[ RadSafe ] Forwarded: Re: rational thought

Jeff Terry terryj at iit.edu
Wed Oct 5 13:43:47 CDT 2011

Please remember to send plain text messages. 


A few days ago, James Salman made some comments (copied below) about electricity generation that I think deserves a bit of a rebuttal.  James stated that wind generation is 2 cents/kWh.  That's not quite true.  Best case estimates for levelized costs (includes production, fuel, and capital construction) of onshore wind generation are about 9.7 cents/kWh and offshore is 24.3 cents/kWh (due to high cost of construction).  New nuclear is 11.4  cents/kWh, comparable to conventional coal, advanced coal and most gas turbine generation.  Solar thermal is over 31 cents/kWh and photovoltaic is 21.  In conclusion, if you want low-carbon generation, new nuclear is considerably less expensive - and that according to Chris Busby is all that counts, right?  Those figures are from the Energy Information Administration so it's your government tax dollars at work and you can believe it.  And incidentally if you look at "old" nuclear, existing plants for which the capital costs are already paid off, then the generation costs are right around 2 cents/kWh and only existing hydro is less.  And you won't be building any significant hydro facilities in the US in the near future.  Too great an environmental impact.  Finally, you cannot forget about reliability and nuclear runs about 90 capacity factors while wind is 34% and solar thermal is 18% and PV only 25%.  You cannot run a grid on a power source that's available on average only 34% of the time and very unpredictable.  And most the public is objecting to expensive, very high voltage transmission lines if you're going to attempt to pull power from other distant states . . . 

Lastly, look at the overall carbon footprint and you see that wind and solar aren't much better there either.  The cost of blade manufacture, concrete foundations, steel tower manufacture, etc. along with high maintenance costs yield a carbon footprint very similar to nuclear that is dominated by fuel production (mining, enrichment, and fabrication) and by decommissioning.  See the report of the UK Office of Science and Technology. 

Bottom line, don't put all your eggs in one basket.  You'll end up with an ugly omelet.   

Eric M. Goldin, CHP
<Eric.Goldin at sce.com> 

Jeff Terry
Assoc. Professor of Physics
Life Science Bldg Rm 166
Illinois Institute of Technology
3101 S. Dearborn St. 
Chicago IL 60616
terryj at iit.edu

More information about the RadSafe mailing list