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What’s the Price of Nuclear Power? (probably higher than you think)

By Robert Peltier -- July 10, 2009

Eighteen separate plants with 28 individual utility-scale nuclear projects are working their way through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Each share a common characteristic with their operating cousins built in the 1970’s and 1980’s: their actual construction price will be far more than today’s estimates–generally between $8,000 to $10,000/kW. (And as I will explain in a separate post next week, micro nuclear, such as designed 125 MW and 335 MW models, is no panacea with cost problems associated with first generation technology.)

Hoping to reduce the rate of construction cost increases, utilities today are using lump sum pricing and standardized designs to better manage the construction and completion risks. However, nuclear fuel price uncertainty–both purchase and disposal of spent fuel costs–may also push up future operating costs. Future nuclear fuel reprocessing is the answer everywhere but the U.S.…