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Nuclear Power's Original Mistake: Trying to Domesticate the Bomb (Bloomberg View)

Op Ed:
... The Shippingport plant soon began generating electricity, and the government pronounced the reactor a success. And on one level, it certainly was: it sparked the construction of dozens of nuclear power plants in the U.S. and abroad, a good number of them designed and built by Westinghouse. Everything miraculous about the nuclear power industry began at Shippingport.

But so did everything that is overwhelming it now. Aside from the cost overruns, the electricity produced by Shippingport was quite costly. Though Duquesne Light bought electricity from the government at the rate of 8 mills per kilowatt-hour, the actual cost ranged between 55 and 60 mills.

In succeeding decades, nuclear power costs declined, but the industry remained heavily dependent on subsidies. And in recent years, the investment cost of developing new nuclear plants ballooned from $2,065 per kilowatt in 1998 to $5,828 in 2015, according to a World Nuclear Association report.

All of this bodes ill for the future of nuclear power. But the failure for nuclear to live up to its potential should hardly surprise us. It began as an idealistic attempt to domesticate the bomb in peacetime; the actual economic cost and benefits of doing was a secondary concern at best.


Subsidies: http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/nuclear_subsidies_report.pdf
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