Nuclear Industry Energy Report on the Lifecycle Analysis

The objective of the "LCA Nuclear" project promoted by the climate and energy funds is to evaluate different lifecycle analyses  (LCAs) of nuclear energy regarding their details about energy surplus (kWh/kg natural uranium) and greenhouse gas emissions (g CO2/kWh).  The large spectrum of such results is to be analysed and evaluated.

The most essential issue for evaluating LCA’s results is that the examined process chain is complete. For executing the necessary conversion, the use of energy and materials is required in all stages of the process chain. Both lead to emission of greenhouse gases, either directly (by using the energy required for mining, transport, enriching the ores) or indirectly (for example by producing steel and concrete for the power stations and other necessary plants or also for using solvents for leaching the uranium from the ore).

A qualitatively high lifecycle analysis considers all necessary steps for obtaining nuclear energy, apart from the operation also the upstream and downstream processes such as raw material extraction, processing, transport, storage and disposal as well as the complete lifecycle of the plant itself (construction, operation and decommissioning). The different types of reactors must also be included as must the transports between the plants.

While mining uranium, the expected reduction in the ore content, as well as mining uranium from larger depths and the thus connected increased energy requirement and CO2 emission must be considered. 

The presented evaluations and analyses will support the Austrian energy policy in making well-founded statements on the possible future role of nuclear energy in the energy policy. By involving new reactor concepts and the analysis of the energy requirement for mining uranium as well as the Austrian evaluation of a possible spectrum of energy surplus and greenhouse gas emissions and the nuclear energy lifecycle with sinking uranium contents in ore, the study clearly distances itself from other studies.

Project Dates
ClientClimate and Energy Fund
Project ManagerDI Dr. Martin Baumann
Project PartnerAustrian Institute of Ecology