IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

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

Listed author(s):
  • Beerten, Jef
  • Laes, Erik
  • Meskens, Gaston
  • D'haeseleer, William
Registered author(s):

    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.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

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

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:12:p:5056-5068
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    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. 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. Chapman, Peter F., 1975. "Energy analysis of nuclear power stations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 285-298, December.
    6. Roberts, P. C., 1982. "Energy and value," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 171-180, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:12:p:5056-5068. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.