Carbon emissions from Hinkley Point C nuclear power station are set to be lower than wind and solar power, according to a new analysis.

The study into lifetime carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generated by Hinkley Point C was carried out for EDF by environmental specialists Ricardo Energy & Environment and verified by WSP.

Entitled Life Cycle Carbon and Environmental Impact Analysis of Electricity from Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant Development, the study assesses the power plant’s impacts across its life cycle.

It considers:

  • the activities 'upstream' of generation, such as the procurement of raw materials and fuel fabrication
  • the 'core' activities associated with constructing, operating and decommissioning Hinkley Point C
  • the 'downstream' activities associated with distributing electricity to customers

Overall, the study shows the global warming potential associated with generating 1kWh of net electricity at Hinkley Point C as 5.49g of CO2 equivalent, while the potential associated with a downstream user receiving 1kWh of electricity generated by the power plant has been calculated as 10.91g CO2 equivalent once the impacts of the transmission and distribution networks are taken into account.

By comparison, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's median estimate for offshore wind is around 12g CO2 equivalent per kWh and 48g CO2 equivalent per kWh for large-scale solar energy. These are all lower than coal at 820g CO2 equivalent per kWh and gas at 490g CO2 equivalent per kWh.

Ricardo used the best available data from sources such as the Development Consent Order submission and data recorded during construction so far.

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