Possible terrorism pushes cost of nuclear engery up

There has been no detailed assessment in Australia of the costs of nuclear generation, notes The Age (29 May 2006, p.B6).

Coal not cheap if carbon costs included: Australia benefits from cheap coal, which at present provides a long-run average generation cost of about $40/MWh. Adding carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities would increase that cost to nearly $100, although this may fall to about $70 as CCS technology improves.

Nuclear looks good if US claims can be believed: The costs of most renewables remain high, with wind at about $80 per MWh. The main costs of a nuclear plant lie in its construction, although new reactor designs have significantly reduced these costs in recent years. In the US, the long-run average costs of a new Westinghouse 1100MW nuclear reactor are stated to be under $US35 a MWh (about $A46).

Decommissioning included? This is said to include all costs, including waste disposal and decommissioning. In a carbon-constrained world, this will represent cheap electricity.

Terrorism the real worry: The contemporary problems with nuclear energy have little to do with operational safety. Rather, the main concerns relate to terrorism, namely possible attacks on nuclear generators or on waste transportation. These issues would clearly need to be dealt with.

The Age, 29/5/2006, p. B6

Source: Erisk Net  


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