How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant?

Cost and time overruns of the Areva EPR reactors at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France are seldom out of the energy news. Olkiluoto began construction in 2005 with planned grid connection in 2010. The original build cost of €3billion has risen to €8.5 billion. And the grid connection has been pushed out to 2018 – 8 years late (13 years construction time) and €5.5 billion over budget.

So how long should it take to build a nuclear reactor? 5, 10 or 15 years? The answers are below the fold.

The Areva EPR being built in Flamanville France has experienced similar delays. With an original planned construction time of 54 months (5.5 years) and budget of €3.3 billion the project is now heading for 11 years construction and a price tag of €10.5 billion (all preceding stats from Wikipedia).

This post has its origins in my previous post on the Global Nuclear Power Snapshot. Respected Russian commenter Syndroma asked a question about the age of the global nuclear fleet and referred to the IAEA PRIS database and then he answered his own questions by posting a couple of charts. Extracting the data from the IAEA pdf is not entirely straight forward and Syndroma is thanked for doing this for me.

The PRIS data base contains information on 441 operational reactors including  the date of build start and the date of grid connection allowing us to calculate the construction time.  Sorting the data on construction time produces the distribution shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 The distribution of nuclear power station build times from the IAEA PRIS database.

I was surprised to see that 374 out of 441 reactors were built in 10 or less than 10 years. There is a tail of 15% that have taken longer to build. The world record is 33 years for the Atucha-2 reactor in Argentina where construction began in 1981 and was grid connected in 2014. I can only assume that construction was halted for a large number of years.

At the other end of the scale, 18 reactors were completed in 3 years! 12 of those in Japan, 3 in the USA, 2 in Russia and 1 in Switzerland. These are a mixture of boiling water and pressurised water reactors. Clearly, it does not need to take forever to build new reactors given good supply chain, expertise and engineering protocols. The mean construction time of 441 reactors in use today was 7.5 years.

There is often talk in nuclear circles that over-regulation has led to increased costs and build time. If this were the case we may expect to see an increase in construction time over time. Figure 2 shows the construction time cross plotted with reactor age.

Figure 2 The trend of increasing construction time with decreasing age began 45 years ago and there is no clear evidence that reactors are taking longer to build today than they did 40 years ago.

Figure 2 displays 2 trends. The vertical trend shows no correlation between reactor age and construction time. But the diagonal trend does show a correlation between construction time and age in some instances. But this is inconclusive since those reactors that took a long time to build (lower right quadrant) are by definition young since they are only recently completed.

Regulation differs between the OECD and non-OECD countries and so I applied one final test to see if over-regulation in the OECD led to long construction times.

Figure 3 There is perhaps limited evidence that in some cases regulation in the OECD has led to longer construction times. But most of the young OECD reactors, <15 years old, have short construction times of around 5 years.

The OECD group defines both trends and there is some evidence here that in some cases younger reactors have taken longer to build. The record holders in the OECD are Watts Bar 1 in the USA at 23 years, Dungeness B2 and B1 in the UK at 20 and 18 years respectively.

Figure 4 The non-OECD countries have a group of 9 problem reactors (circled) that are listed in Figure 5. Many recent non-OECD reactors (<15 years old, lower left quadrant) have build times between 5 and 10 years, in fact longer than the OECD.

The non-OECD can be divided into two groups. One where construction time and age are not correlated and a problem group of 9 reactors that took forever to build (circled). These are listed in figure 5 and commenters are invited to elaborate on the causes behind the long delays experienced in these projects. I’d note that 6 of the 9 are the Russian VVER V model.

Figure 5 9 non-OECD reactors with long construction times. Click image for a large readable version.

So what has gone wrong at Olkiluoto and Flamanville? Nothing really apart from Areva being hopelessly optimistic in their original forecasts of build time (5 years) and costs. The average time taken to build 441 reactors operational today was 7.5 years. For Areva to believe they could build first of type Gen 3 EPR reactors in 5 years was optimistic to say the least. The time and cost over runs at Olkiluoto and Flamanville are only bad compared with the original plan but are not yet catastrophic in absolute terms. But let’s hope they get Hinkley Point C down to the 7.5 year mean.

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66 Responses to How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant?

