Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear power costs prohibitive

Michael Chamley, The Entrance MARCH 21, 2023

It seems any mention of cheap, clean renewables gets the dander up some areas, whether they be advocates for more coal and gas burning or, over the past two Forums, nuclear power plants.

Had Blind Freddy (hereafter “Fred”) been able to see, he could have referred his fellow acolytes to the failure of nuclear power plants at Three Mile Island in the USA, Chernobyl in the Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan, all frightful results.

However, almost as frightening is the misinformation these Forum inputs contained about the general use of nuclear power.

Firstly, generating costs: The UK has nine operational nuclear power plants, and 11,000 offshore wind turbines (not a reliable comparison place for solar).

In 2021 the cost per MW  hour for wind generation was 37 pounds (A$67); the cost to generate a MW hour of electricity using nuclear was 100 pounds (A$181).

Cost to build: The UK’s latest nuclear power plant; Hinkley Point C; remains incomplete having started construction in 2017, with completion expected (after delays) in 2028.

The cost to date has been 32.7 billion pounds (A$67B), with costs having risen from the initial cost of 22 billion pounds (A$40B).

In the UK experts on energy are saying this station will produce the most expensive UK electricity ever.

Further, there is the added necessity for the power plants to be shut down for maintenance for extended periods. sometimes one-two weeks or more, when their generating capacity is offline, much like coal and gas generators now.

Of course the letters did not include this in their analysis of “intermittency”.

Large wind/solar farms are constructed in two-three years and wind farms cost $2-4M per MW hours.

I also refer Fred to the 2021-2022 Gencost report completed by the CSIRO and AEMO.

In it they stated that wind and solar was the cheapest form of electricity generation (as anyone with rooftop PV will attest), even when taking into account costs associated with storage (batteries or pumped hydro) and related transmission upgrade costs.

The cost of nuclear power would be the most expensive form of power at $16,000 per KwH to produce (Small modular reactors SMR’s Gencost report), with wind and solar under $2000 per KwH.

One of the parties at the coming election is advocating SMR’s for a street near you.

Gencost stated of SMR’s: “Following extensive consultation with the Australian electricity industry, report findings do not see any prospect of domestic projects this decade, given the technology’s commercial immaturity and high cost.

“Future cost reductions are possible but depend on its successful commercial deployment overseas.”

By that time, Australia will be powered by renewables by a mixture of wind, solar, pumped hydro/storage, hydro electric and battery storage – all clean, all sustainable and no radioactive byproducts to dispose of.


March 21, 2023 - Posted by | business, Queensland

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