I recently wrote a lengthy comment to an article on CleanTechies. Since it took me some time to write, I think I might share it with you : I never understood people stating it’s either nuclear or renewables as to me we need both.
Now I don’t understand the “false choice” of nuclear or fossil fuels. If we have a look at the electricity mix of various countries, it seems it is a real choice for the time being.
Further to my reading of Sustainable energy without hot air – reviewed here – we learn that not all electricity mixes are created equal.
Indeed, the more a country is relying on nuclear, the lesser are its emissions per kWh. Here are some figures :
- France, with a whooping 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear emits 83 grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh,
- Germany, which regards itself as a green nation emits 600 grams per kWh (very little nuclear ) and
- Denmark, the wind energy champion – but with no nuclear at all – emits a staggering 881 grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh, ten times more than France…
The average European figure is of 353 grams, the US figure is 613 grams and Japan emits between the two : 483 grams.
As I noted in the conclusion of my article :
“Countries with more than 50 percent of their electricity coming from thermal solutions have carbon dioxide emissions superior to 400 grams per kWh.
Meanwhile, countries with less than ten percent of electricity coming from these solutions have carbon dioxide emissions lower than 100 grams per kWh.
Today’s enemy in the face of climate change is not nuclear, it’s coal. Indeed, it is emitting one kilogram per kWh, where nuclear emits around 50 grams. (depending of the life cycle analyses…)
So to me it’s not a question of nuclear or renewables, we need both ! ( Furthermore, they are perfectly complementary… )