IEA Data Shows Nuclear Investment Adds More Power Than Wind and Solar

Global energy spending and construction cost data is summarized and forecasted by the International Energy Association (IEA).

Data from the IEA shows that the world has been spending about $775 billion per year for the past three years building and power generation and power distribution. $250 billion per year has been spent on solar and wind power generation projects for the past three years. Each year of $250 billion investment in solar and wind power projects is generating about 220 Terawatt hours of energy per year.

About $50 billion per year has been spent building out nuclear power. This will add 110 terawatt hours of energy as each year of investment gets completed. The nuclear investment has been offsetting the decline of closing nuclear plants. Overall nuclear energy production has been at about 2500 TWh. Many nuclear plants closed prematurely in Germany and Japan or for lengthy periods in Japan.

How Long do Wind, Solar and Nuclear Energy Production Facilities Last?

It should be noted that solar power facilities tend to last about 15 years while nuclear plants can last 40-80 years. The latest analytics of nuclear components appears to allow for nuclear plants to be operated on a perpetual basis. Wind farms tend to last 20-25 years.

Solar has to be rebuilt every 15 years and wind has to be rebuilt every 20-25 years. Nuclear plants tend to be licensed for 40 years and then require significant maintenance every 20 years thereafter.

Here is a chart with the spending on different energy construction projects.

Here is chart showing the added energy generation. The units are terawatt hours. If you see other data with gigawatts then the three times higher capacity factor for nuclear power is being ignored. You buy energy by the hour. It matters how long you are pulling the power.

IEA projects similar and slightly increasing spending on energy. IEA also project some price improvements for solar and wind power.

The IEA has wind and solar energy forecasts out to 2022.

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 4 years. This is $250 billion per year in spending on solar and wind where it has been for the last three years.

Nextbigfuture previously wrote about this to explain that nuclear power is still cheaper and safer than solar power to create on national and global scales.

Single solar farm projects can make it appear that solar power is cheaper to build and develop.

Night and Winter

Solar power does not generate power at night. Solar power only generates when there is little to no clouds from about 10AM to 4 PM.

Winter also tends to be a problem for wind and solar. In winter months wind and solar power generation tends to drop to about 10% of the power produced during the summer.

If a country had a very high percentage of power produced from solar and wind then they would need some other form of power or a LOT of long-term energy storage to last for every night and for months during the winter.

Currently, most countries use coal power or natural gas power to backup the solar and wind.

A lot of the excess solar and wind power that is generated at the wrong time for people to use it does not have any storage and it burns off as heat along the power grid.

This is why Germany’s overall emissions have gone up despite building a lot of solar and wind power.

Germany generates about 33% of its power from solar and wind. This is about 225 TWh out of 580-600 TWh per year.

Germany has spent over $800 billion on renewable energy subsidies and its emissions are twice as high as France on a per person basis. Germany’s emissions were flat for four years and had a 4.6% decrease in 2018 because of high coal prices.

SOURCES- IEA, Clean Energy Wire, Forbes
Written By Brian Wang.

53 thoughts on “IEA Data Shows Nuclear Investment Adds More Power Than Wind and Solar”

  1. Your loonie solar power scheme has the same issues as earthbound ones – until the whole system is installed, spanning continents for the terrestrial schemes, and much further for yours, the customer is only getting part time power, at best. If you build the whole system and it doesn’t work properly, too bad. Build a reactor or two, and the town near it has power guarranteed for a generation. Then the building crew can go to the next town, and repeat. No glitches 380,000 km away to black you out, no Algerians or Russians deciding they’ll cut your power till you toe their line.

  2. (lock up of site)In fact, the size of the transmitters (ground units the same, can be used for both or any) is required for beam and electric load, smaller size needed for focus such that LSP has 10 or so transmitters per limb, to shorten distance from the collectors. Moon really only up about a third of the time, but H or redirectors solve the prob, which had been thought of!

    “We know what the optimum system looks like.” Yet you clearly have only a partial understanding of OLD LSP plans, let alone advances possible. When I blogged into the NSS power sat study, the initial objection was that the Moon was not in Space, so was out of bounds! I had to point out that that lower launch costs are lowered for ISRU start too, as opposed to making Earth launch the clear answer. Same with SPS v LSP, no advantage except to both.

    Thanx for reply. Still looking for basic understanding of plan BEFRORE it is dismissed.

