Innovative and mundane

Nuclear is most affordable dispatchable source of low-carbon electricity

Cost reductions stemming from the lessons learnt from first-of-a-kind projects in several Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries could see nuclear power remain the dispatchable low-carbon technology with the lowest expected levelised costs of energy (LCOE) in 2025, a joint report by the Nuclear Energy Agency and International Energy Agency says.

The report, ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity’, says the LCOE of nuclear in 2025 will range from about $55-$95 per MWh. This compares to a maximum of almost $100/MWh for coal and about $80/MWh for gas. The cheapest non-dispatchable source of electricity is onshore wind of more than 1 MW, with an LCOE of $40-$50/MWh. Offshore wind is about $80-$110/MWh and utility scale solar PV $40-$80/MWh.

For nuclear plants that are in long-term operation, the cost falls considerably, with an LCOE of less than $40/MWh. Prolonging the operation of existing nuclear power plants is the most cost-effective source of low-carbon electricity. Hydroelectric power can provide a similar contribution at comparable costs, but remains highly dependent on the natural endowments of individual countries.

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