Why would we build any more nuclear power plants?

A lot of people, including John McCain, think nuclear power is the best solution to the US’s energy problems.

However, the cost of nuclear power has been skyrocketting. From 2000 through October 2007, nuclear power plant construction costs — mainly materials, labor and engineering — have gone up 185%.

Last November, Nuclear Engineering International ran a story entitled ‘For some utilities, the capital costs of a new nuclear power plant are prohibitive.’

Duke Energy won’t even reveal the cost estimate for a proposed nuclear plant in the Carolinas because it’s so high.

According to some analysts, a reasonable estimate for levelized cost range of nuclear power is 12 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour lifetime. The California Public Utilities Commission estimates new nuclear plants would cost 15 cents per kWh before transmission and delivery costs.

In comparison, the same commission puts the current cost of concentrated solar thermal at 13 cents per kWh. And the cost could drop by as much as 20% within the next 10 years as the technology improves. And concentrated solar thermal has storage capacity, which means it can follow power demand, unlike nuclear, which produces constant energy output.

Jigar Shah, chief strategy officer of SunEdison, said he could guarantee delivery to Florida of more power with solar photovoltaics — including energy storage so the power was not intermittent — for less money than the nuke plants being constructed there cost.

According to the Bush Energy Department, Americans could get 300 gigawatts of wind by 2030 at a cost of 6 to 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, including the cost of transmission to access existing power lines.

And the risk of nuclear construction projects going into default and costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars is very high.

So why should we build any more nuclear power plants when they’re more expensive, more risky, and not as clean as renewables like wind and solar thermal?
Cactus Jack – nuclear receives far more subsidies than renewables.
Bob – nuclear plants take far longer to build than renewable energy plants.
eric c – the IPCC advocates a 2% increase in nuclear vs. a 15% increase in renewable energy by 2030.



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