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Greenhouse gas emissions in the nuclear life cycle: A balanced appraisal

  • Beerten, Jef
  • Laes, Erik
  • Meskens, Gaston
  • D'haeseleer, William
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    In order to combat global warming, a detailed knowledge of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with different energy conversion technologies is important. For nuclear energy, GHG emissions result from different process stages of the whole fuel cycle. A life-cycle assessment offers the possibility to properly calculate these emissions. In the past, both indirect energy use and GHG emissions were studied by many researchers. Most of the studies result in low indirect emissions comparable to wind turbines. However, some of the studies in the literature obtain high results adding up to a significant fraction of the direct emissions from a CCGT. In this paper, the GHG emissions resulting from the overall nuclear fuel cycle are analyzed by making a detailed comparison of the results from three different life-cycle assessments. Hereby, the studies are chosen in order to reflect the range of results available in open literature. The studies under consideration result in indirect emissions of around 8 and 58Â g CO2/kWhe and more than 110Â g CO2/kWhe. An explanation is given for these strongly varying results by analyzing the input data, assumptions and estimations made for different process steps.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V2W-4WXGW37-2/2/b03166d3cda6450db2da1c14225e2975
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 12 (December)
    Pages: 5056-5068

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:12:p:5056-5068
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. 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.
    2. Hewlett, James G., 1992. "The operating costs and longevity of nuclear power plants : Evidence from the USA," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(7), pages 608-622, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Roberts, P. C., 1982. "Energy and value," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 171-180, September.
    5. Chapman, Peter F., 1975. "Energy analysis of nuclear power stations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 285-298, December.
    6. Bullard, Clark W. & Penner, Peter S. & Pilati, David A., 1978. "Net energy analysis : Handbook for combining process and input-output analysis," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-313, November.
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