Every now and again the question of how much CO2 nuclear power plants produce, compared with other forms of power production, comes up; and whenever it does, I’ve forgotten where I last saw the figures. So now someone (thanks S) sent me some that look good (and are, by repute, biased against nukes if anything), I’ll put them in here.
The original report is http://www.bmu.de/files/pdfs/allgemein/application/pdf/hintergrund_atomco2.pdf but I don’t read german, so I fed it through babelfish which seemed to a pretty good job. I’ll skip all the boring caveats and stuff and just show the end result: this purports to show Total greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation options (including upstream processes and substances used to manufacture plant)
Electricity from: CO2e Nukes-Germany(fuel) 32 Nukes-France(fuel) 8 Nukes-UK(fuel) 32 Nukes-Russian(fuel) 65 U.S. nuclear - 62 AKW (uranium after import mix) 32 AKW (uranium only from Russia) 65 Import coal power plant 949 Import coal CHP 622 Lignite power plant 1.153 Lignite CHP 729 Natural gas combined-cycle power plant 428 Gas-CHP 148 Natural gas cogeneration plant 49 Biogas Blockheizkraftwerk -409 Onshore wind park 24 Offshore wind park 23 Water power 40 Solar cell (multi) 101 Solar-Import (Spain) 27 Power Efficiency (medium) 5 [Update: thanks WW: The unit is grams of CO2 (and equivalents) per kWh of electricity.] [Update: "Blockheizkraftwerk" means "block heat and power plant", or CHP -W]
The differences among the nukes is just the fuel source, if I’ve read the report properly. The US uses lots of coal electricity to make its nuclear fuel, the French use nuclear, and who knows what the Russians use. So… French nuclear is better than just about anything else, whereas German is beaten by wind. I think there is something broken in that (if you could get your wind turbines made in France they would come out as casuing less CO2 than the same turbines made in Germany). Increased efficiency (assuming I’m interpreting that last line correctly) is bested only by Biogas-CHP, which somehow comes out negative. Not quite sure how they have calculated that (from the comments: I guess the biogas plant is negative because it also generates heat for houses, so it saves fosiil fuels used for heating. It would come up close
to 0 without use of the heat. That would also explain why the NG cogeneration plant has such a low value..)
OTOH… table 5 lower in the report says that the cheapest in financial not CO2 terms is… you guessed it, lignite.