Emissions research

When the greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from the whole life-cycle of various power-generation methods is taken into account, nuclear power compares much more closely to renewable sources than to fossil fuels.

Several international studies delve further into the topic:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the United Nations’ multinational expert panel, produced its 2011 Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation; the Summary for Policymakers provides a general overview of global knowledge on the subject.
  • The Nuclear Energy Institute, which is the Canadian Nuclear Agency’s equivalent in the United States,  provides a general discussion on its Life-Cycle Emissions Analyses page.
  • The University of Wisconsin has published a variety of life-cycle studies that focus on the “net energy payback” from various nuclear technologies in comparison with wind and coal.

While reviewing these and other studies, it is important to bear in mind that their results can vary: they employ different methodologies, and the time periods and geographical contexts where the power generation occurs can present an enormous number of variables. So too can the energy technologies being studied (the type of nuclear reactor, conventional natural gas versus shale gas, or whether decommissioned windmill towers are recycled, incinerated or landfilled).