Is nuclear the cleanest energy?

Nuclear energy is either renewable or non-renewable.

This is good news not only for the planet, but also lays the foundation for a more affordable and accessible energy for everyone. That is why, at Gana Energía, we have been committed to offering the cheapest renewable energy since our inception.

Before analyzing what is the cheapest energy to produce, let’s define what is the energy mix of a country. This term refers to the contribution of the different energy sources to national production. To meet the energy demand, several resources are used: renewable energies, gas, coal, nuclear…

As you may have guessed, each of the energy production processes has a cost. Burning tons of coal and transporting the energy to its destination is not the same as obtaining energy directly from a solar panel on the roof of your house. So which is the most economical source of energy? The answer is clear: renewables.

With this evidence that renewables are the cheapest source of energy, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has called for investments to be directed towards renewables. There is no doubt that renewables are more affordable.

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Nuclear energy advantages and disadvantages

There are good reasons why these organizations have come to view nuclear power as “clean”. In the United States, 19% of the electricity Americans use comes from 97 nuclear reactors, more than any other country. There are 444 commercial nuclear power reactors operating worldwide, with another 54 under construction and 111 planned, especially in China, India and Russia. The gigawatts of electricity produced for millions of people by these reactors have emitted no air pollutants.

More than about nuclear technology, the accident at Chernobyl in 1986 was the result of an atrocious and unethical Soviet experiment. The Chernobyl reactor also lacked important safety features, such as containment domes, common in all U.S. reactors. So far, the UN has confirmed 43 radiation deaths at Chernobyl, considered the worst nuclear accident in history.

Such fanaticism ended up nullifying any serious debate on energy and its real scope, and provoked insurmountable and unproductive dichotomies between sides that should be able to be intelligently linked.

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Nuclear energy is polluting

It is said that the most successful proposals in Brussels are the ones that nobody likes too much because they are the ones that achieve the greatest consensus. This is the case of the draft to include nuclear energy and natural gas in the taxonomy, which establishes the criteria by which an investment can be considered green, which has been rejected for one reason or another by a good part of the governments, but which should not encounter too many obstacles to go ahead.

The so-called ‘EU taxonomy’ is a classification system that establishes a list of economic activities that can be considered as ‘sustainable’, based on a series of criteria, with the aim of encouraging investment in sectors that contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change, the protection of biodiversity or the transition to a circular economy. Although the legislation came into force in July 2020, and the first list was published in April 2021, the European Commission decided to delay the classification of nuclear energy and natural gas.

Nuclear energy is safe

Member states and the Sustainable Finance Platform have until January 12 to give their opinion on the EU proposal. The parliamentary chamber will then prepare a delegated act that will be sent to the countries and the European Parliament for analysis and debate. Busy months lie ahead, but it is clear that Europe must look for alternative and complementary sources to renewable energy sources if it is to achieve total emission neutrality by 2050.

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