cost of nuclear power compared to renewable energy


Dear Editor


Your editorial on energy policy (2015-04-20) implies that nuclear power is part of the answer to the problem of decarbonising energy supplies, but this is false. The main reason is opportunity cost: money spent on nuclear power is money diverted away from alternatives that are cheaper and better.

Nuclear plants are notoriously slow to build. Renewables, including “negawatts” (conservation of energy), can be built very much faster.

Contrary to what is often claimed, nuclear power is not “zero carbon”. Peer-reviewed research shows that the nuclear cycle produces between 9 and 25 times more CO2 than wind power.

When all the hidden costs are added in, nuclear power is very much more expensive than renewables.

Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power is a hindrance, not a help, in ensuring security of energy supplies. Like all kinds of equipment, nuclear power stations can and do fail. Failure of a nuclear plant is normally very disruptive on the grid because a relatively large amount of electricity is lost, often quite suddenly and with little warning. By contrast, variations in the output of renewables are much easier to manage because they are gradual and predictable. There are many techniques for keeping electricity supplies in balance with demands for electricity, which are themselves quite variable.

There are now many reports showing how to decarbonise the world’s electricity supplies without using nuclear power. Many of them are listed, with download links, on


Dr Gerry Wolff PhD CEng

Coordinator, Energy Fair

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