Nuclear power: a daring solution to [really] solve the climate change issue
Written by SLC – Sauvons Le Climat (“Save the climate”, french NGO) – november 2014
“The lates IPCC report urges governments to drastically decrease fossile fuel consumption in order to avoid the risks of severe global warming of the planet, which could be catastrophic for humanity.
Since its creation “Save the Climate” carries this message. In this context, it would be absurd, if not criminal to deprive oneself of the opportunities given by nuclear power. Renewable energies should not be regarded as a means of doing without nuclear power, but as a complementary panel of solutions to fight against greenhouse gas emissions.
In this spirit “Save the Climate”, starting from scenarios already taken into account by the IPCC, publishes a study of alternative scenarios fostering a faster development of the nuclear power in order to drastically reduce the need for the Capture and Storage of Carbon dioxyde (CSC.)
The study starts by summarizing the scenarios of reference of the IPCC wihch make it possible to limit the increase in total temperature to 2 degrees and which, with this intention, call on a massive storage of CO2 by CSC, up to 50 billion tons per year (to be compared with the current yearly emisssions of 35 billion tons) in 2100.
Two categories of scenarios were proposed and accepted by the IPCC to follow trajectories known as RCP 2.6: the category “IMAGE”, controlled by the “Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency”, and the category “MESSAGE” controlled by the “International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria”.
Only the scenarios of the category “MESSAGE” limit the storage of CO2 to 24 billion tons thanks to a massive development of the nuclear electrical production between 2060 and 2100, or to a drastic reduction of energy consumption. All the scenarios comprise a very strong contribution of solar and a strong contribution of biomass. In the scenario suggested by the IIASA, which maximizes energy consumption, 7,000 reactors of 1 GWe (Giga Watts of electricity) are built between 2060 and 2100 (a rythm lower than that achieved in France in the 1980s, when 50 reactors were built in a 15-year timespan).
The study shows that the massive use of breeder reactors would be compatible with this scenario, under the provision that the duration of reprocessing be shortened and/or the proportion of heavy-water reactors in the park of classical reactors be increased.
The technical requirements of such a development being met right now – which is not the case for CSC – the study proposes “supplied with nuclear power” alternative versions of the forementioned scenarios, by starting the strong development of nuclear power by 2020 rather than 2060, while ensuring up to 60% of energy consumption by nuclear power in 2100. It is then possible to reduce dramatically the unknown factor currently represented by CSC, since it would become possible to stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmospheren abd even reduce it, should this technique become affordable.
The scenario of nuclear power exit relies upon a reduction of energy consumption of more than 40%, without removing the need for CSC storage of 15 billion tons of CO2 per year, without making it possible to stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere before 2100.
On the other hand, steady development of nuclear power makes it possible to maintain energy consumption on a reasonable level, to stabilize the CO2 concentration by 2060, to drastically reduce and even remove the need for both CSC and fossile fuels several decades before the end of the century.
SLC thus invites policy makers to account for successes of France in the development of technologies of electrical production without CO2 emissions to draw an effective path towards the fight against climate change and global warming.
To reach the full summary of the study (in french):
Other text in english :