Solar power now cheaper than nuclear
Researchers in North Carolina compare the relative price of electricity from photovoltaic cells to that from a nuclear plant.
Wed, Aug 04, 2010 at 08:40 PM
According to news aggregator Energy Collective, a historic era is upon us because solar power has become affordable. More specifically, solar power has become cheaper than nuclear power.
The article sites researchers from Duke University in North Carolina, who found that the cost of "producing photovoltaic cells (PV) has been dropping for years ... at the same time, estimated costs for building new nuclear power plants have ballooned." Thus, it's cheaper to put solar panels on houses than to build a new nuclear power plant to service them.
According to the article, this is a crossover moment because the researchers haven't even considered other pros and cons of solar power, including that North Carolina is not a "sun-rich" state. Other states with more sunshine could see more cost savings. The article also references an up-and-coming trend in solar power called concentrating solar power or CSP. According to the story, CSP "promises utility-scale production and solar thermal storage." This means that even after sunset, CSP-fitted homes can generate electricity.
The story lists the crossover price point at about 16 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This year, in North Carolina, the price of one kWh of electricity from solar energy fell below this point for the first time. Some solar developers offer electricity from solar energy at 14 cents per kWh and predict that this price will continue to drop.
The article ends by emphasizing how important it is to have an energy source that's more affordable than nuclear power, especially given the U.S. Senate's failure to pass a climate and energy bill this year. Since both nuclear and solar power are subsidized by the government, the author points out that "taxpayers now bear the burden of putting carbon into the atmosphere through a variety of hidden charges."