Findings on US Nuclear Subsidies

Thanks to Doug Koplow at Earth Track for passing along a link to a PowerPoint presentation on US government subsidies to the nuclear power industry. I imagine there’s already been some heated discussion on this information, as it was presented at a symposium on nuclear power and climate change hosted by the anti-nuclear Nuclear Policy Research Institute. Among the findings:

  • Nuclear power continues to be uneconomic without large government subsidies.
  • Federal subsidies for new plants are worth 4 to 8 cents per kWh (levelized cost basis) of nuclear-generated electricity, 60-90% of the generation cost for a new plant. Thus, the majority of the cost of these new plants is being paid by the public, though all of the profits if the plants are successful will be retained by the investors.
  • Studies on the economics of nuclear power over the past few years routinely ignore baseline subsidies (worth 0.8-4.2 c/kWh) to nuclear in their calculations of economic viability of the technology. Many also use unrealistic assumptions for the cost of capital.
  • The Price-Anderson Act, which limits investor liability for damages that nuclear accidents cause the surrounding population, provides coverage of diminishing value.

I’ll probably take a beating for simply presenting this information without comment, but I’m mostly interested in hearing responses. I’m still not convinced that nuclear power is the best answer for addressing climate change, but I’d rather open this up to more informed parties to discuss the implications of Earth Talks’ claims.

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