Nuclear energy is necessary for the energy transition

If we want to get rid of the burning of fossil fuels, we need everything, especially nuclear energy, believe Emil Jacobs and Roel Millenar, members of the citizen movement Kern voor Climate.

Roel Millinar and Emile Jacobs

Nuclear power will not help us meet climate demands, argue Jos van der Schott and Tserd Zwethout (Opinion, 13 December). There is a lot of resistance to this power supply. But the incredible amount of energy in uranium is often overlooked, as nuclear power plants last longer, are independent of weather and take up less space.

Van der Schot and Zoethout are right about the release of carbon dioxide during the construction of a nuclear power plant. But is that different with solar panels or wind turbines? The latter alone would require large concrete foundations. According to a recent report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), nuclear power has the lowest emissions of any power source over the entire lifetime of nuclear power plants. It occupies the least area (0.3 square meters per MWh) of all energy sources when it includes all aspects such as mining for raw materials and finishing. Solar panels have ten times as much coal (the real culprit) as fifty times as much. And the more compact the size, the less material is used.

It is true that nuclear energy competes with other forms of energy production (wind and solar), and it is also true that a nuclear power plant must supply it continuously in order to be more profitable. But the fact that the nuclear power plant is available at full capacity all year round is actually an advantage. In this way, the generated power can perfectly match the power demand. A nuclear power plant can produce when we want it to, and wind farms do it when the weather is good. Due to the erratic nature of the weather, sun and wind requires an elastic net. Modern nuclear power plants can also play a role in this. They have already been adjusted to the vagaries of sun and wind.

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And that nuclear power to shrink when winds are plentiful should be a choice, not a law of nature. This problem also occurs with (too many) wind farms or solar lawns. Renewable may be its own competition. But the structural excess of energy also creates new opportunities, such as hydrogen production.

Countries with little or no nuclear power (any more), such as Germany, currently emit the most carbon dioxide when producing electricity. Low-emission countries have nuclear power plants and/or hydropower, such as France and Sweden, powered by wind and sun. In short, nuclear energy deserves a place in the energy transition.

Read also:
No, nuclear energy will not help us meet the demands of the climate

Nuclear energy is seen as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But that climate promise isn’t good at all. They warned Joss van der Schott and Tserd Zwethout.

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