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Nuclear energy still the cheapest low-carbon energy source

If international low-carbon targets are observed, nuclear energy is by far the cheapest and most efficient choice, a report released by financial advisory KPMG said.

Even with anti-nuclear sentiment still at a high following the disaster in Japan’s Fukushima power plant, the technology remains the cheapest and most efficient source of energy. A report released by global financial consultancy KPMG states that the world’s rising energy demand will primarily be covered through the use of fossil fuels. However, if governments are serious about ongoing drives to reduce harmful emissions, they will have to look to other sources, too.

Regardless of the discussion surrounding the sustainable production of energy, KPMG notes that the technologies are lacking in efficiency and are also highly expensive. In contrast, nuclear remains the best low-carbon solution.

As the company’s study points out modern nuclear units have a lifespan of 60-80 years and only use 20% of their operating expenses for the procurement of fuels opposed to the 80% rate common for conventional plants.

This leads to the expense side of nuclear power coming to €60 to €115 for a megawatt hour of electricity. For offshore wind, the sum comes to €150 to €230. The figures only reflect prices at the power station gates and do not include expenses stemming from network operation.

The document also highlights the additional disadvantages linked to green technologies. Solar panels usually operate with an efficiency of 10% but even with the more expensive and sophisticated varieties, the total only goes as high as 20%.

In the case of wind, even though the fuel as such is free, the initial expenses are very high due to changing wind speeds and fluctuation in output. Biomass is unable to produce the necessary amount of electricity, especially in poorer countries, where food supplies can be jeopardized by energy crops.