|Cost of Energy Technologies, 2013
|The X axis is costs in US$/MWh|
Graph Credit, World Energy Council and Bloomberg New Energy Finance
More information on
another page on this
Download the full WEC report
Note that the graph shows that solar PV costs fell substantially between 2012
and 2013; since the
compilation of this graph they have continued to fall.
Wind power costs have fallen substantially since 2013 (see the main text);
nuclear power costs have steadily increased for many years.
The graph on the right shows that in 2013 nuclear power cost more than
on-shore wind power.
At that time, as shown on the graph, nuclear power was about US$90/MWh,
on-shore wind about US$80.
(The graph also shows that the price of solar power decreased substantially
between 2012 and 2013.)
Will increased use of nuclear power substantially reduce environmental problems?
What are the ethical implications of nuclear?
If nuclear power stations were built in most of the world's countries, what
are the risks that terrorists, or irresponsible regimes, would misuse
the materials involved?
Is enough uranium available to replace the fossil fuel-powered generators
that the world currently relies on?
Is nuclear the cheapest way to reduce greenhouse emissions and the
acidification of our oceans?
Considering nuclear power station disasters such as Chernobyl and
Fukushima, how willing would people be to have a nuclear power station built nearby?
In January 2017 a
price of US$49/MWh
(Aus$65) was agreed for power from the proposed Silverton Wind Farm near
Broken Hill in New South Wales.
The cost of both wind and solar power continue to decline substantially with time.
Perhaps the most compelling demonstration by August 2017 that nuclear power was not the way of the future was the
abandonment of two part-completed nuclear power stations in South Carolina, USA, because of cost overruns and delays.
|Conventional LCOE estimates for selected technonogies
|CSIRO report "Electricity generation technology projections 2017-2050" by Jenny A Hayward and Paul W Graham, December 2017.
The report shows plainly that renewable energy is much cheaper than nuclear and new-built fossil fuel power generation with carbon capture and storage; without CCS fossil fuelled power generation is cheaper, but still more expensive than wind and solar PV.
Apart from the costs there are ethical arguments; the way nuclear power is
used at present about 1% of the available energy in the uranium is used and
the remaining 99% goes out with the waste.
Is this fair to future generations?
Also, we use the energy and leave the waste for future generations to look
Nuclear power can be used to generate electricity, and there is no
release of greenhouse gasses during the generation process, although
mining, concentrating, and refining uranium, as it is done today,
does consume large amounts of fossil fuels and produces corresponding
amounts of greenhouse carbon dioxide.
Nuclear power is not a substitute for the petroleum that is running out; it
is not suitable for powering transport except for possible use in large
We have lived with nuclear powered electricity generation since the 1950s.
So far as I know all the world's nuclear power stations have been
built at the expense of national governments and
no-one seems to know what nuclear power really costs; especially when the
costs of the whole life-cycle of nuclear power is taken into account:
mining the ore, refining and enriching the ore,
building the power station, safely storing or
disposing of the waste, and decommissioning of the power station.
The ideal power station
The ideal power station would be available all the time, would produce
low-cost emission-free electricity, and would be able to increase and
decrease its generation quickly to follow the variation in demand.
The ideal power station does not exist.
Is nuclear scalable?
Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable?,
(by Derek Abbott, School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, University
of Adelaide) provides a convincing argument that nuclear power cannot
replace fossil fuels as mankind's main source of energy.
The word nuclear has two syllables, nu-clear, 'nu' and 'clear'.
It is pronounced 'new-clear' – look at the bloody spelling;
there's nothing difficult about it!
Why would anyone pronounce it 'nuke-you-lah'?
If nuclear power was economically competitive, why do nuclear power stations have to be subsidised by tax-payers?
If it was the cheapest
option then we should be able to leave the building and running of new
nuclear power stations to private enterprise. Of course it would have to be
a whole package, part of the deal would be the locking away of appropriate
sums of money for decommissioning of reactors at the end of their useful
life and for the safe long-term storage or disposal of all radioactive
Disposal of radioactive waste, in particular, is difficult to cost because
it must ensure that the material is kept out of the active environment for
several thousand years or even more.
I strongly suspect that no company would be interested in taking full
financial responsibility for the whole life of a nuclear power station and
the waste; the
amount of money that they would have to lock away would be too large and
would make the whole operation economically unviable. If building and
running nuclear power stations is economically unviable for private
enterprise why should our governments take it on and we the tax payers foot
Private industry is willing to build sustainable power generation
facilities – wind, solar and geothermal – that are comparable
to fossil-fuelled power stations when the cost of pollution or the proper
disposal of waste is taken into consideration.
Conserving energy and using electricity more efficiently is by far
the best way that we can reduce our greenhouse impact.
What really is the attraction of nuclear power stations to Western nations?
Is it that some people short-sightedly see nuclear as a real saviour, or are
there hidden agendas?
I must admit that I don't know the whole answer, but a part of the answer seems to be that while many people realise that fossil fuels have to be phased-out they simply don't like renewable energy; they see it as a do-gooder, greeny, leftist thing.
Why build nuclear power stations that will be a great target for
bombing in any war,
and a great target for terrorist attack, if you don't need to?
What would happen to New York if a nuclear power station on its
outskirts was bombed? It would be much worse than Chernobyl and Fukushima
because of the huge number of people irradiated.