  3. Seriously, I “believed” in Glaser SPS until late 80’s, starting w/ O’Neill in the mid ’70s. Perhaps my physics background makes things look different to me.

    “Lunar surface solar only generates power half the time.” Actually, if you see the plan, one half of the near lunar surface produces power almost all of time, with small time out during new moon or eclipse. My “new” answer to this is to power new H economy in currently “powerless” areas with new LSP collectors, avoiding the whole storage question, but the more traditional need for continuous power is well covered by Criswell. Check it out. The redirectors can be used for point to point Earth power movement, too, balancing Earth wind and solar. “Near far side” collectors could handle new Moon, and work almost as well rest of the time, minus ~100 km cable loss. No worry, need for H is here!

    “So you get more product made by launching the raw materials and processing in space, using PV or solar-thermal to power your factories.” That would be important, if you needed as much stuff for LSP as SPS. But, no sats, except the Moon itself. Just the cells, cables and transmitters, lying there! About twice the area, but ~50 times cheaper per area. Don’t forget the SPS light pollution from the 20-200 TWe needed to solve the problem. Or were you thinking that big? In fact, the size of the transmitters (ground units the same, can be used for both or any) is required for beam and electric load, size needed for focus such that w

  4. So, you’d have to un-clad the pellets (super high level waste) and grind them and re-sinter them to put them into CANDU fuel assemblies. Still not practical, but I agree – the fuel could thus be used more.

  5. …the Starship/Superheavy can eventually launch for $20 million/flight, or $200/kg, that’s low enough for large-scale deployment. That assumes space mining and production, which eventually can lower launch needs to 1-2% of satellite mass. That’s either materials too rare in space to mine, or too hard to make, like computer chips, and easier to buy en-masse from Earth.

    Your launch overhead is then $2-4/kg of satellite mass. Since the satellite output is 100W/kg, launch overhead is $0.02-.04/Watt. This is quite reasonable when compared to ground solar farms at about $1/W these days. You still have to get all the other costs of space solar power down enough to compete, but launch cost won’t be a barrier any more.

  6. Lunar surface solar only generates power half the time. Space solar away from planetary shadows can produce near 100% of the time. The energy cost to lift stuff from the Moon is much less than the energy to convert raw materials to finished products. So you get more product made by launching the raw materials and processing in space, using PV or solar-thermal to power your factories.

    Orbiting solar can be at least ten times closer than the Moon (synchronous orbit), which means your transmitter & ground antenna sizes can be that much smaller. This makes getting the first powersats more feasible to build. Lastly, the Moon is only up half the time when seen from any given point on the ground, so you can’t service half your customers.

    Seriously, we studied this stuff starting in the 1970’s, and I worked on it in the 80’s and afterwards. We know what the optimum system looks like. The barrier has been launch costs. The promised launch cost of the Space Shuttle was $10.5 million in 1972 dollars, which works out to $64.1M in today’s dollars, or $2170/kg for the nominal payload of 29.5 tons to LEO. That was a low enough figure to get started on SPS, but a fully-reused heavy lifter was assumed for large-scale deployment.

    The Falcon 9 has demonstrated $4550/kg at their advertised price, and the Starlink launch’s mass. We don’t know their internal *cost*, but it is probably close to the Shuttle’s promise. So we are finally, decades later, able to *start* on SPS. Assuming

  7. Sure, there is cheap Chinese junk, in almost every product category. But do you really think that Chinese solar farm builders, who consume half their national production, would tolerate stuff that fails in a year? You can get quality stuff from China, but you have to know what you are buying.

    Also, please see this NREL report, which is where I get my 0.5-0.8% number:

  8. Last 7 Candu’s built to 2007 in 4 in years and less and $2.7B/GW in $2019 3 cents a kWh for public operators like TVA – cheapest power there is.

    Shows what can be done when you know how to pour concrete eh – a long lost skill in the USA.

  9. Actually baseload isn’t a lot different summer to winter. Peaks can be handled by synfuel production. Nukes are so cheap that it doesn’t matter anyway. See France to see how it is done.

  10. Yup great in the US southwest but not so much farther north. And then there’s the need to dump surplus paying to take or spend $5/kWh on long term storage.

  11. Actually the real cost to operate nukes outside bureaucracy like the US and Europe is about 1.5 cents a kWh a little less than wind/solar. So same same.

    “an explosion of cheap, mainly Chinese-produced solar panels …….. the worst systems stopped working within 12 months, with others “falling apart” within two or three years”

    Google “Australian government orders solar install quality investigation”

    So much for warranties eh.

