There's a New Drive for Nuclear Power, But It's Still a Financial Dead End

nuclear power plant photo

photo: morisius cosmonaut via flickr.

DC has been just showering love on nuclear power these days, and there's been some on TreeHugger as well, but as recent articles over at Mother Jones and on Climate Progress point out, the increasing costs of and delays in actually building even a a couple new nuclear plants make the whole prospect a lot less attractive:Check out this analysis from the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School:

It would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors that it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables...[and that] the likely cost of electricity for a new generation of nuclear reactors would be 12-20 cents per kilowatts hour, considerably more than the average cost of increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energies at 6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Also consider that of the 19 applications received by the DOE for loan guarantees, only four were considered even partially promising, with the Congressional Budget Office considering "the risk of default on such a loan guarantee to be very high--well above 50 percent."

Then, as Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard reminds us,

There will be no nuclear renaissance unless the US taxpayer covers the tab. While the country's 104 nuclear power plants currently produce nearly 20 percent of American electricity, growth has flatlined in the past three decades. Even as public opinion toward nuclear power has warmed, projected construction costs for new plants have soared, with a single reactor now estimated to cost as much as $12 billion. In fact, the outlook for nuclear plants looks so dire that even Wall Street banks have balked at financing them unless the government underwrites the deal.

Oh, and did I mention that job creation for nuclear power pales in comparison to renewables: Slightly over 4 jobs per $1 million in investment for nukes versus nearly 17 jobs for the equivalent investment in wind or solar power.

Nuclear Power
Business Roundtable: We Can't Get There Without Nuclear - An Emissions-Free Path to Greater Sustainability
Nuclear Power "Economics Are Just Not There": Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute
25 Percent of US Nuclear Power Plants Are Leaking Radioactive Chemicals
Ask Pablo: Is Nuclear Power Really "Carbon Neutral"?

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