Nuclear power, no thank you?

Study of the ko-Institut shows CO2 balance of electricity

Calculations by the ko-Institut on the CO2 balance of electricity with GEMIS. ko-Institut / GEMIS
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What does the carbon footprint of nuclear power look like if the entire life cycle, including uranium mining, fuel assembly and power plant construction, is included? These questions are answered by a new study by the Öko-Institut. One of the results: Although nuclear power plants produce less greenhouse gases than lignite or imported coal power plants. However, according to the Oeko-Institut, nuclear energy can not make a meaningful contribution to climate protection because it has other risks, the raw material base is too low, too expensive and too slow.


On the other hand, electricity from renewable energies - and in particular biomass in combined heat and power - causes significantly less greenhouse gases than nuclear power, according to the study. In addition to the priority of energy efficiency and combined heat and power, in the opinion of the Öko-Institut renewable energies must contribute to climate protection.

The report also shows that even if lignite-fired electricity were generated entirely from combined heat and power and that only uranium from South Africa was used in German nuclear power plants, the greenhouse gas emissions of lignite-fired CHP electricity are almost six times higher than those of nuclear power.

The data does not yet include the greenhouse gas emissions from the "disposal" of spent fuel since there is currently no realistic disposal concept and thus no reliable data on energy consumption exists. display

Brown coal no alternative

However, according to estimates currently in the works, an upper limit for the conditioning and an in-service shipment of spent fuel shows that even with extreme assumptions, the greenhouse gas balance of nuclear power will at best be doubled and thus still significantly lower than that of lignite. Lignite is therefore not a climate-friendly alternative, just like hard coal, says the Öko-Institut. In addition to the priority of energy efficiency and combined heat and power, renewable energy would therefore have to contribute above all to climate protection.

In the case of fossil fuels, only the use of natural gas in combined heat and power generation with decentralized combined heat and power plants results in comparable electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions as with nuclear power.

(idw - Öko-Institut, 15.03.2007 - DLO)