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When it Comes to Our Need for Electricity, Reliability is Essential

As we come to the end of another year, it is not a nuclear issue that I want to discuss but rather the broader issue of our need for reliable electricity.  Last month I started with a quote from the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2013 highlighting how important energy has become to our society – affecting the economics of nations and our environment as well as our daily way of life.

Over this holiday season in North America the importance of electricity to our very survival has become more evident.  On the Friday before Christmas the northeast United States and Canada were hit with a massive ice storm.  Hundreds of thousands of people lost power.  The cause was primarily due to power lines being affected both directly by intense icing as well as by debris from trees and other items that fell onto the lines as they became heavy with ice causing the lines to fall.


And here we are days after Christmas and while most households have had their power restored (many after more than 5 days without), thousands continue to wait.  This is different from other extreme weather events such as hurricanes that have been responsible for mass destruction of homes and infrastructure.  This ice storm, while also an extreme weather event, has only caused power loss as its lasting effect.  The result is we are able to specifically see the importance of electricity to our modern societies.

So what is the impact of a prolonged loss of electricity?  Frankly it is very difficult for those without – especially for those most vulnerable – the elderly, the sick and those without friends or family nearby to take them in.

Living a large city in a cold climate, just imagine your home without heat in subfreezing weather, no power for the refrigerator or freezer (although outdoors can work), no water to flush the toilet or bathe or even more importantly drink; and you have the makings of a catastrophe – people freezing and hungry without the basics required for survival.  And to make matters worse it is over the holiday season when most had plans to be with family.  In some cases large family holiday meals were no longer possible as the emphasis was on finding ways to stay warm.  The added downside of the season is that on Christmas almost everything is closed, no supermarkets, very few restaurants; no services of any type.

On the positive side, the number of people without power is now in the minority so there are many options for them to seek help and get warm.  But others continue to struggle.  The news has recently reported on police and fire departments having to visit large apartment buildings and take elderly sick residents down numerous flights of stairs to safety.  These people have been stuck in their cold apartments for days without food or water.  With no one to check on them, their lives were at risk.

As stated earlier, the cause of this mayhem is related to the transmission and distribution system failing in the weather, not generation.  But the point to be made is that without electricity in our cities; it would only take days until the population would need to find ways to feed and warm themselves on mass.

So it is pretty obvious that we need to have reliable electricity supply to keep society working.  And reliable supply means robust generation and distribution.  Our aging infrastructure can no longer be left to decay further so that with every extreme weather event, we take days or weeks to recover.  After the major blackout in the North American northeast a decade ago, the focus was on ensuring system reliability.  The rules changed and all North American utilities now adhere to these rules, making our system better.  But here we are a decade later and the issue has changed.  It is no longer about reliability in general, but the ability to withstand extreme weather events.  And most of all our ability to recover when the system is damaged during such events.

And of course we have the issues associated with individuals that oppose what is necessary to keep our system running.  For example, power lines have fallen when tree branches have damaged them.  While simple measures like pruning may be the cost-effective way to protect power lines, it can carry a public-relations price. As stated by the CEO of Toronto Hydro “You can imagine … our arborists show up on the curb and knock on the door and say ‘We’re here to cut your branches down.’ They’re not necessarily a welcome news,” he said. “So it’s really finding that right balance.”  This shows that no matter what the issue, there are always those opposed (as with those opposed to nuclear power); but these are also usually the first to complain when they lose power and need their lines restored.

So while this is not directly about generation or nuclear power, it is important to remind ourselves of the importance of reliable supply as we continue the debate on how we want to generate our electricity going forward.   Robust, reliable baseload electricity is important.  And this is where nuclear power plays a very important role. We also talk about economics and environment.  Both essential – so how can we meet the challenge of  having reliable, economic and environmentally benign electricity?

As we prepare to enter a new year, let’s remember that fossil fuels like coal and gas are reliable, can be economic, but impact our environment.  Renewable sources like wind and solar are good for the environment but can be costly and unreliable.  Nuclear Power is an important source of electricity that can provide large amounts of clean, reliable and economic electricity to keep our society moving.

I hope that all power is restored to those without as soon as possible so they can enjoy what is left of the holiday season.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2014!

