Fully Charged Points Out The Insane Costs Of Nuclear Power Stations – Video

MAY 8 2016 BY MARK KANE 60

A recent episode of Fully Charged wasn’t directly related to electric cars, but concerns the important and hot topic of the electricity production for them.

Hinkley Point C - Oh Deary Me | Fully Charged

Hinkley Point C – Oh Deary Me | Fully Charged

Coal, nuclear or renewable?

It’s an important question because cleaner production of electricity obviously translates to cleaner electric cars.

According to Fully Charged, there are serious questions about whether new nuclear power stations should be built today, as costs of comparable renewable energy sources have come down enough to actually be cheaper.

One of few examples presented was Hinkley Point C in UK – of which, the cost has already risen to some £18,000,000,000 for 3,200 MW of power, and whole project is heavily delayed.

“The UK’s brave step forward into a nuclear future…. oh dear.
There are nuclear alternatives which we’ll look at in a future episode, and yes, there’s Thorium, I know about Thorium, I’m always told Thorium is the future but for now, this one’s a right mess.”

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60 Comments on "Fully Charged Points Out The Insane Costs Of Nuclear Power Stations – Video"

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I think you mean 3200 MW, not GW.

At the $10k/kw nukes now cost, you can get 3×’s the power and more when needed most.
Until they drop the price to under $4k
Kw, nukes won’t be viable.


Yeah I like this episode. It’ nice how he sticks to the cost of nuclear power. Otherwise people would come up with their “…but it is so safe…”-bs. As long as nuclear power plants are run by a private company (which main goal ny definition is to make profit) cost will outcompete safety when it comes to making a decision (same applies to the following thousand years of waste management…)

With falling gross-market prices

eg. spot market EPEX:
08-05-2016 – 11:00 we had -7.09 €/MWh
08-05-2016 – 12:00 we had -76.09 €/MWh
08-05-2016 – 13:00 we had -100.06 €/MWh

(a note to those who like to fit curves to data… These prices will NOT fall forever… BUT: This data shows that already there is a tremendous need for storage capacity)

Unfortunately I have no data to which degree wind and solar production has been limited during this period…

Those who want to check out what will be the next data point may visit

Oh, what a sunny day (although I have to admit that I already burned quite some coal today. Barbecue Baby!)


Well, next data point… still falling…

08-05-2016 – 14:00 we had -130.09 €/KWh

(I guess too many people are having a barbecue. Come on people use your electric stove! It’s the 21st century…)

Uh, you might want to reconsider the pricing. It’s euro/MWh, not MWh/euro.


You are 100% right. It’s €/MWh, not €/kWH.

Anyways ain’t it funny that there are negative prices for electricity?

btw. the last data point was cancelled (corrected to -82.06 pesos/Joule and at 16:0 0 we stand at -76 dolar/eV)

If nuke plants are run by government, they’d cost far more and blow up much more often. Chernobyl is an example of this. As bad as nuke is (for now), it’s far better to have them under private companies.

The biggest problem with nuke is not the cost, but the waste. Cost is byproduct of waste. Once the root cause is addressed, nuke is a very good option.

You mean like all the nuke power plants on subs and aircraft carriers that blow up all the time because they’re run by the big bad government?

Good point. Deepwater Horizon wasn’t a government oil rig.

I’m much more confident that the government isn’t going to ignore safety protocols just to save a buck.


“Once the root cause is addressed, nuke is a very good option”

And when will that be? Any guesstimate?

The stupid crazy problems we have with Nuclear were solved decades ago, and is called Molten Salt. It inherently is safe.

The only reason why it didn’t make it is because bureaucrats shot it down for stupid reasons.

China however gladly sees a future in it and plans to have it ready in 10 years. They took the research from us and went from there.

Look it up on youtube – there is a guy who tries very hard to educate people on it.


…but I agree with you that Chernobyl is a good argument to not run a nuclear power plant by a goverment.

