In comparison to conventional thermal power plants, the impact of nuclear power plants on the environment is exceptionally small. Nuclear power plants do not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and therefore do not contribute to global warming via the greenhouse effect. Calculations show that the use of nuclear energy means that Europe emits approximately 800 million tonnes of CO2 a year less than it would otherwise. To achieve an equivalent saving, we would need to remove 200 million cars from our roads.
Radioactivity and radiation
Every inhabitant of the planet Earth is exposed to radiation. Natural radiation is caused by radioactive minerals and radiation that comes from space. Among artificial sources of radiation are the operation of nuclear power plants, and the use of radioactive sources in medicine, industry and R&D.
Radiation from nuclear power plants is 1000 times less than the level of radiation from natural sources. Strict safety measures are in place at the power plant to ensure radiation protection. In the case of an accident at NEK, a series of physical barriers would prevent the escape of radioactive substances into the environment.
NEK’s impacts on the environment include an increase in the temperature of the River Sava water by a few degrees. Water from the Sava cools the steam in the condenser and turns it back into water, which the pumps send back to the steam generator. Because of the nature of the physical process it is not possible to use all the heat in the conversion of thermal energy to electrical energy. Thus part of this heat finds its way to the Sava in the form of heated water.