World Nuclear Association Blog

New WNA Report on Lifecycle Emissions from Electricity Generation

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WNA has published a new report reviewing over twenty studies of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. The report concludes that the third party studies clearly show that greenhouse gas emissions from all forms of fossil fuel generation are an order of magnitude higher than those from nuclear energy and renewables.


Variation in GHG studies


Although there are variations between studies of the emissions associated with different forms of generation, by taking a mean value the following conclusions can be made:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power plants are among the lowest of any electricity generation method and on a lifecycle basis are comparable to wind, hydro-electricity and biomass.
  • Lifecycle emissions of natural gas generation are 15 times greater then nuclear. 
  • Lifecycle emissions of coal generation are 30 times greater then nuclear. 
  • There is strong agreement in the published studies on life cycle GHG intensities for each generation method.

The studies chosen used a range of assumptions, however they all took the approach of studying the full lifecycle emissions from all the generation types, not only those emissions directly associated with generation.

The WNA report also looks at differences between the conclusions of studies carried out by academia, government and industry. Although there were some variations, particularly in estimates of emissions from natural gas, overall there is a high degree of agreement between these three groups.


GHG studies from universities, industry and government


The full report can be download from the WNA website (Publications/WNA Reports) or by clicking WNA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report.