Nuclear power is free of CO2 and is an essential part of the fight against climate change.
This energy source is always available and can provide large quantities of electricity without contaminating the atmosphere. Why is that?
A nuclear power plant produces electric energy through a physical process: the fission of a uranium atom. This means that in its operation it does not emit any greenhouse effect gases or other combustion products into the atmosphere, and only very few emissions when considering its complete life cycle (from construction to shutdown and dismantling).
The low greenhouse effect gas emissions in the life cycle of nuclear energy make it an important technological option in the strategies to mitigate climate change. The numbers reflect that nuclear power is in the same range as wind power and just above hydraulic power.
In the face of the the climate urgency, we must count on all available low-carbon sources. Just as in many other countries around the world, analyses reveal that the Spanish electric system needs the continuity of operation of the nuclear fleet in order to meet the environmental goals and to keep enough backup electricity to guarantee a steady emissions-free supply.
Climate urgency requires all low-carbon sources to be currently available. Nuclear power is one of these sources
Analysis of international organizations
The International Energy Agency (IEA) points out that, in order to meet the Paris Agreement goals and contain climate change, the installed nuclear power should be substantially increased so that 85% of the electricity generated in the world comes from non-polluting sources by 2040.
According to the IEA’s report, “without an important contribution of nuclear power, the global energy transition will be much more difficult. Along with renewable energies, energy efficiency and other innovative technologies, nuclear power can make a significant contribution to meet the sustainability goals and improve energy safety”.
IPCC acknowledges the role of nuclear power to stop polluting emissions
On the other hand, documents from the renown Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from the United Nations highlight that nuclear energy –which does not produce CO2 emissions and during its complete life cycle averages emissions of 12 g CO2/kWh, similar to those of wind power and lower than other renewable energies– plays an important role in most of the paths that limit global warming to 1.5 ºC, a more demanding amount than the 2 ºC agreed upon at the Paris Meeting.
Nuclear power, leader in stopping emissions in Spain
Spain has a nuclear fleet composed of seven reactors in five sites with a net installed power of 7,399 MW, which every year generates around 20% of the electricity consumed in the country. In the past few years, it became the first source of production in the Spanish electric system.
Every year, the Spanish nuclear fleet avoids the emission into the atmosphere of over 30 million tons of CO2, depending on the alternative generation mix to substitute its electricity production. This would be equivalent to removing half of the Spanish car fleet from circulation. In the past few years, nuclear electric production represented between 35% and 40% of the emissions-free electricity generated in our electric system. This makes it the technology that contributes the most to stop polluting emissions.
Over 35% of emissions-free electricity is made possible in Spain thanks to nuclear energy
The climate challenges that humanity faces require reducing greenhouse effect emissions through mitigation and adaptation mechanisms. For this reason, nuclear energy is a key factor as it has very few carbon emissions in its total life cycle.