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Production of Electricity:Myths about Risks and PricesIn an article „Productionof Electricity: Myths andRealities about Risksand Prices” published inscientific magazine Scienceand Technology, AssociateProfessor Dr. StanislovasŽiedelis busted some mythsin connection to assessmentof different methods ofproduction of electricity byway of comparing them toother types of human activitiesfrom the economic angle, aswell as risk, safety and ecologicperspective.In his words, it has become popularover the past few years to place anemphasis on shortfalls and threatsof nuclear energy, emphasizingthe positive aspects of alternativeenergy technologies. Unfortunately,few of the discussionscontain impartial analysis of factsand independent statistical data.Instead, many provide biased interpretationsexpected by the groupsconcerned, thus shaping a biasedpublic opinion. The worst thing isthat such public opinion serves asgrounds for crucial state-level decisions,which could have a majoreffect on perspectives of economicdevelopment and well-being ofgenerations to come. The decisionmade by the German governmentto shut down all nuclear powerplants is one of the examples.Risks Rank 20thŽiedelis maintains that the biggestdiscrepancy is observed in the publicopinion about risks of nuclearenergy and the reality. One of thebiggest myths describes nuclearenergy as involving the highestrisk. However, statistics show thatnuclear energy ranks merely 20thin terms of deaths caused by humanactivities and technologies.Primary hazards to human healthand lives includes smoking, alcoholand driving cars. The list of the mostdangerous professions also doesnot include NPP operators or otherspecialists of nuclear energy.Although electricity productioncosts are mainly assessed inmonetary units, there is anotherPicture 1. ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION COSTS AND DEATHS INVARIOUS INITIAL ENERGY SOURCES AND TECHNOLOGIESNuclear EnergyHydro EnergyWind EnergySolar EnergyPeatBiofuelGasOilCoalProduction costs, EUR/MWh0 100 200 300 400 500 600Deaths/TWh in EuropeDeaths/TWh in the worldProduction costs, EUR/MWh(maximum)Production costs, EUR/MWh(minimum)0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40Deaths/TWhPicture 2. CO2 EMISSIONS FROM ELECTRICITY PRODUCTIONTECHNOLOGIES USING DIFFERENT PRIMARY ENERGY SOURCES PER1 Kwh OF PRODUCED ENERGYgCO 2eq/KWh gCO 2eq/KWh2000150010005000200150100500Brown Coal Coal Oil Gas CCS*Primary energy source/technologyHydroNuclearWindSolarBiomassCCS*Primary energy source/technology*CCS is a technology based on the use of carbon capture and sequestration methods.Scales used inPicture 2 aredifferent. The topgraph portraysemission levelsof technologiesbased on fossilenergy sourcesthat have beenrecalculatedfor equivalentamounts of CO 2(scale from 0to 1800 g CO 2eq/KWh). Thebottom graphportrays emissionlevels of technologiesbased onnon-fossil energysources (scalefrom 0 to 180 gCO 2eq/KWh).measurement – electricity price inhuman lives. This evaluation alsodestroys the myth about hazardsof nuclear energy. According toresults of an analysis of deathscaused by different types of energyper TWh, the figure in nuclear energyis the smallest at 0.04, rankingat 0.15 in wind energy, 0.1-1.4 in hydropower, etc. The highest numberof lives is claimed by fossil fuel technologies:coal (world average is 161deaths), crude (33) and biofuel (12).The analysis of death statisticstakes consideration of fatal casualtiesthat occur during accidents inpower plants and during extractionand transportation of primaryenergy sources, as well as deathscaused by environmental pollutionwith dust, smoke particles and radionuclides.Nuclear Energy Truly EcologicalYet another popular and ungroundedmyth has to do withenvironmental protection andecology, saying that advantages ofproduction of electricity from renewableenergy resources is significantlybigger than those of nuclearenergy.Picture 2* provides a comparison ofCO 2levels generated by various energytechnologies. It gives a summaryof a number of studies anddemonstrates the level of emissionsthat are produced throughoutthe technological cycle ofelectricity production. For instance,an assessment is made of theamounts of CO 2that are producedduring extraction and enrichmentof uranium ore, production of nuclearfuel, construction, operationand decommissioning of nuclearplants, including management ofradioactive waste.Picture 2 shows that nuclear, hydroand wind energy produce the lowestlevels of CO 2, which is more than10 times less than fossil fuel anda third less than solar energy andbiomass technologies. Regardlessof technological progress, this distributionof amounts of CO 2emissionshas remained unchanged foryears. Nuclear energy generatesroughly 10 gCO 2-eq/kWh, withthe bulk of CO 2emitted during thepre-plant nuclear fuel cycle – extraction,processing, enrichmentof uranium ore and production ofnuclear fuel.Solar Energy Most ExpensiveThe statistical data makes it possibleto compare costs of electricityproduction from various primaryenergy sources. Picture 1 clearlyshow that the costs of generating1 MWh of electricity in solar energyare higher by a factor of more than10, as compared with nuclear andhydro energy. Electricity generatedfrom biofuel and wind is also moreexpensive.7

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