Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 10:39 pm
Not that I have a single doubt about what you wrote. but would you supply some sources where those numbers can be validated?

In the case of nuke reactors, the cost is not just start up costs and cost to run (while active), but decommisioning/deactivation costs. the once the spent rods are taken out, what do you do with the land. Where do the spent rods go. NIMBYs take note!

I know about the transmission line/distribution issue (I think that's the main reason that shut Pickens massive wind farm down.)
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2009 10:16 pm
You can get the capital and operating costs for various types of electrical power generation on the Department of Energy web site. These costs are tabluated in terms of the installed capacity in terms of Kw-hr. To get this in terms of real output you must divide the unit cost/KW-hr by the capacity factor.

Unfortunately the average power achieved by the various sources varies greatly, based on both economic and physical factors. Coal, gas and nuclear plants are physically limited by maintenance and outage requirements to about 92% of installed capacity. Because nuclear fuel is much cheaper per unit of output, it is the gas and (to a lesser degree) the coal plants that are throttled back or shut down at night when demand tapers off, while the nuclear plants tend to run at 100% capacity 24/7.

Wind power has capacity factors ranging from 20% to 30% in the very newest and best located installations. The world average capacity factor in 2006 was about 24%. You can easily verify this on any number of sites. The wind advocacy groups tend to quote the data for the newest offshore sites and treat that as typical. Check the data for German units - they have recently build a lot of them lately and as I recall their 2008 capacity factor was about 23%.

You can verify the capacity factor for our nuclear plants on the Nuclear regulatory Commission's web site -- the trailing ten year average is about 90%.

Unlike any other power generating plants, nuclear plants are required to include the accumulation of a fund to pay for their decommissioning and demolition at the end of their lives in their current rates. Even with this they are cheaper than wind, coal and gas. Cleaning up the land is not a particularly complex problem. Virtually no contamination gets outside the containment structure. Cleaning up a coal plant or an oil refinery is a much more complex problem. I directed the cleanup at the Department of Energy site at Rocky Flats for a few years - a much more complex problem than a nuclear power plant.

The spent fuel from nuclear power plants is stored in water tanks and dry cask facilities adjacent to the plants. It is not much of a problem and we have enough unused capacity for several more decades - even if Yucca Mountain isn't opened up (a facility that was paid for by taxes levied on nuclear power plants).
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