Yesterday, we saw nuclear reactor builders AREVA citing a study that said ‘nuclear power has the smallest land-use footprint of all forms of energy generation’.

The thing is, there’s actually quite a bit of disagreement on the matter. The study ‘Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America’ isn’t the only one to examine the issue.

In his paper ‘Four Nuclear Myths’, Amory B. Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute shows that…

…windpower is far less land-intensive than nuclear power; [solar] photovoltaics spread across land [is] comparable to nuclear if mounted on the ground in average U.S. sites, but much or most of that land… can be shared with lifestock or wildlife, and PVs use no land if mounted on structures, as ~90% now are.

The paper ‘Improving the ecological footprint of nuclear energy: a risk-based lifecycle assessment approach for critical infrastructure systems’ (from the International Journal of Critical Infrastructures, Vol. 1, No. 4.) estimates that nuclear’s land-use footprint is four times higher than coal…

Specifically, a lifecycle assessment of nuclear energy production is important because it captures the release of radionuclides and other toxic materials into the environment... It is concluded that, when critical infrastructure risks are taken into consideration, the actual nuclear footprint may be significantly higher than previous footprint calculations.

Would AREVA care to cite a study taking all this into account?

(And there’s one thing that hasn’t been mentioned: energy efficiency doesn’t use any land at all.)