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Czech Project Shows Why Nuclear Power Is Fading Away via Forbes

Nuclear power plants generates clean, baseline-quality energy, advocates like to claim.

It’s too bad that nuclear is also about the most expensive form of power you can buy.

A recent report and statement from CEZ-AS, the country’s largest utility, once again highlight why the economics of nuclear don’t work. In short, CEZ has been pushing to add two new nuclear reactors to the Temerlin plant that would come online around 2025.

The utility has made the usual argument—that nuclear will create employment, help the country gain energy independence and even let the Czechs export power to neighboring European countries—but it has also said it can’t build the plan without government guarantees on the price of power.

We won’t build without state guarantees,” Pavel Cyrani, chief of strategy at CEZ told Bloomberg in an interview. “It’s simply impossible.”

How high would those guarantees have to be? A pair of studies from Candole Partners predicts that the price would have to be 115 Euros a megawatt hour, or $157 per megawatt hour, in 2013 dollars for the full lifetime operation of the Temerlin reactors for it to break even.

It’s high. Spot prices in the country are now around 40 Euros, or $55, per megawatt hour.  Peak prices in New England grazed $230 per megawatt hour during a hot afternoon this past July, but generally the forward process are comfortably below $100. As I write, the wholesale price ticker at PJM pegs U.S. power at $62 per megawatt hour.

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Meanwhile, renewables and energy efficiency continue to increase in performance and drop in price. Over 30 GW of solar will get installed this year.  99 percent—or 694 MW of the 699MW—of the capacity added in the U.S. in October consisted of renewable plants.  Solar accounted for 72 percent of the total, according to FERC. Last month, I noted that replacing light bulbs with LED fixtures could postpone the need for new mega power plants for a lot less money. And they would make your house more attractive.

Nuclear may not be completely dead as a concept. Some hope exists for modular reactors or even thorium. But the traditional reactors just don’t seem to add up anymore.

Read more at Czech Project Shows Why Nuclear Power Is Fading Away

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