Friday, July 21, 2006

Why Nuclear Power ?

To understand how Nuclear Power Helps to Combat Global Warming, one must first understand Why Nuclear Power ?

The short answer to that is: Nuclear Power is cheap, safe, reliable and environment friendly. How come, then, that not all electricity is generated from nuclear energy ?
It is a long story; it began during the Second World War.
But let us first discuss the first and probably the most important question: the cost of generating nuclear electricity.

Well, is nuclear power really cheap ?
Yes, and ...... No. Yes, if what you mean by cost is the electricity generating cost, that is the total of three components of costs, namely, (1) capital costs, (2) operating and maintenance costs, and (3) fuelling costs. Comparing the generating costs of nuclear power with those costs from fossil-fuel plants (coal-, gas- or oil-fired plants), nuclear power have higher capital costs but have much lower fuelling costs. But the total generating costs of nuclear electricity is lower than those from fossil-fuel plants. Especially nowadays with oil at around $70/bbl and gas at more than $6/MMBtu.
But the initial costs of building new nuclear power plants are much higher than building fossil fuel power plants: gas-fired combined cycle plants are the cheapest and quickest to build.

The costs of generating electricity from three different energy sources have been estimated by the OECD/NEA through studies published in 2005. A summary of results follows:

Some comparative electricity generating cost projections for year 2010 on

nuclear coal gas
Finland 2.76 3.64 -
France 2.54 3.33 3.92
Germany 2.86 3.52 4.90
Switzerland 2.88 - 4.36
Netherlands 3.58 - 6.04
Czech Rep 2.30 2.94 4.97
Slovakia 3.13 4.78 5.59
Romania 3.06 4.55 -
Japan 4.80 4.95 5.21
Korea 2.34 2.16 4.65
USA 3.01 2.71 4.67
Canada 2.60 3.11 4.00
US 2003 cents/kWh, Discount rate 5%, 40 year lifetime, 85% load factor.
Source: OECD/IEA NEA 2005.
At 5% discount rate nuclear, coal and gas costs are as shown above and wind is around 8 cents. Nuclear costs were highest by far in Japan. Nuclear is comfortably cheaper than coal in seven of ten countries, and cheaper than gas in all but one. At 10% discount rate nuclear ranged 3-5 cents/kWh (except Japan: near 7 cents, and Netherlands), and capital becomes 70% of power cost, instead of the 50% with 5% discount rate. Here, nuclear is again cheaper than coal in seven
of ten countries, and cheaper than gas in all but two. Among the technologies analysed for the report, the new EPR if built in Germany would deliver power at about 2.38 c/kWh - the lowest cost of any plant in the study.

The above table and its explanation is taken from an article available at the website of the World Nuclear Association entitled "The Economics of Nuclear Power".


Post a Comment

<< Home