Steve Kidd: It is generally accepted that the prime problem affecting nuclear power today is an economic one. On the one hand, there are very few reactors under construction in the developed world on account of the high and escalating costs of constructing large reactors and the consequent difficulties of financing them. On the other, stiffer competition from gas-fired generating units and rising renewable shares of power generation are threatening many of the nuclear stations already in operation, despite their established record of achieving low and stable operating costs. The difficulty of reaching the Final Investment Decision at the Hinkley Point C project in the UK highlights the former. Even when a supposedly liberalised power market is “adapted” to favour investment in a carbon-friendly large scale and mature technology, the magnitude of the required finance, the long timescales and the obvious risks of schedule overruns make it very difficult to secure the funds needed to go ahead. The revenue from the project may be guaranteed by the state (attracting criticism from those that argue that both energy security and lower carbon emissions can be achieved by a combination of more gas-fired power and renewables) but that may not be enough if costs are high and threaten to run out of control.
Nuclear Engineering International 11th Nov 2016 read more »