Nuclear remains cheapest power source despite Fukushima meltdowns: government

Kyodo

A panel of nuclear experts on Monday largely approved a government report saying that atomic power remains the cheapest source of electricity despite the rising safety costs triggered by the 2011 Fukushima core meltdowns.

Despite an expected glut in solar power, the government is looking to make nuclear power account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s electricity supply by 2030, underscoring its policy of sticking with atomic power even though the majority of the public remains opposed to restarting its idled reactors.

According to the latest estimate of power generation costs by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, atomic power would cost at least ¥10.3 per kilowatt-hour in 2030 — cheaper than power derived from fossil fuels, natural gas, wind and solar energy.

That’s higher than the ¥8.9 projected in 2011 and is based on a projection that costs for plant decommissioning and compensation from a severe accident would jump to ¥9.1 trillion from the ¥5.8 trillion estimated in 2011, reflecting the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

METI also said additional safety measures required to run a nuclear reactor would cost an average of ¥60.1 billion.

But the increase in overall generation costs is limited because the probability of a nuclear accident would decrease after utilities complete their safety measures, it said.

In the report, the ministry also estimates that coal-fired power will cost ¥12.9 per kwh and liquefied natural gas ¥13.4 per kwh, compared with earlier projections of ¥10.3 and ¥10.9, respectively.

Wind power would cost up to ¥34.7, solar power up to ¥16.4, geothermal power ¥16.8, and hydropower up to ¥27.1 per kwh, the report said.

In its national energy policy adopted last year, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to reduce reliance on nuclear power and promote renewable energy as much as possible, while standing by nuclear as a key power source, citing the importance of a stable electricity supply to economic growth.

Japan is expecting a glut in solar power because utilities refuse to upgrade their power grids to purchase all the energy as mandated under the feed-in tariff system. A study has found that seven of the nation’s utilities lack the transmission network capacity to accept all of the solar power energy that suppliers plan to generate, METI says.

Combined, they can only accept 58 percent of the total, METI said. METI began looking into their transmission capacities after five utilities decided to cap their clean energy intake, revolting against the government’s plan to increase generation of renewable energy in light of the Fukushima disaster.

Under the feed-in tariff system, utilities are obliged to purchase all electricity generated from such sources as solar, wind and geothermal power at fixed rates for a set period.

But the system ran into a roadblock after new suppliers flooded the solar power business, prompting the utilities to suspend signing power-purchasing contracts in September amid fears that overcapacity could cause blackouts..

Currently, all of Japan’s commercial nuclear reactors remain offline to pass a beefed-up safety screenings based on new, more stringent regulations drafted after the Fukushima meltdowns. The government is planning to restart reactors that have met the post-Fukushima safety requirements.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Government subsidies are part of the economies of energy sources. If there is a subsidy that creates a economies of scale for nuclear, then nuclear might be cheap. If there are enough economies of scale for solar, it might be cheaper.

    The economics of nuclear does not usually include the dismantlement and waste disposal because there is a government obligation and subsidy to do that.

    • Loyd Marlow

      So that means they are not costs? ridiculous.

    • jon

      Why do you think the government is not investing in it anymore. Because its costing us billions know and hardly any of the nuclear are broken down and decommissioned yet. So that is why they are not investing because it is not worth it and dangerous.

  • Loyd Marlow

    Cheaper if you live in a bubble and are totally unaware or in denial of the risk , cost of storing fuel, security required, higher paid employees….cheaper nuclear is a nonsensical statement. How much has Fukushima cost so far?

    • jon

      Cost of the running it and making nuclear is cheaper but years after to break them down and cost of spent rods for years how add those cost it 20 times more than anything else

    • jon

      Fukushima will cost trillions of dollars and lives if they really going to fix it. Look if it was Chenobye they had it cemented in and fix up some in 8 months and this is 4 years and nothing it like they dont have a clue or they think its just going to go anyway

  • GBR48

    Please send me the details of the guy who tallied this up. I have a breeding pair of unicorns and a baby dragon he might be interested in buying.

    If you add in the full cost of dealing with nuclear waste from day-to-day industry use and from Fukushima, from start to finish, several hundred years into the future, you can move the decimal point a couple of places to the right.

    Cleaning up after sunshine and wind might then seem a tad cheaper.

  • Jack Work

    Was the cost of eventually evacuating Tokyo factored in to the equation?

    • Starviking

      What evacuation?

      • Jack Work

        Reread. “eventually”.

      • Starviking

        What do you see as 100% requiring the evacuation of Tokyo?

      • Starviking

        How are you 100% sure the Tokyo will have to be evacuated in the future?

    • jon

      Japan so bold that they wouldn’t tell there people and just let them live in it. But then the people would wonder why they moved government in a southern building but they still tell them it ok.

  • rickokona

    Figures dont lie, but liars figure. Absent complete and published data this is just another piece of propaganda from the Japanese government. One more in a long long string of same.

    • black river black

      “Figures dont lie, but liars figure.”
      Exactly.

  • Jamie Clemons

    So then if it is so cheap why does everytime they want to build another nuclear plant the rates go up instead of down? Nuclear is the most expensive form of electricity available.

    So, what would it cost to build, operate and fuel Levy and the equivalent natural gas facility for six decades?

