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The biggest problem with nuclear is making the numbers work. You end up paying something like 80% of the cost 1 GW/year * 50 years before you get your first cent in revenue. That's a very tough thing to finance. Cost and especially time overruns during construction can easily tank the project financially. About the only way to make it work is to be a regulated utility that has a long term captured audience for its power. One that's very likely to be the same size or bigger for the next half century. Even there you still have to worry about technological change pulling the carpet out from under you in 20 or 30 years.

That's leaving aside the questions of insurance, local and federal regulatory approval, and waste disposal / decommissioning costs.




That doesn't make any sense. Wind and Solar PV have to be financed for probably 99% of the upfront cost. All power generation is like that - very capital intensive.


Wind and solar can be built MW project by MW project, and turned up in weeks or months. You'll take years just to get a nuclear reactor approved.

EDIT: What's that Bezos quote? "Your margin is my opportunity?" Same for renewables. Your delays are my opportunity.


I'm unfamiliar with the term "MW project", could you please clarify?


Nameplate capacity is the number registered with authorities for classifying the power output of a power station usually expressed in megawatts (MW). Power plants with an output consistently near their nameplate capacity have a high capacity factor.


If you can raise $1B/year for 10 years for an energy project, to build nuclear, you'd have to wait roughly 5 years to accumulate enough capital to start construction and then it'd be at very least 5 more years before you got a dime in revenue. If you wanted to deploy solar, you could buy $1B/year off a manufacturing line, start earning revenue from day 1, and start making payments to your investors.


Understand your point - but you can split nuclear into smaller phases too and phase them in.

Solar and wind aren't immune to this either. You don't want to generally build things say 10MW at a time - that would require 100 rounds of planning, regulator approval, engineering design and the like for a big utlity scale solar and wind plant. You generally do it in big chunks too. And there have been big holdups especially in getting grid interconnect.


> If you wanted to deploy solar, you could buy $1B/year off a manufacturing line, start earning revenue from day 1, and start making payments to your investors.

IE What SolarCity is doing with their SolarBonds and the solar panel factory they bought in upstate NY.


Of course that does make sense. To build a wind mill and to distribute the costs is a totally different kind of economic endeavor than to build and finance a nuclear power plant, which can only be profitable with state subventions anyway.


Which grid-scale wind or solar projects are profitable without being subsidized by the government?

I'm not aware of any.


Wanted to make the point that you don't have to have grid-scale projects if you distribute it. One windmill at a time, each with its own financement, investors and profitability. I admit that was not clear.


Virtually all solar and wind projects of any significant size are heavily subsidized by the federal, state, or local government. I am unaware of any exceptions to this.


Neither is the person who modded this down, apparently. :-)


So you're saying that no nuclear plants are going to be built because of the threat of renewable energy sources becoming cheaper or perhaps other tech like fusion?:

http://www.geek.com/science/germany-is-ready-to-switch-on-it...


Are you comparing an experimental technology like Germany's fusion reactor to proven wind generation that is driving commercial reactors out of business?

http://midwestenergynews.com/2015/05/01/exelon-we-have-to-ha...


I'm saying that > 50 years is a long time and a lot can happen.

I could have also pointed at Google's Sunroof project as an example of a large company betting that solar can compete:

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/212363-google-is-launchin...

I couldn't guess what energy producing and distribution technologies will be most prevalent in 100 years.

Advancements could just as easily be made relating to fission reactors, so I don't think it's fair to say that large power companies shouldn't invest in more reactors. But, I agree there is probably risk in investing in them.


The longest-lived "proven" wind project in CA is shutting down. http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_29048836/altam...


800 of 4900 turbines are shutting down.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Pass_Wind_Farm

It's not clear from that what the other operators are doing, but there seems to be some work put into replacing smaller turbines with larger ones that are less disruptive to birds.


These are old, small turbines going offline. They will be replace by a 100 new ones that are going to produce a lot more power.

Funnily enough, these old wind turbines are worth good money in pure raw materials. Expect near 100% recycling for them.





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