What a really poor investment looks like
Recently, the congress and the Obama administration has approved what could be up to $225 million in federal funding for a new generation of reactor design called Small Modular Reactors. I’ve completed a blog post called Small is Ugly on SMRs while researching it i came across a report which is worth it’s own blog post.
Nuclear Power: Still not viable without subsidies is a 146 page report that you can download. But let me save most of you the work by giving you this key disturbing statistic which comes up in the first few pages of this pretty accessible document. There is also this excellent summary by Union of Concerned Scientists.
Between 1960 and 2009 the total subsidy for nuclear power plants in the US works out to US$ 0.072/kwh which is 140% of the wholesale cost of all the nuclear generated electricity during that period.
In other words, the amount of money the government has paid for these reactors to exist and operate exceeds significantly the value of the electricity they produced.
Put even more simply, from an economics perspective we would be way ahead if we had never build these reactors at all. The money was wasted.
The author of this 2011 report for the Union of Concerned Scientists is Doug Koplow. He has been working on energy subsides for 20 years and has an MBA from Harvard.
So i went to the NEI blog. This is where the nuclear lobby takes on its critics. Amory Lovins, Helen Caldicott, Paul Gunter and their work all gets attacked here. Not a word about Doug Koplow or this report.
The Economist tells us that the energy which was once billed as “too cheap to meter” is really “too expensive to matter.”