    Your cost of refurbs is your usual made baloney.

  12. Last 7 Candu’s built to 2007 in 4 in years and less and $2.7B/GW in $2019. Shows what can be done when you know how to pour concrete eh – a long lost skill in the USA.

  13. Yup and 90% of the Chinese manufacturers are out of business before the warranty is up. Great scam though.

    “an explosion of cheap, mainly Chinese-produced solar panels …….. the worst systems stopped working within 12 months, with others “falling apart” within two or three years”

    Google “Australian government orders solar install quality investigation”

  14. LCOE includes capacity factor. It is pretty standard. Here is how it is calculated:

    sLCOE = {(overnight capital cost * capital recovery factor + fixed O&M cost )/(8760 * capacity factor)} + (fuel cost * heat rate) + variable O&M cost.


    Seems like the blogger took that particlular post you are responding to away. There is nothing to hide. Here are the links in it.


  15. Not to mention Space Solar, such as Criswell’s Lunar Solar Power. The biggest cost of what we now do is that it FAILS to get us into Space.

  16. It is perfectly possible to regulate nuclear, not much worse than coal. However, it makes no economic sense, since the fixed costs are so high and the fuel is a small percentage of the TOC. There might be some incresed wear and tear if you start cycling the reactor but that is a minor concern to the cost

  17. Solar produces only an small portion of the nominal capacity when it’s cloudy, you can’t depend on it. The dismantlement cost of nuclear is very small compared with the construction cost and well amortized over the many decades that the plant is active compared to the small lifespan of solar panels.

  18. The article doesn’t talk about prices per kilowatt, it talks about installed capacity, and for wind and solar the real production is much lower than their nominal capacity.

  19. The Vogtle plant is in NE Georgia. The main reason it is the only US nuclear plant still being built is the Atlanta metro is rapidly growing. We need about 150 MW more power every year. So Georgia Power is building the two new reactors *and* solar. By the time the plants are operating, their output will be already needed.

  20. > Solar has to be rebuilt every 15 years

    Umm, no. Modern solar panels come with 20-25 year warranties to produce at least 80% of rated power. Panels *do* degrade with time, because by their nature they are exposed to lots of UV light from the Sun. This damages the semiconductor layer, but field experience is 0.5-0.8% per year power loss. If you want to maintain constant output, that means adding some extra panels once in a while.

    (Brian, where are you getting these BS talking points from?)

  21. Some places also have significant amounts of geothermal, eg: Iceland, New Zealand, but yes for the most part if you want reliable zero carbon electricity you build nuclear.
    Play around with this & see where the *consistently* green regions get their electricity.

  22. As a matter of principle, I would hope to eventually use the facility constructed for that purpose.

  23. How relevant is a mess created during a crash weapons program to the ongoing costs of a civilian energy program?

  24. The problem with conventional nuclear power isn’t technical, it’s economic. Conventional nuclear is economically obsolete for the reason that nobody can afford to wait 10 years and spend 14 billion dollars for a nuclear power plant. People need power now, not far in the future. Maybe the industry can right itself with small nuclear reactors, but those are still six years away.

  25. Reprocessing depleted (i.e. spent) fuel, with approximately 0.7% fissile content is uneconomical compared to enrichment of 0.7% fissile content of natural uranium.

    It would take 7-10 spent fuel assemblies to give enough Pu to give a MOX assembly with ~5% fissile content.

    Not only is reprocessing politically challenged, it isn’t economical to chop-up, dissolve, separate the little bit of residual plutonium via aqueous processes, condense the waste, store the waste, etc., etc.. Better (for now) just to leave the LWR fuel intact and store it in heavy cans/sarcophagus.

  26. fake le solaire produit de l’électricité même avec des nuages (luminosité transformée en électricité)
    fake sur les prix les centrales doivent être démantelées et ce process coûte très cher

  27. For the big differences in energy consumption between winter and summer I understand nuclear power with constant output is not helping. At least I did not notice any nuclear power technology discussed here which would be possible to regulate according to seasonal needs. As the immense storage devices to level winter vs summer energy consumption do not exist it will come to fossil fuel.

  28. kidding, right? Offshore wind in places like that? Still an intermittent source. LCOE on offshore is multiples of base load. I would love to see how you fix the axial bearings on those propellers in the Bering Sea….lol. O&M costs on offshore wind is horrendous.