Milton Caplan's picture

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John Miller's picture
John Miller on Dec 31, 2013 11:08 pm GMT

Milton, you raise some key points about power system reliabilities.  It does not matter how reliable the centralize power supplies are, or even the major transmission line systems.  If the local-distribution lines are down due to ice storm failures, the end-user Consumers are the ones most affected.  Another factor to power distribution age and reliability is the design of the power line systems.  Failures most often occur in older neighborhoods with overhead power line systems.  To prevent future ice storm failures all these dated overhead lines need to be eventually replaced with buried lines as are commonly found in neighborhoods build over the past 20-30 years.  It does not matter how much you trim a tree’s branches, if the tree comes down so do the overhead power lines in its fall path.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 1, 2014 1:41 am GMT

Milton, a photo from a solar park in Meuro, Germany, which underscores the importance of energy which doesn’t desert us when we need it most:


Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Jan 1, 2014 10:12 am GMT

There are many possible contributors to a reliable, environmentally friendly energy delivery system.

But right now in Minnesota, with actual temperatures at 20 below F, windmills and solar panels aren’t among them. You have minutes, not hours or days, to live without energy in this weather.

Sounds like the real cold weather hits next week. Good luck all. Humble thanks to our ever improving energy providers.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 1, 2014 12:27 pm GMT

Nice picture!

Still, with the upswing of solar+wind Germany enhanced its electricity supply reliability with a factor 2!
The total average customer supply outage time was ~30min/year.
Now it is ~15min/year!
(more distributed generation, better (weather) prediction by grid management)

Compare with UK and France both still at the ~60min/year outage time level (4 times worse).
US at  ~120min/year level (8 times worse).

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 1, 2014 2:43 pm GMT

Correct John:

The one thing you can say about electricity is that it does not like rain, snow, ice, flying shingles, tree branches and other parts of building structures falling or touching it.  We need a massive infrastructure building project to underground our electric utilities. 

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 1, 2014 3:38 pm GMT

Oh my goodness Bob:

I can’t believe you posted a picture with snow covering a bunch of solar panels. I guess I could go on the web and find the picture of a nuclear plant shut down by an unexpected outage or a coal plant that was taken off line because a conveyor snapped.

As I am sure you are well aware, the grid is made up of many different power sources spread across thousands of miles to enhance electrical system reliability. We only have to look at just how well our grid operators can project what the EXPECTED demand, ACTUAL demand and RESERVES needed will be. If you haven’t looked lately please go here and look at a typical day in California of grid operation.

Scroll down to about mid page and click on “Supply and Demand” for the real time graphs. There is a graph below that for renewable sources. Solar comes on line when the sun comes up and shuts itself down when the sun goes down. In any case, what is worth noting is that while everyone seems to think California, Arizona and Nevada which help feed California’s grid are big on solar; it is only a small fraction of the overall power picture. You could shut it all down and it wouldn’t even dim the lights, LOL.  Something on the order of 1% on a good day. What is more interesting to me is that things like geothermal power are a very consistent base load electrical supply as are some other sources but still only fractional percentages of the overall picture.  In any case it will probably be more than another 20 years before renewablies like solar becomes that intermittent power source everyone seems so worried about.

A snow storm in Nevada or some windless days in Minnesota are things we can now easily plan for in advance. What we can’t plan for are things like random failures of power plants or transmission lines. It is much more difficult to plan for and manage the loss of a 1000 MW nuclear plant than say a 100 MW solar plant. 


I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 1, 2014 5:09 pm GMT

“… It is much more difficult to plan for and manage the loss of a 1000 MW nuclear plant than say a 100 MW solar plant.

More importantly, consider the case of a grid with 20 GW of combined generation, say half nuclear and half solar. Assuming the nuclear component is composed of ten 1 GW generators, and the solar component has one hundred 100 MW farms.  For reliability, the nuclear component is fully covered by 1 GW of spinning reserve (since the nuclear generators fail randomly and independently).  The solar component requires 10 GW of spinning reserve, since a single big cloud can disable all of them simultaneously.

