Monday, July 02, 2012

Electric Power Costs by Source and Country

These images come via "Neutron Economy"'s article: Deconstructing anti-nuclear economic myths - a response to Veronique de Rugy. (h/t 111th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers at Yes, Vermont Yankee)

This image looks at EU countries by residential costs of electricity. It can be seen that nations which depend upon big wind and big solar -- such as Germany and Denmark -- pay a high price for power. And their costs are just beginning to build, as they double down on stupid.

The above image looks at levelised costs of electricity by source. Solar and offshore wind score particularly badly by this metric. But regular onshore wind would score almost as badly if the costs of intermittency were included in overall costs. That is one of many deficiencies in the "levelised cost" metric, failing to account for all the costs of intermittency -- which over the long run is the largest cost of big wind power besides the short lifespan of the powerplant.

James Conca Energy Cost Comparisons in Forbes suggesting natural gas as the current frontrunner. Full set of references included.
Conca differentiates between lifetime costs and other ways of comparing costs, specifically overnight costs and levelized costs:

"By life-cycle costs, I mean the total costs of building, operating, maintaining, fueling and decommissioning a thermal power plant, a solar array, a wind farm or hydroelectric dam over its life, that is, 15 years for a wind turbine, 40 years for a fossil fuel plant, 60 years for a nuclear plant, or 80 years for a large hydroelectric dam. Dividing those total costs by the amount of energy actually produced, not theoretically possible or installed capacity but actually produced, gives a life-cycle cost in ยข/kWhr. How we finance this cost is a totally different issue, one at which we generally fail as a society."

As the graph shows, hydro has the lowest costs at 3.3 cents per kWhr. This is due mainly to almost zero fuel costs and the 80-year life cycle of hydroelectric dams. Nuclear is second lowest with 3.5 cents, largely because of low fuel costs and the 60-year life expectancy of nuclear reactors. Coal is 4.1 cents, wind 4.3 cents, natural gas 5.2 cents and solar is the most expensive at 7.7 cents per kWhr.

Although fuel costs are free for wind and solar, their intensive capital costs, aggravated by the enormous amount of collection facilities that must be built, drive up their lifetime costs. It takes 9,500 windmills, for instance, to equal the life-cycle output of one AP1000 nuclear reactors, which is not the biggest reactor being built. Wind requires ten times the steel, concrete and copper per kWhr than any other energy source.

Natural gas plants are relatively cheap to built but are entirely dependent on future prices of natural gas, since fuel supplies make up 90 percent of the cost. _RCE Summary of James Conca at Forbes

A comprehensive analysis would have to include several other factors which are rarely included in a cost comparison. But it is good to have more people working on this problem.

Cost effectiveness of nuclear power for surface ships

The above study looks at US navy ships, but the cost comparisons should hold across the board for all long voyage, ocean going vessels.

More: Japan restarts Ohi reactor No. 3

Despite irrational green-fueled public protest, Japan carried through with the re-start of one nuclear reactor over the weekend. This should be only the first of many re-starts, as it is uneconomical to allow expensive power plants to sit unused in the midst of a power shortage. Particularly when the cost of nuclear fuel is extremely low in comparison to other forms of fuel.

Japan's political challenge of re-starting its nuclear facilities points out the global challenge of combating lefty-Luddite dieoff.orgiast anti-nuclear greens -- whether in Japan, Germany, Australia, the UK, or the US. Greens are leading Germany down a treacherous slope which will result in energy catastrophe unless a wiser leadership steps in.

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Blogger warpmine said...

This and the cost of union labor certainly has much to do with Airbus building a plant in Alabama.

3:21 PM  

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