It’s the myth on which the ongoing nuclear renaissance is built: that nuclear power is one of the solutions to climate change. But now the case for nuclear power as a low carbon energy source to replace fossil fuels has been challenged in a new report by Australian academics.
It suggests greenhouse emissions from the mining of uranium – on which nuclear power relies – are on the rise. Availability of high-grade uranium ore is set to decline with time, it says, making the fuel less environmentally friendly and more costly to extract.
A significant proportion of greenhouse emissions from nuclear power stem from the fuel supply stage, which includes uranium mining, milling, enrichment and fuel manufacturing.
Lead author Gavin Mudd, from Monash University in Australia, said “Yes, we can probably find new uranium deposits, but to me that’s not the real issue. The real issue is: ‘what are the environmental and sustainability costs?’