But my main point is: We have negative electricity prices in europe on some days. Still we waste money on a type of plant which sometimes blow up and cause huge contamination

(and you simply cannot neglect that up to now nuclear power plant blow up sometimes – let’s say 1 per 30 years… and that up to now NO SINGLE COUNTRY has found a safe way to get rid of the nuclear waste…)

The Chernobyl reactor was a graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor, which is a bad (if not horrible) design that has a big design flaw. That design flaw, called the “positive void effect,” transformed the accident into a catastrophe. No U.S. nuclear reactor uses this old Soviet design.

From the LA Times:
“[A] distinctive feature of the Chernobyl design, which sets it apart from conventional nuclear power plants in most of the world, is its tendency to generate a sudden and uncontrollable burst of power if large steam bubbles, or ‘voids,’ are allowed to form in the reactor core, as they did before the accident.”

“This peculiarity of the Chernobyl type of graphite reactor, called a positive void effect, is now seen as a decisive factor in the accident, one that transformed successive blunders on the part of Soviet operators over a period of hours into a catastrophe.”



Well, Chernobyl had an overbearing, abusive supervisor, who threatened the young operators (second by second re-enactments have been done), who besides the void issue was not aware of the Xenon poisoning issue, and in any event did not follow the designated procedures. Western readers shouldn’t gloat too much, seeing as the GE Mark I designs (of which there are still 20 odd operating reactors in this country, – which the AEC admittedly grandfathered after being declared ‘unsafe, undersized containments’ had a record at Fukushima of having 40 perfect years, and then one bad day, where the supposed ‘unsafe’ containments were shown to be proof positive. Everyone, including this dude, always talks about Nuclear Power’s ‘amazing safety record’. There has been on average one really good problem every ten years (admittedly fukushima, with 3 melt-downs, 3 melt-throughs, and some fantastic explosions (something that could only happen at a NON-GE facility, supposedly before this) – lowered the ‘safety average’ considerably). And that’s only the really big ones we’ve heard about. Britain itself has had some problems not generally advertised, or minimized, just like we do in this country. I’m glad he’d love a Nuke plant in his backyard. Tell that to the… Read more »

Wipe out all the nuclear plants from history and we have that many more coal plants killing hundreds of thousands, while also worsening AGW.

They’re not completely free from harm, but they’re many times safer than coal. You can cherry pick accidents all you want to, but on the aggregate, the damage really doesn’t amount to much, relatively speaking (aside from Chernobyl, which was a known danger before it was even built).

When considering the environmental cost of mining materials needed for renewables (and to a lesser degree, land impact), nuclear still has a higher potential to be a safer and cheaper energy source. In terms of commercially available solutions today, I agree that renewables have surpassed it, but there’s a lot of nuclear developments just on the horizon.

Many more deaths are attributed annually to coal mining than nuclear power plants. And that doesn’t even include pollution-related deaths.

I’ve noticed that the primary reason for ballooning costs for nuclear reactors, is the “Oh, those old designs were unsafe and obsolete!”

I’ve noticed that these kinds of insane costs have only gone up in the past 30 years or so. It’s every bit as much of a catastrophe as the reactors that have exploded.

Forget that noise. I have literally never heard of a wind farm that has had costs completely spiral out of control. A few have gone over budget, but not like *this*.

SparkEV said:

“If nuke plants are run by government, they’d cost far more and blow up much more often. Chernobyl is an example of this.”

You mean, it’s an example of a nuclear power reactor run by a government which had total disregard for the safety of its own people. Fortunately, very few governments in the world today are as irresponsible and callous as the Soviet Union was towards its own citizens.

The only thing the Chernobyl disaster proved was that it’s really stupid to build a nuclear power reactor with no containment dome to contain a leak. The main reason why the Fukushima accident was so very much less of a disaster was because it does have a containment dome.

Spark, that is a myth.
Here in Florida Jeb!Bush when governor privatized most everything yet they ended up having to take them back to government workers who did a far better job for less money.
Fact is government can do a lot for less.
Our biggest problems come from corporate welfare.
So don’t let your bias get into the way of the facts.

