Nuclear Energy as a Climate Change Solution

Revision Notes or Short Notes 

Question : Examine the role of nuclear energy in mitigating climate change, considering its low-carbon nature, reliability, and scalability.


  • Renewed interest in nuclear energy as a solution to climate change and energy security.

Nuclear Energy & Climate Change Benefits:

  • Low-Carbon Source: Nuclear power plants produce minimal greenhouse gas emissions during operation (5-6 grams CO2 per kilowatt hour) – over 100 times lower than coal and half of solar/wind.
  • Reliable and Scalable: Provides clean, consistent, and affordable baseload electricity.
  • Fossil Fuel Substitute: Directly replaces fossil fuel plants, reducing reliance on them.
  • Economic Development: Supplies large amounts of electricity needed for growth.
  • Energy Security: Contributes to a stable domestic energy source.
  • Heat Applications: Potential for using nuclear heat for future decarbonization efforts.
  • Decarbonization Role: Plays a key role in transitioning to clean energy and achieving carbon neutrality.

Global Efforts:

  • Paris Agreement (2015): Aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, requiring a rapid reduction in fossil fuel dependence.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Launched the “Atoms4Climate” initiative to promote nuclear energy’s role in climate change mitigation.
  • COP28: Around 20 countries pledged to triple global nuclear energy capacity by 2050.

The Indian Perspective:

  • Current Status:
    • 23 operational nuclear reactors with 7.4 GWe combined net capacity.
    • 1% of India’s electricity generation in 2022.
    • Ambitious target of 14.6 GWe capacity by 2024 (partially achieved with 8 reactors under construction, 6.7 GWe combined capacity).
    • Largely indigenous nuclear program.
    • Long-term strategy for low-emission future includes expanded nuclear power.
  • Future Plans:
    • Increase nuclear energy production capacity to 22,480 MW by 2031 (over three times the current level).

Challenges of Nuclear Energy for Climate Solutions:

  • Safety Concerns: Accidents like Fukushima and Zaporizhzhya raise public anxieties.
  • Waste Disposal: Long-term storage and disposal of radioactive waste remains an issue (e.g., Japan’s Fukushima water release plan).
  • High Initial Costs: Setting up nuclear plants is expensive due to safety measures, impacting economic viability compared to other options.
  • Public Perception: Fear of radiation and accidents leads to opposition against new plants.
  • Regulatory Hurdles: Heavy regulations can slow down development and deployment of new reactors.
  • Non-Proliferation Concerns: Potential misuse of nuclear technology for military purposes.


  • Nuclear energy offers a clean, reliable, and dispatchable source of electricity for energy security and sustainable development.
  • India’s nuclear power program expansion is crucial to meet its energy security and climate change goals.


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