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Nuclear Is Not Cheaper

BY KLAUS DOHRING, THE WINDSOR STAR NOVEMBER 15, 2012

On Oct. 26, The Windsor Star reported that all of Canada’s nuclear reactors are supplying the grid. I find it interesting that it is considered newsworthy that the reactors are actually operating, reportedly for the first time all together in 20 years.

So the status of not operating is the norm, the status of actually operating is the newsworthy exception.

Let me put matters in perspective.

The article reports that New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau reactor is finally operating, for the first time since March 2008 – 4-1/2 years ago. It is three years behind schedule, which means it took three times as long as planned. It had cost overruns of $1 billion, so instead of $1.4 billion as budgeted it ended up costing $2.4 billion.

The Point Lepreau nuclear generation station has a net capacity of 635 MW. That means the $2.4 billion capital spent to have 635 MW capacity calculates to a capital invest cost of $3.78 per W.

This is a way to compare the capital investment cost for different electricity generation investments, and does not yet include the annual operating cost.

The article reports that for the first time in 17 years all of the Bruce Power Tiverton reactors are operating. So for 17 long years not all were actually operating.

Bruce Power units 1 and 2 refurbishment have cost $4.9 billion, almost double what was anticipated.

It took 15 years to complete the refurbishment – 15 long non-operating years.

Unit 1 and 2 have a combined 1.5 GW capacity. Capital invest of $4.9 billion over 1.5 GW capacity means a capital invest of $3.27 per W – again not including operating costs.

Both wind and solar capital investment costs for MW size power generation plants are at or below $ 3 per W. In particular solar PV has a very strong track record of decreasing capital investment costs. Based on today’s economics, the capital investment cost of solar PV and wind is already lower than the capital investment cost of nuclear power. It is a myth that nuclear power is cheap, it is more expensive than solar and wind power.

Nuclear power plants have high annual operating costs, Bruce Power reported $445 million in operating costs for the first 6 months of 2012 alone. The annual operating costs of a solar PV plant is negligible, and for wind farms is only fractions of the operating costs of nuclear plants.

Again, nuclear power is the far more expensive choice.

A MW size solar PV power plant can be developed and implemented in a few short years, versus up to 15 years for Bruce unit 1 and 2.

Multiple MW size solar power plants can be developed in parallel, in many suitable locations. In 2011, Germany alone added 5.9 GW of new solar PV generation capacity. Globally in 2011, 23.8 GW of solar PV capacity was newly installed.

Finally the article reports that mid-afternoon on Oct. 25, the hourly nuclear power generation in Ontario was 10,130 MW, or 10.13 GW.

Resource-poor Germany presently has 29 GW of total solar PV capacity installed, which will generate clean electricity depending on sun and weather conditions.

Mid-afternoon on Oct. 25, the solar PV actual hourly power contribution to the grid in Germany was 5 GW. (See this link for actual solar PV power generation in Germany: www. sma.de/en/company/pv-elec-tricity-produced-in-germany. html)

In conclusion, solar PV and wind power generation are the less expensive choices when compared to nuclear power.

Klaus Dohring is the president of Green Sun Rising Inc. in Windsor.