How much does a nuclear power plant or reactor cost? What is the cost price of a nuclear kWH? Answers ...
Nuclear power plants in the 1000 megawatt range (1 million kilowatts, producing around 7 billion kWh per year) were built in France, during the nuclear program, for a unit cost which today would be around 1,5 billion euros per 1000 MW unit.
It is a significant investment, but it has proven to be economically justified. Like renewable energies, nuclear power is characterized by high investment and low operating costs. The studies carried out by the Ministry of Industry, taking into account this investment cost, the price of uranium, operating and maintenance costs, and also the provisions necessary for future dismantling and storage costs of radioactive waste, leads to a nuclear kWh cost price of less than 4 euro cents. This cost is comparable to that of a kWh produced from gas, when gas is at its lowest price, and much lower than those of other production methods.
While the cost price of the kWh produced by gas varies very strongly according to the price of the latter, the nuclear kWh is very stable vis-à-vis that of uranium. It therefore depends little on commodity market conditions.
Correspondingly, when a power plant is amortized, the cost price of a nuclear kWh becomes very low (phad more than 1 euro cent). Hence the current trend to extend the life of power plants, in the United States as well as in Europe.
The nuclear industry is nevertheless considering the prospect of new plant orders and aims to maintain the level of investment per kW installed, despite the introduction into the new models of numerous improvements, both in terms of safety and in terms of reliability.