Nuclear power is unreliable for fighting global warming. Scandals, earthquakes and accidents can shut down numerous plants simultaneously. When one of these problems occurs, without sustainable alternative energy sources, fossil fuel plants must kick in, spiking greenhouse gas emissions. For centralized, large systems like nuclear generation, utilities must install a “reserve margin” of extra capacity ready for instant use. (E.g. In Japan, every new nuclear power plant requires additional fossil-fuel-fired capacity.) Nuclear power plants and fossil fuel plants come in tandem.
Aileen Mioko Smith is the executive director of the Kyoto-based NGO Green Action. This presentation was given to Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan as part of a press briefing titled “The G8 and Japan: More Hot Air over Global Warming?” (29 May 2008). Download the presentation as PowerPoint file. Cf. Dave Lochbaum, “Nuclear ‘Station Blackout’.”