What most people forget is that just by not using gas in cars we are already saving the energy consumed by mining + refining + distributing the oil to gas.

Musk claimed that it was 5kWh per gallon of gas refined which just by not doing it could already propel an electric car about 20 miles.

Musk is full of it.

Refining uses very little electricity (the best estimates range from 0.1-0.2 kWh per gallon of finished product). Most of the energy to drive the process comes from the low value portions of the crude oil itself. It’s not available to propel EVs.


“Refining uses very little electricity (the best estimates range from 0.1-0.2 kWh per gallon of finished product).”

That figure is only “best” for Big Oil shills.

I’ve seen various figures cited; certainly not all petroleum refineries use the same amount of electricity. But some do have a coal-fired power plant right next to them, because they need a lot of power supplied.

Big Oil doesn’t want us to know how much electricity they use in refining. They keep the numbers secret, so estimates have to rely on, well, estimating, and also observing the exhaust from various parts of the refineries… including coal-fired power plants which supply electricity.

The average is certainly much higher than the cherry-picked figure you cited.

Elon Musk said that a typical EV can run 20 miles on the electricity used to produce just one gallon of gasoline? I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true. If it’s an exaggeration, it’s probably not much of one.

I’ve seen the figure of 4.6kWh of electricity used to refine one gallon of gas in several places.

That’s enough to propel my LEAF 20.7 miles at my current kW/mile average (lifetime 4.5kW/mile).

Yes. it’s a bit more than 3 GW. And we are very happy as french taxpayer to give 10 billion euros this year to avoid Areva & EDF bankruptcy. 10 billion, that’s one fifth of the french education budget. Just for this year.
As this 18 000 000 000 £ project will get delayed we will pay more and more. We already payed 10 000 000 000 +€ for the Flamanville EPR (European Pressurized reactor) prototype.
And not to count for the estimated 35 000 000 000 € Cigeo nuclear storage facility. Ya, a lot of money.
When I charge my Leaf with a couple of solar panels, I has the same feeling as Fully Charged…. It’s insane.

There is a great pop-culture mystique surrounding nuclear power. Most lay people have no idea how nuclear power is actually generated.

It’s quite simple actually. The heat generated by a nuclear reaction is used to boil water that is then used to run a steam turbine and generator that produces the electricity.

The bottom line is that nuclear power is a very expensive, complicated and potentially lethal way to boil water.

That’s it ! There’s nothing very profound or mysterious about it. Basically, a nuclear power plant just boils water for use in a steam powered generator.

If you’re thinking that there must be any number of alternative ways to boil water that are not nearly so dangerous nor expensive, then I think you are definitely right.

That’s what solar farms do too. Focus the sun’s energy on a small point, which will boil water and run a turbine to generate electricity. Ones that use liquefied sodium also allow for nearly around-the-clock energy production too.

$6/watt is actually about average. That’s where Vogtle was, and it has risen to around $7/watt. Bershire Hathaway, on the other hand, has proposed a 2GW wind farm, for which he expects Iowa residents to pay 3,600,000,000.00, Mark.

But wind only blows about 40% of the time, versus nuclear’s ~90% run rate. So, double that wind cost, before storage, and you have two carbon free sources, which are expensive.

Count the CO2, and you won’t be picky about how to get there. All UK has to do is find the space for about 3,200 windmills, and they can begin to think about the batteries which would additionally be needed to supplant Hinkley’s reliable “base load”.

I think thermal natural gas and coal are more dangerous than nuclear, and anyone who thinks the episodic risks of nuclear are greater has their head in the sand. Off shore wind would be twice the above costs.

Price of wind is averaging below 2.5cnt/kWh in the US:
UK also has plenty of wind. Yes its availability is random, but that’s why you have electrolysis and power-to-gas:
Even if it may be new & expensive at this time, it isn’t needed 100% of the time and it will get by orders of magnitude cheaper until this nuclear plant pays for itself.
It is a bit crazy to sign for hyper-expensive nuclear project that locks you without options for decades, and isn’t even predictable how much it will cost eventually and when how many years it will take for it to reach operational status.

