Clean Power

Published on March 26th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Nuclear Power Going Down — More Facts (& VIDEO)

March 26th, 2012 by  


Piggy-backing on the news today that Japan has just shut down its second-to-last nuclear reactor and that France still subsidies nuclear power to get it down to the price of consumer electricity, here are some rather interesting nuclear versus renewable facts (shared by a reader):

“… between 2004 and 2011, more nuclear-power capacity was decommissioned worldwide than was installed. Last year alone, the world installed 50 percent more new wind-power capacity (41.2 gigawatts) than all new nuclear capacity installed from 2002 to 2011 (27.3 GW). In terms of electricity production, the wind-power industry has installed the equivalent of 1.3 nuclear reactors per month over the past three years.” (emphasis added)

The European Commission projects that only 3% of all new power capacity installed from 2011 to 2020 will be from nuclear power, while it projects 71% will be from renewable energy sources.

Here are some more staggering facts (emphasis added):

In October 2011, former UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said that two-thirds of the budget for the government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, or €2.4bn a year, is spent on nuclear power. But that is a drop in the ocean compared to decommissioning costs. According to Huhne, “the provisions for nuclear decommissioning costs in total were £2m in 1970, £472m in 1980, £9.5bn in 1990, £22.5bn in 2000, and now, £53.7bn. When nuclear power was held up to the cold, hard light of the market, it proved to be uneconomic.”

Wind power has received a fraction of the financial support that nuclear energy has received – and yet wind can provide electricity at less than half the cost of new nuclear-power plants. According to the European Environment Agency, 80 percent of the total energy subsidies in the European Union is paid to fossil fuels and nuclear energy, while 19 percent goes to renewables. Moreover, wind energy has zero fuel costs, minimal waste-disposal and decommissioning costs, and a tiny fraction of nuclear power’s risk to human health or the environment.

Makes me think of the video at the top of the page, shared back in February.

Source: European CEO

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • We have many of the same type of reactors as Fukushima. They had a world class safety program and their reactors melted down and caused a huge mess. To think that it can’t happen to us is rediculous. You always think it can’t happen to me until it does.

  • Edward Kerr

    I agree with Bob. The idea that nuclear energy is anything but a monster that will bite us on the ocks is short sighted, and IMHO stupid. The externalities far outweigh any amount of power generated. If a wind turbine “fails”, so what. When a nuclear plant suffers a meltdown, NOT so what. Smell the coffee dude.

  • lftrsuk

    It’s so wierd that renewables’ supporters can distort logic to ‘prove’ their case whilst taking part in a sublime example of the concept of perverse unintended consequences. All that’s needed is a little common sense when looking at a monster wind turbine and knowing, at the back of your mind, how pathetic its capacity factor is. You’re intent on running us into the bufferes 54 X faster than necessary:

    • sambar

      Huh? Wind power is cheaper and better. Fact. That’s logic.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I took a quick look at your linked site and I think I might understand why you are so upset with wind generation.

      You’re paying attention to capacity factor as if it meant something important. It doesn’t.

      What is important is price of electricity produced + externalities.

      Wind is cheap. About $0.05/kWh. And there are few external costs to add on. Yes, some people don’t like the looks of wind turbines and a few birds and bats are killed by turbines.

      Realistically fewer birds are killed per kWh than with coal and nuclear. Bats, a minor problem with solutions underway.

      Capacity – it doesn’t matter how much capacity a generation source has. A technology with a 1% capacity factor that produces $0.05/kWh power is better than a technology with a 100% capacity that produces power at $1/kWh.

      Aesthetics – we’d all love an invisible dragon that we could plug our grid into and get our power. But we haven’t found one of those. So we have to choose among the options we have.

      I think wind turbines are absolutely beautiful as compared to open pit coal mines, mountains with their tops blown off, nuclear reactors, uranium mines, trains full of coal, slag heaps, ….

    • LOL

      Thorium is still a backward (if potentially safer than uranium) step. Wind/solar/tidal: all of these are gaining energy from energy, thorium is still utlising matter to produce energy. It’s regressive technology.

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