  1. mark4asp says:

    Bernard L. Cohen blames “regulatory ratcheting”. Intuitively, I thought it useful to split the cost of regulation between turbulence and increased regulation. However I have no data to count the cost of turbulence separately from the cost of the sheer weight of new regulation. Cohen’s book, 1990, is available online. “The Nuclear Energy Option”. See Chapter 9 here: Notice the chart: “Fig 1” (in chapter 9). The chart splits construction costs between labour and materials. There is a sharp increase in labour costs between 1980 and 1983, due to increased regulation. After 1980, the cost of Labour doubles and trebles, but the cost of materials more closely follows inflation. I imagine: lot’s of people inspecting, meeting, complying, demonstrating compliance. Red tape. Cohen describes it differently below:

    … Perhaps the most important cause of cost variations was the human factor. Some supervisors and designers adapt better than others to a turbulent situation. Some, considering it to be a very interesting challenge, developed ingenious ways of handling it, while others were turned off by it and solved problems unimaginatively by lavish spending of money. Some made expensive mistakes, while others were careful enough to avoid them. Some were so overwhelmed by the innumerable regulations, codes, standards, quality control audits, formal procedures for making design changes, and general red tape that they became ineffective, while others kept these problems in proper perspective and used their energies in a productive way. In some cases, people were able to cope with turbulence, but in most cases the regulatory ratcheting and the turbulence it caused exacted a terrible toll … [ Cohen: “The Nuclear Energy Option” ]

    What to do?

    I think the best way to drive down costs are: (1) modularization, (2) design changes away from pressurized water designs to non-pressurized designs such as: liquid metal fast breeders (LMFB) and molten salt reactors (MSR). Such reactors do not have catastrophic failure points that might lead to large scale radiation releases over large areas. They are also easier to build because they don’t need such big and thick reactor vessels nor such vast steel/concrete secondary domes. Modular reactors can be built in a factory, tested for quality and assembled on site. Although it’s not small, the AP1000, scheduled for Moorside, is modular.

    • mark4asp says:

      I hope my emphasis on “driving down costs” is also understood as “speeding up construction time”. The two go hand in hand.

    • robertok06 says:

      “they don’t need such big and thick reactor vessels nor such vast steel/concrete secondary domes. ”

      I’m afraid you are wrong on this one… I bet that no serious radiation safety organization will take the risk/responsibility to authorize a reactor, even a pool-type, with no “serious” (I mean ~ 1-2 m thick) super-reinforced concrete containment dome… if nothing just because of the “need” to withstand the impact of some sufficiently large airplane (terrorist attacks anyone?).


      • Ben Jamin' says:

        Wouldn’t it be cheaper for the aircraft industry to make a few software changes that makes it impossible for aircraft to fly into “high value targets”.

        It my understanding they already have something called “autopilot”, so shouldn’t be too hard.

        Point is why should the nuclear industry bear the costs of the risks posed by the aviation industry?

      • mark4asp says:

        The steel concrete dome around a PWR has to be big enough to contain all the steam that might vapourize should the pressurized reactor vessel rupture. It’s a lot of water. Turned to steam, the same mass is over 1000 times the volume. A MSR would not require such a vast dome. It does not need to contain massive quantities of water which could potentially turn to steam. It is cooled with molten salts at atmospheric pressure and about 650-700ºC. The b.p. of such molten salts is many hundreds of degrees higher and can never be reached because a reactor would shut itself down via passive mechanisms were it to get too hot.

        Any person insisting on gigantic PWR-sized concrete domes for MSRs is gold-plating the gold plate, and sabotaging it competitively.

      • mark4asp says:

        I may accept the need for a dome of suitable strength but it need not be anything like as voluminous as PWR domes. Therefore not nearly as expensive.

        • robertok06 says:

          Hi: on this I fully agree… but “some” kind of dome is going to be mandatory… just think at any US reactor in a tornado- or hurricane-prone area… just to leave out airplanes.

      • roberthargraves says:

        An expensive, unmaintainable concrete dome is not needed. Here’s the design summary for the ThorCon molten salt reactor response to an aircraft strike. We do the math.

        Aircraft strike
        The double roof is an extremely strong structure that will resist aircraft penetration. The hatch deck and the ceiling plating are 25 mm thick. The stiffeners on both sides are on 1 meter centers, supported by web frames about every 5 m. Preliminary calculations indicate that the deflection associated with a perpendicular 777 aircraft engine impact will be of the order of 0.1 m. Additional resistance is provided by 3 m of concrete in the space between the hatch deck and the ceiling. The concrete alone should be able to handle this impact.