  29. yes all good, nuclear is the only zero-CO2 emission power that makes sense, economically, unless you are Norway and blessed with huge fjords and 100% of all power comes from hydro.

    Brian – small error on % solar/wind in Germany. You quoted the total renewables GROSS energy figure. You need NET (ie what comes out of the socket). Solar and wind was 157 TWh out of 660 TWh in 2018, which comes to 23%. Obviously, none of this matters as the turbines in oil/gas/coal/nuclear plants still spin when it’s a sunny/windy day. Also, Germany classifies burning trash as a renewable (which is 1/4 of their “renewables” and increasing), so I guess coal is a renewable too (all those carbon atoms get recycled….). It’s a scam.

    Local scale wind and solar can make sense (I have both on my farm), but not at a national level or anything that resembles wholesale power.

  30. Um no. The big costs are what you do after an accident. Hanford is sending Congress to the hospital with dizzy spells right now.

  31. Bering Sea has tons of wind in winter! So does California! Its all about where you put the wind farms. The stats are cool, but I think solar growth projection won’t pan out.

  32. There was a ninety year old guy on the front page of the local community newspaper last week, telling the sad story of how somebody sold him a solar power system so he could save on his power bills. Now winter’s here, residential power prices are sky high, and he’s getting five eighths of SFA for the power he makes when he doesn’t need it.

  33. If you had reactors to consume waste, you wouldn’t need Yucca Mountain. And since the waste will still be sitting around, doing no harm, till they do build those reactors, that’s not really a problem either.

  34. My only problem with nuclear is the lack of reprocessing facilities here in the USA. That and the complete absence of reactors to consume waste products.
    Okay- two problems.
    Plus the failure to open Yucca Mountain.
    Three problems.
    We need to get our shit together.

  35. Vogtle 3&4 are 27.5 billion for 18 TWh per year.

    50 billion for 110 TWh?! 165 billion at that price.

  36. This again?

    Okay 50 billion for 110 TWh. No WAY that’s correct for USA or Europe but let’s humor you.

    Nuclear plant cost 3 cents per kWh to operate, fuel, dry cask spent fuel etc.

    So 1 TWh costs $30 million.

    110 TWh for 40 years would cost 132 billion. That doesn’t include refurb costs every 25 year.

    Also solar plants do not last just 15 years. Thats is straight up BS. Solar equipment has 25 year warranties, and will work just fine past the warranty. It is no worse than nuclear power plants that have to refurb every 25 years as 25% of the cost of a new plant.

  37. Who.Data what Nuclear Investment Adds More Power Than


    Wind and Solar Shows More Power Than [Nuclear Investment]

    HOW CAN WE BE SURE ABOUT WHICH IS IT? How else could it be different; if Google is broken, they all are broken with step gradient, step de.gradient, sure to quantum measure…Viktor Schauberger – The Trout Turbine – Free Energy by Imploding

    Very primitive research needs to be conjugated into quantum incipience, but why, what is the basis for the task? It seems like everything is going quantum, have you noticed? Consortium shifting policies doesn’t sound like a bad idea with new implementation criteria…IMPLEMENT WHAT? You’re playing Rosagale with the wind if Google makes a goundbreaking decision then break itself up, you know, split every region into franchises for inculcation anent artificial intelligence education while retaining all key algorithms, so what’s the point? Google would not be Google if it weren’t because of the U.S. patent regime. (I thought that was tamperproof.) Shouldn’t Google agree in some consensus about its own demise in contrast with government coalitions, where there’s a lot that doesn’t add up…have you noticed, Google might as well be doing twice as much as these coalitions, combined…let’s call it GoogleShine O.K. (I checked it, it’s available.)
    search implosion (g)radiant quantum field’llhavetojudge

    The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy

  38. Only because nobody even pretends that the solar price per kwhr applies when solar can’t produce.

    if you read Brain’s post you will see that when it comes to TWhr scale of power production then nuclear is vastly cheaper than solar per TWhr.

    Solar is fine if you want to run the AC during a sunny day. Death if you need to run the heater on a snowy day.

  39. Fuel is the cheapest cost in a big nuclear plant.

    The big costs are construction and financing.

  40. Then you should also consider that the real output of sun and wind falls very far from their nominal capacity. You would be lucky if over the year you get a 20% of its nominal capacity.

  41. And it doesn’t include he constant investment and replacement/improvement of components.

    Upper limit of fuel cost should be $66M/GW-y

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