Monday, 14 October 2019

Zero-carbon nuclear is always a fake description

The Energy Editor of The Guardian newspaper today published a very encouraging story, revealing  renewable energy technology sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time over the last quarter, according to new research by independent group Carbon Brief.

She pointed out that “It is the first time that electricity from British windfarms, solar panels and renewable biomass plants has surpassed fossil fuels since the UK’s first power plant fired up in 1882.”

But then she added the following sentence; “The new milestone confirms predictions made by National Grid that 2019 will be the first year since the Industrial Revolution that zero-carbon electricity – renewables and nuclear – overtakes gas and coal-fired power.”

This is where the article begins to mislead: nuclear power does not generate “zero carbon electricity.” It has a significant carbon footprint – from the mining of uranium for the fuel,  to final  radioactive waste disposal and decommissioning of the nuclear plant and associated facilities.

 (“Renewable electricity overtakes fossil fuels in UK for first time,” 14 October 2019;

Two Oxford  University Professors, Felix Hofmann (Department of Engineering Science, and David Armstrong (Department of Materials) were also reported today to have  both been awarded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC grants worth a total of £1 million to work with US partners (who will receive similar funding from the US-based Nuclear Engineering University Partnership Program.)

Professor Hofmann commented  “For successful decarbonisation by the 2050s, new build of future fission reactors in the UK is urgently needed.”
(EPSRC grants for nuclear fission reactor Machinery
Market, 13 October 2019

The atomic mafia have a strong grip on dissembling with the myth that nuclear  has a meaningful role in decarbonising electricity generation.

Last week The Guardian  began publishing its major investigatory series on The [Carbon] Polluters (10-12 October;

However, in the analysis of MPs voting record on ways to mitigate climate change (“Tories five times as likely as other MPs to vote against bills to tackle climate change,” 12 October, both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas are marked down to 92% supportive voting on the basis they voted to “keep nuclear power subsidies relatively low.”

This clearly implies that voting for higher nuclear subsidies would increase their score on mitigating carbon emissions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Acting Director General, Cornel Feruta, reflected this viewpoint in his opening remarks to a week-long international conference, on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power at the IAEA - the UN agency that promotes nuclear energy – held last week in Vienna, asserting: "It is difficult to see how the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved without a significant increase in the use of nuclear power in the coming decades."( (

But it is a demonstrably misguided viewpoint.  

A recent, comprehensive Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of greenhouse gas emissions from differing power generation technologies by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, California, indicates that nuclear CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewables. (


In a newly completed chapter ‘Evaluation of Nuclear Power as a Proposed Solution to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security’, by Prof Jacobson in a forthcoming energy book, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything he argues cogently:


 “There is no such thing as a zero- or close-to-zero emission nuclear power plant. Even existing plants emit due to the continuous mining and refining of uranium needed for the plant. …Overall emissions from new nuclear are 78 to178g of CO2/kWH, not close to 0.”


All MPs need to take note.


No comments:

Post a Comment