        Penetrating the roof still leaves the penetrator 6 m away from the silo hall deck. The silo hall deck is 50 mm steel plate, under which is the 3 m deep radtank, mostly filled with water, under which is a 270 mm thick layer of lead, and then another 50 mm plate. The radtank stiffeners and web frames are nearly as strong as the roof.

        Even if pieces of the penetrator were somehow able to get through the radtank, they would still have to breach the 50 mm thick Can lid, before there is any chance of a release of radioactive materials. Any release would be limited to the 0.06 gram inventory of noble gas, most importantly Xe-137, which will decay to Cs-137 with a half-life of 3.8 minutes. In comparison, Fukushima released 4 kg of Cs-137, 67,000 times as much all above ground.

        • mark4asp says:


          The only concern I have with MSRs is the number of designs wanting to put the reactor below ground level. When this also means putting it close to the sea, there could be a problem with flooding following a Tsunami. It’s about my only concern. Many of the salts are very soluble in water too. This is the only high risk scenario I can imagine.

          • roberthargraves says:

            The ThorCon underground building is a steel-concrete-steel sandwich rather like a double hull vessel. Water pressure will not float it. It’s sealed from water intrusion. Also, the hull version, floated from shipyard to site, is ballasted down with enough sand and concrete to withstand the flooding of a tsunami.

    • Ben Jamin' says:

      Surely we don’t have to speculate about all this? The French have already provided a specimen model.

      It looks like a good one to me. What reason have our politicians in the UK got for not copying it chapter and verse? They must have a good one.

      That’s a serious question by the way. I tried it with my MP, but only got a generic “non-answer” in return (it obvious they only bother replying at all because they are obliged to)

  2. Thinkstoomuch says:

    Thank you for the informative article.

    One place that is hard to quantify regulation is in the approval times.

    For example Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy both applied for approval of 4 reactors in the 2008 time frame for Florida. Since that time they are still waiting to turn the first spade. In fact Duke withdrew their application on one of them.

    Construction in the US would seem to be the shortest delay in building one based on this datum and your informative research. Which is driven by politics which I try not to comment on as it is not good for my blood pressure!

    Thank you again,

    • robertok06 says:

      “For example Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy both applied for approval of 4 reactors in the 2008 time frame for Florida. Since that time they are still waiting to turn the first spade. In fact Duke withdrew their application on one of them.”

      Of course nothing happened… at that time the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission was headed by Gregory Jaczko, which basically blocked and made almost impossible even to get certification for a possible project… look at the disaster he’s made out of the Yucca Mountain waster repository… he’s made a waste of tens of billions of dollars, and taken the time clock back a couple of decades at least for what concerns such a repository.

  3. Syndroma says:

    It’s quite obvious why Russian VVERs in fig. 5 were so long to build. Construction halted after the collapse of the SU. Those reactors are lucky to be completed, but there’re at least 4 reactors that will never be completed despite advanced stages of construction due to various reasons.

    Iranian plant was started by Germans, many years later Russians had to adapt it for VVER design. It’s one of a kind.

    • steve says:

      It was interesting to read that the Finns had opted for the VVER design, to be built by a consortium and that after finance, construction, decommissioning etc the price of electricity will be around half the inflation linked price agreed for Hinkley Point EPRs. Also the Finns are now using Rolls Royce controls on their nukes. Apparently, the reason these cannot be considered in another EU country is political and because the safety approval process would have to start from scratch. Do you see any reason why the approval of another EU country could not be used and the process made much shorter? Also, is the choice of the EPR in the UK political rather than economic or safety grounds?

      • Syndroma says:

        Control systems are especially sensitive to regulatory environment in any given country. Rosatom is okay with Rolls Royce controls for the Finnish VVER because Rolls Royce has an experience designing systems specifically for Finns. And since Rosatom has a stake in the project, it is interested to get the plant operational asap, including regulatory approval of all systems.

        Of course the choice of the supplier is political. It’s inevitable. Hungary has a hard time getting EU approval for their Paks-2 project.

