The Economics of Nuclear

Edition 1 – 25/11/2021

The Economics of Nuclear Energy in Australia

On previous pages we’ve looked at the complexities of using increasing amounts of renewables and the massive grid expansion they would require.

We’ve looked at the simplicity of a system that uses mainly nuclear energy.

Now we’ll look at the comparison of the costs and emissions of these schemes.

Comparison of nuclear and renewable energy schemesThis image shows:

  • Vertical scale is the cost in Cents per kilowatt hour of electricity
  • In blue the base generation costs of electricity which is similar to the wholesale electricity price
  • In grey we have the added increment for High Voltage customers such as major industrial and transport systems
  • In gold we have the added cost for Low voltage users such as general commercial and domestic customers

Six schemes are shown.

          1. The first is the existing generation mix which was modelled to ensure the costs used and emissions intensities would be close to the reality of both our wholesale electricity market and the resulting emissions intensity. Cost to low voltage customers is 25.6 cents/kWh and emissions intensity is 693 gr CO2/kWh.
          2. The second scheme is for a 100% renewable wind and solar with 21 GW of pumped storage and 5.1GW of batteries. Its costs increase significantly dues to low capacity factors, large amounts of spilled energy and large increases in transmission and distribution. Cost to low voltage customers is 42.4 cents/kWh and emissions intensity is 24 gr CO2/kWh.
          3. Next, we have AEMO’s step Change scenario in 2042 Cost to Low voltage customers is 38.8 cents/kWh and a moderate emissions intensity of 99 gr CO2/kWh.
          4. The fourth scenario is the less ambitious AEMO Central scenario in 2042. Cost to low voltage customers is 29.3 cents/kWh and emissions intensity of an unacceptably high 348 gr CO2/kWh.
          5. The fifth scenario includes 50% nuclear energy. The costs of operation the nuclear power plants is increased by having to operate with solar energy thereby reducing their capacity factors. Cost to low voltage customers is 27.7 cents/kWh and emissions intensity reflects the benefits of nuclear energy with 44 gr CO2/kWh.
          6. Finally the best cost and emissions performance comes from the 76% nuclear energy scenario with a cost to low voltage customers of 23.8 cents/kWh and emissions intensity of 22 gr CO2/kWh.


Scenario six will be the basis for discussion on following pages of what reactors we should build, where we should build them and how long it would take.