Nuclear energy is a key factor against climate change
November 20, 2018

Nuclear energy is a key factor against climate change

In a recent study, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed the importance of nuclear energy to attain decarbonization goals.

Ignacio Araluce indicates that Spanish nuclear power plants produce the most electricity (20%), have the greatest number of hours of operation and contribute most towards avoiding emissions

Nuclear power plants do not emit CO2 during the process of electric production, and for this reason they are key in the fight against global warming. Nuclear energy is necessary in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and advance towards a low carbon economy. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sustains this in its recent study The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World: nuclear energy is essential to achieve a future with a completely decarbonized economy in many areas of the world. The study's co-director, Jacopo Buongiorno, explained this in a debate organized by FORATOM and the Spanish Nuclear Forum in Madrid.

In the 21st century, says MIT, the world faces the new challenge of having to drastically reduce greenhouse effects gasses while at the same time increasing access to energy and economic opportunities to billions of people. The study The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World examined this challenge in the electric sector. This study, co-directed by MIT professor Jacopo Buongiorno, reflects that the fight against climate change will be more difficult and expensive if nuclear energy is disregarded, showing that nuclear power plants can help to cover the growing world energy demand and at the same time reduce emissions. The analysis points out the potential contribution of nuclear energy as a non-contaminating energy source. Without this contribution the cost of a complete decarbonization would significantly rise.

Climate change is so serious that an increasing number of voices are asking, in view of this large threat: "can you actually opt out of nuclear energy?" Following this point, Ignacio Araluce, president of the Spanish Nuclear Forum, indicates that "Spanish nuclear power plants are the technology that produces the most electricity (20%), has the greatest number of hours of operation and contribute most towards avoiding emissions.

Last year in particular almost 40% of the electricity free from CO2 was generated thanks to nuclear energy". The energy transition must necessarily include nuclear energy, assures Araluce, "if we intend to reduce emissions and fulfill the commitments acquired after the Paris Agreement".

Nuclear energy fulfills another key goal of the European Union´s energy policy, as it guarantees security of supply

Marc Noël, representative of the Joint Research Center General Direction at the European Commission, also refers to this agreement. He made a point of reminding that "energy is essential for our way of life. At the Paris climate conference (COP21), 195 countries adopted the first universal and legally binding agreement that includes the goal of avoiding a dangerous climate change by limiting global warning to less than 2°C. In this demanding context, several studies have been published on the global energy mix and its impact on greenhouse effect gasses, the potential role of nuclear energy in all this and the advantages and challenges implied".

This debate, dedicated to "Nuclear energy in the transition towards a decarbonized economy", was organized by the Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum and FORATOM, the European nuclear industry association with the cooperation of Berta Picamal, executive advisor to the general director at this Brussels-based organization. Ms. Picamal considers that "the proposal of awarding nuclear energy for its benefits, making it possible for all low-emissions energies to compete in a level playing ground as the MIT study suggest, should be taken into account by decision-makers from the European Union in their strategy to reduce emissions. Apart from the considerations for climate protection, nuclear energy fulfills another key goal of the European Union´s energy policy, as it guarantees security of supply".

For the Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum, the energy transition requires an electricity mix as environment-friendly as possible, assuring electric supply without significant unfavourable effects on electricity prices or in the competence of the electric market. Nuclear energy is key in this transition. Its continuity, always with maximum safety warrants as a priority, must be accompanied by its economic viability, reducing the large tax burden and with balanced and neutral policies for all technologies.