      • mark4asp says:

        I put the Hinkley deal down to lack of care over the price, driven by climate obsession.
        (1) Lib Dem ministers in charge of DECC (2010 – 2015) did not really care for nuclear power. They were both RE muppets. The Lib Dems, themselves formally opposed nuclear power until their 2013 conference.
        (2) Cost of borrowing. The initial agreement DECC made with EDF was pathetic. EDF said they would have to borrow money at 10% interest and DECC appeared to just accept this. DECC’s own cost estimations for power plants always assume 10% as well. This is at a time when long bonds (30 year) pay about 1.7% interest per year! Medium and short term bonds even less! Studies were done showing U.S. public infrastructure projects, backed by government, have often been financed with loans paid at 5%. Those infrastructure projects built at times of higher inflation.
        (3) It looks to me that the climate obsessed folks at DECC were so desperate to get a new nuclear plant built that the went along with anything EDF told them.

        Note: The EPR design is still the only design our regulator: Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), have generically approved, by signing off the GDA [generic design assessment]. A GDA means the reactor safety and viability is validated only once. After that, it may be build at as many sites as need be. The next reactor to gain its GDA will be the Westinghouse AP1000; expected to complete in March 2017. It took more than 10 years for the AP1000 design to complete its GDA. According to ONR, a GDA should take just over 4 years.

        Note 2: There is an alternative regulatory route to the GDA for reactor approval but following that route is pointless. It will take just as long, and approval will only be given for a single site. Better to get a site-independent GDA.

        • steve says:

          Apart from secure job creation on a time basis, is there any reason why the UK ONR could not greatly shorten the GDA by using the approvals already in existence in equally techically competent countries such as Finland and S.Korea?

  4. A C Osborn says:

    As more Reactors are built, especially of the same basic design the build time should get shorter due to more experience, expertise & familiarity.
    As this does not appear to be happening it would suggest that something is slowing the process and the most likely suspect is regulations.

    I hope that they do not get Hinkley Point C down in time, I hope they never build it.
    At least not in it’s current design spec and by the current proposed builders, it is a financial disaster just waiting to happen, both in build and in electrical production costs.

  5. pyrrhus says:

    I assume that Construction time does not include the time required for design and regulatory approval, which can be quite lengthy here in the US.

  6. robertok06 says:

    Hello Euan, nice post!

    “There is a tail of 15% that have taken longer to build. The world record is 33 years for the Atucha-2 reactor in Argentina where construction began in 1981 and was grid connected in 2014. ”

    Mmmh… I think that the US Watts Bar 2, in Tennessee, has beaten this with some margin:

    “Watts Bar 2, near Spring City, Tennessee, reached first criticality on 23 May, over 40 years after construction of the unit first began in 1972.”

    More details here:

  7. robertok06 says:


    to be clear, even if I am a fan of the French nuclear program, I am not going to say what I’m saying now out of self-interest… but… there is a great BUT!… there are two things concerning the European EPRs that cannot be forgotten:

    1) Olkiluoto: it cannot be left out the fact that AREVA and Siemens were partners in the project, and that Siemens profited from the litigation with AREVA concerning the early Olkiluoto delays to pull out of the nuclear market… leaving AREVA in dire straits, technically as well as organizationally and financially. This is not a problem of nuclear enerty technology and related costs, it is purely a politically-motivated move… much easier to put most of the eggs in the heavily subsidized wind energy basket rather than in the politically incorrect nuclear… as per Energiewende.
    In addition, 1.1)… Finland does not really need this additional power/electricity, I mean, their production is already rather clean (think to remember);

    2) Flamanville: EDF has no real need for the new reactor. EDF is not financing its construction with borrowed money (at least not much of the cost), so there’s no real/major financial burden with a delayed construction. This is rather clearly stated in the very complete and informative 2-edition document/study/report of the Cour des Comptes, the French Accounting Office… which oversees all public expenditures;

    3) Flamanville: EDF has no real need for the new reactor… did I say that already? 🙂 … I mean that EDF already has a large, very large, surplus of nuclear electricity, just ask the Italians! 🙂 … plus EDF is obliged to “diversify” its generation pool, by law, having hyper-expensive PV and wind the right of way over inexpensive nuclear… inexpensive even after billions of Euros have been, are and will be spent to modernize the 58 existing reactors and taking them to a condition that no tsunami in the middle of France would be able to “Fukushima-ize” them… so…;

