Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Energy News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Is nuclear crucial to climate change targets?
By Marlowe HOOD
Paris (AFP) Sept 15, 2016

As Britain greenlights its first new nuclear power plant in more than 20 years, experts diverged Thursday on the role of nuclear energy in the quest to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius.

The broad challenge in meeting that goal -- the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement inked in December by 195 nations -- is decarbonising the world economy as quickly as possible.

"We need a global transition to primarily zero carbon energy sources by mid-century," said Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager for the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Along with other think tanks and advocacy groups sounding the climate change alarm, the UCS is not a champion of nuclear power.

But with fossil fuels still accounting for 80 percent of total energy consumption, they say, the splitting or fusing of atoms -- despite concerns about cost and safety -- still has a role to play.

"The fewer options on the table, the greater the challenge," said Jim Williams, director of the US Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP).

The consensus among experts trying to map that transition "is that it will be harder to meet climate goals without nuclear energy in the mix," he said by phone.

Today, 31 countries have nuclear power plants accounting for just under eleven percent of global electricity generation.

A dozen of them depend on nuclear for at least a third of their juice, including France (75 percent), along with Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine (50 to 55 percent).

In the US that figure stands at about 20 percent, as in Britain -- not counting the newly approved Hinkley Point plant, set to come on line in 2025.

Solar and wind capacity have expanded rapidly worldwide, as costs have plummeted. And several new technologies for storing the energy they generate show huge promise for rapid deployment.

But renewables still only account for a thin slice of overall energy production.

"Nuclear power is needed in conjunction with renewables to meet our obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Juan Mathews, a visiting professor at the Dalton Nuclear Institute of the University of Manchester.

- 100 percent renewables -

At the same time, global warming is accelerating more quickly than predicted, and its consequences are being felt more sharply, added Cleetus.

"The scope and impacts of climate change -- including rising seas, more damaging extreme weather events, and severe ecological disruption -- demand that we consider all possible options for limiting heat trapping gas emissions," she told AFP.

Not all climate and energy experts, however, are convinced that nuclear is crucial for keeping a lid on global warming.

"In fact, it's a barrier," said Tom Burke, chairman of London-based E3G, a climate change think tank.

"It takes away capital from things that would deliver faster, cheaper and smarter low carbon electricity systems," he told AFP.

It also runs counter, he added, to a wider trend towards decentralised, flexible power generation.

For climate analyst Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace International, "the only feasible and secure way to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) is a massive swing towards renewables."

A "100 percent" renewable energies revolution is still possible, he insisted.

For Williams, potential climate catastrophe trumps the risks associated with nuclear power -- radioactive waste, accidents such as happened in Fukushima and Chernobyl -- only with strict regulatory oversight in place.

He highlighted the contrast between gold-standard Switzerland and China, which has 30 nuclear plants built or under construction, and another 20 in the pipeline.

"China has relatively understaffed and undertrained regulatory authorities -- that is worrisome," he said.

"Would I live next to a nuclear power plant if I thought that was really important to mitigate climate change?", he added.

"In the first case (Switzerland) I would, but in the second I wouldn't."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Nuclear Power News - Nuclear Science, Nuclear Technology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Hinkley Point: a huge nuclear gamble for France
Paris (AFP) Sept 15, 2016
The British government's long-awaited green light for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in England on Thursday is of vital importance to France and its state-backed energy industry. French nuclear power giant EDF is piloting the Pounds 18 billion (21 billion euro, $24 billion) project with investment from China. Here are the stakes for France: Nuclear power key to French economy ... read more

Tapping the unused potential of photosynthesis

Fish 'biowaste' converted to piezoelectric energy harvesters

Body heat as a power source

Croatian Pig Farm Uses Synergies to Generate Energy

New perovskite research discoveries may lead to solar cell, LED advances

The Golden State gets greener with Interior decision

MiaSole aims to revolutionize flexible ultra-light solar technology

ERC to revolutionize efficiency, cost and stability of thin-film solar cells

Experts anticipate significant continued reductions in wind energy costs

Statoil complements portfolio with more wind

Super-tall wind turbines installed offshore Britain

British low-carbon target in doubt

Europe ups energy security ante

NREL releases updated baseline of cost and performance data for electricity generation technologies

Chinese giant to buy Pakistani power company for $1.6 bn

Economy of energy-hungry India may face headwinds

Fuel cell membrane patented by Sandia outperforms market

Proton diffusion discovery a boost for fuel cell technologies

A first for direct-drive fusion

Fusion facilities at PPPL and Culham, England, could provide path to limitless energy

New light on the complex nature of 'hot Jupiter' atmospheres

Discovery one-ups Tatooine, finds twin stars hosting three giant exoplanets

Could Proxima Centauri b Really Be Habitable

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

Russia orders new submarines

Peru modernizing submarines

Future USS John Finn completes alpha sea trials

Continental Electronics gets $11 million Fixed Submarine Broadcast System contract

Opportunity departs Marathon Valley to head deeper into Endeavour Crater

Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations

Storm Reduces Available Solar Energy on Opportunity

NASA Approves 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement