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I'm interested. Could you detail those calculations?

since nuclear plant builders/operators tend to sign contracts for decades of supplies as soon as they start construction, the market will have years of warning of increased demand

That's a point, but not enough. If (as in many a nuclear advocate's scenario) China, India, Europe and the USA would suddenly start a rapid expansion of nuclear capacity (say just on the level of this years' expansion of wind capacity), then there would be years of warning for a demand expanding rapidly for years...

until we perfect breeders

I'm not holding my breath :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 6th, 2010 at 09:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putting rough numbers on chinas costs vis-a-vis the more "normal" parts of the world is actually a very funky calculation, but getting it out of my notes and into a post with links is going to take a couple hours. Should have it done tomorrow evening.
by Thomas on Sat Feb 6th, 2010 at 10:38:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, that was a busier sunday than I had planned, so here is my Back of envelope calculations.

Cost Of a Chinese KWH: China operates in a significantly different investment context than private investors in the west - Investments in infrastructure are effectively displacing purchases of US treasury bonds, so the cost of capital to a utility is very low - 2% is the number Google  spits out, which seems reasonable enough (The risk, to a Chinese bank, of lending money to a Chinese utility is one hell of a lot lower than the currency risk US treasuries exposes them to) - This lowers the cost of high-capital, low fuel cost power, Hydro, wind, nukes, compared to coal and gas.
Cost of nuclear: I have no desire whatsoever to make any guesses about what the true cost of a fully indigenous nuke plant is in china, since I do not see any way to get those numbers, but fortunately we do know what the cost of a Areva or Westinghouse turnkey build in china is. 1500 dollars / kwh.
Build times are four years or less, which, if the plant is operated for 8000 hours/year and amortized over 30 years gives a capital cost per kwh of 0.9 cents. Fuel costs ring in at 0.71 cent/kwh (assuming this is bought on the international market. Any guess at what chinas internal costs for enrichment ect are would be shooting in the dark..) O&M.. actually, no idea, but since the western experience is that this is the same for coal and nukes (and not much), I will leave it out for now.

1.61 cent/kwh + o&m.

No good numbers on capital cost, since this is all domestic industry, but assume its half nuclear (and including the rail build, this is likely severe low balling ). -
0.45 cents
Fuel is 2 cents/kwh, and while china likely has lower mining costs than the rest of the world, this does not matter, because it is mostly going to or through ports already and thus could be sold.
2.45 cent/kwh. +O&M (actual cost of electricity in china is below this in some areas. Likely causes: Subsidies, and coal being bought very cheap near mines.)

Wind: western turbines set up in china: what reports I could find cite costs of 5-8 cents/kwh.
Chinese turbines set up in china: Would not want to speculate any more than I would about the chinese built nukes.

by Thomas on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 02:17:17 PM EST
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