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Nuclear energy is not a solution to climate change

Important new study – Nuclear energy is not a solution to climate change , Gordon Edwards, 9 June 21

the contribution of nuclear power to world electricity usage has declined from 17% (25 years ago) to 10% (today), and is expected to continue to decline for the next couple of decades at least.  But electricity is only one slice of the energy pie. Nuclear power currently contributes about 2% to global energy use including all modes. 

So let’s see — some 440 nuclear reactors produce 2% of global energy usage.  If none of those stop working, and we add 440 more reactors of equivalent size in the next two decades – that’s 22 large reactors per year, every year, starting now, a clearly impossible scenario – then we could theoretically supply 4% of the world’s energy needs by 2040, assuming energy demand doesn’t grow at all in the meantime   

But that is dreaming in technicolor. Most of the operating reactors are very old and will be retiring at a rate much faster than new ones can in fact be built. New reactor construction projects have run way behind schedule with massive cost over-runs, and very few “takers”. Forecasts say the nuclear contribution will be going down, not up. 
It is also a fact that the least costly and quickest options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are (1) improved energy efficiency and (2) off-the-shelf renewables.  And statistics show that these are by far the fastest growing energy options worldwide. Renewable energy costs are still going down while nuclear costs are not. 

The point is, investing in nuclear is not solving the climate crisis. The money, time, and political will expended in promoting nuclear would be better spent on subsidizing energy savings through efficiency improvements and installing renewable sources of energy. Climate science tell us that we have no time to waste. Common sense dictates that we start with the surest, safest, fastest, and most affordable options first.  By preferentially promoting and subsidizing unproven, slow and costly new nuclear projects, Canada is defying common sense and abdicating its responsibility to the electorate, to parliament, and to the planet.  At the very least, we need transparency, openness, and peer review of many absurdly optimistic claims – some of them blatantly untrue – being made by the nuclear salesmen, who are tapping into public finances while being shielded from public accountability.

June 10, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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