Monday, January 28, 2008

Should America Build More Nuclear Power Plants?

That's the question that Patrick Kiger at the Science Channel is asking his readers:

So what do you think? Should we build more nuclear power plants? Or should we focus harder on energy conservation and developing solar, wind and geothermal technologies instead?
The short answer, of course, is that we're going to need to build all of those things in order to both meet future demand and to maintain a diverse energy mix that promotes security of supply. There's plenty more, and I encourage our readers to stop by and let Kiger and the Science Channel community know what we think about the issue.


Gunter said...

Well, maybe not...

AP reports the plan for an Idaho nuclear plant was scuttled based on the economics of building a nuclear plant--a cost projection that is steadily rising even before the first shovel goes in the ground.

Similarly, the same unpredictable cost tag of construction has put the screeching breaks on Scana Corp.'s (South Carolina Electric & Gas) plan to submit an application to NRC. Rather than needing to squirrel away $1.5 to $2.5 billion, the projected price tag has jumped to $6 to $9 billion per unit.

Again, Moody's is saying there is no way to predict the sticker shock.

David Bradish said...


I guess you missed my post last week on how construction commodities such as steel and concrete have increased dramatically in price over the past several years. If you had read it you would have found that these price increases are affecting all new power plants and not just new nuclear plants.

According to Platts' Nuclear News Flash last Friday, here's SCANA's explanation for the cancellation:

"We're still very pro-nuclear," he said. "We're just taking a step back and pausing." He cited the rising costs of construction, particularly materials such as steel and concrete, as the reason for the company's hesitancy. He
acknowledged, however, that the increasing cost of materials was "going up across the industry."

Industry meaning power industry.

Alexandra Prokopenko said...

America should build more nuclear power plants, at the same time developing renewable power like wind and solar, for both of those will be needed if you want to keep the growing economy running.

Gunter said...

I guess Wall Street missed your post as well.

David Bradish said...

No they didn't. Check out page 9 from Moody's October 2007 report - New Nuclear Generation in the U.S.:

Dramatic increases in commodity prices over the recent past, exacerbated by a skilled labor shortage, have led to significant increases in the over-all cost estimates for major construction projects around the world. In the case of new nuclear, the very detailed specifications for forgings and other critical components for the construction process can add a new element of complexity and uncertainty. As noted previously, labor is in
short supply and commodity costs have been extremely volatile. Most importantly, the commodities and world wide supply chain network associated with new nuclear projects are also being called upon to build other generation facilities, including coal as well as nuclear, nationally and internationally. Nuclear operators are also competing with major oil, petrochemical and steel companies for access to these resources, and thus represent a challenge to all major construction projects.

NIRS is the only one who's missing it.

Gunter said...

To the contrary... you cite a few of the reasons why Wall Street is not bullish on "Should America Build More Nuclear Power Plants?"

Again, it takes governments, not markets to build nuclear power.

Anonymous said...

Wind will never be the answer to America's energy issues...neither will water....unless you are talking about the chemical reaction with water. Nuclear is the way to go. It provides the most power, the quickest, and most efficiently. We cant perdict steel and concrete prices. Build now ask questions later. Remember we nee Plutonium reactors at some point as the supply of uranium is limited as fossil fuels. Many people dont realize that some alternative energy sources produce WAY more CO2 than fossil fuels.