1. This is an interesting turn of argument. Previously it has been all about the “apocalyptic” environment and health effects of Nuclear Power, but now they are going after the economic side of the argument with more vigour.

    I’ve noticed in Australia that a Uranium mine in WA received both State and Federal environmental approval (Radiation and Nuclear activities require both parliaments to approve the actions i.e. mining) and the argument once that occurred shifted to attacking the investors with the argument “Uranium is a poor investment”. It appeared that once ‘right winged’ and ‘left winged’ parliaments both approved it they had nothing to stand on from a health or environmental level. Even the local Green Party changed tack to attack the investors.

    1. People are starting to see that Japan is not a wasteland, and the seas have not in fact boiled and California has not started to produce mutant babies.

      When the Spent Fuel pool is emptied with no impact on anything their last DOOOOOM Scenario will be gone, so the need a plan B.

      And honestly it’s probably a better plan than the Fear Monger plan, because if there is one thing that most North Americans seem to understand less than Radiation it’s economics!

      Tell some one that their Great Great Great Grandchild might have a 0.000007% chance of getting cancer, people go meh… tell them their electric bill will go up $5 and they grab their pitch forks.

  2. Stone is doing a good job again. He gives all of us strategic information here:

    the younger generations are not afraid of nuclear.

    They grew up fearing climate change and nuclear power is part of the solution.

    1. They grew up fearing climate change and nuclear power is part of the solution.

      You’re good, but I’m afraid that’s not really so. If it was we’d have a hell of a lot more support everywhere and from youth pop icons as well. Plus Greenpeace would be scrambling to rope youth in from a nuclear competition. No one our side is seriously selling.

    2. I don’t notice that the younger generation is less afraid. Almost 100% of ‘youngsters’ I talk to about nuclear energy believe in some variation of the myth that nuclear energy is essentially all about “small risk but with catastrophic consequences” and that this is the inherent (!) reason that nuclear energy cannot ever be classified as ‘green’. This quite apart from the other myths that are alive and kicking, such as “uranium is a limited resource” and “nuclear power means nuclear weapons” and “there is no solution to the waste”

      I note this because I think it is premature to think that the younger generation has not generally been infected by the fear mongering claptrap about nuclear power that their parents were inundated with decades ago.

      Pro-nuclear activists still have a lot of work to do to dispell myths, also among youngsters, although I agree that youngster are far, far more likely to accept accurate and reliable information about nuclear energy then the older generation. Many youngsters I meet become pro-nukes (or at least ‘agnostics’), within a matter of minutes of speaking to them, while many of the older, hardened anti-nukes display the most grotesque levels of denialism imaginable, which is rabidly impervious to even the most clear, scientific information that I can offer them.

  3. There’s a bit a story echoing around the internet that new PV plants > 10 MW in Germany now get no FiT payment at all and must sell at market price. This is purported to show that PV can exist without subsidy and nuclear can’t.

    The reality seems to be that not one such PV plant is under construction or proposed as they could not possibly turn a profit. Which sort of kills the claim stone dead.

    1. It doesn’t “seem to be”. You can check directly on this site site, it’s the excel data in the “Meldungen xxxx” files :

      This regulation was supposed to apply after September 2012, the rush for larger than 10 MW units to apply in time explains that that month had an exceptionally large installation number at 980 MW. A few units had an extra delay to be registered in October, but they are the very last units of that size that appear in the data.

      Now the FIT for above 1 MW has became so low, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d also become very rare. They’re still 120 MW of last month’s 290 MW. At the current speed installations for 2013 will be slightly above 3.5 GW, which is half of 2012, so we won’t see again solar make the kind of progress it was doing in the previews years.

      1. It fits with the target to ‘democratize’ energy.

        And without FiT for >10MW units, they still will reach the target of 2.5-3.5GW new installed solar.
        Good chance that >1MW units will also get no FiT somewhere next year.

        1. As has been remarked a number of years years ago by I (unfortunately) can’t remember who: the solar PV systems that are built in Germany during this phase of the energiewende will also be the last solar panels ever built in that country. After this phase is gone through and the current generation of solar panels is finally scrapped after their technical lives are finished in a few years or decades, they will never be replaced. Even if solar PV remains part of the European energy mix, they will all be built in the southern EU countries which get far more sunshine. Germany will be free of solar energy by 2050, assuming that the EU electricity market is successfully integrated and enrivonmental policy is rationalized and optimized across member states.

          Germany’s triumph has been to stimulate the mass production of solar PV, which has demonstrated that the inexorbitant cost of solar PV can actually be reduced to merely very high cost. The current massive installation of solar PV in Germany has no other purpose and will become a footnote in history.

  4. Rod you need to stop quoting nonsense from the EIA. As a part of the Obama administration its just another tool of Big which uses unstated and whacky assumptions to inflate nuclear capital costs and deflate wind solar numbers.

    SCANA’s real numbers, sworn under oath under penalty of perjury for a real nuke build by an extremely inefficient American private utility now under way in S Carolina at twice the cost of similar units in China, puts paid to EIA nonsense.

