Nukes real cost: “outlandishly expensive” power, “radioactive to private capital”


From Time MagazineWhy No Nukes? The Real Cost of U.S. Nuclear Power:

Once hailed as “too cheap to meter,” nuclear fission turns out to be an outlandishly expensive method of generating juice for our Xboxes.

Since 2008, proposed reactors have been quietly scrapped or suspended in at least nine states — not by safety concerns or hippie sit-ins but by financial realities. Other projects have been delayed as cost estimates have tripled toward $10 billion a reactor, and ratings agencies have downgraded utilities with atomic ambitions. Nuclear Energy Institute vice president Richard Myers notes that the “unrealistic” renaissance hype has come from the industry’s friends, not the industry itself. “Even before this happened, short-term market conditions were bleak,” he tells TIME.

Around the world, governments (led by China, with Russia a distant second) are financing 65 new reactors through more explicit nuclear socialism. But private capital still considers atomic energy radioactive, gravitating instead toward natural gas and renewables, whose costs are dropping fast. Nuclear power is expanding only in places where taxpayers and ratepayers can be compelled to foot the bill. (See pictures of the worst nuclear disasters.)

In fact, the economic and safety problems associated with nuclear energy are not unrelated. Trying to avoid flukes like Fukushima Daiichi is remarkably costly. And trying to avoid those costs can lead to flukes.

Read more.

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