A mix of energy generation which has a low or no nuclear contribution could send the price of electricity generation in 2050 up from around £75/MW to as much as £120/MW, according to a report prepared by KPMG.
Post the Fukushima disaster in Japan the report highlights the economic impacts of electricity generation sources, which need to be considered together with the safety and technological aspects.
Directly comparing the costs of the various power generation options is a tendentious subject, and of course varies according to country specifics (particularly on carbon pricing), typically the relative differences are the same. Recent UK studies into the levelised cost of electricity (i.e. the total capital cost plus the total lifetime operating costs, including a waste and decommissioning fund, divided by the total power produced over the life of the asset, in present value terms) show that nuclear costs range from £55 to £100/ MWh, compared to £130 – £200/MWh for off-shore wind. (The range of values is due to cost efficiencies over time for each of the technologies).
Furthermore, the above costs do not tell the whole story. They only provide prices at the power station gates and do not account for additional network and distribution costs, nor the need for spinning reserve in the system.
KPMG and PB Power carried out an independent study of the impact of these on the UK’s electricity costs based on Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) scenarios for 2050:
“Given that nuclear provides one of the cheapest sources of reliable, low-carbon, base-load generation, responsible governments must consider this as part of the future mix or put the relative economic prosperity of their countries at risk. And to achieve this, governments need to think through – dispassionately and critically – how they are going to facilitate the financing of new nuclear capacity through the structuring of regulatory systems and financial support,” says David Simpson, KPMG’s Head of Nuclear Advisory.