New research has warned that nuclear and renewables should not be combined in any recipes for effective energy system decarbonisation, with the two generation types likely to crowd each other out and limit their effectiveness when mixed. The study, published on Monday in Nature Energy, is based on analysis across 123 countries over 25 years by the University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Management. The upshot of the research is that nuclear and renewable programs do not co-exist well together in national energy systems for a range of reasons, not least of all because of the inherently different production profiles of the technologies. The study noted that a grid structure optimised for larger-scale centralised power production such as conventional nuclear, for example, would make it more challenging, time-consuming and costly to introduce small-scale distributed renewable power. And on the economical and logistical side, it found that finance markets, regulatory institutions and employment practices structured around large-scale, base-load, long-lead time construction nuclear projects would clash with much smaller, shorter-term distributed solar and wind initiatives. Even in terms of emissions, nuclear power – often touted as a zero-carbon energy alternative to renewables – was found to fall short. Benjmin K Sovacool, professor of energy policy in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, said the evidence clearly pointed to nuclear being the least effective of the two broad carbon emissions abatement strategies. “Coupled with its tendency not to co-exist well with its renewable alternative, this raises serious doubts about the wisdom of prioritising investment in nuclear over renewable energy,” Sovacool said.
Renew Economy 6th Oct 2020 read more »
Here, we use multiple regression analyses on global datasets of national carbon emissions and renewable and nuclear electricity production across 123 countries over 25 years to examine systematically patterns in how countries variously using nuclear power and renewables contrastingly show higher or lower carbon emissions. We find that larger-scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to associate with significantly lower carbon emissions while renewables do. We also find a negative association between the scales of national nuclear and renewables attachments. This suggests nuclear and renewables attachments tend to crowd each other out.
Nature 5th Oct 2020 read more »
If countries want to lower emissions as substantially, rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, they should prioritize support for renewables, rather than nuclear power. That’s the finding of new analysis of 123 countries over 25 years by the University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Management which reveals that nuclear energy programmes around the world tend not to deliver sufficient carbon emission reductions and so should not be considered an effective low carbon energy source.
Sussex University Press Release 5th Oct 2020 read more »
New Scientist 5th Oct 2020 read more »
Renewable energy ‘should be prioritised over nuclear power for cutting carbon emissions’.
iNews 5th Oct 2020 read more »
Benjamin Sovacool: The influential climate scientist Jim Hansen, among others, argues for a global shift towards nuclear power on grounds that associated greenhouse gas emissions reductions offer the best path to mitigate climate disruption. As the International Atomic Energy Agency put it in one of their flagship publications, “nuclear power can make an important contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while delivering energy in the increasingly large quantities needed for global socioeconomic development.” Similar projections showing large-scale increases in nuclear generation also appear in the OECD International Energy Agency’s Energy Technology Perspectives, where nuclear power is projected (without technology breakthroughs), roughly to triple in aggregate worldwide capacity by 2050. The dilemma for society more widely, is not about whether or not to pursue any single loudly-advocated option, but about diversifying in relation to the relative viabilities and collective compatibilities of a diversity of different options. Otherwise, significant opportunity costs will be incurred, delaying carbon emissions reductions (as well as other benefits). Therefore, the challenge is not one of “doing everything” in directions conditioned by any entrenched interest, but about societies rigorously, democratically, and deliberately “choosing what to do”. In light of this analysis, the implication for electricity planning is that diverse renewables are generally proving in the real world to be significantly more effective than nuclear power at reducing climate disruption.
Nature Research 5th Oct 2020 read more »
Nuclear power ‘should not be considered an effective low carbon energy source’.
Energy Live News 6th Oct 2020 read more »