In the modern era, nuclear power plants have almost always become more and more expensive over time. They have a “negative learning curve” — along with massive delays and cost overruns in market economies. This is confirmed both by recent studies and by the ongoing cost escalations of nuclear plants around the world, as I’ll detail in this post.
“Ever since the completion of the first wave of nuclear reactors in 1970, and continuing with the ongoing construction of new reactors in Europe, nuclear power seems to be doomed with the curse of cost escalation,” read one 2015 journal article, “Revisiting the Cost Escalation Curse of Nuclear Power.”
In the United States, the cost of Georgia Power’s newest twin Vogtle reactors may top initial estimates of $14 billion and reach $21 billion, according to recent Georgia Public Service Commission testimony. Of course, the first two Vogtle Units begun in 1971 took 18 years to build (a decade over schedule) at a final price of $9 billion — ten times the original price tag. BloombergBusiness wrote last fall, “Even as sympathetic an observer as John Rowe [former chair of the U.S.’s largest nuclear utility] warns that the new units at Vogtle will be uneconomical when — or if — they’re completed.”