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Mining Use less energy Compare Credit Cards Capital costs, which include the cost of site preparation, construction, manufacture, commissioning and financing a nuclear power plant. Building a large-scale nuclear reactor takes thousands of workers, huge amounts of steel and concrete, thousands of components, and several systems to provide electricity, cooling, ventilation, information, control and communication. To compare different power generation technologies the capital costs must be expressed in terms of the generating capacity of the plant (for example as dollars per kilowatt). Capital costs may be calculated with the financing costs included or excluded. If financing costs are included then the capital costs change materially in relation to construction time of the plant and with the interest rate and/or mode of financing employed.
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The Americas Several other planned renewable generation projects were delayed as well, with a total summer peak average capacity contribution of 881 MW. The total installed capacity of the delayed renewable projects is 3,488 MW. One wind project, with an installed capacity of 500 MW, was cancelled.
Reports & Analysis VIC Providers Travelodge Sales The Carbon-Free Regions Handbook China 25.6-30.8 37.2-47.6 48.8-64.4Source: OECD/IEA-NEA, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity, 2015 Edition, Table 3.11, assuming 85% capacity factorOvernight capital costs for nuclear technologies in OECD countries ranged from $2,021/kWe of capacity (in South Korea) to $6,215/kWe per kWe (in Hungary) in the 2015 report.The 2010 edition of the report had noted a significant increase in costs of building base-load plants over the previous five years. The 2015 report shows that this increase has stopped, and that this is particularly significant for nuclear technologies, “undermining the growing narrative that nuclear costs continue to increase globally”.Rosatom claimed in November 2015 that due to its integrated structure, the LCOE of new VVERs exported is no more than $50-$60/MWh in most countries.It is important to distinguish between the economics of nuclear plants already in operation and those at the planning stage. Once capital investment costs are effectively “sunk”, existing plants operate at very low costs and are effectively “cash machines”. Their operations and maintenance (O&M) and fuel costs (including used fuel management) are, along with hydropower plants, at the low end of the spectrum and make them very suitable as base-load power suppliers. This is irrespective of whether the investment costs are amortized or depreciated in corporate financial accounts – assuming the forward or marginal costs of operation are below the power price, the plant will operate.The impact of varying the uranium price in isolation is shown below in a worked example of a typical US plant, assuming no alteration in the tails assay at the enrichment plant.Effect of uranium price on fuel costDoubling the uranium price (say from $25 to $50 per lb U3O8) takes the fuel cost up from 0.50 to 0.62 US c/kWh, an increase of one quarter, and the expected cost of generation of the best US plants from 1.3 c/kWh to 1.42 c/kWh (an increase of almost 10%). So while there is some impact, it is minor, especially by comparison with the impact of gas prices on the economics of gas generating plants. In these, 90% of the marginal costs can be fuel. Only if uranium prices rise to above $100 per lb U3O8 ($260 /kgU), and stay there for a prolonged period (which seems very unlikely), will the impact on nuclear generating costs be considerable.Nevertheless, for nuclear power plants operating in competitive power markets where it is impossible to pass on any fuel price increases (i.e. the utility is a price-taker), higher uranium prices will cut corporate profitability. Yet fuel costs have been relatively stable over time – the rise in the world uranium price between 2003 and 2007 added to generation costs, but conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication costs did not follow the same trend.For prospective new nuclear plants, the fuel component is even less significant (see below). The typical front end nuclear fuel cost is typically only 15-20% of the total, as opposed to 30-40% for operating nuclear plants.Competitiveness in the context of increasing use of power from renewable sources, which are often given preference and support by governments, is a major issue today. The most important renewable sources are intermittent by nature, which means that their supply to the electricity system does not necessarily match demand from customers. In power grids where renewable sources of generation make a significant contribution, intermittency forces other generating sources to ramp up or power down their supply at short notice. This volatility can have a large impact on non-intermittent generators’ profitability. A variety of responses to the challenge of intermittent generation are possible. Two options currently being implemented are increased conventional plant flexibility and increased grid capacity and coverage. Flexibility is seen as most applicable to gas- and coal-fired generators, but nuclear reactors, normally regarded as base-load producers, also have the ability to load-follow (e.g. by the use of ‘grey rods’ to modulate the reaction speed).As the scale of intermittent generating capacity increases however, more significant measures will be required. The establishment and extension of capacity mechanisms, which offer payments to generators prepared to guarantee supply for defined periods, are now under serious consideration within the EU. Capacity mechanisms can in theory provide security of supply to desired levels but at a price which might be high. For example, Morgan Stanley has estimated that investors in a 800 MWe gas plant providing for intermittent generation would require payments of €80 million per year whilst Ecofys reports that a 4 GWe reserve in Germany would cost €140-240 million/year. Almost by definition, investors in conventional plants designed to operate intermittently will face low and uncertain load factors and will therefore demand significant capacity payments in return for the investment decision. In practice, until the capacity mechanism has been reliably implemented, investors are likely to withhold investment. Challenges for EU power market integration are expected to result from differences between member state capacity mechanisms.The 2014 Ecofys report for the European Commission on subsidies and costs of EU energy purported to present a complete and consistent set of data on electricity generation and system costs, as well external costs and interventions by governments to reduce costs to consumers. The report attributed €6.96 billion to nuclear power in the EU in 2012, including €4.33 billion decommissioning costs (shortfall from those already