These are the conclusions that researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have arrived at . The work, entitled “Solar and nuclear costs” suggests that we are facing a “historic transition”, in which the costs of solar PV systems have fallen to a point which is lower than any new nuclear plants.
John Blackburn, a professor of economics, and Sam Cunningham, a graduate student, both from the same university, have signed the research that argues that the transition occurs when the price per kilowatt hour comes to 16 cents.
One point of focus of the work is the home state of North Carolina, which, they argue, seek nuclear installations and massive public subsidies, and transfer the additional financial risk to customers of electric companies and taxpayers.
Some of the justifications for the decline in solar energy prices can be found in the new technologies applied to development and industrialization of the manufacturing system. Meanwhile, the country’s nuclear projects are facing delays and cancellations in the various instances of installation, when no design problems and consequent increases in cost estimates.
Comparing North Carolina with other states, the report says that those who have opted to open competition in the electricity market are rejecting the nuclear gamble, especially for the combined benefits, both economic and environmental, of solar and wind energy, cogeneration and energy efficiency.
For his part, Mark Cooper, an economic analyst at the University of Vermont, said that “while the cost of solar energy is decreasing, the costs of nuclear power have increased over the past eight years,”
In 2002, the estimated cost of building a reactor was $3,000 million, which has periodically been revised upward to an average of $10,000 million per reactor, and estimates suggest that to continue increasing, said Cooper, whose specialty is specifically to assess the price of nuclear energy.