Friday, July 16, 2010

Solar Cheaper than Nukes | RenewablesBiz

Solar Cheaper than Nukes | RenewablesBiz

Solar Cheaper than Nukes

Bill Opalka | Jul 15, 2010


The last time I caught up with NC WARN the group caused quite a stir with its call to eliminate coal-fired generation in North Carolina in 15 years.

The group, whose moniker stands for waste awareness & reduction network, is at it again with a new report that said a "historic crossover" has occurred between the costs of building solar installations and new nuclear plants. The report said that the state's utilities have rejected solar energy in favor of nuclear plants that require massive public subsidies and additional transfer of financial risks to electricity customers and taxpayers.

"North Carolina should be leading, not lagging, in the transition to clean energy," said John Blackburn, the former chancellor of Duke University and emeritus chair of its economics department.

He also said the fast-growing worldwide solar industry is poised to bring thousands of manufacturing and installation jobs to North Carolina.

Clean energy advocates point out that solar photovoltaic (PV) for home systems, rooftop installations on businesses and utility-scale plants have fallen rapidly in recent years and that trend is expected to accelerate over the next decade. WARN also said that delays and design issues still dog nuclear plants.

Blackburn said an "apples to apples" cost comparison, net of incentives for both technologies, was based on interviews and published reports of solar trends and cost estimates to build nuclear plants.

Blackburn, who produced the report for clean energy nonprofit NC WARN, was assisted by Sam Cunningham, a master's candidate at the Duke University Nicholas School for the Environment. The authors emphasized that solar prices should be compared to new nuclear plant costs, and that electric rates will rise much less with a clean-energy approach.

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