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What’s the Greenest Energy Source? The Answer Will Shock You

What’s the Greenest Energy Source? The Answer Will Shock You

If I were to ask you, “What’s the greenest, lowest carbon source of energy?”…What would your answer be: Hydropower? Wind? Solar?Those are all good answers.Renewable energy sources are some of the best around when it comes to environmental friendliness – nobody is disputing that fact. And they will all play extremely important roles in our future energy mix.But while they may be among the best, they’re not the best.So, what is the greenest, lowest carbon source of energy?

If You Want Green Energy, Go for the Green Rock

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recently released a new report that caught my attention.It details the entire lifecycle of the various electricity generation options available to the European countries.Based upon their extensive data collection and calculations, they’ve crowned nuclear power as the king of green energy.Nuclear has the lowest average emissions through its entire lifecycle:

What’s the Greenest Energy Source? The Answer Will Shock You

Source: Life Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation Options, UNECE (Oct 2021)

Now if you’re familiar with nuclear energy…You’ll know it’s not as simple as digging up rocks from underground and chucking them into a reactor.Besides the actual mining operation required to get at the uranium (which is often buried deep) you also need to refine the uranium from the ore. This is to turn that raw uranium ore into useable fissile material.That’s before you get to the nuclear reactors themselves, which tend to be fairly complicated and costly to build.And don’t forget the disposal of the radioactive waste at the end either.On top of all that, you need to factor in the transportation required to get all the materials from Point A to Point B.Yes, you might be thinking…

  • Surely with all that taken into account, there’s no way nuclear energy still comes out on top… right?

But as expected of the UN – they don’t do things by halves.

Every aspect of the power generation lifecycle for every source has been considered. And everything listed above was taken into account when they were calculating the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power.Don’t forget – it’s not as if renewable energy sources are magical cure-alls to the green energy problem either.Hydro dams can have a devastating impact on local ecosystems with their large reservoirs.Which – by the way – also generates carbon dioxide and methane from the decomposing vegetation submerged underneath the waters.While all power generation requires copper for cabling and infrastructure, solar power needs more of it than any of the others for all the extra electric equipment.Wind power is relatively more reliant on steel and chromium in the construction of turbines.And of course, there’s no escaping the emissions from transporting all the materials involved in building up all these power sources, either.Nuclear energy isn’t the only source of power generation with “hidden” carbon emissions in its lifecycle – it just gets the worst press.

Low Emissions Aren’t the Only Thing Green About Nuclear Energy

From an environmental impact point of view, greenhouse gas emissions are just one part of the picture.Climate change is at the forefront of everybody’s mind right now when it comes to environmental friendliness – but there are other factors to consider as well.

  • Land and water use,
  • Ecosystem impact,
  • Negative effects on human health,
  • Consumption of non-replenishable resources…

There are lots of dynamics at play when it comes to considering, and quantifying, the total impact of a power plant.But when you tally up all those metrics, look who shows up again?

What’s the Greenest Energy Source? The Answer Will Shock You

Source: Life Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation Options, UNECE (Oct 2021)

When considering all of the lifecycle impacts, and not just the greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear still comes in third. That’s just behind smaller-scale hydro plants and almost on par with tower-type concentrated solar plants.That’s still damn good. Especially when you consider that hydropower plants are much more restrictive in terms of where you can build them.It should be clear that nuclear power wins on just about all fronts, besides marketing.For all the NGO’s, climate champions, and advocates, take note:

  • Over the past half-century, nuclear power has mitigated around 74 gigatons of CO2 emissions.

That’s equivalent to nearly two full years’ worth of emissions from all energy production around the world.

The UNECE has gone as far as to say that:

  • International climate objectives will not be met if nuclear power is excluded.

I don’t think it gets any clearer than that.

Uranium Is the Cool Kid Again

With nuclear power coming back into vogue, that means the uranium frenzy is on.The last uranium bull market saw explosive returns for those who played their cards correctly.Now that we’re on the cusp of another run-up in uranium, you’ll want to make sure you’re backing the right companies.After all, for every success story the last uranium bull market saw, there was a failure that was forgotten about.Thousands upon thousands of acres of land were snatched up – much of it little more than moose pasture in vaguely the right area.When the world finally realizes that nuclear is the only option they have left if they want to meet their climate change objectives, they’ll turn to uranium.And when that happens, the exact same story will play out again – Johnny-come-latelies will pile onto the uranium bandwagon, leaving you to sift through the rubbish to find the gems.It’s a story I’m intimately familiar with.And I’m ready to do it again, this time with my Katusa’s Resource Opportunities subscribers along for the ride.Regards,Marin