Today, there are 440 nuclear reactors operating around the world. That may sound like a lot, but it’s only 20 more than were operating in 1987. Twenty-first century large-scale reactors are generally safer and meant to last a little longer, but not much has really changed in the technology over the past fifty years. What has changed is that we consume a lot more electricity today and, because cheaper alternatives emerged, a lot less of it comes from splitting atoms. In the late 1980s, nuclear accounted for 16.5% of global generation - today it’s barely 10%. Given that it is one of few “emissions-free” technologies, this is a problem.
Nuclear resurgence benefits from fossil inflation
One thing reinvigorating nuclear is the soaring costs of other generating technologies. The tool the industry uses to compare economics is called “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE). It calculates the present value of the total cost of building and operating a power plant over an assumed lifetime amount of energy production. Until recently, the average LCOE for nuclear was about double that of new coal or natural gas plants, which in turn was about twice as expensive as large-scale wind and solar projects. So why would any power utility choose nuclear?
Find out more about how nuclear is looking more attractive and that nuclear investment opportunities do exist.