Here are two studies which detail the cost of electricity from various sources of energy, one by EIA, another by EPRI.
Source: Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2010:
Here, solar is 2-3 times as expensive as Nuclear.
EPRI, Average generation technology costs, 2009.
Solar again, 2+ times as expensive as Nuclear with the cost of Nuclear only decreasing.
Both of these studies are also reflected in Update of the MIT 2003, Future of
Nuclear Power, 2009.
Generally Nuclear is more expensive than coal and oil, but obliterates solar by a massive margin. However another project,
ExternE Project series, financed by the European Union shows the monetary cost of damages to the environment, public health, occupational health, and
material damage for various electrical power sources:
External costs for electricity production in the EU (in EUR-cent per kWh**)
Hence when you factor in external damages to the environment, public health, occupational health, and material damage you get these figures:
EPRI data + ExternE external cost data:
Solar costs $233-$464 per megawatt hour depending on technology.
Coal costs $92-$262 per megawatt hour depending on external cost.
Nuclear costs $86-$91 per megawatt hour depending on external cost.
EIA data+ ExternE external cost data:
Solar costs $264-$404 per megawatt hour depending on technology.
Advanced coal costs $137-$307 per megawatt hour depending on external cost.
Nuclear costs $122-$128 per megawatt hour depending on external cost.
Please note that cheap electricity has a massively positive effect on society too thus the ExternE data is probably negated by a large extent due to
cheap electric power helping peoples lives and the economy. The EPRI report I mentioned as well as the MIT show Nuclear break even with coal and gas
at a carbon tax of $30 per ton of CO2 but again this does not include external damages. In any case, Nuclear here is once again destroying solar.
Both the EIA study and the EPRI study apply to the United States only
because Nuclear in the United States is in a significantly different
situation to what it is in say, South Korea. A different study by OECD NEA and EIA considered the various regions, all with a $30 per ton CO2 tax.
Projected Costs of Generating Electricity, © OECD, 2010.
The OP report has been debunked already on a multitude of websites, basically it uses extremely pessimistic estimates for Nuclear, and extremely
positive estimates for Solar. Furthermore it actually does not mention the total cost of the electricity, the cost for solar in the report is
the huge subsidies that solar gets. Basically what it says is, "If the government buys me solar panels, then the overall cost to me is
lower than Nuclear if I have to actually pay for it myself". In Germany and some other countries in Europe, they are actually introducing a tax on
Nuclear which in the end will help pay for solar.
So far the German government has subsidized solar to the tune of 53 billion euro to get 0.6%
of their electricity. While solar is getting better remember that for every bit of solar capacity installed, two to three times more Nuclear or wind
capacity could be installed for same amount of money. The effect of solar is entirely negative, and if were not for the government hand-outs it were
getting then it solar industry wouldn't even exist.
The problems with Nuclear are:
1.High construction costs - Nuclear plants at the moment are very large and cost a few billion dollars to build, which makes it difficult to invest in
because not many utilities have enough economic might to finance the project. Please be aware that each reactor creates a massive
power, and while construction costs are high, operating costs are low which is why you see the costs projections I linked above.
2. Long construction times - It may take a few years to get approval to build a reactor (blame the government), and then approximately five years to
build. Whipping up a few natural gas generators is much
3. High risk - regulatory turbulence, long approval time, and construction problems can cause significant delays which can dramatically increase the
price of the project. This is mitigated in some context by loan guarantees where risk is transferred to the tax payer (please be aware that to utility
has to pay it back and that renewables get these same loan guarantees). To top it off, a Nuclear plant hasn't been built in the United States for
approximately over two decades.
They mainly only apply to the United States though. France for example has built plenty of plants plants quickly, cheaply. They from from
approximately 0% Nuclear to 80% Nuclear in 20 years WHILE
they doubled their use of electricity. Today they have one of the lowest CO2
emissions per unit of electricity generated in Europe, with one of the lowest cost of electricity in Europe. They export their electricity to other
countries such as Italy, and United Kingdom. Japan, and Korea have had similar success stories with Nuclear, and it looks as if China is doing Nuclear
properly, too. My own opinion is that Nuclear is without a doubt the best
energy source on the planet, but that's for another time.
Anyway, the risks in the United States and some other countries are being countered by:
1. Smaller, mass produced and/or modular reactors that are mass produced in factories then shipped by railroad or barge.
2. Streamlining the regulatory process so projects can approve projects faster.
3. We must also wait till approximately 2015 to see if the initial few new Nuclear projects get completed on time and on budget, which has yet to be
[edit on 31/7/2010 by C0bzz]