Study finds nukes more attractive as load factors rise

Generation costs of nuclear power have fallen and become more attractive over the last seven years, according to a new OECD study.

A joint study by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that while coal, gas, nuclear and wind power generation costs were falling due to improved technology and competition, nuclear power had benefited from higher operating rates and higher natural gas prices.

Nuclear operating rates have risen about 10% to 85% of capacity while stable fuel costs are making them more competitive compared with gas-fired plants. Taking into account projected fuel prices, construction, operating and decommissioning costs, and still excluding the impact of carbon dioxide or carbon taxes, nuclear generation costs were the lowest, according to the study.

Nuclear generation costs for plants to be commissioned between 2010 and 2015 are $21/MWh – $50/MWh, compared with coal at $25/MWh – $60/MWh, gas at $37/MWh – $63/MWh and wind at $35/MWh – $140/MWh.