Published on March 26th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan8
Nuclear Power Too Expensive, French Court Finds
The French Court of Auditors recently found that nuclear power, which France is a leader in, costs more than what electricity consumers in the country are charged. Furthermore, the wind industry there has spoken up to point out that electricity from wind power is cheaper than from new nuclear.
Here’s more from Craig Morris of Renewables International:
The 446-page report, which is only available in French (PDF) and does not have an executive summary, was designed mainly to answer the question of whether “all costs are taken into account” in the pricing of nuclear power in France. The answer is no.
The study found that the cost of constructing a nuclear plant has risen from 1.07 million euros (adjusted for inflation as of 2010) per megawatt in 1978 at the Fessenheim plant on the border to Germany, which is the oldest nuclear reactor currently in operation in France, to 1.37 million euros per megawatt for the Civaux plant constructed in 2002, with the average cost of a megawatt of nuclear capacity for France’s current 58 reactors coming in at 1.25 million euros.
The nuclear industry must actually be looking back on 2002 nuclear costs with envy, though, as new costs due to new safety requirements enacted since the Fukushima disasters in Japan are bringing nuclear power costs to yet a higher level.
“The estimated costs for the second EPR plant currently under construction in Flamanville comes in at 3.7 million euros per megawatt; construction began in 2006 and was to be finished this year, but completion has been delayed until 2016, and costs have risen by more than 50 percent.” (emphasis added)
“Overall, the Court estimates that a megawatt-hour of nuclear power made in France costs around 49.5 euros. As French daily Figaro reported, the costs entailed for additional safety requirements in reaction to the disaster in Fukushima will probably increase that price by another 10 percent to around 54 euros. The paper also points out that the estimation of 49.5 euros is more than 10 euros greater than what the Champsaur Commission estimated a year before; based on that estimate, the price of power was set at 42 euros per megawatt-hour, roughly a sixth below the apparent actual cost estimated by the Court of Auditors.”
The European Wind Energy Association’s response? Using its cost calculator online, EWEA projects that nuclear will cost 102 euros per megawatt-hour by 2020, onshore wind only 58 euros, and offshore wind 75 euros. Perhaps France will one day find itself where Japan is, shutting down its last nuclear reactors.
France nuclear power plant photo courtesy shutterstock.