University has reported that solar energy costs are now cheaper
than nuclear energy costs after a "historic crossover"
in North Carolina.
paper on this topic was written by John O. Blackburn,
professor of economics at Duke University in North Carolina, and Sam
Cunningham, a graduate student at Duke. The paper is titled "Solar
and Nuclear Costs - The Historic Crossover," and shows that
change in costs on both solar and nuclear energy has finally forced
them to meet, and then solar stole the show by becoming the new
low-in-price renewable energy resource.
energy is a clean renewable energy resource that doesn't present much
risk, but the problem has been that it's too expensive for everyone
to implement. On the other hand, there is nuclear energy, which has
several risks associated with using it such as damage to the
environment from uranium mining, the possible creation of nuclear
weapons and issues with the transportation and storage of nuclear
waste. But until now, nuclear energy has always been cheaper to use.
the past decade or so, nuclear
energy costs have been rising while solar energy costs have
been falling. According to Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic
analysis at Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and
Environment, costs for nuclear energy have increased dramatically
from $3 billion per reactor in 2002 to $10 billion per reactor in
2010. What's worse is that these prices are expected to climb, and
U.S. taxpayers could end up paying hundreds of billions or trillions
of dollars "more than needed to achieve our low carbon goals"
if the government helps push
the use of nuclear energy, which is exactly what it's
nuclear power companies are obviously pushing for nuclear energy use
in the U.S. hoping for loan guarantees, tax credits and subsidies, it
looks as though government on both the federal and state levels are
pushing for it as well, according to Diana Powers of The New
1943 to 1999, the U.S. government paid nearly $151 billion, in 1999
dollars, in subsidies for wind, solar and nuclear power, Marshall
Goldberg of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a research
organization in Washington, wrote in a July 2000 report," wrote
Powers. "Of this total, 96.3 percent went to nuclear power.
the state level, the industry has also pressed the case for
'construction work in progress,' a financing system that requires
electricity users to pay for the cost of new reactors during their
construction and sometimes before construction starts. With long
construction periods and frequent delays, this can mean that
electricity users start to pay higher prices as much as 12 years
before the plants produce electricity."
now that Blackburn and Cunningham have showed that solar
energy costs have met nuclear energy costs, which occurred
at 16 cents per kilowatt hour, then fell below nuclear costs, there
is hope that the push for nuclear will slow down and that the
government may look to a combination of solar and other renewable
energy resources that are low carbon and low cost.
should understand that both new solar and new nuclear power will cost
more than present electricity generation costs," Blackburn and
Cunningham's paper states. "That is, electricity costs will rise
in any case for most customers, especially those who do not institute
substantial energy efficiency upgrades. Power bills will rise much
less with solar generation than with increased reliance on new
and Cunningham see great opportunity for North Carolina - and
U.S. states - with these new findings, and hope that lower
costs of solar, which is much less hazardous than nuclear, will be
implemented. According to their paper, commercial-scale solar
companies are already "offering utilities electricity at 14
cents or less per kWh" while nuclear plants would generate
electricity at 14 to 18 cents per kWh.