3 November 2010


Comparing a solar kWh with a nuclear kWh is not pertinent

This is certainly not the right question to ask, ” warns Arnaud Mine, chairman of Soler, the photovoltaic branch of the Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (Syndicate of Renewable Energies). “Rationally speaking, we cannot compare the costs of these two types of energy one against the other, because they don’t represent the same thing. ” When we quote the price of a kWh produced by a nuclear power station, we don’t take in account the cost of its delivery to the user, the home or the company. Nor does it comprise the cost of the power station’s disassembly, or the cost of waste management and storage, etc. “A solar kWh does not include all these supplementary costs, ” emphasizes Arnaud Mine, “since it is produced in proximity to the consumer ”.

The specialist also notes that whereas a nuclear kWh produces approximately the same energy all year round, this is not the case of the solar kWh. The latter is produced mostly during the summer and during daytime, which actually corresponds very well to the consumption profile of the south of France in particular, and of the building market where it is quickly becoming a competitor.

In Arnaud Mine’s view, we must compare the solar kWh to the kWh of the final retail price once the photovoltaic generators are installed in the buildings. And as far as this plan goes, Mine has no doubt whatsoever: “the solar kWh will become absolutely pertinent in the next five years, ” he estimates. “With the optimization of output, the release of new technologies, the drop in prices, and the volunteer approach of the manufacturers, the consumer price of a solar kWh should get down to 15 cents at that point”. Today, the buying price is around 35 to 37 cents. Eventually, if we’re to trust the specialist, photovoltaic energy will be technologically significant and should become an undeniable solution for building. This includes France, where the market is dominated by nuclear energy. The future of solar energy will be the theme of the conference organized by Solarplaza on the 9th of the coming month of November, in Marseille.


(1) Solar and Nuclear Costs - The Historic Crossover : Solar Energy is Now the Better Buy; a study carried out by John O. Blackburn and Sam Cunningham - Duke University of North Carolina, with the participation of the non-government organization NC WARN (Waste Awareness & Reduction Network).

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