Friday, July 15, 2005

Natural Gas cleaner than Nuclear?!?

Advocates of Nuclear ower have long claimed that it is zero-emissions and if you could just figure out what to do with the nasty residual waste, nuclear power would solve all of our problems. But not so fast...

The Australian reports that according to an Australian scientist atomic power generates more damaging greenhouse gas emissions than gas-fired power.

As federal and state politicians debate the merits of starting down the atomic power path to help reduce Australia's contribution to global warming, scientists say it may not be so clean after all.

University of NSW Institute of Environmental Studies senior lecturer Dr Mark Diesendorf says atomic power stations do not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) themselves, but the processes involved in creating atomic energy do.

Mining, milling, uranium enrichment, atomic fuel production, power station construction and operation, storage and reprocessing of spent fuel, long-term management of radioactive waste and closing down old power stations all require the burning of fossil fuels, he says.

"Most of the energy inputs to the full life cycle of atomic fuel come from fossil fuels and are therefore responsible for CO2 emissions," Dr Diesendorf writes in this month's edition of the Australasian Science magazine.

Atomic power stations using high-grade uranium ores would have to run for seven to 10 years before they created enough power to cancel out the energy required to establish them.

Wind power takes just three to six months to do the same.

For lower grade uranium ores, greenhouse gas emissions outweighed those produced by an equivalent gas-fired power station, Dr Diesendorf said.