    The “extremely expensive cost” of the EPRs is just a legend… just look at the numbers… Italy spends 6,7 billion Euros/year for 20 years to incentivize 18,5 GWp of PV.. which generate 24 billion kWh/year… the equivalent of TWO YEARS of production of ONE EPR… at the cost of ONE EPR/year!… at a time when uranium’s price is rock bottom low at an 11-year minimum!… with a proper forward contract (like done by the UAE with KEPCO) a couple of billion dollars would buy 20 years of fuel for 4x 1,2 GWe reactors (or something like that, I should check)…

    Clearly the situation may (IS!) different when reactors’ CO2-free output is badly needed under short timelines… like in the UK now… in that case time of construction IS an issue… but looking in detail even 10 years/reactor are not that much more than the time necessary to built/put on line an equivalent amount of CO2-free BASELOAD electricity in the form of PV or wind…. it is sufficient to just look at the numbers and data which exist already.


    • mark4asp says:

      Here you go. Some Finnish numbers for 2013, via Eurostat.

      Finland, Renewables, 2013 ———- %
      Transport ——————————— 9.9
      Electricity ——————————- 31.1
      Heating & cooling ——————— 50.9
      Gross final energy consumption — 36.8

      Finland – Gross final energy consumption – kTOE
      Hydro ——————————– 1103.9
      Wind ———————————— 66.6
      Solar (PV + thermal) —————– 1.7
      Biomass, geothermal, other — 8746.6
      RE (all) —————————– 9918.8
      All energy ————————- 33925.6

      It certainly looks like Finns can do with a lot more nuclear power than they currently have. Most of their renewables are biomass, which, I guess, is burning wood.

      • robertok06 says:

        No, they can’t make any use of “a lot” more nuclear power… you quote total energy consumption, but reactors provide only electricity (and eventually heating if there’s a neighbouring city or industry which needs lots of heat)…
        The finns will need a couple of reactors, at least, to substitute the few aging ones that they have run for some decades already… and if it is going to take as long as the Olkiluoto EPR to build them, then they better hurry up with the start of construction….

    • Syltty says:

      Finland needs more electricity, because at winter, when electricity demand spikes, they are relying on imports and that is not good idea.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Finland needs more electricity, because at winter, when electricity demand spikes, they are relying on imports and that is not good idea.

        I agree with you 100% here but Scotland has decided its better to go the other way. We used to have capacity to export 40% of what we produce. Now we will be dependant upon imports from England that may not have any leccy to spare (leccy = electricity). And England will become increasingly dependent on imports from Europe.

  8. jacobress says:

    This is an analysis of numbers comparing apples to oranges. Over time the design of reactors has changed, maybe based on lessons learned from the older reactors. The regulatory environment has changed too. And reactors whose building process ha been interrupted for economic or political reasons should be removed from the analysis.
    Size also matters…
    Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville are the most recent, therefore – the most relevant examples of reactors in the West.
    In China, build time for new reactors is shorter. Maybe an analysis by region would be useful.
    How the Chinese manage to build faster needs to be studied. Maybe their regulations are lax, maybe inspections are less, maybe their design is better (and maybe it’s worse).

    Anyhow – “hoping” that Hinkley can be built in “average” time – 7.5 years is a false hope. You must consider the worst (though most relevant) cases like Olkiluoto and Flamanville, and then, like a good engineer ad a safety factor. Which produces a build time approaching infinity.

  9. mark4asp says:

    I’m told:

    “What happens if gravity does not work?”

    was a question asked by NII / ONR / HSE w.r.t. Westinghouse AP1000 Generic Design Assessment.

    How quick would it be to build a bridge if the engineer was required to answer every possible question that anyone could imagine asking; irrespective of the question making sense or relating to some possible real world scenario?

    • Alex Terrell says:

      That question was why they abandoned the use of molten salt reactors in the 1950s after the Aircraft Reactor Experiment.

      I suppose if gravity stops working, the status of the AP1000 is of minor concern.

      • mark4asp says:

        The AP1000 was not designed to fly, so not relevant. I suspect this question related to the AP1000 ‘gravity assisted’ passive containment cooling system.

        AP1000 Generic Design Assessment, GDA
        Began: 2007
        To end: March 2017

        The time Office of Nuclear Regulation estimate for a GDA = 4 years.

  10. john eardley says:

    It is said that 20% of the cost of an airplane is getting it to fly whilst 80% is keeping it in the air.

