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Nuclear power and the environment: comparative assessment of environmental and health impacts of electricity-generating systems


  • Rashad, S. M.
  • Hammad, F. H.


This paper deals with comparative assessment of the environmental and health impacts of nuclear and other electricity-generation systems. The study includes normal operations and accidents in the full energy chain analysis. The comparison of environmental impacts arising from the waste-management cycles associated with non-emission waste are also discussed. Nuclear power, while economically feasible and meeting 17% of the world's demand for electricity, is almost free of the air polluting gases that threaten the global climate. Comparing nuclear power with other sources for electricity generation in terms of their associated environmental releases of pollutant such as SO2, NOX, CO2, CH4 and radioisotopes, taking into account the full fuel chains of supply option, nuclear power will help to reduce environmental degradation due to electricity generation activities. In view of CO2 emission, the ranking order commences with hydro, followed by nuclear, wind and photovoltaic power plants. CO2 emissions from a nuclear power plant are by two orders of magnitude lower than those of fossil-fuelled power plants. A consequent risk comparison between different energy sources has to include all phases of the whole energy cycle. Coal mine accidents have resulted in several 1000 acute deaths over the years. Then came hydropower, also resulting in many catastrophes and loss of human lives, followed by the oil and gas energy industries, last in the list is commercial nuclear energy, which has had a "bad" press because of the Chernobyl accident, resulting officially in 31 acute fatalities, and at least 145 latent fatalities. The paper offers some findings and conclusions on the role of nuclear power in protecting the global environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Rashad, S. M. & Hammad, F. H., 2000. "Nuclear power and the environment: comparative assessment of environmental and health impacts of electricity-generating systems," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 65(1-4), pages 211-229, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:65:y:2000:i:1-4:p:211-229

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    Cited by:

    1. Moreira, João M.L. & Cesaretti, Marcos A. & Carajilescov, Pedro & Maiorino, José R., 2015. "Sustainability deterioration of electricity generation in Brazil," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 334-346.
    2. Hong, Sanghyun & Bradshaw, Corey J.A. & Brook, Barry W., 2014. "Nuclear power can reduce emissions and maintain a strong economy: Rating Australia’s optimal future electricity-generation mix by technologies and policies," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 712-725.
    3. Kiriyama, Eriko & Kajikawa, Yuya & Fujita, Katsuhide & Iwata, Shuichi, 2013. "A lead for transvaluation of global nuclear energy research and funded projects in Japan," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 145-153.
    4. Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2008. "Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2940-2953, August.
    5. Takahashi, Tomoki & Sato, Toru, 2015. "Inclusive environmental impact assessment indices with consideration of public acceptance: Application to power generation technologies in Japan," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 64-72.
    6. Sheldon, Seth & Hadian, Saeed & Zik, Ory, 2015. "Beyond carbon: Quantifying environmental externalities as energy for hydroelectric and nuclear power," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 36-44.
    7. Köne, Aylin Çigdem & Büke, Tayfun, 2010. "Forecasting of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion using trend analysis," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(9), pages 2906-2915, December.
    8. Felder, Frank A., 2009. "A critical assessment of energy accident studies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5744-5751, December.
    9. Akhil Kadiyala & Raghava Kommalapati & Ziaul Huque, 2016. "Quantification of the Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Nuclear Power Generation Systems," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(11), pages 1-13, October.
    10. Nian, Victor & Chou, S.K. & Su, Bin & Bauly, John, 2014. "Life cycle analysis on carbon emissions from power generation – The nuclear energy example," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 68-82.
    11. Kone, Aylin Cigdem & Buke, Tayfun, 2007. "An Analytical Network Process (ANP) evaluation of alternative fuels for electricity generation in Turkey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 5220-5228, October.
    12. Bishop, Justin D.K. & Amaratunga, Gehan A.J. & Rodriguez, Cuauhtemoc, 2008. "Using strong sustainability to optimize electricity generation fuel mixes," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 971-980, March.
    13. repec:eee:reensy:v:145:y:2016:i:c:p:373-387 is not listed on IDEAS


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