UN hails nuclear as the lowest carbon electricity source

Nuclear power generates less carbon dioxide emissions over its lifecycle than any other electricity source, according to a new report

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The United Nations has today recognised nuclear power as the lowest carbon electricity source.

A new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) that examined the lifecycle carbon produced by all technologies suggests that nuclear power generates less carbon dioxide emissions over its lifecycle than any other electricity source.

The UNECE found that nuclear has the lowest carbon footprint, measured in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh of electricity than any other technology.

The authors of the report also claim nuclear have the lowest lifecycle land use, the lowest lifecycle mineral and metal requirements of all the clean technologies examined.

They note that both nuclear and renewable energy sources are all zero-carbon during the generation but every electricity source produces some carbon dioxide at various stages, including construction, operation and decommissioning.

Listen to what Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said during COP26 in Glasgow when he was asked whether the nuclear’s time has finally come.

The UNECE study says nuclear ranges from 5.1 to 6.4 grams carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh of generation.

That compares to the wind power source that produces between 7.8 and 21 grams carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh and coal at 753 – 1095g CO2 eq./kWh.

Responding to the UNECE report, Tom Greatrex said: “Here we have a detailed, scientific assessment confirming nuclear as a green and sustainable technology, that uses less carbon, less land, and less material than any other.

“If we are serious about cutting emissions and meeting net zero targets, we must act on the science and build new nuclear alongside other low carbon sources of energy.”

A few days ago, during a COP26 event organised by the UK Presidency, Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, said that nuclear will have a role to play in all net zero scenarios.