Friday, January 22, 2010

EIA: 2016 Nuclear Costs will be Lower than Renewables.

The EIA has published its latest projection of 2016 new energy costs. Little has changed since the revised estimate published in April 2009. Once again the EIA believes that conventional nuclear power is the lowest price energy option. Anti-nuclear propagandist often mention the high price of nuclear as a reason for rejecting the nuclear option, but the EIA's estimates peg the cost of nuclear, though admittedly high, as substantially lower than the cost of onshore wind, and much lower than the cost of offshore wind, Solar PV, and solar thermal. Energy costs inflation appears to be still with us and the EIA estimates have increased the cost of nuclear, and onshore wind. the estimated costs of Solar Thermal and offshore wind have dropped from the 2009 estimate, but both are still far more expensive than nuclear. In addition the EIA cost estimates do not include he hidden costs associated with renewables. The introduction yo the cost estimates states,
The duty cycle for intermittent renewable resources of wind and solar is not operator controlled, but dependent on the weather or solar cycle (that is, sunrise/sunset). The availability of wind or solar will not necessarily correspond to operator dispatched duty cycles and, as a result, their levelized costs are not directly comparable to those for other technologies (even where the average annual capacity factor may be similar). In addition, intermittent technologies do not provide the same contribution to system reliability as dispatched resources, and may require additional system investment (not shown) to achieve a desired level of reliability.
These investments would include large scale expansion of grid long range transmission infrastructure, energy storage facilities or natural gas fired generators, and redundant renewable generating capacity. Thus the levelized cost of solar and wind do not reflect the entire cost of generating electricity using renewable sources. Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study(EWITS) estimated that a 20% onshore wind penetration of the Eastern Interconnect would require a $93 billion grid expansion.
That report found that the annualized cost of electricity from a 20% penetrated grid would be about 10% higher than the low wind reference case. The EWITS also found that without the grid long distance transmission expansion, grid expenses would be even higher. Finally the study suggested that an aggressive attempt to expand the wind penetration to 30% which included the use of offshore wind, would increase grid annualized cost by nearly 30% above the reference case. Thus a greater grid penetration by wind lead to higher electrical costs. The added annualized cost for greater wind penetration occurred despite a considerable decline in fuel related costs associated with greater wind penetration.

The EIA estimates the total levelized cost of the common post-carbon electrical options to be,
Onshore Wind 149.3
Offshore Wind 191.1
Solar PV 396.1
Solar Thermal 256.6
Advanced Nuclear 119.0

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