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CNA says nuclear outperforms wind and gas in GHG battle


October 15, 2014
By Anthony Capkun


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October 15, 2014 – Nuclear energy outperforms wind and natural gas in slowing the advance of climate change, says the Canadian Nuclear Association, pointing to a study by Hatch that compares greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions from nuclear power plants, wind farms, natural gas plants, and wind farms backed by natural gas plants.

Because wind farms cannot produce electricity reliably and predictably, they typically rely on gas plants to fill in their supply gaps, notes CNA. The Hatch study estimates that wind farms generate only 20% of their capacity, leaving gas-fired plants to make up the remaining 80%.

“To produce the same amount of electricity, a natural gas plant typically emits about 25 to 30 times as much [GHG] as a nuclear power plant,” noted Dr. John Barrett, CNA president, adding that “The combination of wind-plus-gas generates about 20 times more [GHG] than does nuclear. That’s why nuclear energy offers far more environmental benefit than the combination of wind and gas power.”

The nuclear association commissioned Hatch Ltd. (Toronto-based global management, engineering and consulting firm) to review a range of studies comparing the GHG performance of wind, gas and nuclear energy. The studies looked at the technologies’ full life cycles, an approach that includes mining and gas drilling, power plant construction and operation, waste management and decommissioning.

The analysis estimates nuclear power emitted 18.5 grams of GHG/kWh through the entire life cycle, compared to 385 grams of GHG/kWh for wind backed by natural gas.

“The implications for our energy policy are very clear,” said Barrett. “Nuclear energy outperforms wind as a source of clean electricity for Canadians.”

DOWNLOAD the full study below.