    “Why Nuclear?” If you look at the chart at the top right of the slide below, SCANA provided their all-in cost estimates for nuclear ($76/MWh), natural gas ($81/MWh), coal ($117/MWh), offshore wind ($292/MWh) and solar ($437/MWh). For them, “new nuclear continues to be the low cost alternativ”


    Built by an efficient public utility like TVA with its much lower cost of money that $76 drops to $40. Note that based on Ontario’s experience with wind and solar, you’d have to add at least another $35/MWh to wind and solar to cover the cost of gas backup, offpeak dumping, and 7 times sized transmission plant.

    1. SCANA’s real numbers, sworn under oath under penalty of perjury for a real nuke build by an extremely inefficient American private utility now under way in S Carolina at twice the cost of similar units in China, puts paid to EIA nonsense.

      Do you have such real numbers (“sworn under oath under penalty of perjury”).

      You have linked to an investor presentation that contains the following caveats: “Readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, and that actual results could differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements.” And more …

      It seems unlikely to me that SCANA could justify in a more concrete and thorough presentation “to their regulator” any future cost estimates for new nuclear that could significant beat those offered by estimates by the utility industry (a year earlier), or by other companies with a greater experience that SCANA owning and operating nuclear plants (from the same year). “New wind, new nuclear, solar and clean coal all cost over $100 per MWh when you take into account the capacity factors, supply back up and so forth.” I know of many other scientific studies showing the same, I thought these industry related estimates were worth citing here.

      I’d be curious to see these numbers (and look at them more closely) if you can provide them?

  5. Other points:
    1. While the UK strike price for nuclear is £92.50, for solar the UK strike price is £125/MWh. Solar is scheduled to decline, but it will not reach the nuclear level on the current schedule, which lasts for 35 years.
    2. The EIA’s levelized cost calculations are dodgy, because they fail to account for the differences in plant lifetimes for various generation technologies. Instead, EIA simply assumes 30 years for every technology. This unfairly inflates the cost of long-lived powerplants (like hydro and nuclear) while unfairly lowballing the price for short-lifetime powerplants (particularly wind, perhaps solar).

    1. Yeah, a nuke plant will last 60 years easy, maybe even 80 years in future designs. Coal and NG plants can last 40-50, and Hydro plants over 100 years… Wind turbines have a hard time lasting 15 years and Solar panels last ~25 with a 0.5% loss in capacity every year during that time.

  6. Another point to make in nuclear power’s favor is its longevity. Nuclear power plants typically have operated 40 years, with extensions to operate for another 20 years. I do not believe that I’ve seen anyone claim that solar power will last anywhere near as long; I think the photovoltaic panels deteriorate (producing less power as years go by) and have to be replaced. Note: I do not consider the PV panels to fall under the O&M category.

      1. Sure, you basically melt down the panel into its constituent parts and reuse them as basic ingredients or sell them off.

    1. I do not believe that I’ve seen anyone claim that solar power will last anywhere near as long …

      Solana generating station (CSP) just went on-line (here): 280 MW (250 MW turbine capacity), six hour molten salt storage, 30 year operating lifetime, and 41% CF. They have a 30 year power purchase price of 14 cents/kWh.

      Solar PV is typically given a 25 year operating life (with warrantees in many cases to back it up).

      1. Solana generating station (CSP) just went on-line … 41% CF.

        EL – Don’t sell the plant short. I’m sure that it can do much better than 41% by kicking in its natural gas backup.

    2. @Jim L.
      do not believe that I’ve seen anyone claim that solar power will last anywhere near as long;
      PV-solar panels have no moving parts. So good watertight panels with corrosion resistant materials will last a century. Hence you see guarantees of 25 years (also regarding the yield: more than 85% after 25years, refer to Sunpower).

      NPP’s need major overhauls, lot of maintenance, operating staff, new fuel.
      Solar does not. Only ~ once a year cleaning the surface is handy as it improves production. Big solar farms have an automatic tool for that.

      While the technical life span is superior to nuclear, the economic life span is much shorter. Because within 25 years new panels will produce ~2times more per m2 while costing far less. So it will then become economic beneficial to replace.

      1. The sealants and some other materials in PV panels degrade under light and heat, react with the cells and interconnections, and slowly leak water which does the same to all of the above.  NPPs are good for 4-6 decades or more because they CAN BE maintained; PV panels cannot.

  7. Keith is correct, it’s very hard to compare real *lifetime* costs on the finances of nuclear and solar because they are different products. If solar PV has to be replaced every 20 years (does anyone have the numbers on this) then PV vs Gen III nuclear is 3 times as costly.

    Rod point out correctly, that even the “products” be offered are different. Here in CAISO (California ISO jurisdiction or about 75% of the generation) country, we call those “services”. The main service is dispatchable power. This also includes load following where the generators respond directly to the speed of the system (determined by load) as well as power fact/VAR control over the grid. And, not to mention, minimum load capability, very important where their are ‘reliability must run’ (RMR) plants. None of these services are part of the wind and solar portfolio except for the most expensive of them, CSP with some heat storage.

