Nukes spew out CO2
The nuclear industry incorrectly claim that Nuclear energy is CO2-free. When including all steps of nuclear production, including energy intensive uranium mining, nuclear energy is far from CO2-free. Current uranium ore grades (2 percent concentration) result in 32g of CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) per kWh of nuclear electricity (kWhel) in Germany. The lower the grade, the more CO2. A substantial increase of nuclear electricity generation world-wide will require the exploitation of lower-grade uranium ores and consequently increase the CO2 emissions up to 120g CO2eq/kWhel, which is much more than other energy technologies. For example, natural gas co-generation: 50-140g CO2eq/kWhel; wind power: 24g, hydropower: 40g. Also not to be forgotten is that uranium mining contaminates soil, air and water and has a serious health impact on those that mine it. Not surprising then that the Australian Unions have forbidden any dealings with uranium mining, processing or treatment.
The EURATOM Supply Agency, whose ‘mission is to ensure a regular and equitable supply of nuclear fuels for Community users’, has just released its annual report for 2009. It gives some interesting information on the flow of uranium into and from the European Union. From the pie chart on page 25 of the report, we can see that in 2009 just 2.73 per cent of the uranium delivered to EU utilities came from within the EU itself. Almost half came from Russia, Niger, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, South Africa and Namibia. Is that energy insecurity, relying on uranium supplies from unstable governments with questionable human rights records? The nuclear ‘renaissance’ is supposed to make Europe less reliant on things like Russian gas supplies. It does that by making us reliant on Russian uranium supplies.