Obviously, “distributing” the solar generation across an area hundreds of miles across will improve the situtation greatly (as would adding storage).  However, the solar generation must be on a  “stiff grid” for long-distance aggregation to work, which the low voltage (residential) distribution system is not.  As the Germans are finding out, the grid is easier to manage when the solar generation is put on the high voltage (>= 345 kV) part of the grid, like other large generators.

As you point out, if only a small amount of solar generation is present, then the integration challenges are small, but so are the benefits.  The important topic we should be discussing is not “how to reduce our fossil fuel use a little”, but rather “how to make a grid that uses nearly zero fossil fuel”.   For that question, the snow on the solar panels is crucial (as is the observation that winter days are also the shortest of the year, especially in the north), since it reminds us that solar works much better in southern desert location.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Jan 1, 2014 8:02 pm GMT

Bas, Germany is doing some good renewable energy that people in Minnesota are trying to do, also.

For example, a good friend (once my state representative and later the chair of the state’s Public Utilities Commission) was recently (just before Christmas) cited in a newspaper article as now involved with a big biogas plant working with Municipal Utilities and handling farm waste in “The Valley of the Jolly Green Giant.” The technology is purchased from Denmark and copies 7,000 installations in Germany. Waste management plus electric power when and where it is needed. To be honest, the guy had a serious heart attact, and I didn’t know he was still alive. This is an effort activists fight against, here.

And in today’s Minneapolis paper it was reported activists got an administrative law judge to demand a $250 million solar panel project proceed. And in a readers comment I learned from a nuclear engineer that the biggest source of renewable energy in Minnesota is burning garbage with wood. Another German favorite opposed by activists and government subsidies.

We are not opposed to renewable energy, but we would like to choose what works best for us.


Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 1, 2014 9:13 pm GMT


German studies and experience show the combination works best.
Solar and wind combined is already great improvement as wind blows harder during the night.
In addition burning waste+biomass which may also resolve part of the fluctuations of wind+solar.
Grid expansion and interconnecting are also cheap methods to make the fluctuations less.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 1, 2014 9:22 pm GMT

Here in Netherlands, Germany, Denmark all electricity cables are underground (also telephone, etc).
These wires at poles and houses in the US (e.g. New Yersey) look so shabby.
So much like underdeveloped country.

And they are one of the reasons that US power supply is so unreliable (at least 8 times more unreliable than Germany).

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 1, 2014 11:33 pm GMT

Yup Jim you are right.  Underground utilities must provide a much more reliable system.  I have not seen any studies to that effect but it seems logical.  Not only that, it just looks a whole lot better.  Way to go Calgary – that is one pretty picture.  

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 2, 2014 12:34 am GMT

Lots of good information in your posting so there is not really much to argue about, LOL.  Just a couple of points. 

Standby, spinning reserves, hot standby, and other stuff we keep in various states of readiness is a science unto itself. Take your example of the nuclear plant that is backed up by 1 GW of something. As you stated it could be another nuclear unit, 10 solar plants or 5 Combined Cycle Gas Turbine units but it really doesn’t matter much. You are going to need 1 GW if either the 1 nuclear unit goes down or the 10 solar units go down or all of the gas turbines break at the same time.  The advantage I think you are trying to describe is that those solar facilities and gas turbines are not going to be in the shade or the turbines are not going break all at the same time. They are basically spread throughout California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. It is highly unlikely to lose all of those units at one time and therefor smaller is in some cases better, LOL.  I wonder, do you think this might be part of the reason why we are beginning to get serious about small modular reactors? 

It is also true that most, if not all, of the large utility scale solar facilities like the ones we have in California and Arizona feed the GRID and not LOCAL distribution.  Unfortunately there are still millions of people out there who think the power for their home is coming from their local power plant. This might be true for some local utility or Co-Op but for the vast majority of Americans their power could be coming from 1000 miles away at any given time.  

Good discussion. Oh and the storage you mention – yup sign me up for about 10 GW of that as well.

Have a great New Year.  

