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Nuclear Costs are Down and Performance is Up … Again

Michael Purdie
The following is a guest post by NEI's Michael Purdie.

In 2015, total generating costs for U.S. nuclear generation declined to $35.50/MWh from $36.35/MWh, a two percent decrease (2015 dollars).  Total generating costs are the “all-in” costs that include fuel, capital, and operating expenses.

As the table below shows, the costs decreased roughly evenly between fuel ($0.31/MWh), capital ($0.22/MWh), and operations ($0.33/MWh).   While the costs declined in 2015, performance improved.  The nuclear industry operated at 92.2% capacity factor, which was an increase from 2014 (91.7%) and 2013 (89.9%).

The nuclear industry is fighting to be valued properly in the electricity markets.  Not only do nuclear plants provide electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they provide clean energy, grid reliability, price stability, and fuel diversity.  Each of these attributes provides value that is not always priced into the market.  In a challenging economic environment, the industry is working to lower its cost profile while maintaining safe and efficient performance.

Recently, the nuclear industry and NEI has undertaken a program called Delivering the Nuclear Promise.  The goal is to reduce total generating costs across the industry by 30%.  In taking a holistic look at costs through Delivering the Nuclear Promise, the nuclear industry is building upon improvements shown over the last three years to accelerate nuclear energy’s competitiveness in electricity markets.

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