    • Leo Smith says:

      As an engineer I’d say that 20% of the cost is getting it into the air and keeping it flying and 80% is covering the ‘what ifs’, the possible extreme situations it may encounter.

      I am not sire what G forces a modern airframe is stressed to, but they are far more than any airline would routinely subject its passengers to.

      A lightweight single engined airliner would be vastly cheaper to build and fly, but that’s no great consolation if t crashes every thousand flights.

  11. I worked very briefly (for 2 weeks) on the construction of Dungeness B in 1971.

    Construction started in 1965 and it was supposed to take 5 years, but even in 1971 it was obvious from what the engineers were telling one another that the whole thing was a “disaster”.

    For example, the tolerances for the steel reinforcement for the containment vessel were devised by physicists – who had no idea of the tolerances that one can expect in the real world. The whole “ring” of reinforced concrete has to be ripped apart and rebuilt. Since completion, the plant has had to be shut down several times for major works. It never produced electricity at its rated output. I am not surprised that they placed it as close to France as possible.

    I suspect that where the plant gets built is of crucial importance. Today, the UK is devoid of engineers with the necessary expertise.

  12. Greg Kaan says:

    Not exactly on topic but related.

    Just after California has reached an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to close their last nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, there has been a proposal by an environmental group to bring the closed San Onfre plant back on line by reversing the decommissioning process and fixing the steam generators (the reason excuse for closing in the first place)

  13. Murray Chapman says:

    Dunkirk B was late because the company that designed and started to build it went bust. Understandably the company that took over wouldn’t take what has been done on trust.

  14. jacobress says:

    Strange how many nuclear reactor builders went bust. It happens in young industries. (Areva went bust too and was resuscitated by the French Gov.). That is part of the problem. Nuclear is not yet mature and tested, say like aircraft industries.

  15. Sizewell B took about 5 years to construct (but about 12 years from project initiation to start of build).

  16. Jose A. says:

    Aside from the IAEA database, another great source of information is the World Nuclear Association website. They recently published a report with some data relevant to this post and they also have detailed country profiles with answers to some of the questions about why some projects took so many years. In few words, lack of funding put those projects on suspension in the late 80s mid-90s.

    An interesting current case of study is the United Arab Emirates, in 2008 they started a nuclear program from scratch developing a framework in cooperation with the IAEA. By December 2009 they selected the KEPCO-led consortiuma for four APR-1400 reactors. In July 2012 started the contruction of the first unit followed by another three in May 2013, Sept 2014 and Sept 2015. So far the project is on time and on budget with unit 1 88% complete, unit 2 72% complete, unit 3 30% complete and unit 4 31%. They will start operation between 2017 and 2020. All four reactors would make around 44 TWh/year, demand in 2013 was 106 TWh.

    • A C Osborn says:

      Do they have the costs as well, to compare to Hinkley?

      • robertok06 says:


        … they talk about a 20 billion dollars bid by KEPCO.
        I’ve read on world nuclear news two days ago that the UAE have just signed a cooperation agreement with the S. Korean company that would send personnel from Korea to the Emirates during the whole operation of the reactors…

        … actually it is support during the first decade… reasonable, after that they will have developed their own in-house skills and know-how.
        Intelligent move by the emirates.

        • robertok06 says:

          … still me, sorry… forgot this:

          The UAE are really planning ahead like all serious countries should do.
          Back in 2012…

          .. they have signed 6 contracts covering uranium fuel and its cycle…

          “The company estimates the contracts are worth some $3 billion and will enable the Barakah plant to generate up to 450 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity over a 15-year period starting in 2017, when the first of four units at the plant is scheduled to begin operating”

          … which just makes it evindent how incredibly low the cost of nuclear fuel can be… 3 billion dollars for 15 years at 44 TWh/y… or 660 billion kWh, for an average of 3/660=0.45 c$/kWh… it reminds me the famous “too cheap to meter”… 🙂

          • robertok06 says:

            … never write a post while watching a movie… 🙁
            … it is 3/450=0.67 c$/kWh, of course.

          • meliorismnow says:

            So the fuel is still cheap, but if the plant costs $30B to construct, $30B to run, and $10B to decommission, over a 30 year life…that’s $76B/900=8.4c/kWh without accounting for interest. I’d much rather have solar arrays for 3-4c/kWh like recent auctions and force my country to transition to a intermittent way of life. Better sooner than later.

