European Commission body gives all clear for nuclear

29 March 2021

Tim Yeo.jpg

Tim Yeo


The New Nuclear Watch Institute

Science for Policy report by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission is a huge boost for nuclear energy. On the crucial “do no significant harm” test nuclear comes out as equal to or better than other electricity generation technologies.


This removes any remaining barrier to the inclusion of nuclear in the Commission’s sustainable finance taxonomy. Nuclear can now take its rightful place as a sustainable investment in the EU and is recognised alongside various renewable energy technologies as meeting strict environmental criteria.


Among the key findings are


  1. Average lifecycle GHG emissions determined for electricity production from nuclear energy are comparable to the values characteristic to hydropower and wind.

  2. Nuclear energy has very low Nox and Sox emissions, comparable to or better than corresponding emissions from solar PV and wind energy

  3. Nuclear energy is comparable to or better than solar PV and wind in relation to acidification and eutrophication potentials

  4. The land needed for nuclear energy generation is significantly smaller than for wind or solar

  5. The average annual exposure to a member of the public caused by nuclear energy-based electricity production is ten thousand times less than the average annual dose due to the natural background radiation

  6. The total impact on human health of both the radiological and non-radiological emissions from the nuclear energy chain are comparable with the human health impact from offshore wind energy

  7. Accident fatality rates of Gen nuclear plants II are much lower than any form of fossil fuel-based electricity production technology and are comparable with hydropower in OECD countries and with wind power

  8. Accident fatality rates of Gen III nuclear plants are the lowest of all the electricity generation technologies


These findings are a remarkable vindication of the arguments put forward by NNWI, and by other pro-nuclear energy organisations, in the face of years of groundless accusations by opponents of nuclear.


In relation to the “do no significant harm” test the report concludes that “the analyses did not reveal any science-based evidence that nuclear does more harm to human health or the environment than other electricity production technologies already included in the Taxonomy as activities supporting climate change mitigation.


It also confirms that in relation to human health and the environment, based on recent life cycle analyses, “the impacts of nuclear energy are mostly comparable with hydropower and the renewables, with regard to non-radiological effects”.


NNWI has campaigned for seven years to secure wider recognition of the essential role of nuclear power in the global response to the threat posed by climate change. We warmly welcome this belated acknowledgement by the European Commission that nuclear power can help save the human species from suffering the disastrous consequences of irreversible climate change.