    Basically, solar and wind represent the 7-11 of energy services and nuclear represents the Costco. All those services are worth a lot of money because they are necessary for the grid to function on a 24/7 basis.

    David Walters

    1. Thanks, David. The rather shocking truth is that even without considering plant lifetime, solar is about 3x more expensive than Gen III nuclear. Consider this recent solar installation in Massachusetts: a pre-subsidy capital cost of $17,264 for 4.16 KW nameplate power, in a region where the NREL shows 5 to 5.5 KWh/m²/day. Since a “perfect” square meter gets 1 KW, that implies a capacity factor of 22% at this location. So, $17264/4160/.219 = $18.97 Capital cost per Watt.

      Meanwhile, the four AP1000 (Gen III) units under construction at Vogtle ($15 billion for two) and VC Summer ($9.8 billion for two) will probably average 90% of their 1117 MW capacity, in line with existing US nuclear units. So (computing in billions) $24.8/4.468/.9 = $6.17 Capital cost per Watt. So that’s a factor of 3, not counting the nearly factor-of-two on longevity.

      Clearly Birch is living in Fantasyland. Meanwhile, reasonably good LCOE measures can be found on Open Energy Information’s Transparent Cost Database: http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/ … where solar is 5 times the cost of nuclear.

    2. “Basically, solar and wind represent the 7-11 of energy services and nuclear represents the Costco”

      Not really IMHO.. Wind and solar would be more like an Ice Cream truck; You never know when it’s going to come and what it does sell is mostly junk.

        1. And we have to stop referring to methane as clean gas or natural gas.

          Methane is methane. It comes out of a cow’s orifice.

  8. Well, he’s technically right if you’re going by nameplate capacity… Solar is about $2-3 per watt compared with $4-7 for nuclear…

    …Of course a nuclear power plant with a 60 year life and a 90% capacity factor will produce about 15 times as much electricity over it’s lifetime as a solar plant with a 25 year life and a 15% CF. So in reality Solar capital costs are 7x as much as nuclear, lets not mention that the reliable power that a NPP produces is more valuable than the grid-destabilizing junk energy that renewables produce.

    1. Solar is about $2-3 per watt compared with $4-7 for nuclear

      “Solar panel prices have fallen 57 percent since the start of 2011 to about 86 cents a watt [$143 per MWh] as of Nov. 4, according to data compiled by Bloomberg … Nuclear costs about $101 and natural gas $70, by comparison.”

      For other reasons … the article also deserves a much closer look. It details an unconventional alliance between Tea Party groups in Georgia with Sierra Club (in favor of solar and against nuclear). What’s driving such an “unholy alignment”: CWIP surcharges on Georgia utility bills for electricity deliveries in 2017 and 2018, low market competition, citizen owned generation, anti-big government ideology, state regs banning 3rd parties owning rooftop panels, and more. Republican groups appear to be re-discovering their long lost relationship with conservationist wing of the party (a la Roosevelt and Nixon).

      Expect campaign dollars to flow from likes of newly minted solar billionaires (competing with Koch Brothers and their ilk). “”Utilities have had their heads in the ground for so long they didn’t notice that … [solar has] become cheap enough to compete with them,'” (says Tom Morrissey, former head of Arizona Republican Party).

      1. Yes, there’s clearly a link between environment conservationism and political conservationism, people who are against any change, who idealize the past, who don’t care what effect their politic has on the poorest, who have no concern about increasing wealth creation, and never consider that it’s needed or else none will be available for the poorer part of society.

      2. Everybody knows panel prices are under a dollar a watt. but add land acquisition, inverters, wires, mounts, and it rises to $2-3 for a total system cost.

        1. By the same token, the RV, fuel, SGs, loop piping, RCPs, and Turbine Generator are under $1B for an AP1000. As such, nuclear is around 86 cents/watt!

  9. Rod, you made a mistake in the text, as I discussed earlier the value for all strike prices is scheduled to rise with inflation. However it’s also the case for renewable.

  10. @jmdesp

    FIT price (or strike price) for Hinkley rises with CPI (indexed to inflation). Strike price for renewables in many instances are designed on degression basis (meaning it declines over time).

      1. Rod
        That differs per country.
        All far as I know all countries declined FiT’s for wind & solar in the last 5year, with few exceptions only such as NL.

        In NL PV-solar owner gets same price as he pays for electricity (now ~22ct/KWh for consumers) until the feed-in total is 5000KWh in a year. All more depends on the utility you choosed. Some pay near zero for the extra KWh, a few continue to buy it at nearly the same rate.

        I expect that when solar becomes substantial in NL, the rule will change (no guarantee how long present rule continues). So then it may go down for all installed PV-panels towards whole-sale + a fee because of less grid needed. Or something in between.

        The Hinckley strike price inflation correction, will bring the strike price even more above whole sale market price at 2023. Which imply tax-payers will subsidize ~60-70% of the electricity Hinckley produces at the start and end subsidizing ~90%!

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