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II.a Nuclear power costs

The cost of building and running a nuclear power station complex, including:

Decomissioning plant costs are assumed to be captured as a surcharge on the cost of uranium enrichment and disposal costs. Please see annex E for the estimated reactor decommissioning costs in DECC's recent consultation [1]

Costs Methodology

Methodology used

The user defines the number of nuclear power plants. Once the trajectory is set by the user, the number of plants to be built are defined. Investment costs are a function of new build and operating cost are a function of the number of plants operating within that time period.

Please see 2050 Methodology for a full description of the costs approach in the Calculator.

Methodology issues and uncertainty

  • We assume the current nuclear fleet retires by 2035 but we do not include the possibility of extending the lifetimes of the plants. Could the plants realistically have their lifetimes extended and what will this cost?
  • Should we split out further the costs of uranium enrichment, waste and plant decommissioning?

Technical Assumptions

  • Lifetime = 60 years therefore no new build retirement before 2050 for new build from 2020, current legacy retires by 2035
  • Efficiency = 36% thermal efficiency, 10% own use as a percentage of supplied electricity therefore 32.7% efficiency from uranium in to electricity supplied to the grid
  • Load factor = 60% today, raising to 80% by 2050, then remaining constant.
  • Input Fuel = Uranium

Questions to Stakeholders

  • The cost of uranium disposal only occurs within the time period 2007-2050 and the cost of storage in those years beyond 2050 isn't accounted for. Should we include this residual cost or is it immaterial and/or captured within the waste cost as a function of uranium used?
  • Should we include decommissioning costs or are they captured within waste costs? Check with Richard Marriott in OND. Proven numbers are about US$500million for a 1GW PWR (a real US example) which when expressed as £/MWh is a small number.

Built plant estimates

The headline figure often talked about by the leading UK developers (EdF and Horizon) and the UK government is £10bn for a twin or triple unit plant with a capacity of about 3GW net. This is equivalent to about £3300/kW (€3800/kW and $4900/kW). UAE’s price for Kepco’s APR concluded in late 2009 (about £2400 (~$3,600).[2]

Both of these real world estimates fall within the range above.

General comments

Please use this space to make any general comments. Please add your name when commenting.

Note from Tim Stone - the 60-80% load factors are out of date. Exelon run above 90% with good management of older plants and the new ones should achieve this sort of number far more easily by design - better with really good management. Needs updating.

Response from Tom Counsell - I've corrected the wording to be clear that we are assuming that 60% is the historic load factor, and that 80% is the load factor assumed for the future. When we update the assumptions we are going to have to think carefully about load factors for all technologies: while it is demonstrably true that plants can maintain an availability of above 90%, if these technologies contribute large fractions of the energy mix and improvements in storage are not forthcoming then they will need to load follow and will not be able to have such high load factors.

Response from Mike Knowles MIMechE - As a co-author of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' energy policy statement EP11/02 on "UK Electricity Generation - Cost effective management", it is very important that right from the start that 3rd generation Areva EPRs and Westinghouse AP1000 new nuclear plant should have high 80%+ load factors. To give best value for money for end users,they and CCS coal and gas should, as far as possible,be allowed to load follow as intermittent sources come in randomly.

AGRs in the 1990s and early 2000s achieved quite high LFs except for unplanned outages for CO2 circulator failures on Torness. DUKES 2010 Table 5.10 gves LFs even in 2005 72.4%; 2006 69.3%;2007 59.6% and 2008 49.4% and 2009 back to 65.4% in 2009. Average over the five years is 63.4%.

Examples of current practice with PWR plant is very good.

3rd Generation Areva EPRs and Westinghouse AP1000 designs are built with safety and redundancies to the fore. There should be a presumption that new UK nuclear plants will start with load factors nearer to 80%. EdF has 90% nuclear plant (capacity 63GWe). They do load follow--some even close at weekends. Their capacity factor of 77.3% is low by world standards but availibility is increasing and is now 84%. We should certainly assume 80% for new 3rd Generation UK plant.

Sizewell B's first 15 years of commercial operation with accounting closure at 2035 is shown at, . This shows that since the commencement of operation in 1995 Sizewell B Westinghouse PWR nuclear plan has a cumulative availability factor up to 2010 of 83.47%!

The government itelf revealed that the 1,600 MW projected units, to be called Sizewell C, would, together with the planned units at Hinkley Point, contribute 13% of UK electricity in the early 2020s.[3] EDF plans to use Areva's EPR design for any new build reactors in the UK; the design of reactors currently being built in Finland and France.[4] ref Wikipedia.


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