Headlines out of the UK are pointing out the horrible state of affairs for nuclear generation decommissioning after a committee of Members of Parliament that the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority really doesn’t have a handle on the 17 sites, their costs, or the vendors they selected for cleanup. They are currently projecting $177 billion and 120 years for the full decommissioning, over $1 billion per site. Some of this is due to botched procurement, with two different cleanup vendors stripped of their contracts.
Certainly the UK cleanup is a fustercluck of epic proportions, equivalent in fiscal sense to building Hinkley. That new reactor, billions and years over budget and schedule, required a commitment for 35 years to pay $150/MWh for every MWh they generated, at a time when onshore wind and solar in the UK are at or under $50/MWh and offshore wind is under $100/MWh.
Some US commenters were feeling chuffed, although that’s not a term they would use, that the US was handling things so much better. But the USA isn’t far behind the UK in problems, it just isn’t as public.
Per the World Nuclear Association:
In the USA, utilities are collecting 0.1 to 0.2 cents/kWh to fund decommissioning. They must then report regularly to the NRC on the status of their decommissioning funds. About two-thirds of the total estimated cost of decommissioning all US nuclear power reactors has already been collected, leaving a liability of about $9 billion to be covered over the remaining operating lives of about 100 reactors (on the basis of an average of $320 million per unit). NRC data for the end of 2018 indicated that there was a combined total of $64.7 billion held in the decommissioning trust funds covering the 119 operational and retired US nuclear power reactors.
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