    Levy nuclear: $13.9 billion

    Natural gas: $10.9 billion

    • atomikrabbit

      Can you tell me what the price of natural gas will be in 2075? If so, you could make a fortune in the futures market.

      Besides, you will have to build at least two NG plants during the 60-year lifespan of a Gen-III nuclear plant.

      • Loyd Marlow

        Lets hope we have something better than either by 2075. But lets be realistic, you could build a dozen NG plants and still not equal the risk or expense of a nuclear facility when all true costs are considered.

      • Jamie Clemons

        Building two NG plants are accounted for in the figures and it is still 4 billion dollars cheaper.

      • Starviking

        But you’re not comparing like with like. Nuclear Plant building costs are high, but their fuel costs are very low. We need to account for that.

      • Jamie Clemons

        I believe that was accounted for.

  • Jamie Clemons

    You could run a gas fired turbine for 43 years for the same amount of power that it would cost just to construct a nuclear plant.

    • Starviking

      That seems a bit strange, if gas costs 13.4 Yen per kWh. do yo have a reference?

  • Richard Solomon

    As the comments below note, the figures being quoted by METI seem questionable to me as well. Have they included the cost of 100,000+ people living in temporary housing? The cost of the cleanup which is not yet completed? The cost of the storage of the waste water at Fukushima? The costs of the eventual long term storage of the spent nuclear fuel at the 47 plants around the country?

    Why do the costs of coal and LNG generation go up?

    Why should the utilities be allowed to refuse to accept more solar power? The government should provide more capacity if the solar power threatens the integrity of thegrid.

    Obviously, Abe WANTS nuclear power to come back on line despite what the majority of the public wishes. So, his ministry issues a report that will support his wishes.

    • thedudeabidez

      Exactly.

    • jon

      Trillions and They have it under control if the sacificed a few lives to control it like russia did but that is the only way.

  • thedudeabidez

    Long-term waste storage plan does not exist, so not figured in. Ditto for Fukushima clean-up costs, theoretically because the taxpayer is paying for that not TEPCO although somehow their shareholders are earning profits. Then there are the many government subsidies for the industry which are also not factored in. And last but not least, the environmental costs, which at a minimum are a large chunk of Japanese land rendered inhospitable, not to mention future unknown effects of the continued leakage into the Pacific

    • black river black

      Also, the technology to clean up Fukushima does not currently exist (as admitted by the Decommissioning Chief). So how do you estimate that cost?

      Sometimes economies collapse… In that kind of situation how much does it cost to maintain safely? or turn ”off?
      ‘How much does it cost’ in the terrible case of war to maintain the safety of all nuclear power plants, or continuing the decades of decommissioning under those circumstances, or safely dealing with all of the spent fuel and radioactive waste that have no where to be put? For how long?

      What is the price of our grandchildren’s future?

      • jon

        Its going to be Trillions at the end and if they did what Russia did and sacificed lived to save the better good they had it undercontrol but they are stupid and then want to keep going

  • Marushka France

    Cost of nuclear is astronomical! Fukushima Daiichi’s 3 reactors will need at least the same as Chernobyl:

    “The New Safe Confinement will make the old Chernobyl shelter and remnants of the damaged reactor safe and environmentally secure. Completion of the project is scheduled for the end of 2017. The total cost of the Shelter Implementation Plan, of which the New Safe Confinement is the most prominent element, is estimated to be around €2.15 billion ($3.09 billion). The New Safe Confinement alone accounts for €1.5 billion.”

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Chernobyl-1-3-enter-decommissioning-phase-13041501.html

    And factor in the people of Japan who are suffering. The medical costs of thyroid screening, surgeries, long-term monitoring and health problems yet to be realized. There is no money that could equal just compensation. Japan cutting back on full compensation for the people still in ‘temporary shelters’ – people who are living in too highly contaminated areas is immoral and unethical. Add those costs into a budget. The area of evacuation should be expanded. The costs are being paid by taxpayers – factor that in to these ‘rates.’ Destroying life is too high a cost.

  • jon

    Never will learn until the world is over

  • jon

    You didn’t figure the cost of 25000 years of spent rods costs add that and deconmission cost it 20 dollars a watt and what happen a fukuasmia its going to be trillions of dollars in cost. There going to have to give up and send men in there like Russia did and fix it. There going to have to sacific a few 100 people to fix it.

  • Jamie Clemons

    The decision makers get a bigger cut of the big money from Nuclear that is why all this money is promoting nuclear. They get to raise their electric rates to cover the construction. They get to hire trolls to put down anyone who disagrees with nuclear on the net.

    • atomikrabbit

      Are you saying the worldwide next-generation nuclear buildout I cited is all due to corruption and bribery?

      You don’t think some of it is due to the attraction of building a passively safe, ultra-low carbon, 1GW+ power source that can run at >90% capacity factor, day & night, rain or shine, for two years without refueling?

  • ltsnyder

    Three more accidents like that and all of Japan will be rendered uninhabitable. It came close for that accident. The executives can still take a plane flight to another country to peddle their wares, so I guess the question is ….. cheap for who?

  • Loyd Marlow

    sorry for late reply, have been offline lately…. I agree with you..people who stand to profit greatly disagree with me