Steve Chu is pretty knowedgeable and he thinks it is more like 4-5 cents per kWh. Still pretty darned low.
I think we should build up a standardized nuke family of plants, all the same, and keep 20-25% of our electricity generation coming from nukes while increasing the amount from renewables as coal continues to drop.
There is a large role for nukes to play, but it won’t work if people don’t understand the strengths and weaknesses of nuclear power. Or if they litigate them into an illogical regulatory purgatory.

Nuclear just doesn’t make any sense with cheaper intermittent power sources. You can’t turn off nuclear plant – you already paid for the capital and your payments are not going away if you use it or not. Nuclear fuel is just small fraction of cost. You can’t even build small nuclear plant, because small plant CAPEX will be even higher per Watt. You need to build huge nuclear plant and provide full backup for it as it may shut down at any time, it isn’t guaranteed to be 100% available either.

Newer gas turbines that can be scaled up and down in seconds make much more sense. Or if you are serious about renewable energy, you use power-to-gas and fuel cell power plants that don’t need to burn anything and have higher effiency.


Unfortunately those gas turbines are not used for that purpose on a regular basis.

While they definetely could take a huge part in load management they mostly run at full power because energy companies make money when they run.

True, and because LNG is proving to cost ~$2/mmbtu to ship the UK could easily dump nuke and go for $4 all-in natural gas.

Renewables can go faster, but beware the targets aren’t existing nuke (which is closing in US). If you ptefer solar/wind, to meet CO2 goals, you are making a mistake if you disparage nukes. Higher CO2, to get a crack at a few solar panels is a bad trade.

Natural gas is more expensive in Europe comparing to US and often isn’t cheapest energy source, so it is different. Liquidification, transport and gasification costs don’t allow for the gas price to match North American price, it isn’t going down and in addition the price is somewhat unpredictable.
I think natural gas fuel cost is something between 2 and 3 cnt/kWH in the US. Wind & solar are reaching that point for big projects now or soon.

Renewables need more backup than nuclear, because the chance of two nuclear plants out of a fleet going down simultaneously is extremely low (on the whole, most nuclear plant down-time is planned), while the chance of a geographically large area losing wind or sun at the same is just plain common.

But backup power really isn’t a big deal anyway. Natural gas is great for that. The problem is that once you build that backup power, it only costs 2-3c/kWh of fuel to generate electricity with it, so we use wind up using it for more than just backup.

Ziv said:
“I think we should build up a standardized nuke family of plants, all the same, . . .”

Yes, standardization is one of the keys to keeping construction costs down. It worked for France when they built their nuclear reactors.

Steven Chu was my favorite Obama administration official. Smart guy and made many good decisions.

Ziv said:

“I think we should build up a standardized nuke family of plants, all the same…”

Right, a standardized design is one way the French kept costs down when they built their reactors in the 1980s and 1990s. Treating every new nuclear power project as a one-off that has to be studied and engineered and re-engineered to death, inevitably causing multiple delays and cost over-runs, is what’s insane.

Pj, sorry but even that plant will end up over $10k/kw.
Until they make small , safe even a fool can run like molten salt or lead cooled nuke is dead.
Also in 20yrs there will be little market for utility power of any type as most will just make their own under $.06/kwhr.

Good points made. I would rather see the money go towards renewables.

Tchernobyl will still be a no man’s land in 20 000 years!
Fukushima leaks tons of highly contaminated water used for cooling the reactor in the Pacific ocean… for 40 years, each day! WE are the dumbest of the dumbest auto destructive race on this side of the galaxy.

The Nuke power plant here in Gentilly,QC,Can. was decommissioned 4 years ago. We wont be able to dismantle it until 2072! Because of the cooling process! It’s the same for the +400 plants in the world. This add a lot of maintenance and surveillance costs.

I guess “species” is a better word than “race” ?

