Monday, July 25, 2011

Chinese Nuclear Power Plant Costs

This post was prompted by something I've seen written many times on various blogs and news reports for the past couple of years, that new nuclear power plants are NOT expensive. In fact, they say, China is building dozens of them for about $2 billion (US dollars) per reactor, where the reactor produces 1000 MW. I have my doubts about the $2 billion per reactor, (which is $2,000 per kW) as those who read and follow SLB are probably aware. In the USA, some recently-published numbers for proposed new nuclear power plant projects are more like $8,000 per kW. As an example, the now-defunct South Texas Nuclear Power Plant Expansion was to have two reactors at 1100 MW each, with a published cost estimate of $17 billion. That works out to $7,730 per kW, but it also ignores the inevitable cost over-runs, and extra interest costs for long delays. I would be surprised if that STNP Expansion would be built for less than $25 billion or roughly $12,000 per kW.

Therefore, I was quite interested to read a news item today, regarding a large new nuclear power plant under construction in southern China. The plant will have six reactors, at 1000 MW each. Total cost should be $12 billion, using the $2,000 per kW figure I've seen bandied about. Yet, CLP Holdings, LTD, purchased a 17 percent interest in the plant for $11 billion. CLP is a utility company in Hong Kong. CLP's 17 percent represents roughly the output from one-sixth of the entire plant, or one reactor. If 17 percent of the plant is worth $11 billion, then the entire plant is worth approximately $64 billion. That works out to a bit more than $10,000 per kW. That is much more in line with what new nuclear plants are projected to cost in the USA.

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.


Anonymous said...

i read your thoughts. you make an interesting case. But as an Industrial engineer, I have always thought that Nukes could be built for less than advertised. These are just two and three stage high pressure boiler systems with massive containment buildings. The Newer 2nd/3rd generation designs are getting pretty slick. Few moving parts, the control systems are less expensive and better than they were 20 years ago. the new AP1000 designs look like they will benefit from standards and economies of scale. Build 100 identical plants, and I think the cost can get below 2000kWe. Its the lawyers that seem to add to the price tag.

Roger Sowell said...

Mr. A. Mous, I doubt that the new nuclear power plants can be built for $2000 per kWe. As I have posted a couple of more recent articles on this topic, one for the Saudis (building 16 reactors at more than $7 billion each), and a post just a few days ago in October 2011 that gives more details on costs of inflation and financing when schedules slip. Even the South Texas Nuclear Project expansion was estimated at more than $8000 per kWe when it was finally abandoned. The Japanese supplier admitted they had not included everything in the cost estimate, then withdrew from the project after the Fukushima disaster.