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Andrew Mason
Dec4-08, 03:37 PM
Sci Advisor
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P: 6,679
Quote Quote by vanesch View Post
As long as solar (or wind or other erratic renewables) is a minority contributor (say, 15% or 20%), then this doesn't play a role, and the price per KWhr delivered will be much lower, as we can just use "yearly average". What renders this expensive is when we need reliability (which is not needed when it plays in the 15% ballpark, because reliability is then provided by the other technologies).
Good point. If you were to use solar electricity to produce hydrogen by electrolysis (for use in cars, say) an average supply works just fine.

I really don't think that, even as a minority contribution, at actual prices, solar PV is competitive with nuclear (you have 25c/KWhr for solar, while this is ~8c/KWhr for nuclear/coal). But even then this comes about because solar is not providing for an essential function in power delivery: reliability and load following.
The capital cost of the IFR must be huge on a per watt basis. A 1 GW conventional nuclear plant will run about $4 billion. which is $4 per Watt. An IFR would be at least double, maybe triple that so $8 - $12 billion not including development costs. While an IFR if very efficient, it does use fuel and has a significant operating cost. Accepting that my figures for cost may be out by a factor of 6, that puts solar at today's prices about $12/watt. So it I appears to me that solar would be competitive. A big advantage of solar would be the speed at which it could be implemented.