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Solar has improved unit costs soon to be 10,000 times relative to Nuclear!

by Tony Seba on April 25, 2013

Since the 1970′s Solar PV has improved unit costs by 1,000 times relative to Nuclear! Take a look at the embedded powerpoint.
1) Since the 1970′s the unit cost of new solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has improved by a factor of 100. That is, the dollar cost per watt, has dropped from about $65 per Watt to about 65 cents ($0.65) per watt, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.[1]
2) Since the 1970s, the unit cost per watt of a new nuclear power plant has increased by a factor of 10. That is, the dollar cost per watt of building a new nuclear plant has gone from about $1 per watt to $12-$14 per watt, according to Environment America.[2]

Put these two cost trends together, and you get the fact that Solar PV has improved its unit costs by a factor of 1,000 relative to nuclear since the 1970s.

Solar Disruption

There’s no doubt solar is disrupting power markets. Disruptive innovations tend to improve quality and decrease costs over time until it’s too late for the incumbents to compete. Here’s powerful data that shows how far solar has improved relative to nuclear.

Furthermore, solar unit costs keep dropping. First Solar (FSLR) has announced costs around 40 cents ($0.40) per watt by 2017 and others are aiming to get there sooner.[3] Nuclear unit costs have gone up for decades and they will undeniably keep going up after the Fukushima-Dai’ichi nuclear meltdown disaster.

Solar is already cheaper than nuclear. The trends are undeniable: solar will keep getting cheaper and nuclear will getting more expensive. This doesn’t even include the massive taxpayer costs of insuring the uninsurable nuclear industry.[4] These costs do not include the hundreds of billions of dollars that taxpayers in Japan are paying the nuclear industry because of the Fukushima Dai’ichi disaster.[5]

The Future of Energy is Bright

Pay attention to the exponentially improving cost trends of solar PV and the worsening unit costs of nuclear. It won’t be much longer before solar has improved its unit costs by 10,000 times relative to nuclear.

[1] Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “Reconsidering The Economics of PV Power”, Sept 2012
[2] Environment America study: “Generating Failure”, Nov 2009

April 29, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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