Various studies on future low-carbon electricity mixes suggest that the least expensive option is one with nuclear along with solar and wind mixed in. But the economists overlook the cost impact of ramping. Craig Morris explains. Capital costs are relatively high for nuclear compared to coal and gas (CCGT and OCGT), but very low nuclear fuel costs compensate for that upfront cost. In other words, nuclear is cheapest when it runs a lot. The weak point in PwC’s analysis is the capacity factor (taux de disponibilité) of 85%, which is already slightly higher than in recent years in Belgium – and significantly above the global average capacity factor. (The expected reactor age of 60 years also remains to be reached by any reactor worldwide.) If these reactors have to ramp a lot to make space for wind and solar, nuclear power quickly becomes uncompetitively expensive.
Energy Transition 6th Sept 2017 read more »