Species, who contend with a 2C degree global rise made certain from things like, say, Pilgram’s shut down in MA. All the solar, in the state with the most lavish benefits, fails to displace the CO2 prevented by that one 600MW+ reactor. Every roof we covered, and community solar project approved, will just be marking time for a coast having to plan for “resiliency”. Not very intelligent for our species.

RexxxSeee said:

“WE are the dumbest of the dumbest auto destructive race on this side of the galaxy.”

One measure of how our species isn’t rational is how we have built so many coal-fired power plants, each of which burn hundreds of tons of coal every day, which is why the pollution from coal-fired exhaust kills an estimated 15,000-30,000 American each and every year.

If we were a rational species, we would have long since replaced every single coal-fired plant with much cleaner, much safer nuclear reactors, which in the year of their worst disaster didn’t kill nearly as many people as coal-fired power plants kill Americans each and every single year.

And of course, world-wide the death toll from coal-fired power plant pollution is much higher. To bad the news media doesn’t talk about that, and instead promotes hysteria over the very, very much lower danger from nuclear power plants.

I think the big nukes are pretty much done. See pj’s comment on the cost over runs at Vogtle in addition to the UK’s mess.

I do see some hope for SMR’s though-small nuclear reactors. These reactors are mass produced and shipped to the site in modules. One can just increase the number of modules to get a larger plant.

all in all I think Solar PV should be the goal in the US though.

We’re going to need a way to balance the variable output from wind and solar through a combination of batteries, pumped hydro storage, hydro electricity from reservoirs (by curtailing the water-flow/electricity they produce to match solar/wind intermittency), and dare I say electrolyzers making hydrogen.

Here is an interesting analysis of how Norway is using its hydro electric producing reservoirs (not pumped storage) to balance its intermittent and variable wind power and solar power.



the site now remembers my name and password!!

The updated/upgraded servers just went online.

Solar has the greatest energy potential of any energy source. That include fossil fuels, nuclear and even other renewables.

That’s why my money is on solar. The big elephant in the room for solar and other renewables is energy storage.

You can boil hot water with CSP solar power. You don’t need to build billion dollar boondoggle nuclear plant just to boil water for a steam turbine.

The fly in the ointment for concentrated solar power is once again the storage problem, the same dilemma faced by all the other intermittent renewables.

If renewables can economically solve the problem of intermittency, the need for fossil fuels and Nukes will disappear.

Ladies and gentlemen:

We do not need to make our planet into a nuclear waste dump just to bring hot water to a boil.

Since the volume of nuclear waste is tiny compared to industrial waste from other industries, and since storage is a technical problem solved decades ago — it’s now only a political problem, despite the hysteria promoted by the news media — that’s not a real concern. It’s just a fake one.


I still support nuclear but I’m an even bigger solar proponent. A good question that has been asked about the two energy sources has been:

You mean to tell me that we can’t store electricity overnight but we can safely store radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years?

Good point.

The nukes are a colossal waste of money. If the ratepayers had to pay the safe storage fee of the spent fuel for the life of the spent fuel. There should be no new nukes. Spend that money on EV incentives, PV, wind, and batteries and it will be far better spent.

No new nukes… no new coal… stop the boondoggles.

JS, Nobody is choosing to build coal or nuclear, in the U.S. There are a couple nuclear reactors being completed, whose decisions were made >5 years ago. In those 5 years, Clinton, Pilgrim, Vermont Yankee, Kewaunee, SONGS, Crystal River 3, and Quad Cities have all had closure announcements. I don’t believe any were because of a license expiration. It’s natural gas. You’ve heard about coal bankruptcy. Even existing nuclear can’t compete. Natural gas is like “The Blob”, right now. People sound confident renewables are cheap enough, but 4-5 cent solar PPAs, which become ~6+ when the ITC is taken out, which become perhaps another 1-3 cents more expensive after storage is considered, really need support and are no cheaper than nuclear. Say the opposite of the above, if you want to. Neither can touch the cost of combined cycle natural gas efficiency, and a $2-$3/mmbtu price. To shut all the plants I listed down, and build natural gas plants is idiotic, but for some reason the public is frequently coached to muse about the renewables versus nuclear debate. Sad to see IEV go down that hole, with back to back articles. Everyone will walk away happy, picking renewables, and another… Read more »

Each and every Solar PV Panel desighed today, ciuld, and should, have an ‘On Panel’ Electricity Storage component: 4 Hrs worth of production Storage should be Minimum! So, a 250 Watt Solar PV Panel, should have a minimum of 1 kWh of on panel energy storage built right in!

