Nuclear energy: How environmentally-friendly and safe is it?

Nuclear energy: How environmentally-friendly and safe is it?

From BBC

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced extra support for nuclear power in the Budget.

He wants to reclassify it as “environmentally sustainable” so the industry can access some of the financial incentives available to other forms of renewable energy.

The government wants nuclear power to provide 25% of the UK’s electricity needs by 2050.

What is nuclear power?

To generate nuclear power in non-military reactors, uranium atoms are bombarded by much smaller neutron particles.

This causes the atoms to break down and release huge amounts of energy as heat.

The heat is used to boil water, producing steam which drives turbines and generates electricity.

BBC Bitesize: How is nuclear power generated?Nuclear fusion breakthrough – what is it and how does it work?

How “green” is nuclear power?

Like fossil fuels, nuclear fuels are non-renewable energy resources, but unlike fossil fuels, nuclear power stations do not produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or methane during their operation.

Building new nuclear plants does create emissions – through manufacturing the steel and other materials needed. But the emissions footprint – the total emissions generated across the lifecycle of a plant – is still very low.

The government will consult on the proposal to reclassify nuclear power as “environmentally sustainable”. But the announcement follows a similar move by the EU in 2022.

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