JLF Research | Spotlights

Costs of Nuclear vs. Solar: It's No Contest

Sep. 1st, 2010
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Key facts:

  • A study by the North Carolina Waste Awareness Network (NC WARN), an anti–nuclear power advocacy group, argues that solar power today is less expensive than nuclear power.
  • Media have embraced this study despite its absurd conclusion and its arbitrary use of subsidies in calculating the costs of competing energy sources.
  • NC WARN calculates solar power’s costs at 35 cents per kWh then drastically lowers it by applying two subsidies (federal and state tax credits).
  • Subsidies may reduce the price to consumers, but they do not reduce the cost of generating electricity. Otherwise, a 100 percent tax credit would make the generation of solar power completely free.
  • Even so, NC WARN does not apply subsidies to lower the cost of nuclear power. Therefore, their report unfairly gives solar power the “benefit” of subsidies while denying it to nuclear power.
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that new solar power costs over three times as much as nuclear power. One of NC WARN’s own sources acknowledges that solar is not cost competitive and that several studies find solar power to be two to five times as expensive as nuclear.
  • NC WARN gives the impression that there is a choice between solar power and nuclear power. This is a fallacy because even if solar power is used, conventional sources of electricity such as nuclear power will still be necessary.
  • NC WARN says they are concerned with low-cost and reliable electricity. If true, there should be no reason for them not to promote the lowest-cost electricity sources, such as coal and natural gas.

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Spotlight 397 Costs of Nuclear vs. Solar: It's No Contest
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