Westinghouse Electric Co. was first contracted to build the reactors by Scana Corp.’s SCE&G and state-owned power company Santee Cooper back in 2008, and the first concrete was poured at the site 4 years ago. This year, mired in cost overruns associated with this project and another for Southern Co. in Georgia, Westinghouse declared bankruptcy. The plant was originally supposed to cost about $11 billion, or just over $4,900 per kilowatt of capacity. In a report published in March, as Westinghouse was wobbling, Morgan Stanley estimated the cost had more than doubled to more than $10,000 per kW. By way of comparison, a modern plant running on natural gas costs about $1,100 per kW. Today, any U.S. energy project scheduled to take a decade to get up and running and which costs billions of dollars faces a fundamental problem: The country’s energy market is being turned on its head. When the reactors were first ordered, demand for electricity in the South Atlantic region — which includes South Carolina — was projected by the Department of Energy to rise by almost 40 percent by 2030. Those numbers have since collapsed utterly. Given the inherent uncertainties around U.S. electricity demand and the balance between liberalized and regulated power markets, it is nigh on impossible to justify plowing billions into a big, complex nuclear-power plant supposed to run for 50 or 60 years. Widespread carbon pricing or piecemeal support efforts for existing nuclear plants, such as those enacted in Illinois or New York, offer some support. But to have any chance, new nuclear power would need to be smaller, more modular and faster-to-market — like the natural gas and renewable-power sources with which it competes in a flat market.
Bloomberg 1st Aug 2017 read more »
South Carolina electric utilities have scrapped finishing construction for two half-built Westinghouse reactors admitting that nuclear power is “prohibitively expensive.” The abandonment of the V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 in Jenkinsville, SC adds to the growing number of tombstones for once championed “milestones” in an atomic power revival. The inability to control the “cost-of-completion” and “time-to-completion” is the fundamental economic failure behind this recent collapse of the nuclear industry. In fact, these same reasons were featured in a 1985 Forbes magazine cover story “Nuclear Follies” describing the development of commercial atomic power as “the largest managerial disaster in U.S. business history where only the blind and the biased can say the money was well spent.”
Beyond Nuclear 1st Aug 2017 read more »