France built up nuclear power in 15 years using inflation-adjusted $330 billion to generated over 400 TWh of electricity for many decades. Global solar power only passed 400 TWh in 2017.
The first 1000 TWh of wind and solar required approximately $2.3 trillion of capital expenditure to deploy.
About three times more was spent on solar to reach the same level of power generation.
Global solar power is projected to go from 500 TWh in 2018 to about 900 TWh in 2022.
Global wind power is projected to go from 1200 TWh in 2018 to about 1600 TWh in 2022.
This will cost over $1 trillion in spending over 5 years and will add 800TWh. If France’s nuclear costs could be repeated $660 billion would add 800 TWh.
The solar and wind buildout does not include the cost of electrical grid buildout. Solar and wind farms need more new electrical grid because of the remote locations for solar and wind farms.
France builts its nuclear power in less than 15 years.
France completed construction on 76% of its current 58 reactors at an inflation-adjusted cost of $330 billion (€290 billion). The complete buildout of the 58 reactors was less €400 billion. Germany would need 50% more nuclear energy than France to completely replace all other power generation. This would cost €600 billion if Germany could match France’s build from the 1980s. Costs and safety regulations have increased even though France’s nuclear power has operated without incident for over 30 years. 80 nuclear reactors would now cost €1600 billion euros for Germany.
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52 thoughts on “France’s Nuclear Buildout Was More Cost Effective Than 2018-2022 Solar and Wind”
Compensate by overbuilding. And while batteries may have low energy density I don’t have to buy new batteries all of the time.
6-9 PM the sun is at a shallow angle where the sunlight has to cut through more atmosphere and get absorted and has less of a cross-sectional area to solar panels. Also, batteries are expensive and have a low energy density in comparison to fossil fuels.
Kimhi is like many, many others who don’t understand the business economics of power generation. Except for very few places (like Norway who gets 100% of their power from hydro, lucky them…), intermittent power sources are capital destroyers on the whole.
Unfortunately the data you quote does not paint an accurate picture. According to the Fraunhofer report, total wind and solar NET power was 157TWh in 2018 (ie what comes out of the socket). This on 660TWh of total NET power, or about 23% of total actually delivered to customers.
This is a problem, believe it or not. Why? Because the grid requires a base load capacity no matter what, ie to handle lack of sun and wind. It isn’t like the “average” sunlight will be X, therefore you can reduce baseload capacity. Sunlight will be ZERO x hrs per day and Germany isn’t big enough for there to always be reliable wind “somewhere”. So there is a requirement for investing in power turbines that are always “on”. It isn’t like you turn off a natural gas power plant on a sunny day. The turbines ALWAYS spin, consuming fuel, but maybe the power isn’t “leaving the building” as much. Therefore, if you have a base load grid that is dimensioned (and invested) to handle the 110% of the power load +/-, everything on top of this is “unnecessary”. Solar and wind acts to DEPRESS efficiency ratings of base load plants. This means significant losses in invested capital. Germany now realizes this. They have stopped permits for additional wind, and are switching lignite plants to natgas.
OK, I’ll play.
It doesn’t matter for the first 50%. We will worry about the other 50% when we reach the first 50%.
Not True. Peak demand is about 6PM-7PM during the Summer Months when the sun sets after 9 PM. Every hour that the sun shines is one hour that you don’t have to run the peakers and gas turbines. Lets say you have good sunlight from 7AM to 7PM that’s 12 hrs. You may have to run the peakers from 5AM to 7AM and from 7PM to 10PM, so that’s 5hrs. So you save more than twice the amount of energy of the peakers and save yourself a nice chunk of change.
“Germany recently increased its renewable energy goal from 55 to 65 percent by 2030 to compensate for the decommissioning of aging nuclear and coal plants. In 2018, renewable energy generated an average of 40.4 percent of the country’s electricity. Analysts are encouraged by early 2019 numbers: Solar power generation jumped 20 percent over last February, while onshore wind increased by 36 percent and offshore wind by 26 percent.”
