Dave Elliott: Depending on how you do the sums, in most assessments, in direct Levelised Cost of Energy terms, nuclear comes out as far more expensive than any other energy option. For example, the US National Renewable Energy Research Labs have put the cost of nuclear at about $163/MWh and wind and solar at around £40/MWh, these figures being mid range of the 2020 data from Lazard. And as their costs continue to fall, wind and solar win against all the others. But these are just the direct costs. A study by Sovacool et al adds in estimates for the additional so called ‘external’ social and environmental costs. On that basis, wind still wins overall, and does better than solar PV, but nuclear is over-taken by coal as the worst option. The rest fall somewhere in between. The JRC has now concluded that nuclear could meet the ECs ‘do no significant harm’ criteria ‘provided that all specific industrial activities in the whole nuclear fuel cycle (e.g. uranium mining, nuclear fuel fabrication, etc.) comply with the nuclear & environmental regulatory frameworks and related Technical Screening Criteria’. That might seem a little tautological or even complacent. Certainly there is no shortage of conflicting views, some stressing the opportunity cost issue- nuclear sucks funds and vital political attention away from imperative renewable investments. The debate continues.
Renew Extra 10th April 2021 read more »