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THE ECONOMICS OF NUCLEAR REACTORS: RENAISSANCE OR RELAPSE?

THE ECONOMICS OF NUCLEAR REACTORS: RENAISSANCE OR RELAPSE?

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Published by MikeSofaer

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Published by: MikeSofaer on Feb 19, 2010
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10/23/2011

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 THE
 
ECONOMICS
 
OF
 
NUCLEAR 
 
REACTORS:
ENAISSANCE OR 
ELAPSE 
M
 ARK 
C
OOPER 
 S
ENIOR 
F
ELLOW FOR 
E
CONOMIC
 A 
NALYSIS
 I
NSTITUTE FOR 
E
NERGY AND THE
E
NVIRONMENT
  V 
ERMONT
L
 AW
S
CHOOL
 
 J
UNE
2009
 
i
CONTENTS
I
SSUE
B
RIEF
1Findings ApproachHope and Hype vs. Reality in Nuclear Reactor Costs The Economic Cost of Low Carbon Alternatives A Comprehensive View of Options for Meeting Electricity Needs The Impact of SubsidiesConclusionI.
 
I
NTRODUCTION
10 A. The Troubling History of Nuclear Reactor CostsB. Purpose and OutlineII.
 
 T
HE
S
 TRUCTURE OF
 A 
NALYSIS
14 A.
 
 The Challenge of New Nuclear Reactor Cost AnalysisB.
 
 The Consumer Pocketbook and Societal Cost Benefit AnalysisC.
 
Main Attributes of Cost Studies1. Study Characteristics2. Cost ElementsIII.
 
 T
HE
H
IGH AND
ISING
C
OST OF
N
UCLEAR 
EACTORS
22 A. The Range of Current Cost EstimatesB. Construction Costs1. Overnight and Busbar Costs2. Financial ModelsC. Operating CostsD. EscalatorsE. Capacity Factors and Plant Life of Nuclear ReactorsIV.
 
 T
HE
P
 AST AS
P
ROLOGUE
:
THE
P
ERSISTENT
U
PWARD
S
PIRAL
33
OF
N
UCLEAR 
EACTOR 
C
OSTS
 
 A.
 
 The Vexing History of Nuclear Reactor CostsB.
 
 Too Cheap to Meter Becomes Too Expensive to Build
 
C.
 
 The Importance of Construction PeriodsC. A Range of Cost EstimatesD. Conclusion V.
 
N
UCLEAR 
EACTOR 
C
OSTS
C
OMPARED TO
O
 THER 
O
PTIONS
43 A. Costs of AlternativesB.
 
 AvailabilityC.
 
 The Consumer Cost of Premature Adoption of Nuclear Power VI.
 
 A 
SSESSING THE
N
UCLEAR 
O
PTION
54 A. Risk 
 
ii
B. ExternalitiesC. Subsidies1. Taxpayer Subsidies for Capital Costs2. Ratepayer Subsidies of Utilities’ Construction Work inProgress (CWIP)D. The Bottom Line on Nuclear PowerE. ConclusionB
IBLIOGRAPHY 
68E
NDNOTES
 
70LIST OF FIGURESFigure ES-1: Overnight Cost of Completed Nuclear Reactors 3Compared to Projected Costs of Future Reactors
 
Figure ES-2: Busbar Costs of Alternatives by Estimating Entity 5Figure ES-3: Electricity Supply Curve in a Carbon Constrained 6EnvironmentFigure ES-4: A Multi-dimensional View of Alternatives 9Figure I-1: Overnight Cost of Completed Nuclear Reactors Compared 11to Projected Costs of Future ReactorsFigure I-2: Busbar Costs of Completed Nuclear Reactors Compared 12to Projected Costs of Future ReactorsFigure II-1: The Complex Structure of Nuclear Reactor Costs 15Figure II-2: California Energy Commission Cost of Generation Model 16Figure
 
II-3:
 
Outcomes in The Consumer and Societal Analysis 19Figure III-1: Institutional Origins and Levels of Recent Cost Projections 24Figure III-2: Escalating Overnight Cost Projections of Key Early 25“Nuclear Renaissance” PredictorsFigure III-3: Reconciling Overnight and Busbar Costs of Selected Studies 27Figure III-4: Operating Cost Assumptions in Various Studies 28Figure III-5: Reconciling Overnight and Busbar Costs Including 28O&M AdjustmentFigure III-6: Price Trajectories and Explanations 30Figure III-7: Date of Operation and Capacity Factors 31Figure IV-1: History of Reactor Orders and Cancellations 34Figure IV-2: Actual and Projected Capital Costs by Date of 35Commencement of Construction Completed ReactorsFigure IV-3: Actual and Predicted Capital Costs Completed Reactors 36and Projected Costs of Future ReactorsFigure IV-4: U.S. Nuclear Reactor Construction Periods 37Figure IV-5: Construction Periods and Overnight Costs: Completed Plants 38Figure IV-6: Construction Periods and Overnight Costs: Projections 38Figure IV-7: Construction Expenditures across Time 39Figure IV-8: Analysts Overnight and Busbar Costs 40Figure V-1: Busbar Costs of Alternatives by Estimating Entity 44

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