Nuclear and Renewable Energy: Complementary, not Opposed | AREVA North America: Next Energy Blog


by Laurence Pernot

At AREVA, we strongly believe that there is no solution to the energy and climate crisis that doesn’t involve nuclear energy, even if nuclear energy alone isn’t the solution.

We hear your objections: If it’s so obvious that nuclear energy has to be part of the solution, why is it still ignored in places like some countries in Europe, where they’re determined to fight climate change and reduce CO2 emissions? Why has a country like Germany, where people have such a highly-developed environmental awareness, decided to progressively get rid of nuclear energy?

Why? Because, in some parts of the world, when it comes to nuclear energy, ideology still remains stronger than reality.

Of course, any expert in energy knows that renewables – except biomass and geothermal – are not baseload energy sources. Solar and wind power plants need coal- or gas-fired back-up plants. It’s common sense: anyone can tell you that people aren’t going to stop using electricity when the wind dies down, or on a cloudy day, or after sunset. We need dependable, reliable power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

One telling example: France emits 8 times less CO2 per kilowatt-hour than Denmark, a country where the share of renewables is close to 30%. However remarkable the development of renewables in Denmark may be, a huge part of its power still has to be generated from the burning of fossil fuels. That example clearly shows how unwise it is to oppose nuclear and renewable energy, as many nations have done for decades, and as opponents to nuclear energy still do. It’s much more realistic to consider renewables and nuclear power as complementary – two essential parts of our 21st-century energy equation.

Our conviction is at the end of the 21st century, when we look back, we’ll see that one of the main features of the century was the development of a diverse range of non-carbon-emitting sources of energy, including renewables and nuclear. Discarding nuclear energy a priori due to ideological blindness or unfounded fears would be both nonsensical and dangerous.

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