Here is the most recent news on google search 47% for this year including nuclear.
What? No. 40%?? LOL!
According to the EU Stat “share of energy from renewable sources using data based on the final energy consumption” Germany renewables was 6.6%, EU average was 8% in 2016. That is the measure. Final consumption, and, if you are interested the EU has a definition on how they average out intermittent energy sources. As you might know, biomass (basically burning trash) is about 1/3rd of German “renewables”. Share of renewable energy based on Directive 2009/28/EC (SHARES tool).
Then, on a GROSS basis (which of course just means total power produced at source), Germany wind was 16.1% and solar 6% of total in 2017. Look it up – Bruttostromerzeugung….
Therefore, if Germany wants to build out renewables to be 50% of final consumption, they will need to spend about 8-10x the current investment and build-out. This requires of course investors willing to lose money, as the prices for wind/solar PPA are below 5% IRR. Sure, tax payers are willing to significantly increase their utility bills?
To make matters worse, Germany’s wind and solar preferentially displaces natgas in the grid, so when wind and solar can’t keep up, coal plants come to the rescue. The German energy policy has been a colossal failure.
But the actual nuclear fallout coming down over people’s heads is from the coal plants.
Noope. You need to overbuild capacity only if you promise 100% renewables. 60% is and average capacity that only sometimes surpasses 100%. Of course it has to be accompanied by building HDTV lines for that. Germany is already reaching 40% and keep moving forward yes with higher electricity bills but with very little HDTV lines and limited renewable resources.
If you care about “REAL suffering and REAL pain” then you need structure society where the cause of this “REAL suffering and REAL pain” does not conflict with business.
You will get better results than trying to convince people the consequences of nuclear fallout over their heads isnt a big deal.
You are delusional to think any rational person would choose to allow themselves to be exposed any amount cesium-137 or Strontium-90 for 1 month or 1 second. You really expect people to choose this as a possibility and you don’t expect them to think you’re mentally ill?
So what, how are you going to get all the fallout products off their property and out of their bodies? I’m assuming they will not be allowed to evacuate because that is more dangerous than the fission decay products raining down on their heads, since apparently “the overall effects are SMALL”.
I’m not saying treating people as disposable grist for the mill is right or desirable, but that’s the culture we live in.
The masses usually prefer the cheapest possible products even if it means cutting corners to save costs at the expense of the well being of those producing it.
Body counts are simply not of sufficient importance to sway business decisions. Irrationally exuberant nuclear advocates always offer body count stats by source to show nuclear tech is less risky, since the majority does not consider the occasional dead body a meaningful risk, Wind, Solar, Gas, Oil, Coal etc remains the safer option.
The interest of money goes before all other concerns.
‘Perhaps, they should sell nuclear waste at the local garden supply store.’ Funny you say that – phosphate fertiliser has a significant percentage of uranium, and a smaller one of uranium’s daughter isotopes like radium. In the past, several plants extracted the uranium, but the price of the metal is too low now, so you’d probably get more radiation from that, than if you were farming next to a reactor.
No. Saudi and UAE is down to under 1.5 cents on solar. Their (and China’s) huge facilities brings down the global average. In any case, no operator makes money at that price and so the PPAs are heavily subsidized and/or the SPV is government owned. China has now cancelled the subsidies, so we will see how much further build-out there will be. In KSA the COST is about 4 cents (ie far above the 1.5cents PRICE) because of all the cleaning and maintenance and PV replacements. KSA gets 75 sandstorms per year…..
Renewables will never reach 60-70% of power generation. For that you need to OVERBUILD capacity (given lack of affordable storage) by 6-7x (Greenpeace thinks it’s 12x, so I am being extremely generous) to account for fluctuations and lack of HVDC lines. This means at least a 2-3x higher COST of power relative to hydrocarbon and nuclear.
