New Warnings About Costs of Nuclear Power
New Warnings About Costs of Nuclear PowerBy JAMES KANTER
August 31, 2010, New York Times
As anticipation grows about a possible renaissance for the nuclear power industry and about its potential for curbing greenhouse gas emissions some politicians are stepping up warnings about the high cost of such projects.
Last week, Traicho Traikov, the Bulgarian economy and energy minister, said the cost of building a second plant near the Danube River had reached 9 billion euros, or $11.4 billion, according to the Sofia News Agency.
The original cost of the project for two reactors was expected to be just under $4 billion.
Bulgaria was seeking to push down the price with a Russian company, Atomstroyexport, the report said.
Last week in Britain, Charles Hendry, the minister of state for energy, told Bloomberg News that he expected the cost of each new plant in Britain to be about £6 billion, or $9.3 billion.
Mr. Hendry also said that utilities would be expected to come up with that money themselves, without state support, according to the report.
To improve incentives for building nuclear plants, Mr. Hendry has suggested imposing a supplemental levy on coal and gas plants to raise the cost of emitting carbon dioxide.
But many experts warn that new nuclear projects are simply too large without resorting to subsidies from governments.
A particular concern is the specter of spiraling costs at a high-profile project at Olkiluoto in Finland, where Areva, a French nuclear reactor builder, agreed in 2005 to build a next-generation plant, called E.P.R., by 2009, for about 3 billion euros.
But costs have nearly doubled, and the project is not expected to come online until the end of 2012, partly because of bitter disagreements between Areva and its the customer, Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, a Finnish utility.