Here’s bright spot in the news of the day: energy from new solar installations has, for the first time, become cheaper than energy from new nuclear plants, according to a new Duke University study. Thanks to cost-saving technologies and economies of scale, price can no longer be an excuse to invest in nuclear power rather than solar.
In North Carolina, nuclear energy costs 16 cents per kilowatt hour (the energy required to run 10 100-watt light bulbs for an hour), whereas solar is now going for 14 cents per kWh — a rate that continues to fall. In regions with more annual sunlight, the price gap is almost certainly even more pronounced. The data also analyzed only conventional photovoltaic power, not the concentrating technologies of troughs and reflectors, which also bring costs down.
The study was developed in response to aggressive lobbying by the nuclear industry, which has tried to position itself as the most affordable way to reduce carbon emissions. The study factors in governmental subsidies for both power sources, but found that even if all subsidies were removed, solar power would still be cheaper within a decade.