With 4th gen nuclear MSRs etc the cost is equivalent to combined cycle gas and then the entire renewables financial equation blows up.
Bottom line, the only way for renewables to “work” is to double or triple everyone’s utility bill, or raise taxes the equivalent amount. And this is for developed countries. Emerging markets? fuhgedaboutit.
I’m not talking about your everyday milquetoast and ignorant green, one that will sign a petition against di-hydrogen oxide.
I’m talking about the leadership that drives these people,. People like Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez. People who mean well but also have a strong agenda to drive a populist wave for own political ends – or want to ride the natural gas boom that comes on the flip-side of the renewables boom, like Robert F Kennedy.
Its a really easy thing to ride this unthinking, uncritical wave into power, hurting everyone in the process.
It also goes for those exceedingly hypocritical environmental groups like greenpeace and friends of the earth, who take donations from fossil fuel interests, bash nuclear power, and convince themselves that they are somehow fully innocent in doing so. They have the blood of millions on their hands – perhaps billions, if the dire predictions of global warming come true.
We as a species have an exceedingly difficult task in front of us. We have to convince the bulk of us that those charts of deaths per unit energy point to REAL suffering and REAL pain. And that listening to statistics is the only moral thing to do.
… in most locations.
I only add this because someone will point to locations where it DOES work, or mostly work, and leave unsaid that these are not where most power is required.
After all, if we just locate stuff where cheap renewal power is available we would do everything with hydro and geothermal.
No, they aren’t.
Oh, some of them are. Some even admit it. But most aren’t, and having the wrong idea about what people are thinking is never a good start to trying to change them. Insisting they are thinking something they are not thinking is an even worse start.
And the reason they aren’t thinking that, is that they aren’t actually going that deep into the cause and effect results of their positions.
The people I’ve spent time to debate on this, they do not go into the detailed results for a few reasons that are probably difficult for science and tech types to relate to:
I don’t agree.
The actual deaths of real people, in real life, already occuring, is far more important than the theoretical risk of maybe having to convert some area of productive land into a wild life refuge, regardless of your calculated lifetime productivity loss.
This article fails to mention that all the reactors built for 330 billion were built between 1980 and 2000. It doesn’t mention what has happened since.
France Areva designed a new generation EPR reactor for the future . The first to start construction in 2005 is the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 in Finland. It is now 11 years behind schedule and the cost is now 3 times over its original budget of 3 billion.
It gets better. IN 2007 EDF started Flamanville unit 3.and expected it to cost 3.3 billion. It is currently planted to come on line in 2020 at a cost of 10.5 billion.
One EPR was completed in China and it also was behind schedule but after 10 years it did generate power last year. The cost of that reactor is not available.
Areva went bankrupt was was purchased France government owned EDF. Many other planned EDF reactors were canceled. As of right now it doesn’t appear France can build a reactor on time at a cost France can afford.
Conversely, This are your assumption, your unproven numbers, but I am not going to ask you to write a thesis with sources and post it here.. $0.07/kW is not impressive at all even if it is true as wind and solar are getting now about $0.045/kw, globally, consistently. I haven’t said that nuclear regulations and availability of sun and wind resources are the only factors but they are important contributing factors. I haven’t said that we are ready to move to 100% renewable but even with 60-70% we can still have a stable grid and perhaps resolve the green house gas emissions from power generation.
oh jesus lord guy.
LEARN SOME BASIC RISK ASSESSMENT SKILLS and some BASIC NUMERACY. The REASON why nuclear waste is so manageable is four fold:
For #3, how small? Breast cancer in women goes up from a 12% chance (baseline) to 12.5% over a lifetime. The main problem is thyroid cancer – where the estimate is .75% raising to 1.25% for infants, but that can be mitigated by iodine pills. If they didn’t evacuate, they’d expect perhaps extra 900 deaths over the next 50 years which could be mitigated by extra cancer screening.
