Why nuclear energy is essential to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission rates
1 University Politecnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
2 University of Tasmania, Hobart TAS 7005, Australia
3 CEI and AECL, Ontario, Canada
4 UJV-Rež, Prague, Czech Republic
5 Science Council for Global Initiatives, Chicago, Il, USA
6 Illinois Commission on Atomic Energy, Chicago, Il, USA
* e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 8 September 2015
Published online: 27 November 2015
Reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is advocated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To achieve this target, countries have opted for renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar. These renewables will be unable to supply the needed large quantities of energy to run industrial societies sustainably, economically and reliably because they are inherently intermittent, depending on flexible backup power or on energy storage for delivery of base-load quantities of electrical energy. The backup power is derived in most cases from combustion of natural gas. Intermittent energy sources, if used in this way, do not meet the requirements of sustainability, nor are they economically viable because they require redundant, under-utilized investment in capacity both for generation and for transmission. Because methane is a potent greenhouse gas, the equivalent carbon dioxide value of methane may cause gas-fired stations to emit more greenhouse gas than coal-fired plants of the same power for currently reported leakage rates of the natural gas. Likewise, intermittent wind/solar photovoltaic systems backed up by gas-fired power plants also release substantial amounts of carbon-dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas to make such a combination environmentally unacceptable. In the long term, nuclear fission technology is the only known energy source that is capable of delivering the needed large quantities of energy safely, economically, reliably and in a sustainable way, both environmentally and as regards the available resource-base.
© A. Alonso et al., published by EDP Sciences, 2015
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