New analysis has confirmed that CO2 emissions from the electricity generated by Britain’s newest nuclear power stations will be even lower than wind and solar power. All three technologies will be essential in helping Britain achieve net zero carbon emissions.
Like renewables, nuclear power is ‘zero-carbon’ at the point of generation but, as with all electricity generation, CO2 is released during construction, operation, and decommissioning. A detailed and independently verified study into lifetime emissions was carried out for EDF by environmental specialists Ricardo Energy & Environment. Known as a Lifecycle Carbon Assessment (LCA), the study follows internationally agreed standards and is thought to be one of the most detailed ever undertaken for a nuclear power station.
It showed that emissions from generating electricity are likely to be around 5.5g CO2 eq/kWh for both Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C
By comparison, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s median estimate for offshore wind is around 12g CO2 eq/kWh and 48g CO2 eq/kWh for large-scale solar energy. All are drastically lower than coal at 820g CO2 eq/kWh and gas at 490g CO2 eq/kWh.
Separately, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has also recently published a comprehensive report on electricity generation. It confirms that nuclear technology as a whole has the lowest lifecycle carbon intensity of any electricity source, ranging from 5.1-6.4g CO2 eq/kWh.
With Hinkley Point Cs construction well underway and Sizewell C moving towards final approval, the new nuclear power stations will supply reliable low carbon electricity to around 12 million homes – helping the UK to reach net-zero and meet the growing need for low carbon power which is expected to quadruple between now and 2050.
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, Managing Director for Sizewell C said:
“This detailed study confirms the low carbon credentials of new nuclear at Hinkley Point and Sizewell. By replacing fossil fuel power with low carbon electricity which doesn’t depend on the weather, Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will support the expansion of renewables in the UK and make a big contribution to lowering emissions to net zero.
The full report for Sizewell C is available here
IPCC figures were published as part of Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group lll to the Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The LCA has been verified by engineering consultants, WSP.