Compare this to the MILLIONS of deaths from particulates due to coal and natural gas, and the uncounted number of deaths from the mining and manufacturing of solar panels or wind turbines – all of which DON’T label there pollution with radioactivity – things like hydrochloric acid, silicon tetrachloride, cadmium telluride.
Again, you have to learn to think of things critically guy , before you can be taken seriously!
I did misunderstood you, I simply thought you were irrational and didn’t realize you were also delusional.
If there are defectives who believe ever increasing amounts of co2 in the atmosphere is a good thing, why not nuclear waste & ionizing radiation as well.
Try consuming a little strontium-90 or caesium-137 in ur tea every morning then tell me there is a “vastly overinflated fear of nuclear radiation”
“Several biologists have done a study on the region, and they all show that even the Chernobyl region far strips surrounding regions in terms
Perhaps, they should sell nuclear waste at the local garden supply store. Human are not plants and short lived lower order animals.
Irrelevant, no other source of energy possess the damaging potential that of Nuclear waste products in the wild. The reasons for the rules are the enormous risks, there is no cure so it 100% cannot be allowed to happen.
Peak metered demand is still in the afternoon. The RESIDUAL remaining load peak is in the evening which is what concerns the central utilities. However, the solution is likely in storage, including the use of free storage in the coming EVs.
Given that this is the first attempt at this method and the rather poor track record on forecasting costs in the industry, it’s not clear what the actual costs will be.
Yes, the original math didn’t work for me either. In addition, it’s not clear how the original analysis addressed the defense subsidies rolling into the nuclear power plants.
the problem with greens NOT supporting nuclear is that it shows them up for what most of them truly are thinking; trying to use an environmental excuse for societal control.
Its such a cliche, but hell the line of thought IS very trite – make electricity more expensive and people will use less of it. Force decentralization and large massive works programs to implement it. the green new deal in the US is heavily infected with this line of thinking, and whether or not it actually works to decrease CO2 emissions is secondary.
I truly despise it because it is SO dangerous and SO populist. Like Rumsfeld said, you go to war with the army you have not the army you want, and the ‘army that we have’ is a highly centralized grid that was designed as such over a 100 year timespan. Trying to turn that upside down is another 100 year project, if not more. We see it in the case of denmark, and the case of germany where CO2 emissions are flat despite HUGE investments in renewables. We know from the case of france that – engineering wise – that it would take 15 years to eliminate coal altogether if the greens just embraced nuclear power.
You can if you want, but life went on for the survivors after the disaster. But what you cant do is say “people’s concerns about them are invalid” while looking to make them cheap by removing all the rules established to ensure they’re safe as possible.
Cleaning up a large nuclear contaminated countryside and continuing with life as normal would be a bit more difficult in the case of nuclear reactors. That’s the difference in the danger, lots of people die all the time and it has never stopped commerce, you send your thoughts and prayers and move on back to business. Contamination of large areas that last hundred’s of years is a vastly different animal.
If the only dangers posed by nuclear reactors were some small chance of killing a few thousand people in the immediate vicinity every year, there would be no problem and we would be churning them out like hot cakes. The lives of the masses may be cheap, but the lifetime productivity loss of large areas of the countryside isn’t cheap.
I think you are deliberately misunderstanding me, and that is a REALLY depressing thought.
I am not saying there is no possibility of nuclear release. I am sincerely answering your question – there is NO NEED for ‘nuclear exclusion zones’ or any other such BS in the case of an accident. If you believed the anti-nukes, chernobyl would be a desert right now. Several biologists have done a study on the region, and they all show that even the Chernobyl region far strips surrounding regions in terms of biodiversity and in health of the surrounding ecosystem.
Why? Because the vastly overinflated fear of nuclear radiation that was successfully engineered via PR campaigns of the greens. There is a disconnect here.
Look at fukushima today – FAR more damage was done via the forced evacuation of people from the region than ever was done by the original meltdown.