That should be selectable, from 4 Hrs, to 8 Hrs, to 12, 16, and 24 hrs! Then such panel should all be the same amount of Electricity storage when building an Array! This keeps a local energy storage element active and available to assist with frequency regulation, and larger Grid Storage Farms, should be downstream from the on panel solar electricity elements!

Think SRAM in the PC Chip, compared to DRAM on the Motherboard! Thisis also allows an array to provode consistent output power if blocked for an hour by a cloud, or other elements.

Batteries for stationary storage should be kept indoors, where they will be protected from the weather, and where they will be kept warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

And not left outside along with solar panels, where they will freeze in the winter and bake in the summer, as well as being exposed to constant day/night temperature swings.

In France, they built a series of standardized commercial nuclear reactors which have been safely delivering dependable, cheap electricity for decades. The reason why more recent commercial nuclear reactor projects have become so massively over-expensive isn’t because commercial nuclear power reactors are inherently that expensive. It’s because anti-nuclear activists have been very successful at piling on unneeded regulations which are prohibitively expensive to meet. And of course the anti-nuclear activists know that; it’s their agenda to either block construction of new nuclear power plants entirely, or make them so expensive that the company trying to build it gives up. So let’s not pretend there’s a technological problem with nuclear power, because there’s not. There is a social problem with hysteria over “RADIATION!!” Hysteria promoted by the media, which has been used as a puppet by Big Oil, which doesn’t want cheap electricity because it would kill its market for fuel oil (diesel #4) used to heat homes in the American Northeast. Sorry, Mr. Llewellyn. I enjoy your “Fully Charged” videos, but on this subject you’re simply wrong. If commercial nuclear power plants were allowed to put as much radioactive particles into the air as coal-fired power plants do, then commercial… Read more »

Well PP, this time, I rather think that you miss the hole point.
Notwithstanding what you write, given the actual situation for whatever reason, pursuing over costly alternative when there is cheaper solution just doesn’t make sense.
That alone sum it up.
But you still haven’t address nuclear waste expense.


For a brief history of nuclear power plants, people should watch “Pandora’s Promise” on netflix.

Yes, some will say it’s an absolute propaganda piece. Who cares? The main facts of the documentary are indisputable. There were two types of nuclear reactors in development back in the day… one that was meltdown prone and another that was meltdown proof. The deciding factor that led us down the meltdown prone reactors we’re using today was:
1. Cost and time.
2. Accessibility of the material for nuclear warheads.

Nuclear power CAN be safe, just not with the current type of nuclear reactors.

Last I heard, France has begun testing the new type of meltdown proof reactors. When this technology gains momentum, cost and time factors will be eliminated and since the cold war is over, there isn’t much of a need for nuclear warheads other than what we have now.

The trend in the US is to shut down Nukes, not build more. The Belafonte facility, for instance, where 2 big nukes have been in the process of construction for decades, are finally being cancelled after an expenditure of $4 Billion.

There is no competition with wind power and a battery pack. Even Solar is much cheaper.

The new Westinghouse AP1000 was supposed to be a very cost reduced design the would bring a rash of new orders.. But any large purchases have only happened in China, with the requisite technology transfer that the Chinese always insist on.

But there won’t be many of these ultimately in the states. Even with the ‘cost reductions’, it is simply easier and much cheaper to go the non-nuke route. Time is catching up on the US’s elderly reactor stock, and they will be decommissioned at a far greater rate than new plants will come to replace them. Currently, rightly or wrongly, natural gas is where it is at for new state-side central stations.