions.
REALITY: Electricity generation is responsible for about 20% of annual UK CO2 production. But nuclear cannot respond to varying electricity loads throughout the day, its power output rate is fixed. Therefore nuclear could only contribute to about a quarter of UK electricity generation. And of course there are other greenhouse gases apart from CO2. Therefore the actual potential for UK greenhouse gas reduction is only about 4%. This is what the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission concluded in 2006. See http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=345
MYTH: Nuclear is a cost-effective way to reduce emissions.
REALITY: To build a proposed AP 1000MW reactor would cost about £3 to £4 billion pounds. If 10 were built, the total cost would be £30 - £40 billion. This would only be possible with massive government subsidies. £ per £, various studies estimate that nuclear is 5 to7 times less cost-effective than efficiency/renewables in reducing CO2 emissions. (Lovins, 2001).
FACT: the DTI have consistently invested 2 to 3 times more in nuclear energy than on renewable and novel sources. In 2004, the figures were £ 57.8 million on nuclear and only £19 million on renewables. (www.dti.gov.uk/expenditureplan/report2004)
FACT: the estimated time needed to get legal clearance, carry out public inquiries, train people and construct a nuclear reactor is 10-12 years from the time of the decision. We cannot wait that long to deal with global warming.
FACT: No method currently exists for dealing with nuclear waste. The Flowers Commission in 1976 stated that until a method has been found, no programme of nuclear fission should be carried out.
CONCLUSION: Nuclear is not a cost-effective, or viable, solution to global warming problems. It is also a highly unsustainable energy source.