internalised). Geographically the total broke down to include EU support of €3.26 billion, and UK €2.77 billion, which was acknowledged as including military legacy clean-up. Consequently there are serious questions about the credibility of such figures.Economic implications of particular plantsApart from considerations of cost of electricity and the perspective of an investor or operator, there are studies on the economics of particular generating plants in their local context.Early in 2015 a study, Economic Impacts of the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, was prepared by the US Nuclear Energy Institute. It analyzes the impact of the 580 MWe PWR plant’s operations through the end of its 60-year operating licence in 2029. It generates an average annual economic output of over $350 million in western New York State and an impact on the U.S. economy of about $450 million per year. Ginna employs about 700 people directly, adding another 800 to 1,000 periodic jobs during reactor refueling and maintenance outages every 18 months. Annual payroll is about $100 million. Secondary employment involves another 800 jobs. Ginna is the largest taxpayer in the county. Operating at more than 95% capacity factor, it is a very reliable source of low-cost electricity. Its premature closure would be extremely costly to both state and country – far in excess of the above figures.In June 2015 a study, Economic Impacts of the Indian Point Energy Center, was published by the US Nuclear Energy Institute, analyzing the economic benefits of Entergy’s Indian Point 2&3 reactors in New York state (1020 and 1041 MWe net). It showed that they annually generate an estimated $1.6 billion in the state and $2.5 billion across the nation as a whole. This includes about $1.3 billion per year in the local counties around the plant. The facility contributes about $30 million in state and local property taxes and has an annual payroll of about $140 million for the plant’s nearly 1,000 employees. The total tax benefit to the local, state and federal governments from the plant is about $340 million per year, and the plant’s direct employees support another 5,400 indirect jobs in New York state and 5,300 outside it. It also makes a major contribution to grid reliability and prevents the release of 8.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year.In September 2015 a Brattle Group report said that the five nuclear facilities in Pe
nnsylvania contribute $2.36 billion annually to the state’s gross domestic product and account for 15,600 direct and secondary full-time jobs.Future cost competitivenessUnderstanding the cost of new generating capacity and its output requires careful analysis of what is in any set of figures. There are three broad components: capital, finance, and operating costs. Capital and financing costs make up the project cost.Calculations of relative generating costs are made using estimates of the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for each proposed project. The LCOE represents the price that the electricity must fetch if the project is to break even (after taking account of all lifetime costs, inflation and the opportunity cost of capital through the application of a discount rate).It is important to note that capital cost figures quoted by reactor vendors, or which are general and not site-specific, will usually just be for EPC costs. This is because owners’ costs will vary hugely, most of all according to whether a plant is greenfield or at an established site, perhaps replacing an old plant.There are several possible sources of variation which preclude confident comparison of overnight or EPC capital costs – e.g. whether initial core load of fuel is included. Much more obvious is whether the price is for the nuclear island alone (nuclear steam supply system) or the whole plant including turbines and generators. Further differences relate to site works such as cooling towers as well as land and permitting – usually they are all owners’ costs as outlined earlier in this section. Financing costs are additional, adding typically around 30%, dependent on construction time and interest rate. Finally there is the question of whether cost figures are in current (or specified year) dollar values or in those of the year in which spending occurs.Major studies on future cost competitivenessThere have been many studies carried out examining the economics of future generation options, and the following are merely the most important and also focus on the nuclear element.The 2015 edition of the OECD study on Projected Costs of Generating Electricity considered the cost and deployment perspectives for small modular reactors (SMRs) and Generation IV reactor designs – including very high temperature reactors and fast reactors – that could start being deployed by 2030. Although it found that the specific per-kWe costs of SMRs are likely to be 50% to 100% higher than those for large Generation III reactors, these could be offset by potential economies of volume from the manufacture of a large number of identical SMRs, plus lower overall investment costs and shorter construction times that would lower the capital costs of such plants. “SMRs are expected at best to be on a par with large nuclear if all the competitive advantages … are realised,” the report noted.A May 2016 draft declaration related to the European Commission Strategic Energy Technology plan lists target LCOE figures for the latest generation of light-water reactors (LWRs) ‘first-of-a-kind’ new-build twin reactor project on a brownfield site: EUR(2012) €48/MWh to €84/MWh, falling to €43/MWh to €75/MWh for a series build (5% and 10% discount rate). The LCOE figures for existing Gen-II nuclear power plants integrating post-Fukushima stress tests safety upgrades following refurbishment for extended operation (10-20 years on average): EUR (2012) €23/MWh to €26/MWh (5% and 10% discount rate).Nuclear overnight capital costs in OECD ranged from US$ 1,556/kW for APR-1400 in South Korea through $3,009/kW for ABWR in Japan, $3,382/kW for Gen III+ in USA, $3,860/kW for EPR at Flamanville in France to $5,863/kW for EPR in Switzerland, with a world median of $4,100/kW. Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Hungary were all over $5,000/kW. In China overnight costs were $1,748/kW for CPR-1000 and $2,302/kW for AP1000, and in Russia $2,933/kW for VVER-1150. EPRI (USA) gave $2,970/kW for APWR or ABWR, Eurelectric gave $4,724/kW for EPR. OECD black coal plants were costed at $807-2,719/kW, those with carbon capture and compression (tabulated as CCS, but the cost not including storage) at $3,223-5,811/kW, brown coal $1,802-3,485, gas plants $635-1,747/kW and onshore wind capacity $1,821-3,716/kW. (Overnight costs were defined here as EPC, owners’ costs and contingency, but excluding interest during construction).OECD electricity generating cost projections for year 2015 on – 5% discount rate, c/kWh
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