Carbon intensity of nuclear energy

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Opponents of nuclear energy sometimes claim that it has high carbon emissions. What is the basis of such claims and are they accurate?


The IPCC finds emissions of nuclear energy to be generally amongst the lowest of any energy sources, comparable with those of wind energy and lower than hydro and solar (see e.g. this table of IPCC findings from Wikipedia).

Wikipedia discusses how many claims of high GHG emissions are based on a non-peer-reviewed study by Storm van Leewen and Philip Smith (sometimes referred to as "Stormsmith").

In a rebuttal of the "StormSmith" work, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute found that Storm van Leeuwen's estimate of the energy consumed by Uranium mining and milling in Namibia was higher than the energy consumption of the entire country.


The Energy Reality Project website has a post by Luke Weston on the issue: Point Refuted a Thousand Times: “Nuclear is not low-carbon”

Note that this article is now (late 2019) suffering link rot.

The image described as "Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, US NREL (Click to enlarge)" can now be found via the: Wayback Machine
The image described as "from “Renewable Energy in the Context of Sustainable Development”, in IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, Ch. 9" can be found via the: Wayback Machine
The link http://en-russia.edf.com/…/carbon-footprint-ru-en-290450.ht… seems irrevocably broken.