If any other source of energy had to live by the same rules as nuclear power, that source of energy would cease to exist. Mining for materials for solar panels and for wind turbines regularly contaminate groundwater, natural gas, coal, and oil regularly pollute the environment. And ALL STUDIES that systematically categorize that harm of power sources (deaths/TWH) regularly place nuclear as the safest source or power by FAR. Its the irrationality – irrationality like yours – which is the true danger.
Then I suppose we should close down all hydropower, which definitely has a failure mode. Banqaio killed 26,000 people immediately and another 150K or so in the aftermath, and it wasn’t the only large failure that killed people. And in the U.S. in 2017, Oroville prompted an evacuation of 180,000 people.
It doesn’t change the fact that they are very ill-suited for base-load power, which is what nuclear is good at, so a true environmentalist should promote both.
It was the Three Mile Island experience, where there was no containment breech, that got some simpletons believing a meltdown of western reactors would never result in an uncontrolled release of radioactive material.
The Fukushima experience, where there was containment breech, showed that was wishful thinking.
The particular circumstances that triggers a failure mode is far less important than the fact the failure mode exists. If a failure mode exists, the possibility exists that sooner or later some series of unforeseen events will trigger it. That is why reactors are licensed based on how they deal with failure modes and not on the basis of if they can think of probable events that would trigger some failure. Unknown unknowns is still a thing.
Too many engage in magical thinking by pretending complex engineered constructs cant fail, while others pretend it’s about the yearly body count of each type of technology, or they pretend concerned people are against the merits of fission instead of being against the unique type of risk they pose.
Special mind says: power reactors with liquid metal coolant, such as long-decommissioned Soviet BN-350, long-operating BN-600, and recently commisssioned BN-800 have 0% probability of causing Chernobyl-style exclusion zones, as there is nothing inside them capable of producing an Chernobyl-style explosion – no water, no gas, nothing volatile at all. Sodium coolant can theoretically ingite if somehow flooded with water. Heavy coolant (lead or lead-bismuth alloy) cannot even burn. The “N” in BN stands for sodium – nothing bad happened to those reactors since 1964, the year BN-350 commenced operation. You are welcome.
These existing magical western engineered nuclear reactors with 0% probability of resulting in Chernobyl style exclusion zones is a delusion that exists solely in your mind.
Every functioning nuclear power plant the world over is subject to this possibility and it takes a very special mind to believe they cant.
Trying to convince them of real demonstrated merit of fission in the hope that they will stop spouting nonsense. I like it when a green turns nuclear; I consider it to be a Rite of Passage to becoming a true environmentalist.
The “huge cost” is half a billion dollars, and each U.S. plant is required to pay into a trust fund that pays for its own decommissioning. Several businesses have sprung up to do the work.
Peak demand is in the evening, when solar output is either zero, or fast approaching it.
they never seem to factor in the huge cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants
Where are your numbers? What numbers are your acquisations based on? You claim everything relevant is an exception:
Now you have been given some useful numbers. Please show us how solar and wind can compete with that — over about seven business cycles (average 7~8 years between recessions, each causing defunding or bankruptcy of all emotion-driven make-believe investment projects). And please explain to us how solar/wind can power something like a metallurgical plant, or railroad, or anything else with non-stop electrically-powered production processes. Grid storage battery-powered metallurgy is not even funny, so please avoid that one.
Friend, you are wasting your effort on converting a zealot. Let nature sort them out: those who want nukes, will have nukes; those who do not, will not.
On the point of Chernobyl. Despite many problematic design choices made in the interest of mass build-out and economic efficiency, all other RBMK-1000 reactors are approaching their end of life without experiencing a catastrophic failure. What caused the failure of RBMK-1000 at Chernobyl NPP was human factor, and it required quite a lot of direct abuse by operators to cause a catastrophic failure. Suffice it to say, they disabled the safety mechanism, then pulled control rods all the way out. Yes, that is right.
Solar competes against peak power which is a lot more expensive than base power.
Wind and solar are a lot cheaper today than they were yesterday and will be a lot cheaper in the future.
