Nuclear energy is the cheapest means of supplying low carbon electricity.
EirGrid commissioned a study into low-carbon options for Ireland, conducted by the international consultant Poyry, which showed that no technology could produce cheaper electricity for the domestic customer than nuclear power.
The above table shows that our economic choices rely on Gas, Nuclear or CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage), as all the renewables options are much more expensive. However, using Gas will not allow us to meet our Greenhouse Gas reduction targets, and CCS is not yet developed. The need to consider Nuclear becomes obvious in this light.
The SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) commissioned international consultants McKinsey in 2009 to conduct Ireland’s Low-Carbon Opportunity Study. Hidden away in the Technical Appendix was an analysis of the relative cost of nuclear power. They conclude that a 600MW nuclear plant appears to be a relatively inexpensive abatement option to replace Moneypoint coal-fired station, compared to coal-biomass firing with CCS.
This table clearly shows that nuclear power would be one of the cheapest means of reducing our CO2 emissions, at a cost of around €16 per ton. This is much cheaper than the cost using substantial amounts of wind, or wave, tidal or other renewable source.
The clear conclusion from these reports is that a suitably-sized nuclear power station would help to lower the costs of having a low carbon electricity supply in Ireland.