Is nuclear the cheapest form of energy?

Nuclear energy opinion

In any case, with the criteria set by the study – which for the first time includes a cost of $30 for the emission of each ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) – nuclear electricity is the cheapest in the three regions analyzed (North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific).

In North America, nuclear is just under $50 per megawatt, compared with just over $60 on average for wind power plants, just over $70 (also on average) for coal-fired power plants and just over $80 for gas-fired power plants.

In Asia-Pacific, nuclear is even cheaper, at less than $35 per megawatt, compared to just over $60 for coal, almost $70 for wind and around $85 for gas. Atomic power represents in Europe an average of about $60 per megawatt, compared to $80 for coal, $90 for gas and $120 for onshore wind.

Therefore, the main conclusion of the IEA and the NEA is that “nuclear, coal, gas, and, when local conditions are favorable, hydro and wind, are relatively competitive technologies for base-load electricity production”.

Nuclear energy

The European Commission’s proposal, based on the JRC report, says that “nuclear power further contributes to climate change mitigation through synergy with renewables”, furthermore “when used as baseload technology, it provides flexible operation to complement variable renewables. Therefore, wind and solar energy are deployed more efficiently”. In conclusion, nuclear power “avoids the use of high carbon-emitting generation technologies that are often used as backup (natural gas).”

Why nuclear energy is cheap

There are several disciplines and/or techniques that use atomic energy as a basis, ranging from electricity generation in nuclear power plants to archeological dating analysis techniques (nuclear archeometry), nuclear medicine used in hospitals, etc.

Another technique, mainly used in long-life stacks for systems requiring low power consumption, is the use of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), in which the different decay modes are exploited to generate electricity in thermocouple systems from the heat transferred by a radioactive source.

The energy released in these nuclear processes usually appears in the form of moving subatomic particles. These particles, as they slow down in the surrounding matter, produce thermal energy. This thermal energy is transformed into mechanical energy using external combustion engines, such as steam turbines. This mechanical energy can be used in transportation, such as in nuclear-powered ships.


Well, désenchantée, because they have been working for more than a decade to develop one. In the West there are real difficulties to make it possible and the cost is too high. In China it’s a bit different. Especially because the safety criteria there have nothing to do with those in Europe, and that drives up costs. And that is where, as Jorge Morales de Labra explained in Mejor contigo on La1, the basic problem of the whole debate lies. In any case, the main argument for putting them into operation would be exclusively the price without anything else mattering. Well, in this sense there is something else that few people talk about. New nuclear reactors are not as cheap and do not produce electricity as cheaply as most people think. Right now there are three under construction in Europe….