YES this translates to a 0% probability of health-mandated Chernobyl-style exclusion zones.
What sane people are trying to convince the anti-nuke crowd is that their fear and distrust over nuclear power is a PHOBIA. There is no real danger – Its a PHANTOM. It doesn’t EXIST GIVEN ANY SANE READING OF THE FACTS.
In fact i’d argue that the greens of the 1970s have a large amount of blood on their hands. Rewind the clock a bit – the US had just passed 10% of electricity from nukes, france was about 6 years into its effort replace all fossil-based emissions, and we were talking about doing the same thing.
In short, we had the economic part down. See http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html. And the fossil fuel industry took notice – they started to fund anti-nuclear groups who were useful idiots for shutting the competition down. If those morons had just got out of the way and let the market do its work, we’d have next-generation nuclear power plants now that would be burning waste for fuel, the default plant that we’d be building now would be a nuclear one, the millions(!) of people who die each year because of coal-related pollution would be far less, and global warming would be beginning to be put in the rear-view mirror.
So yeah I’m miffed at it. Seeing comments like yours just makes me realize that this stupid ‘nuclear is dangerous’ meme just refuses to die no matter how much the facts are given.
The last 7 candu’s were built on time in 4 years and less and on budget at under $2700/KW in $2019 or 3 cents a kWh for public power like TVA
Does that translate to a 0% probability of Chernobyl style exclusion zones?
What exactly are you trying to convince the anti-nuke crowd of and why?
god, you really have bought the anti-nuclear kool-aid haven’t please don’t attack what is probably the best tool we have at our disposal for CO2 free electricity based off of a myth.
Chernobyl was fundamentally different than western based reactors – a russian built RBMK which had a positive void co-efficient – which caused a lack of coolant to cause the rate of reactivity to INCREASE rather than decrease. It also had no containment building. It was woefully designed.
No modern reactor is designed that way. Fukushima, three mile island both caused no overt deaths, and even though Fukushima caused an evacuation that is more the fault of anti-nuclear hysteriots who feed the public’s fear of a nuclear bogeyman and massively conflate nuclear power with nuclear weapons.
As for your ‘cost’ argument, you’ve heard of the regulatory ratchet haven’t you? Where the government regulates something, then regulates the regulations, then regulates the regulations that regulate the original regulations, etc. That applies to nuclear in spades, which is tightened down SO HARD that the industry barely has any room to move.
And yet even with these constraints the nuclear industry has done a very good job at coming up with some very creative designs that both satisfy the practical concerns of the anti-nukes and are a lot cheaper to build. And yet do you think that’s going to convince the anti-nuke crowd?
Color me skeptical. But please, do us the favor of not repeating such a harmful meme.
And even the French buildout had a negative learning curve
From link “Under the best scenario, the cost of French nuclear power over the last four decades is 59 €/MWh (at 2010 prices) while in the worst case it is 83 €/MWh. “
A TWh is 1 million MWh, so 1TWh is 59-83 million a year.
Multiplied by 400 TWh. Multiplied by 40 years.
944 billion euros to 1328 billion in 2010 euros.
The link you added lead to your previous post that leads to an almost a year old article that does not take take into account new price projection. France exists in another dimension with very little regulations on nuclear. Glad that they did not have a major incident though. Germany doesn’t have much wind not solar resources and their price for the last 10 years is irrelevant. I would like to see a comparison of up to date renewables price projections and middle of the road price estimates of nuclear. Stop misleading people here and in Quora! here is A more up to date article on renewables price projections:
We would like to see once and for all where do you get this numbers from. The links you add lead to your previous posts or dubious anti renewable research.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
2018-2022 Solar and Wind may be less cost effective than nuclear, but it came with a 0% probability of Chernobyl style exclusion zones-which is priceless. Let’s not pretend this is an invalid concern, some are willing to roll the dice and some are not.
Besides, no one except funding is really stopping Nuclear construction in many localities.
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