Nuclear power is not good for the climate?

New study shows that nuclear power is not CO2-free

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Producing electricity and heat with modern combined heat and power plants is cheaper and better for the climate than an energy supply with nuclear power. This is shown by new calculations made by the ko-Institut on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment.


Atom stream is by no means CO2-free, as advocates like it claim. In uranium production, significant quantities of greenhouse gases are released, far exceeding those of renewable energies such as wind power, hydropower or biogas. But even a cogeneration plant based on natural gas can easily keep up with the CO2 balance of nuclear power, "Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel commented on the results of the study.

The report of the ├ľko-Institut accounts for all greenhouse gas emissions from all relevant power generation options. It becomes clear that a German nuclear power plant produces between 31 and 61 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity, depending on the place of origin of the uranium. By contrast, renewable energies such as wind power - 23 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour - or hydropower - 39 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour - are causing lower emissions. Only the photovoltaic is still slightly higher with 89 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

Alleged climate protection advantage of nuclear power is dwindling more and more

If one also considers that every household needs electricity as well as heat and that it is considerably more efficient to use waste heat in electricity production, the alleged climate protection advantage of nuclear power is further relativised, according to the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU). Because those who buy nuclear power must cover their heat needs elsewhere, typically with oil or gas heating. display

By contrast, a small cogeneration unit that generates electricity and heat at the same time produces less CO2 than the combination of nuclear power and oil heating: 747 grams of CO2 for the combined heat and power plant compared to 772 grams of CO2 for the atomic / oil combination the production of 1 kWh of electricity and 2 kWh of heat).

Biomass combined heat and power plant with the best climate balance

The best climate balance by far has a biomass combined heat and power plant with 228 grams of CO2. "For climate protection reasons, we no longer need nuclear power, but more combined heat and power, " concluded Gabriel.

The study also shows that with regard to power generation costs in new power plants, nuclear power is only in the midfield and beaten by all other fossil fuels. The generation costs of renewable energies are only a little higher in wind power - although the "external costs", which can assume unmanageable orders of magnitude due to a nuclear reactor accident, have not yet been included.

"In ideology-free consideration, nuclear energy is also by far not the cheapest way to generate electricity. It's time to clean up with the legend that nuclear power would be cheap and CO2 free, "Gabriel summarized the study's findings. "Even if we ignore the huge potential hazards of nuclear power known worldwide, nuclear power cuts off at best moderately - both in terms of emissions and in terms of costs. Nuclear power is and will not be an option for climate protection. We have much better options for energy generation: renewable energies and combined heat and power. "

(BMU, 25.04.2007 - DLO)