Nuclear energy is cheaper than renewable energy

Climate protection: Those who rely on nuclear power do not reduce emissions

October 13, 2020 - In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear energy is repeatedly discussed as an alternative to fossil fuels or as a supplement to renewable energies. The IPCC also considers possible CO in its various scenarios2-Savings through the expansion of nuclear energy, but no political recommendations for or against the expansion. Only recently did the Dutch bring nuclear power back into play as an option for their country. The government commissioned a study on the economic viability of nuclear power plants and is considering the construction of three nuclear power plants.

The most recent experiences show one thing above all: Exploding costs in the construction of nuclear power plants and years of construction delays. The pressurized water reactor in the Flamanville nuclear power plant, for example, should cost 3.3 billion euros and be ready in 2012. Commissioning was last postponed to 2023. The construction costs will then be around 19 billion euros.

The construction of Hinkley Point C in the UK is a similar disaster. The two pressurized water reactors should cost 19 billion euros. As of 2019, construction was eight years behind schedule and the budget had already been exceeded by billions.

Renewable energies measurably reduce emissions

Countries that CO2-Want to reduce emissions quickly, substantially and cost-effectively, should rely on renewable energies instead of nuclear energy. That suggests an analysis conducted by researchers from the University of Sussex Business School and the International School of Management (ISM). To do this, they examined data from 123 countries over a period of 25 years.

They found that renewable energies are associated with significantly lower emissions than is the case with nuclear energy. In poorer countries, nuclear power is even with higher CO2Emissions connected.

The researchers' analysis is based on data from the World Bank and the International Energy Agency from 1990 to 2014. As a result, there are visible connections between the various energy sources and a country's carbon dioxide emissions. Why the expansion of nuclear energy does not lead to measurable reductions has not been investigated.

One explanation could be that countries that are really serious about renewable energies are making more efforts to reduce emissions overall. On the other hand, in countries that rely on nuclear power, too few efforts to reduce emissions may be made during the long implementation times.

Nuclear power and renewable energies are not a successful duo

The study also shows that renewable energies rarely coexist successfully with nuclear energy. Rather, the two energy systems displace one another. “Investing in nuclear energy instead of renewables should be questioned. Countries planning such large-scale investments risk not realizing their full potential in the fight against climate change, ”says Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy in Brighton.

One reason for the incompatibility of nuclear energy and renewable energies is seen in the transmission and distribution of electricity. If the network structure is optimized for centralized production of electricity, the integration of small-scale systems becomes costly. The same applies to the associated standards, protocols, contracts, operating regulations and expert cultures that are necessary for these structures to function.

In the opinion of the authors, the study debunks the argument that a parallel expansion of nuclear power and renewables makes sense. Rather, the tensions and interactions between the two investment strategies endanger an effective fight against climate change.

In addition, the results of the study show that nuclear energy only generates CO in richer countries2-Saving emissions helps, and only to a small extent. On the other hand, the connection between emission reduction and renewable energy is much stronger.

Patrick Schmid, Professor of Quantitative Methods at ISM, emphasizes: “The amazing thing about the data is how consistent the results are. The results are very clear and consistent across different countries and time periods. In addition, the connection between renewable energies and lower CO2-Emissions about seven times stronger than the relationship between nuclear energy and CO2Emissions. pf