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 2, 2014 4:08 pm GMT

Thomas, “grid” and “local” are imprecise designations and can refer to completely different things in different ISO service areas. In the case of CAISO, day-ahead forecasts are made up exclusively of participants on CAISO’s Master Generating Capability List, which until last year was made up exclusively of generation facilities within California (in 2013, it added a solar generation facility located in Pahrump, NV with direct transmission to Southern California Edison). CAISO does integrate power from out of state, for example hydro from the Pacific DC Intertie or nuclear from Palo Verde in Arizona, but these are long-term contracts which are finalized well in advance of demand. They are not capable of responding to demand in real time or even day-ahead, for the simple reason that interstate connections create bottlenecks where stability could be jeopardized by short-term routing. This routing is generally not coordinated between ISOs.

A small amount of energy “leaks” within and even across interconnections. This is the result of largely unpredictable voltage fluctuations; nonetheless all of it is tracked, an accounting is made, and utilities are compensated through bilateral agreements. But very little energy comes from 1000 miles away – the bulk is from participants in the ISO’s local day-ahead market.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 2, 2014 3:05 am GMT

In my town in the central US, we are finally starting use underground lines in new neighborhoods.  In older neighborhoods, we have the worst of both worlds:  power on overhead lines which are surrounded by trees which were planted to improve the aesthetics, but today serve mainly to disable power during storms.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 2, 2014 10:06 am GMT


“<i>I wonder, do you think this might be part of the reason why we are beginning to get serious about small modular reactors? </i>”
The idea behind Small Modular Reactors (SMR) is that mass production of them will bring a lower cost price per MWh. Similar as with solar panels, cars, computers, etc.
So they will be produced in a factory and transported to the customer.

It would also imply SMR’s everywhere, assume 1000 of them in USA.
Which implies more risks on enhanced radiation levels, etc.
So in order to make that acceptable, the nuclear industry has a promotion campaign to convince that radiation is almost harmless. Similar to the tobacco industry that a cigarette a day is harmless, and the asbestos industry.

Hence the big underestimation of the Chernobyl deaths and no heredity effects (WHO under censorship of IAEA in radiation matters due to 1959 agreement), while other research showed ~a million (most still will come) and big heredity effects (more Down, etc. e.g: ).

Also the statements of no health effects regarding Fukushima before any research was done. While first research results are now coming that do show radiation health damage.

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 2, 2014 4:26 pm GMT

Very good comment Bob. Hopefully your posting will get read by many people.

Expanding the publics awareness of how our electricity system works is good thing. As electrical systems become more and more common in other sectors of our society like transportation; the need to understand how things like generation, transmission and distribution work will become even more important.  If you find this subject interesting, here is a short piece from MIT you might enjoy.



Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 3, 2014 1:29 am GMT

This failure of cement poles goes way beyond our electric grid Jim.  There has been at least one or maybe two nuclear power plants in the U.S. that have had major structural areas of their pre-stressed concrete containment structures crack and need replacement. The failure mode is as you described, water infiltration, then freezing and thawing then rusting of the reinforcing steel and sub structure.


New formulations [additives] to concrete have eliminated most of this problem but it still exists in unprotected concrete structures near ocean environments. Sounds like your son-in-law has a pretty sweet job


Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Jan 3, 2014 2:03 am GMT

To Bas Gresnigt:  

I worked at a nuclear power plant in California for over 20 years and was lucky enough to be selected to benchmark 10 other nuclear plants in the U.S. for their Best Practices.  That was an enlighting experience. After retirement it was time to take a serious look at my career in the nuclear power industry including both its streangths and weaknesses.  It was after the evaluation of my lifes experinces that I began to actively support renewable energy systems.

The next time a story is posted where nuclear power is the subject I would be happy to post something.


Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 3, 2014 2:16 am GMT

Actually, switching from large nuclear reactors to SMRs, for the same total power output will not increase the risk of enhanced radiation levels.  Risk must be understood to be (likelihood * consequences).  Because each SMR contains proportionately less nuclear material than a large reactor, the maximum possible release from each GW of small reactors is about same as a GW of larger reactors.

Of course all recently designed reactors (Gen III reactors) have much lower probability of a radioactive release than older Gen II reactors, due to more safety focused designs (e.g. substitution of passive safety systems for active systems with redundancy, longer toleration of station blackout, etc).  But it gets even more favorable with SMRs since the smaller size allows even more robustness (e.g. “integral designs” with no large pipes that can break and cause loss of cooling; some designs can passively cool themselves indefinitely).

