Greenhouse Emissions of Nuclear Power
There is world-wide concern over the prospect of Global Warming primarily caused by the emission of Carbon Dioxide gas (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels. Although the processes of running a Nuclear Power plant generates no CO2, some CO2 emissions
arise from the construction of the plant, the mining of the Uranium, the enrichment of the Uranium, its conversion into Nuclear Fuel, its final disposal and the final plant decommissioning. The amount of CO2 generated by these secondary processes primarily depends on the method used to enrich the Uranium
(the gaseous diffusion enrichment process uses about 50 times more electricity than the gaseous centrifuge method) and the source of electricity used for the enrichment process. It has been the subject of some controversy
. To estimate the total CO2 emissions from Nuclear Power we take the work of the Swedish Energy Utility, Vattenfall
, which produces electricity via Nuclear, Hydro, Coal, Gas, Solar Cell, Peat and Wind energy sources and has produced credited
Environment Product Declarations for all these processes.
Vattenfall finds that averaged over the entire lifecycle of their Nuclear Plant including Uranium mining, milling, enrichment, plant construction, operating, decommissioning and waste disposal, the total amount CO2 emitted per KW-Hr of electricity produced is 3.3 grams per KW-Hr of produced power
. Vattenfall measures
its CO2 output from Natural Gas to be 400 grams per KW-Hr and from coal to be 700 grams per KW-Hr. Thus nuclear power generated by Vattenfall, which may constitute World's best practice, emits less than one hundredth the CO2 of Fossil-Fuel based generation. In fact Vattenfall finds its Nuclear Plants to emit less CO2 than any of its other energy production mechanisms
including Hydro, Wind, Solar and Biomass although all of these processes emit much less than fossil fuel generation of electricity.