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In 5 Charts, Here's Why Nuclear Energy Is Going Nowhere

At least five U.S. nuclear plants have been shuttered this year, the result of runaway expenses and an inability to compete with cheap natural gas produced by the shale boom.

So you may not need more reason to think nuclear is going nowhere.

But here are five more charts, via a Citi team led by Jason Channell, showing that nuclear is not only on the wane in America, but also around the world.

Nuclear now requires an up-front investment 5x greater than gas on a per Watt basis.

Nuclear may have lower operational costs than fossil fuels, but they’re still more than the nearly non-existent operational costs of renewables.

This explains why, worldwide, nuclear investment is already trailing solar.

And during the next two decades, demand for renewables will be greater than for nuclear.

And if you think any help is coming from China, think again. The solar capacity alone will eventually be larger than nuclear, and wind capacity will dwarf it.

And here’s team Citi’s take on why all this is so.

The capital cost of nuclear build has actually risen in recent decades in some developed markets, partly due to increased safety expenditure, and due to smaller construction programmes (i.e. lower economies of scale). Moreover the ‘fixed cost’ nature of nuclear generation in combination with its relatively high price (when back end liabilities are taken into account) also places the technology at a significant disadvantage; utilities are reluctant to enter into a very long term (20+ years of operation, and decades of aftercare provisioning) investment with almost no control over costs post commissioning, with the uncertainty and rates of change currently occurring in the energy mix. As an example, one need only look at the ongoing debate in the UK over the next generation of nuclear build, and the reluctance of most parties to commit.

A good run, but time to step aside.

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