Posts Tagged ‘International Energy Agency’

November 1, 2011 | 2:31 pm

TNR: “How Not to Go Green”

As we have noted before, we think there are important lessons to be learned from Germany’s efforts to phase out nuclear power. In the end, less nuclear seems to irrevocably lead to simply this: burning more fossil fuel, generating more carbon emissions and less energy independence.

The latest writer to notice this posted an article at The New Republic, “How Germany Phased Out Nuclear Power, Only to be Mugged By Reality.

“Yet in bowing to the country’s strong anti-nuclear movement, Germany appears to have suddenly gone off track: Within the last year the country has gone from a net exporter of energy to a net importer, and the carbon intensity of the energy it purchases has risen as well. Now, with its energy politics in turmoil, Germany is serving as a very different sort of model for environmentalists: how not to go green.”

read more…

July 13, 2011 | 9:13 am

Spotlight: What makes nuclear energy low-carbon?

As politicians, the media, and everyday Americans continue the debate regarding our future energy sources, we believe that claims should be backed by clear science, reason and logic. One often disputed argument is how one can consider nuclear energy a low carbon source. Building nuclear power plants can play a major role in reducing carbon emissions while helping to meet our growing energy demands. It is fair to ask, where do these figures come from?

First, nuclear power plants do not emit pollutants or greenhouse gases when they operate. This means that the 104 U.S. plants generating 20 percent of electricity throughout the U.S. do so without producing greenhouse gas emissions. The same is true of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydropower.
However, as with any power plant, it is not just the emissions during operation that should be taken into account. The construction and related activities from start to finish of a plant all create associated outputs, called life-cycle emissions. It is similar to buying an electric car to cut back on your own carbon footprint. It is true that the electric car produces significantly fewer emissions than the average gasoline-powered engine. However the electric car must be built, shipped, maintained, and ultimately taken to the junk yard —all of this counts. (One might also consider what is the energy source producing the electricity for the car—coal, gas, nuclear, renewables—and their related emissions).

Looking at the start of operations until the finish, numerous studies demonstrate that nuclear energy’s life-cycle emissions are comparable to renewable forms of generation, such as wind and hydropower, and still far less than those of coal or natural gas plants. Although nuclear plants do not emit greenhouse gases when generating electricity, certain processes used to build and fuel the plants do. This is true for all energy facilities. Nuclear energy life-cycle emissions include emissions associated with construction of the plant, mining and managing the fuel, routine operations, disposal of used fuel and other byproducts, and decommissioning.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that nuclear power’s life-cycle emissions range from 2 to 59 gram-equivalents of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. Comparatively, the life-cycle of wind (7 to 124 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalents) and solar photovoltaic (13 to 731 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalents) produce more, while only hydropower’s range ranked lower, at 2 to 48 grams according to the IEA. And just for comparison, life-cycle emissions from natural gas-fired plants ranged from 389 to 511 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalents per kilowatt-hour.

So what does that all mean? To make a real comparison, nuclear-generated electricity avoids almost 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in the U.S. This is nearly as much carbon dioxide as is released from all U.S. passenger cars (but not necessarily the type of electric cars mentioned previously). If nuclear energy did not produce 20% of U.S. electricity and avoid hundreds of millions of tons of emissions, then required reductions in the U.S. would increase by more than 50 percent to achieve targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

And since one reactor can provide enough power for more than one million homes on a reliable basis, you really can do more with less.

November 16, 2010 | 5:14 pm

Energy Security in an Uncertain World

The International Energy Agency describes energy security as “the uninterrupted physical availability at a price which is affordable, while respecting environment concerns.”

As the world become comparatively smaller with more people and fewer natural resources, the topic of energy security is more and more prominent. Providing energy from domestic and sustainable sources, such as nuclear energy and renewables, is a solution that should get more attention.

It is commonly recognized that renewables—like wind, solar, and biomass—derive their power from natural sources that are continuously available and a relatively certain resource.

As a source of energy that produces no emissions during generation, nuclear energy also has the ability to provide a critical domestic energy for the United States. Beyond this reliability for domestic production, the nuclear fuel recycling also supports the resource availability and security.

Recycling contributes to energy security because 96% of the content of the used fuel is reusable energy. AREVA’s recycling technology enables the recovery of valuable energy resources, providing for greater domestic energy security. In fact, if recycled, the 60,000 metric tons of U.S. commercial used nuclear fuel represents the energy equivalent of eight years of nuclear fuel supply for today’s entire U.S. nuclear reactor fleet. Further, the availability of recycled fuel provides a tool for the nuclear energy sector to protect against potential rises in uranium prices by providing recycled fuel whose production cost is independent of uranium prices.

This sentiment for long term viability was echoed at the recent Asian Nuclear Prospects 2010 Conference. The majority conclusion from the global panel of experts was that recycling used nuclear fuel “is vital for the sustainable growth of nuclear power.” Atomic Energy Commission member member M.R. Srinivasan said: ‘There is some sort of convergence of ideas on the closed fuel cycle amongst Asian countries, Russia, France and others. Asia and Europe can work on a common platform as there is no time available to look for new uranium sources.’

December 15, 2009 | 11:14 am

AREVA Leads the Way in Tackling Climate Change, Part I

by Mary Douglas
Reprinted from AREVA Energy Business, Issue 8

Following Copenhagen

Climate change is a reality and some of its impacts may already be irreversible. The Catlin Arctic Survey team has found out that most of the ice in the region is first-year ice that will melt next summer. Within a decade, the North Pole will turn into an open sea every summer. Kashmir University’s geology and geophysics department says Indian Kashmir’s glaciers are melting fast because of rising temperatures, threatening the water supply of millions.

AREVA is aware of these challenges and leading the field in offering solutions for CO2-free power generation as delegates from 200 countries prepare to meet in Copenhagen in December, to hammer out a new climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol whose first phase ends in 2012.

With world electricity demand expected to double by 2030, alternatives to fossil fuels must be applied whenever possible to ensure a balanced and reliable energy mix. AREVA is helping to achieve these goals by offering customers a wide-ranging portfolio of both nuclear and “renewable energy” solutions.

International concern

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change says he will be happy if the UN climate conference in Copenhagen (COP15) can deliver on “four essentials”:

  • How much industrialized countrieswill reduce emissions,
  • How much major developing countries will limit the growth of their emissions,
  • How the help needed by developing countries to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change will be financed, and
  • How that money will be managed.

Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, incoming COP15 president, says Copenhagen is a “window of opportunity” which should not be missed. She is optimistic that after months of political stalemate key countries are now coming forward with new targets. “In that sense,” she says, “Copenhagen has already delivered results.”

Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy

Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy

To achieve stabilisation of CO2 emissions by 2030, The International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook for 2009 divides the world into several sectors and considers policy options for each. It looks at what the power sector could achieve under “a plausible set of commitments and policies which could emerge.” The IEA suggests “much faster roll-out of renewables and nuclear including urgent investment in carbon capture and storage,” while the richest countries should “facilitate the transfer of low-carbon technologies – through international sector agreements and the purchase of carbon credits and other measures.”

This would need some $12 trillion beyond the ’business as usual’ scenario, mostly for investment in energy efficiency, modernization of transport and construction of low-carbon power generation. The cost would be offset by savings in pollution control amounting to $100 billion a year. Investment in nuclear power could be boosted by $125 billion in 2010-2020, increasing to $491 billion in the decade to 2030, says the IEA. This would be in addition to growth already planned for nuclear power and would save an extra 1.87 billion tons in emissions a year.

AREVA’s Nuclear Asset

Nuclear isn’t the only solution for clean energy generation, but there is no solution without nuclear. As world leader in nuclear power and the only company to cover all industrial activities in this field, AREVA offers solutions throughout the nuclear fuel cycle. With more than forty years’ experience, its integrated business model in nuclear power is a major asset.

AREVA’s activities encompass everything from uranium exploration, mining and processing, reactor design, construction and maintenance, expended fuel and waste management. With this unique organization the group is able to meet the needs of utilities for CO2-free power generation.

Representing about 15% of the global electricity mix, nuclear power reduces the world’s emissions by almost 10% each year, avoiding the release of some 2.1 billion tons of CO2. Installed nuclear generating capacity will double by 2030, and AREVA is working to offer reactors suited to the requirements of each country.

AREVA is also developing next-generation fuel assemblies for light water reactors and, as part of an international research program, is working on Generation IV nuclear reactors, which are expected to increase power plant yields considerably.

Look for Part II tomorrow!

September 29, 2009 | 2:46 pm

Nuclear Energy: Way More than Carbon Neutral

by Jarret Adams

Antinuclear activists lately have been trotting out that old chestnut that nuclear energy is not really CO2-free and that this claim is some type of deception. Here’s the short version: nuclear power plants do not produce CO2 while they are producing electricity. For each new AREVA EPR™ reactor that we build, we can avoid 10 million tons of CO2 emissions per year compared to a coal-fired plant.

Chart courtesy NEI.

Chart courtesy NEI.

Here’s the longer version: all power sources, including nuclear energy, renewables, fossil fuels and everything else, produce CO2 at various points during their respective lifecycles. There are emissions during the construction of new facilities, manufacturing of components, obtaining and refining the fuel, transportation to and from the facility, and so on. On the basis of lifecycle emissions, there is no energy source that does not produce some CO2 emissions when one includes full lifecycle and all related activities.

Nevertheless, even when one considers the lifecycle emissions of nuclear energy and renewables, they are very comparable. Reputable studies confirm this. A 2002 University of Wisconsin study showed that nuclear energy had 17 tons of CO2 emissions per Gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity compared with 14 tons of CO2 emissions per GWh for wind. For comparison, coal had 1,041 tons of CO2 emissions per GWh.

Several other studies, including 2008 study by the International Energy Agency (OECD), and a 2006 study by the U.K. Government, offer similar conclusions: nuclear energy lifecycle emissions are similar to wind and lower than solar photovoltaic. Here also is a great article from a UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) publication that lays it out well.

This should take nothing away from renewables – AREVA supports renewables. We are currently installing our M5000 offshore wind turbines off the coast of Germany and recently announced an agreement to build 80 more. These 5 MW turbines are the world’s biggest, and we hope to build hundreds of them around the world, including here in North America.

The point is that nuclear energy and renewables are complementary and are key elements in helping us move toward a low-carbon future. Anti-nukes seem to believe that a dollar spent on nuclear energy is a dollar taken away from renewables. This is not true. We need to begin investing more in both if we are serious about addressing our energy and climate change goals.

May 19, 2009 | 6:34 pm

Openness is Key in Discussing Nuclear Energy

by Laurence Pernot

There must be no taboos when we discuss nuclear energy. All issues, including the tricky ones, must be on the table. As with any large infrastructure project, nuclear energy does raise debates and will certainly continue to do so. This is good news, because no subject is off-limits regarding nuclear energy, and because debate on this subject is healthy and productive!

Whatever the technical answers are, public concerns must be taken seriously and addressed transparently. Governments must show leadership and continuity in their energy policies, and the nuclear industry must be open to public debate. We at AREVA, are open to dialogue with all stakeholders, including our opponents, in a transparent manner. Indeed, we’re convinced that through genuine dialogue and public debate, all legitimate concerns can be overcome.

Furthermore, as we need big changes now and rapidly in these challenging times, all leaders taking part in the energy debate need to help clarify and educate on the issues and set aside ideologies for the greater good of humanity. This passes by clarifying the energy mix and the benefits of each electricity generation source.

We no longer have to say “nuclear energy” with shame. It’s a solution recognized by OECD, the International Energy Agency, and other organizations as a key technology for industrialized and developing countries to win the race against climate change and meet our energy demands. Some countries have tiptoed into the race, some walking quietly and others jogging ahead. And there are those who are galloping to the gate. Whatever rhythm the United States chooses, we hope the nation will show leadership in this race.