TVA senior vice president of nuclear generation development and construction, Ashok Bhatnagar, has estimated that each of the new AP-1000 reactors at Bellefonte would cost between $2.5 billion to $3 billion to design and build. He reported that the application for the reactors “is very thorough and was prepared and submitted on schedule”.This is good news, because some reports suggested that costs of new nuclear plants might run as high as high as $8 billion. TVA has previously estimated that the cost of the Bellefonte reactors would run between 2.5 to 3.5 billion dollars. Thus TVA has apparently lowered its top estimate by half a billion dollars per reactor. Bellefonteis the sight of a previous TVA reactor building effort. TVA, however has surrendered its licences to build the two 1970's era reactors it originally started to build at Bellefonte. It was not clear how much of the partially completed Bellefonte facility TVA intended to reuse, bet recently released drawing depict new reactor domes and turbine buildings, along with the existing cooling towers. The old reactor domes and turbine structure are shown in the background.
Thus it would appear that the TVA price reflects the cost of new AP-1000 reactors and major set up costs except for cooling towers. Thus it would appear that $3.o billion constitutes the top price for new AP-1000. It might be anticipated that there will be some inflation in the price of parts and materials over the next few years. This winters saw coal fired power plants in China running short of coal due to extreme snow conditions. China is also experiencing increasing coal production shortfalls, necessitating coal importation. It is likely then that china will greatly expand its reactor construction program in the near future. This will, in all probablity set off a round of rapid price increases for reactor parts, as suppliers struggle to keep up with demand. The AP-1000, as well as the GE Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) are at something of an advantage, because of their diminished parts requirement, but neither can expect to entirely escape the inflationary pressures. But it appears that Westinghouse, and quite likely GE have achieved their aim of lowering reactor costs substantially.
Assuming that the the TVA reactors come in at the upward end of their estimated price range, the cost would be around $2.50 per KW of generating capacity. Even assuming a capacity factor of 75% for the reactors and 30% for wind generators, the capitol cost of wind generated electricity would be 50% higher, per actual unit of output. Thus wind has a vary large green premium over nuclear power generated by AP-1000s. Now it might well be that the cost of nuclear installations will rise substantially due to Chinese demand, and the general inflation in the price of steel, concrete and copper. However that inflation will probably affect the price of renewable power sources, and because they require significantly more materials than reactors do, the cost of building new renewable power sources might be subject to even greater inflation that the cost of new nuclear plants. Thus the "green premium" for the cost of wind generated electricity over nuclear generated power is likely to continue for some time to come.