          • Jose A. says:

            The reactors have a design life of 60 years not 30, so you have to factor that into the building and decommissioning costs. Also, I don’t know where do you get the $30B to construct, Roberto already pointed to a $20 billion bid, neither do I know where the $10B to decommission come, PWRs decommisioning cost are around $1B per unit.

          • meliorismnow says:

            Jose, I saw $30B and $25B in wiki sources:

            Assuming it’s $25B, an over-run of 20% is a reasonable safety factor IMO (which is not needed IMO for solar, wind, coal, or gas which are straightforward designs).

            As for decommissioning, $1B/reactor may be accurate today (with included stored waste) but over the last 30 years we’ve seen increases in decommissioning costs that far exceed inflation so it’s reasonable to plan for the continuation of the trend. It would also be nice to account for various disasters that could happen (by multiplying their estimated cost by the very small probability they will occur). Also, a 60yr lifetime is a great thing to shoot for and is definitely feasible with extra maintenance and modernization upgrades (and some kind of waste disposal) priced in but it’s asking a lot to pretend to know what fuel sourcing will look like more than 30 years from now, much less the political climate (which could have it shut down or de-rated).

            I personally feel like uranium prices will rebound in the next few years and in 30 years time it will be more expensive to maintain and operate a nuclear plant as it will be to field a renewable installation (much like NG is currently cheaper than coal).

          • PhilH says:

            If the desirability of a generation type was how low its fuel cost is, then wind & solar would win hands down over nuclear, let alone fossil fuels.

            This is not a conclusion that seems to have much resonance on this site.

          • Jose A. says:

            “Assuming it’s $25B, an over-run of 20% is a reasonable safety factor”

            No it’s not, as I said before the project is reported as being on time and on budget with the first reactor on track to enter operation next year.

            “As for decommissioning, $1B/reactor may be accurate today (with included stored waste) but over the last 30 years we’ve seen increases in decommissioning costs that far exceed inflation so it’s reasonable to plan for the continuation of the trend.”

            Again, it’s not. I have showed you a detailed report on decommisioning costs, with projected and actual costs of plants already dismantled. Even with this first decomisioning projects with an immediate dismantling strategy (allegedly more expensive than a deferred one since you deal with more irradiated components) the costs were below the 1 billion tag with examples going as low as 259 million in 2013 USD for a four-loop pressurized water reactor.

            but it’s asking a lot to pretend to know what fuel sourcing will look like more than 30 years from now

            And that changes nothing in the question at hand that is that in your calculations you are assuming that the reactor are only going to last 30 years so you’re doubling the contruction and dismantling cost per kWh.

            I personally feel like uranium prices will rebound in the next few years and in 30 years time

            Of course you do…

  17. kitemansa says:

    Please change your early graph to “mean completion duration”. Those long ones typically had a significant break in construction activity. IIRC, Watts Bar II had a 20+ year construction hiatus before beginning construction anew.

  18. sod says:

    EDF has made the decision to go ahead with the Hinkley plant.

    Even though a board member resigned over the plan for this decision:

    Meanwhile the british government has delayed the decision to autumn:

    So we will have a new nuclear power plant about 7.5 years from now (on average)?

  19. Pingback: The Hinkley Point C Pantomime | Energy Matters

  20. robertok06 says:

    OFF TOPIC (on El Hierro):

    I just read on an italian energy&environment blog, QualEnergia, a story told by “Legambiente”, i.e. something like GreenPeace in italian… they claim they have collected a list of “100%” renewable energy success stories for islands… and guess what?… both El Hierro and Eigg are listed as “done, 100%”… isn’t it wonderful? 🙂


    P.S.: I’ve taken the liberty to post a comment on their website and link to this blog’s nice analysis of the performance of El Hierro, by Roger et al. … hope you don’t mind.

  21. kitemansa says:

    Could you constructa graph that includes only actual construction time? I think it would be very educational.

  22. Greg Kaan says:

    “PhilH says:
    July 30, 2016 at 1:20 am
    If the desirability of a generation type was how low its fuel cost is, then wind & solar would win hands down over nuclear, let alone fossil fuels.

    This is not a conclusion that seems to have much resonance on this site.”

    Because fuel cost is only part of the equation. There are also capitals costs, dispatchability vs intermittency, plant lifetime, maintenance costs, land costs….

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