Update on the Cost of Nuclear Power

Yangbo Du and John E. Parsons

May 2009

Yangbo Du and John E. Parsons, May 2009

We update the cost of nuclear power as calculated in the MIT (2003) Future of Nuclear Power study. Our main focus is on the changing cost of construction of new plants. The MIT (2003) study provided useful data on the cost of then recent builds in Japan and the Republic of Korea. We provide similar data on later builds in Japan and the Republic of Korea as well as a careful analysis of the forecasted costs on some recently proposed plants in the US. Using the updated cost of construction, we calculate a levelized cost of electricity from nuclear power. We also update the cost of electricity from coal- and gas-fired power plants and compare the levelized costs of nuclear, coal and gas. The results show that the cost of constructing a nuclear plant have approximately doubled. The cost of constructing coal-fired plants has also increased, although perhaps just as importantly, the cost of the coal itself spiked dramatically, too. Capital costs are a much smaller fraction of the cost of electricity from gas, so it is the recent spike in the price of natural gas that have contributed to the increased cost of electricity. These results document changing prices leading up to the current economic and financial crisis, and do not incorporate how this crisis may be currently affecting prices.


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