☢️ Is nuclear energy safe or deadly?

Despite notable disasters, nuclear power remains one of the safest sources of energy, as a data comparison by The Economist clearly indicates.

☢️ Is nuclear energy safe or deadly?

Today's OneChart

Today’s edition is based on the excellent overview by The Economist, which compares death rates to the CO2 output of major energy sources.

The key takeaway: Despite notable disasters, nuclear power remains one of the safest sources of energy.

This is surprising given the stigma associated with the energy source.

Why is this generation-defining?

In the near future, the global energy industry will be rapidly transformed, caused, in part, by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Governments in the West are looking to end their reliance on Russian oil and gas, which is giving a boost to alternatives.

This includes nuclear power plants.

However, Germany, alongside other countries, is concerned about another disaster, such as Chernobyl or Fukushima.

But even when considering these disasters, nuclear power is safe, given that:

  • A terawatt-hour (TWh) of electricity from nuclear energy is associated with 0.03 deaths. This includes indirect deaths from disasters and workplace accidents at the power plants.
  • Nuclear power is safer than wind energy, which is associated with 0.04 deaths per TWh, mostly from accidents during the installation process, drownings on offshore sites, and helicopter collisions with turbines.
  • Only solar energy is less deadly than nuclear energy while coal is the deadliest because of the air pollution it causes: one TWh is linked to 24.6 deaths.

With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that a few select countries, such as China, have decided to pursue nuclear power to fuel their nations.

Meanwhile, Germany’s hesitancy to support nuclear power might be illogical, given the aforementioned statistics.

PS: The storage of nuclear waste remains controversial, a matter of concern that isn’t fully considered in the above data charts as the long-term consequences remain unclear.

PPS: Fun fact, NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have given three companies $5 million each to make it possible to put nuclear power on the moon by 2031—and potentially provide future Mars colonists with tons of reliable electricity.