Dave Elliott: The debate over the relative levels of carbon emissions from the various energy generation options has been quite long and tortuous. It seems clear that fossil fuels are bad news, but there is uncertainly about the relative merits of nuclear and renewables – most see the carbon footprint of renewables as very low, but what about nuclear? A recent study by researchers at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, published in Nature Energy, estimates the 2050 full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of a range of sources of electricity in a 2 °C scenario. It claims that the carbon footprints of solar, wind and also nuclear power are many times lower than coal or gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS). This remains true after accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply, i.e. the so-called embodied energy.
Physics World 22nd Aug 2018 read more »