Nuclear Energy More Expensive Than Some Clean Power, Study Says

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Growing support for nuclear energy in the U.S. has hinged on three key arguments in recent years: It offers a carbon-free alternative to coal; a domestic alternative to petroleum; and a supposedly cheaper, more reliable alternative to renewable sources like wind and solar. But according to a new analysis from Climate Progress, existing nuclear power plant technology can generate electricity at no less than $0.25 to $0.30 per kilowatt-hour (including fuel and O&M, excluding distribution) for the first year of operation.

Costs would drop slightly in following years, but that’s triple today’s average utility rate, about 10 times the estimated per-kilowatt-hour cost of efficiency-boosting measures, and more than some generation costs for existing renewable energy technologies.

As a result of the research, Climate Progress, which is published by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said it may nix nuclear energy from the 14 “stabilization wedges” included in its proposed climate change response. The current list suggests 700 gigawatts of nuclear energy plus radioactive waste storage capacity equivalent to 10 Yucca mountains.


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