Responding to some the recent attacks that have been made against the revival of nuclear energy in the United States, blogger Rod Adams took on one major claim from anti-nuclear advocates: nuclear energy is not competitive against the cost of natural gas.
Adams discusses how opponents have been harkening on recent news to suggest there will be a delay in new nuclear construction. One of the major arguments, they claim, for why the revival will not happen is because of low natural gas prices.
In his post, he refutes the claim that if “natural gas remains dirt cheap,” the nuclear revival is over. He writes:
“The real competition to nuclear energy is coming from natural gas, whose pushers have done a good job in convincing their addicts to remain addicted. They seductively promise low prices off into the distant future, but none of them are willing to actually sign binding contracts for delivery at current prices.
If they can just hold out with below cost prices long enough, they will cause less secure companies like Constellation to give up on the hard and expensive work of building a new generation of nuclear plants. Of course, with nuclear energy, much of the hard work and expense comes before the plants start operating.
Once they begin to run, the ongoing cost of fuel and operators is quite low compared to other alternatives. Each new 1600 MWe EPR displaces a need to burn about 300 million cubic feet of natural gas each day. At today’s “cheap” natural gas prices, that amount of gas would cost $1.2 million per day, but once gas prices return to the levels that existed in 2008, that amount of gas will cost almost $5 million per day. In comparison, the nuclear fuel for an EPR costs about $190,000 per day. Power companies can lock in nuclear fuel prices for many years into the future if desired.”
As a nuclear fuel supplier, we sign long-term contracts that help ensure the cost of nuclear energy is predictable well into the future. The key is to have a long term view. Most Americans can see far enough into the future to plan and dream about their retirement. Why then, can’t we have the same long-term outlook when planning how to power our future?
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