Nuclear uncompetitive in the marketplace

In a survey on nuclear power written for The Economist, Oliver Morton does a good job of explaining one of the reasons why nuclear power is unlike any other form of electricity generation:

In liberalised energy markets, building nuclear power plants is no longer a commercially feasible option: they are simply too expensive. Existing reactors can be run very profitably; their capacity can be upgraded and their lives extended. But forecast reductions in the capital costs of new reactors in America and Europe have failed to materialise and construction periods have lengthened. Nobody will now build one without some form of subsidy to finance it or a promise of a favourable deal for selling the electricity. And at the same time as the cost of new nuclear plants has become prohibitive in much of the world, worries about the dark side of nuclear power are resurgent, thanks to what is happening in Iran.

None of this contradicts the argument that we need more nuclear plants to deal with climate change, but it does highlight some of the special risks associated with the technology.

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