Did Tesla Just Kill Nuclear Power? via Forbes

It would be almost three hours until Tesla’s big announcement, but inside a Northwestern University classroom near Chicago Thursday night, the famed nuclear critic Arnie Gunderson had the inside scoop:

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was about to announce an industrial-scale battery, Gunderson said, that would cost about 2¢ per kilowatt hour, putting the final nail in the coffin of nuclear power.

Thus Tesla’s big news broke first not amongst the throng of reporters gathered under swirling colored lights at the carmaker’s Hawthorne, Calif. headquarters, but in the middle of a debate on the future of nuclear power sponsored by students agitating for a “Fossil Free NU.” It was Gunderson vs. Jordi Roglans-Ribas, the director of the Nuclear Engineering Division of Argonne National Laboratory.


The cheap new battery powered Gunderson’s economic argument as he collegially set out to demolish the nuclear claim:

The UK government just signed an agreement guaranteeing a price of 16 cents per kilowatt hour for power generated by a reactor proposed for Hinkley Point, on the coast at Somerset, England. That fresh contract represents an example, Gunderson argued, of the market price of new nuclear power.

Solar power currently costs six to seven cents, he said, and wind currently costs four or five cents. Add the 2¢ for Tesla’s battery, and renewables with storage are still at half the price of new nuclear power.

They’re also approaching the price of existing nuclear power.

“Here in Illinois you know it’s true because Exelon is threatening to close five nuclear plants because they can’t compete with wind anymore.”

Gunderson is a former nuclear engineer and executive who lost his job in 1990 after reporting safety violations to his employer. He testifies and campaigns against nuclear power for Fairewinds Energy Education, a non-profit founded by his wife, Maggie Gunderson, also a former nuclear industry employee.

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