Nuclear power cheaper, only if there are many plants: scientists

  • September 24, 2015

Nuclear power will be cheaper than other power sources only if there are many power plants, said Dr. Le Van Hong from the Vietnam Energy Institute, when asked about production costs of nuclear power.

Vietnam, nuclear power, Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant

According to Cao Chi, senior researcher of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute, the investment rate for nuclear power will be much higher than hydropower and thermal power. 

However, in 2020-2025, when the first nuclear power plant is scheduled to become operational and Vietnam begins importing coal to run thermal power plants, nuclear power will have more competitive prices.

“The required initial investments for nuclear power will be higher, but when they become operational, they will have cheaper input materials than thermal power plants. Therefore, in the long term, nuclear power will be cheaper,” Chi explained. 

The biggest cost is the money needed to build nuclear plants, which have less need for raw materials. 

One nuclear power plant will need input materials with the weight equal to only  1/100,000 of the materials needed by one thermal power plant with the same capacity.

The land area needed to build nuclear power plant is also smaller. Nuclear power plants can be located near major charging units, thus reducing the electricity loss during transmission and saving 5-10 percent of power.

Meanwhile, Le Van Hong believes that cheap prices should not be expected from the first nuclear power generation unit.

In the feasibility study on the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant, the electricity price was calculated as follows: with an investment rate of $1,676/kwh, the nuclear power price will be 3.52 cent/kwh, thermal power to be generated from coal imports will be 4.28 cent, from liquidized gas imports 5.0 cent, gas imports 4.23 cent and domestic gas 4.0 cent.

As such, nuclear power will be cheaper if there are many power generation units in the same locality (4-6 units).

“It is now impossible to define the price of the electricity produced by the first nuclear power plant,” he said.

The expert went on to say that in principle, the cost would be high for the first power generation unit.

“In other countries, nuclear power is cheaper than power from other sources, but it will be cheaper only if there are many power generation units,” Hong said.

Vietnam is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia investing in nuclear energy. FPT Securities JSC (FPTS) forecasts that Vietnam is likely to be the first country to build nuclear power plants in ASEAN. The Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant is the common name of two nuclear power plants I and II in Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam with a total capacity of over 4,000 MW.

Dat Viet

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