Cost of German Solar Is Four Times Finnish Nuclear

Olkiluoto Nuclear Plant, Plagued by Budget Overruns, Still Beats Germany’s Energiewende

1. We adopted Areva’s most recent capital cost estimate, $11.1 billion. See

2. The US Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that variable production costs for the US nuclear fleet averaged 2.1 cents per kWh between 2003 and 2011. EIA Estimates that the variable costs of new advanced nuclear are about 1.2 cents/kWh. See

 3. Assumes that the reactor will run at 80 percent of its total 1600-megawatt capacity over the 20-year period. In the United States the entire nuclear fleet has been running at >80 percent of its capacity since the late 1990s.

 4. See

5. See

6. Frondel, M., Schmidt, C. M., and C. Vance, “Germany’s Solar Cell Promotion: An Unfolding Disaster,” (Ruhr Economic Papers, July 2012). See Figure 5: Annual Feed-in Tariffs for PV and Table 3: Net Costs of Promoting PV in Germany on pages 10 and 12, respectively.

7. The study that we draw on to estimate the cost of Germany’s nuclear program by Frondel et al. (2012) does not include a degradation rate in their analysis, which is why we’ve included one here but not in the other calculations.

8. For simplification we chose not to include a range of nuclear capacity factors in the previous calculations.

9. Actual solar PV panel lifetime is not well known because most panels have not been operating for more than a decade or two. But the studies that have focused on older panels have found a lifetime range of 25-30 years. For instance, see Artur Skoczek, Tony Sample, Ewan D. Dunlop, “The Results of Performance Measurements of Field-aged Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Modules,” Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 17:227-240 (2009).

10. Note that in this calculation we do not include unexpected capital costs that might be incurred over the lifetimes of the nuclear plant and solar panels.