The result is that we can easily increase our use of nuclear power from today’s levels to provide 100% of our energy without any increase in the likely amount of radioactivity releases.

Regarding the effects of low level radiation exposure:  I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your beliefs go against mainstream science.  Like belief in creationism and climate change denial, fear of low level radiation has many emotionally committed believers, including a small number of scientists, who persist in claiming to have evidence to support their beliefs, in spite of the fact that their beliefs conflict with mainstream science.  Bernard Cohen has a good chapter on radiation in his free on-line book, and Brave New Climate recently posted a series of articles.

Belief in creationism is a completely personal choice, since it harms no one.  Fear of low level radiation is proven to be extremely deadly, having caused enormous harm (for example, hundreds who died in needless evacuations around Fukushima, and 100,000 needless abortions around Chernobyl, and the hundreds who will die annually from fossil fuel pollution due to the ill-conceived  shutdown of Japanese nuclear plants).

Like it or not, our planet is bathed in radiation.  The natural background dose varies a lot from place to place, but the variation is completely uncorrelated with any cancer rates.  

Here’s an article from The Breakthrough Institute: Nuclear Saved 1.8 Million Lives


Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 3, 2014 9:30 am GMT


Your remark concerning less core material implies that you think that new disasters, also with SMR’s, will occur.


Even if Indian Point releases only 1% of the radio-activity of Fukushima (e.g. plane crash); with the right winds New York city will become a desolated town. Remember that 99% of the Fukushima radiation was blown directly to the ocean.


And the chance that radio-activity gets free is 10 times bigger if the SMR is 10 times smaller as you need then 10times more SMR’s than ‘normal’ reactors. So SMR’s should then be 10 times more safe, which they are not.

With 10 reactors in stead of 1:
– chance for mistakes is 5 times bigger (I assume 2x improvement);
– security improvements are more diffictult to implement afterwards, as those come from a factory.
Only Gen.IV reactors may be a real improvement, but that security level they do not have.


Low level radiation.
Main stream science support the idea that low level radiation damage health linear with the amount of radiation (LNT). Just check the report regarding low level radiation by the USA National Academy of Science (BEIR VII), composed by a committee of ~20scientists from many countries (USA, Can, UK, France, etc).
After review of the scientific literature they again conclude LNT is the best estimation.


Near all radiation experts in Germany, Austria and other European countries are convinced that low level radiation damage health. All medical radiation experts are convinced too. Important portion believe it damages more than LNT predicts at low level and they have empirical results with humans that show it.


E.g. check the scientific study I linked in my previous post.

Or this rock-solid study which proves serious damage (10-30% extra stillbirth, Down, malformations, neural tube defects, etc) at 0.5mSv/a levels due to Chernobyl radiation in Germany:


Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 3, 2014 9:42 am GMT


Your refer towards the highly biased and debunked James Hansen report with wrong conclusions.

If one takes the real numbers than it turns around and Nuclear becomes more dangerous than gas and even modern coal/lignite burners that use the low temperature burning process (which hardly generate any toxic).

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Jan 3, 2014 1:29 pm GMT

Nathan, I would usually ignore a swipe at “creationism” but you need to learn some genetics before lecturing on the topic.

Modern agriculture is based on Mendelian genetics, which is quite different from Darwin’s evolution theory. What might look like corn, isn’t entirely corn anymore.

So I suspect your confidence in multiplying deadly radiation sources is similarly flawed.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 4, 2014 6:50 am GMT

Radiation release is not a yes or no question; the issue is how often and how much.  Please re-read my comment about SMRs.

Regarding the hazards of low level radiation, the Lancet article about Chernobyl effects you linked supports my claim that mainstream science holds that the hazards are low, it says: “The findings, published in Pediatrics, are in stark contrast with a major, but highly criticised, 2005 study by WHO [the United Nation’s World Health Organization] and other groups, which suggested that there was no evidence of an increased risk of birth defects in areas contaminated by the accident.”  Further, “According to their [the WHO’s] study, there had only been 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers and nine children with thyroid cancer) and an estimated 4000 deaths in future because of the accident.”

