The Myth Of Expensive Nuclear Power

The Myth Of Expensive Nuclear Power

(oilprice.com) Lovering, Yip and Nordhaus (Science Direct April 2016) reviewed construction cost data for 349 reactors in the U.S., France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58 percent of all reactors built globally, and concluded that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology. There is however a vast variation in construction costs from one country to another. Some countries like the U.S., Canada, Japan and W Germany responded to the Three Mile Island accident by imposing regulations that pushed construction costs through the roof, while France, S Korea and India did not. S Korea and India are still able to deliver nuclear power stations for $2 billion / GW ($2010) installed capacity which remains a small fraction of the capital cost of solar PV.

About half way down the list of articles in Blowout Week 113 was an abstract from a just-published paper entitled Historical construction costs of global nuclear power reactors , authored by Lovering, Yip and Nordhaus (hereafter LYN). It contains some interesting data which are worth summarizing in a post.

LYN reviewed cost data for “349 reactors in the U.S., France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58 percent of all reactors built globally”, and concluded that “there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology”. Their results, however, allow us to deduce a little more than that, and here we will review them, starting with LYP’s Figure 12, reproduced below as Figure 1: (Click to enlarge) Figure 1: Overnight construction costs of global nuclear reactors

It plots overnight construction cost in 2010 U.S. dollars against the date of construction start for all 349 reactors in the seven countries. The most prominent feature is the cluster of blue points that extends skywards after about 1970. These are the U.S. reactors that had the misfortune of being under construction at the time of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. What happened in other countries is a little harder to see and we will look into it shortly, but first, what is overnight construction cost? I quote from […]

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