why is the—admittedly high—cost of nuclear power such a stumbling block, when the admittedly high cost of clean energy such as wind and solar power is not? Both nuclear power and renewable energy play at a disadvantage as long as carbon emissions are free; both will benefit if carbon emissions are taxed.
In the meantime, wind and solar power are significantly more expensive than nuclear. T. Boone Pickens’ Texas wind farm, to pick one high-profile example, was meant to cost $12 billion for four gigawatts of power. Make that 1.6 gigawatts of power, since wind farm output rarely exceeds 40% of nameplate capacity.
That’s $7.5 billion per gigawatt—more than recent large-scale nuclear cost estimates, and a lot more than boosters of mini nuclear plants are promising: Under $5 billion per gigawatt.
Johnson, of course does not include in his cost estimates any of the hidden cost of renewable energy, the grid extensions costs, the load leveling charges, the cost of maintaining backup. Otherwise, Johnson's assumptions and cost figures are similar to mine.