We talk all the time about the terrible economics of nuclear power. Every aspect of them is, without exception, terrible:
• We see very little prospect of construction costs falling and every likelihood of them rising further.
• We calculate that a new nuclear station will require €65/MWh (?8.5/MWh) in real terms year in year out to hit its breakeven hurdle rate.
• The returns for new nuclear development will need to be underpinned by the government and the risks shared with the taxpayer / consumer.
• Evidence to date suggests time delays in new nuclear construction can be significant.
• Construction delays and planning problems have led to a 77% increase in construction costs at the Olkiluoto site [in Finland].
• In a purely merchant market (such as the UK) where wholesale power prices need to cover construction costs over the life of the project, there is no active way for a developer to recover cost overruns.
• Neither the UK nor the US have yet approved any designs and although it will be a lengthy process anyway, amendments and additional configurations for each country's demands could be highly problematic.
Now we know what some of you are thinking: here we go again, it’s anti-technology Greenpeace. Look at them trying to send the human race back to living in caves, the commies. Just where do they get this stuff? I bet they’re making it up.
What’s that? Didn’t we mention it? The above statements aren’t ours. They’re taken from a report called ‘New Nuclear – The Economics Say No’ written by Citigroup. The report describes the financial risks of building new nuclear reactors as ‘Corporate Killers’.
Now Citigroup aren’t anti-technology communists who want the human race to go back to living in caves (neither are Greenpeace as it happens but people don’t believe the evidence). They are an ‘international financial conglomerate with operations in consumer, corporate, and investment banking and insurance.’ .
In other words, they are hard-headed capitalists looking to make as much money as possible. Read the report for yourself – it’s only 14 pages. Citigroup don’t think new nuclear reactors are the way to make big piles of cash (or piles of cash of any size for that matter). If you don’t believe us, believe them.
See also: Congress Should Follow Wall Street's Lead And Shun New Reactors