Nuclear has saved UK six years of emissions
29 March 2021
UK nuclear power stations have saved more emissions than any other energy source in British history.
Since Calder Hall opened in 1956, Britain’s nuclear power stations have saved 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, the equivalent of all the UK’s emissions over a six-year period from 2015 through 2020. This updated figure is based on fresh analysis by the Nuclear Industry Association of nuclear output and historical grid mix data and makes the nuclear fleet by far the biggest carbon saver of any UK power source.
Without the nuclear fleet the UK would have relied considerably more on fossil fuels since only coal and gas can provide the same firm power as nuclear. This would have had negative implications on our climate and our health, leaving us further behind on our path to net zero.
2.3 GtCO2 is equivalent to 3.5 billion individual people flying between Singapore and New York, the world’s longest flight, or 27.5 billion car journeys between Edinburgh and London.
Commenting on the analysis, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said,
“Nuclear has made an enormous contribution to the UK’s fight against climate change. We can only sustain this contribution if we build new nuclear power stations, that will provide the firm, low-carbon power we need for net zero.”
Notes to Editors
- The methodology assumed that, had the nuclear stations not been generating, additional fossil fuels would have been used to plug the gap. The precise mix of fuels used for the marginal supply of electricity has varied year to year, and this was considered in the analysis by calculating the carbon saved on a yearly basis.
- Hunterston B, Hinkley Point B, Heysham I and Hartlepool nuclear power stations are all scheduled to retire by the end of March 2024, representing more than 4 GW of nominal generating capacity. Hunterston and Hinkley Point B will be in defuelling by mid-2022.
- Dungeness B is due to retire by 2028 and Heysham II and Torness are due to retire by 2030, meaning all of the UK’s Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGRs) will be offline. Of the existing fleet, only the Pressurised Water Reactor at Sizewell B, with 1.2 GW of capacity, is scheduled to be operational after 2030.
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About the Nuclear Industry Association
As the trade association for the civil nuclear industry in the UK, the Nuclear Industry Association represents more than 200 companies across the UK’s nuclear supply chain.
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