Nuclear power and climate change
As a low-emission electricity production method, nuclear power plays a key role in the mitigation of climate change. Nuclear power is used as stable base load power which supports stable electricity production to supplement the variable production of hydropower, wind power, and solar power.
The Finnish Government Programme (2019) aims for the carbon neutrality of Finland by 2035. As a low-emission electricity production method, nuclear power plays an important role in reaching this goal. By replacing electricity generated with coal, the nuclear power produced at Olkiluoto leads to an annual reduction in emissions of approximately 12 million tons - an amount which corresponds with the annual greenhouse gas emissions of traffic in Finland. Through the commissioning of the OL3 plant unit, this figure will rise to approximately 23 million tons.
74 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are generated from energy production, energy consumption, and traffic. 22 percent of emissions are created by the energy industry. Emission reductions made by the energy industry have a significant effect on Finland’s total emissions.
CO₂ emissions of different production modes during their lifecycle
The image below demonstrates the CO₂ emissions produced per 1 kWh of energy for different production modes during their lifecycle. Emissions from nuclear power belong to the lowest of all the technologies.
Source: Nuclear for climate
Nuclear power in Europe
In December 2020, The European Council decided to tighten the EU´s climate target. The new binding target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels), so that the EU's target for carbon neutrality by 2050 can be reached. In addition, the European Council acknowledged the right of the Member States to decide on their energy mix and to choose the most appropriate technologies.
With nuclear energy generated in Europe, 700 million tons of CO₂ emissions are avoided annually, which could otherwise end up in the atmosphere.