Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Almost every nuclear power plant in the US is losing money. New nuclear facilities will never be profitable says BNEF. Green Tech Media says solar in the US will equal nuclear in installed capacity by the end of this year.

Clean Power

Nuclear Power Facilities “Bleeding Cash” — Renewables To Surpass Nuclear Capacity This Year

Almost every nuclear power plant in the US is losing money. New nuclear facilities will never be profitable says BNEF. Green Tech Media says solar in the US will equal nuclear in installed capacity by the end of this year.

In June, America’s fascist #FakePresident exclaimed, “We will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector, which I’m so happy about.” Like most of the things Blowhard Donald is “so happy” about, this one is a gigantic lie. According to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released last month, more than half of all nuclear facilities in the US are “bleeding cash.”

How Bad Is It?

How bad is it? BNEF says 55% of the nuclear plants in America are costing their owners — and by extension their long-suffering ratepayers — $2.9 billion a year. Just a few weeks ago, the Financial Times observed with some bitterness, “It sometimes seems like U.S. and European nuclear companies are in competition to see which can heap greater embarrassment on their industry.” Even the facilities that aren’t losing money are staying in the black by the slimmest of margins.

nuclear power operating margins BNEF

The upshot of all this red ink is that new nuclear generating plants are completely unaffordable. In South Carolina, two utilities decided to abandon construction of two nuclear plants after spending some $9 billion. Yes, they spent $9 billion of their ratepayers’ money and then gave up. We wonder how much money their industry friends got from that pie.

The twin plants, known jointly as the V.C. Summer Nuclear project, are less than 4o% finished. They were originally expected to cost $11.5 billion and be operational in 2018, but the latest projections gave at least a 3-year delay and a total cost of $25 billion. The utilities plan to pass on some of the loss to customers by raising rates.

“The U.S. plants risk becoming an even bigger fiasco than those involving the European Pressurized Reactor at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto, Finland,” said the Financial Times. Those plants, “although years late and billions of euros over budget, at least look likely to be completed in the next couple of years.”

US Nuclear Construction Halted

Vogtle in Georgia is “the last nuclear plant under construction in the U.S.,” according to BNEF. Last March, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the project “a financial quagmire.” Last week, Bloomberg reported that the developers of the Vogtle plant, “are seeking more federal support for the project, potentially increasing a record $8.3 billion loan guarantee it has already been promised.” But it’s not clear how likely that is given Energy Secretary Rick Perry turned down a request from the South Carolina developers for $3 billion in support.

Even the Trump maladministration, which is in thrall to fossil fuel and nuclear interests, will find it hard to justify a taxpayer backed loan for a nuclear plant that is all but certain to be a money loser from the moment it is turned on, assuming that ever even happens. “Let it be written that environmentalists didn’t kill the nuclear power industry, economics did,” explains Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson in a piece headlined, “Nuclear Power As We Know It Is Finished.”

Solar Power Projections

Greentech Media draws a bright line under Trump’s lie about nuclear energy. It says by the end of 2017, solar power from photovoltaic panels could equal global nuclear capacity. That’s a major milestone. By 2022, global capacity will likely reach 871 gigawatts — more than double today’s nuclear capacity.

The latest edition of GTM’s “Global Solar Demand Monitor,” which closely tracks market-moving and market-dooming developments in countries around the world, predicts that installed solar this year will total 81 gigawatts. That’s double the amount installed in 2014 and 32 times more solar than was installed a decade ago.

GTM Solar projections

Why is solar power so dramatically outperforming nuclear? Much of it is simply about the money, of course. New solar power is vastly cheaper than new nuclear power. Solar also has a better brand. Much cheaper plus a better brand tends to lead to sales.

Data and second chart via Lazard

Painting The Full Picture

All statistics need to be fully understood to paint a true picture, of course. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there are 391.5 gigawatts of nuclear power plants operating around the world. When this year ends, there will be about 390 gigawatts of solar power around the globe, says GTM Research.

But nuclear still has a strong lead in total gigawatt-hours. Nuclear generates 2,476,671 gigawatt-hours of electricity every year, or roughly 11% of global generation. Solar only accounts for 375,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity yearly, or about 1.8% of global generation. But solar is catching up.

In 2014, the International Energy Agency looked at solar growth rates through the middle of the century. Under a high growth scenario, which is in line with current real-world numbers,  the IEA found that the world could get 16% of its electricity from solar PV by 2050 and another 11% from concentrating solar power (CSP). The combination of the two would make solar the dominant energy source globally.

The trend is clear. Nuclear is the past. Solar is the future.

Source: Think Progress

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Cruise Talks Autonomous Driving Tech, Regulations, & Auto Design

New Podcast: Battery Mineral Mining Policies & Regional Trends

Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Batteries

Under pressure from the Biden administration, LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation have resolved their long running legal battle.

Clean Power

Michelin Group is leveraging its advanced materials expertise to make a pitch for green hydrogen and fuel cells, with 24 Hours of Le Mans...

Buildings

The American Jobs Act showers the heat pump with climate action love, as part of push for building electrification.

Clean Transport

I just saw news that Volta Trucks was rolling its Volta Zero through Spain for show & tell, and it seemed like I’d been...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.