Carbon Footprint

Square Footprint

Smoke Stack 400
Clouds 400

13 kg CO2e / MWh

140 ft2 /
MWh

Carbon Footprint

Square Footprint

Smoke Stack 800
Clouds 800

13 kg CO2e / MWh

140 ft2 / MWh

If the average US home's annual electricity (10.715 MWh) was powered by nuclear, it would use:

16.4

Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent

139.3

kg CO2e
If the average US home's annual electricity (10.72 MWh) was powered by nuclear, it would use:

16.4

Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent

139.3

kg CO2e

The Carbon Footprint of nuclear power is 13 kg CO2e per Megawatt Hour (MWh). The greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power are 37.4 times lower than natural gas.

If the average US home's annual electricity (10.72 MWh) was powered by nuclear for 100 years, you would use:

10.4

Parking Spaces Equivalent

1,500

ft2
Parking Spaces 800
If the average US home's annual electricity (10.72 MWh) was powered by nuclear for 100 years, it would use:

10.4

Parking Spaces Equivalent

1,500

ft2

The Square Footprint of nuclear power is 140 ft2 per Megawatt Hour over 100 years. The land use of nuclear power is 6.0 times lower than natural gas.

Data and Assumptions

Carbon Footprint:

  • Lifecycle Carbon Footprint of Nuclear Power is based on NREL (2021). Median value of 13 g CO2e / kWh is based on a harmonized value from 27 studies with 99 unique values. This value is combined for light water reactors, which represent approximately 80% of all nuclear reactors in operation (World Nuclear Association, 2022).
  • Lifecycle Carbon Footprint of Natural Gas based on NREL (2021). Median value of 486 g CO2e / kWh is based on a harmonized value from 58 studies with 93 unique values.

 

Land Use:

  • Square Footprint of Natural Gas based on Trainor et al. (2016). Study reports a land occupation of 0.13 km2 / TWh / yr (0.13 m2 / MWh/ yr) for nuclear power, which includes mining, waste storage, and power plant area. Based on this value, the Square Footprint of Nuclear Power, is 1.40 ft2 / MWh / yr. The annual value is multiplied by 100 to obtain the 100 year land use of continued extraction of uranium and waste storage. The 100-year Square Footprint is 140 ft2 / MWh (13.0 m2 / MWh).
  • Square Footprint of Natural Gas based on Trainor et al. (2016). The combined land use factor is 0.79 km2 / TWh (0.79 m2 / MWh), which equals 78.6 m2 / MWh over 100 years, or 845.5 ft2 / MWh over 100 years. Land use varies by the method of natural gas extraction. See the Natural Gas Power Carbon Footprint & Environmental Impact page for the assumptions made.
  • Square Footprint of a Parking Space is 144 ft2, based on the average dimensions stated by Franklin Street (2019).
 
General Assumption:
  • Average 2020 US Household annual electricity of 10,715 kWh is based on EIA (2021A).
  • Carbon Footprint of gasoline is 8.50 kg CO2e / gallon, based on EIA (2021B).

References

EIA: US Energy Information Administration. (2021A). How Much Electricity Does an American Home Use?. See Link to Source

EIA: US Energy Information Administration. (November 18, 2021B). Carbon Dioxide Emissions Coefficients by Fuel. See Link to Source

Franklin Street. (May 23, 2019). How Large is a Parking Space? See Link to Source

NREL: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2021). Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization. See Link to Source

Trainor, A. M., McDonald, R. I., & Fargione, J. (2016). Energy sprawl is the largest driver of land use change in United States. PloS one, 11(9), e0162269.
 

World Nuclear Association. (2022). Are there different types of nuclear reactors? See Link to Source