Prof. Atul H. Chokshi

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

(see IISc’s Faculty Page)

Read Prof. Chokshi’s letter to the Prime Minister on Koodankulam

A Potential Historical Crossover in Costs for Solar and Nuclear Power for Jaitapur, India

In discussions on various energy scenarios, one of the concerns against solar power is their high costs, especially with respect to nuclear power plants (NPP). It has been recognized generally that there are numerous hidden subsidies with nuclear power, so that the listed pricing is not a true reflection of the actual costs [1-3]. Despite this, a study from North Carolina in 2010 showed that in the USA solar power had a similar or lower cost as nuclear power [4].

In view of the rising costs for EPR nuclear plant being constructed in France, the Hindu [5] has estimated that the six Areva reactors proposed in Jaitapur are likely to cost a total of Rs. 3.5 lakh crores. Following the revised estimate for Jaitapur, it is appropriate to re-evaluate the issue of the relative costs for NPP and solar power.

For the six nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1,650 MW each, assuming that
10% of the energy is used in the running of the plants and that the plants operate at a high load factor of 0.9, the total annual energy produced by the six Jaitapur plants can be a maximum of (1,650*6*0.9*0.9*24*365) ~70 TWh

Solar pv panels in India have a typical load factor of ~0.19, so that an energy
production of 70 TWh will require a solar panel capacity of ~42 GW. Currently, with the program from MNRE, an installed 1 kW solar power system costs ~ ₹ 1 lakh [6]. Consequently, the cost of a more distributed solar power system to give a comparable energy as the massive centralized Jaitapur NPPs is (42 GW * Rs 1 lakh/kW) ~ Rs. 4.2 lakh crores.

The above simple calculations show that solar pv costs are similar to those
anticipated for the Jaitapur NPPs. Based on recent experience, it is likely that costs for NPPs will continue to go up over the next few decades while those for solar power will come down, suggesting that we have essentially attained a historical crossover in costs between NPPs and solar pv for India.

Consequently, it is no longer reasonable to argue against solar power on the basis of costing.


The historical global crossover between nuclear and solar