The Lancet does not claim there is a scientific consensus that the WHO report was wrong, but only that some smaller studies (including one funded by the German Green Party) concluded the WHO report should be reconsidered.  As I said, there are a few scientists that take contrary positions on any issue; this does not mean that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

On the issue of the birth defects and other non-cancer effects listed in the Lancet article and the “rock-solid study” you cited, the National Academies’ BEIR VII report says this: “However, there is no direct evidence of increased risk of non-cancer diseases at low does, and data are inadequate to quantify this risk if it exists.”  So again, the Lancet article and the other study are clearly outside of mainstream science.

The WHO’s prediction of thousands of cancers from the Chernobyl accident is reassuringly small when we consider that Fukushima confirmed the expectation of much smaller release of radioactive material in light water reactor accidents, when we consider that Fukushima type accidents have only occurred once in the 40 year history of Gen II reactors, when we consider that Gen III reactors are expected to have major radioactive releases much, much less often than the Gen II designs, when we consider that the vast majority of the released radioactivity has a half-life of 30 years or less, and when we consider that nuclear power mostly displaces fossil fuel combustion (the pollution from which kills over 10,000 Americans each year).

When we consider alternatives to nuclear, the choices is really only fossil fuel, or a 30/70 mix of renewables and fossil fuel.  Of course the future may bring breakthroughs, but for now, renewables are a less effective way to displace fossil fuel than nuclear: high penetration renewables are not currently cost competitive with high penetration nuclear; hence nuclear is better for the environment and for human health. 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 4, 2014 8:38 am GMT

Somehow the studies published in the special number of Environmental Science and Pollution Research are missed by google and some other search engines.
So alsoe by the BEIR VII report.

You wrote:”Radiation release is not a yes or no question; the issue is how often and how much.”
That implies that with more reactors the general background radiation goes up.
And that delivers real harm to the whole world population as shown by many studies.

Washingtonsblog has a good overview:



Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 5, 2014 4:20 pm GMT

“…general background radiation goes up.  And that delivers real harm to the whole world population as shown by many studies.”

The concept that your comments and the articles you’ve linked misses is the notion that nuclear power is displacing fossil fuel use, which produces a net reduction in “real harm to the whole world population”.

The “linear no-threshhold model” makes it easy to imagine the harm from low dose nuclear radiation, but we must always place that harm in context.  Our society derives enormous benefit (including health benefits) from the use of cheap energy.  We can obtain that energy from nuclear power at much lower cost to human health and the environment, than we can from any plausible combination of other sources.  Singling-out one form of pollution while ignoring others can lead to choices which increase overall harm (e.g. replacing nuclear with much more dangerous fossil fuel).

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 6, 2014 11:18 am GMT

“<i>…nuclear power is displacing fossil fuel use, which produces a net reduction in “real harm…</i>”
It hinders the development of renewable. The huge subsidies spend to nuclear would deliver far more clean power if spend to wind, solar and storage. Because those are far more cheaper as e.g. the new NPP at Hinckley Point shows.

The existing dangerous nuclear plants, parasite on civilians and tax-payers as those have to take the big costs of the huge risks because nuclear law reduces liability of the plant to ridiculous low amounts.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 8, 2014 4:38 am GMT

The huge subsidies spend to nuclear would deliver far more clean power if spend to wind, solar and storage.”

This common claim of the anti-nuclear movement does not match the data from other sources (the utilities that actually buy power plants).  For example, the US EIA says that nuclear energy has an initial levelized cost about the same as wind with its added transmission burden (and much less than solar), but note that the nuclear plant will last three times as long as the wind plant and therefore produce three times as much clean energy (a fact which is effectively ignored in the levelized cost calculation, which discounts future value).

The recent government study from the UK showed that the nuclear addition at Hinkley Point was going to be cheaper than solar or wind. 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on Jan 10, 2014 8:38 am GMT


Amazing how far off reality a report can be and still used as official motivation.
Estimation for levelized costs for big scale solar in 2013 is €191/MWh, while Germany pays €99/MWh FiT for 20years and then whole sale price of ~€40/MWh. That FiT includes a profit margin of ~6%.

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