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Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey

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  • Sovacool, Benjamin K.
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    Abstract

    This article screens 103 lifecycle studies of greenhouse gas-equivalent emissions for nuclear power plants to identify a subset of the most current, original, and transparent studies. It begins by briefly detailing the separate components of the nuclear fuel cycle before explaining the methodology of the survey and exploring the variance of lifecycle estimates. It calculates that while the range of emissions for nuclear energy over the lifetime of a plant, reported from qualified studies examined, is from 1.4 g of carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh (g CO2e/kWh) to 288 g CO2e/kWh, the mean value is 66 g CO2e/kWh. The article then explains some of the factors responsible for the disparity in lifecycle estimates, in particular identifying errors in both the lowest estimates (not comprehensive) and the highest estimates (failure to consider co-products). It should be noted that nuclear power is not directly emitting greenhouse gas emissions, but rather that lifecycle emissions occur through plant construction, operation, uranium mining and milling, and plant decommissioning.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 8 (August)
    Pages: 2940-2953

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:8:p:2940-2953

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    1. Fthenakis, Vasilis M. & Kim, Hyung Chul, 2007. "Greenhouse-gas emissions from solar electric- and nuclear power: A life-cycle study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2549-2557, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Valentine, Scott Victor, 2011. "Japanese wind energy development policy: Grand plan or group think?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(11), pages 6842-6854.
    2. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S119-S125.
    3. Schneider, E. & Carlsen, B. & Tavrides, E. & van der Hoeven, C. & Phathanapirom, U., 2013. "Measures of the environmental footprint of the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 898-910.
    4. Beerten, Jef & Laes, Erik & Meskens, Gaston & D'haeseleer, William, 2009. "Greenhouse gas emissions in the nuclear life cycle: A balanced appraisal," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5056-5068, December.
    5. Ivan Faiella & Luciano Lavecchia, 2012. "Costs and benefits of relaunching nuclear energy in Italy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 114, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    6. Ometto, Jean P. & Cimbleris, André C.P. & dos Santos, Marco A. & Rosa, Luiz P. & Abe, Donato & Tundisi, José G. & Stech, José L. & Barros, Nathan & Roland, Fábio, 2013. "Carbon emission as a function of energy generation in hydroelectric reservoirs in Brazilian dry tropical biome," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 109-116.
    7. Benjamin Sovacool, 2008. "The problem with the “portfolio approach” in American energy policy," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 245-261, September.
    8. Jacobson, Mark Z. & Delucchi, Mark A., 2011. "Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1154-1169, March.
    9. Valentine, Scott, 2010. "Braking wind in Australia: A critical evaluation of the renewable energy target," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3668-3675, July.
    10. Gallo-Rivera, María Teresa & Mancha-Navarro, Tomás & Garrido-Yserte, Rubén, 2013. "Application of the counterfactual method to assess of the local economic impact of a nuclear power station," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1481-1492.
    11. Robert Petroski & Lowell Wood, 2012. "Sustainable, Full-Scope Nuclear Fission Energy at Planetary Scale," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(11), pages 3088-3123, November.
    12. Jewell, Jessica, 2011. "Ready for nuclear energy?: An assessment of capacities and motivations for launching new national nuclear power programs," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1041-1055, March.
    13. Nugent, Daniel & Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2014. "Assessing the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from solar PV and wind energy: A critical meta-survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 229-244.
    14. Dotzauer, Erik, 2010. "Greenhouse gas emissions from power generation and consumption in a nordic perspective," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 701-704, February.

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