The Economics of Nuclear Energy

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Real Engineering

Real Engineering

Hace 28 días

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This video is based on, and inspired on the amazing Illnois Energy Professors video of the same title: I highly recommend you subscribe and watch his collection of videos.
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Writer/Narrator: Brian McManus
Editor: Dylan Hennessy (
Animator: Mike Ridolfi (
Sound: Graham Haerther (
Thumbnail: Simon Buckmaster


Thank you to AP Archive for access to their archival footage.

Music by Epidemic Sound:


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Malazgirt 1071
Malazgirt 1071 Hace un hora
Luc of Paris
Luc of Paris Hace un hora
Foot note: French nuclear designs _are_ safer and dispatchable. The problem with american nuclear is its financial cowardice and xenophobic tech culture.
italiapax Hace 7 horas
Everyone forgets Thorium.
Taylor Brown
Taylor Brown Hace 9 horas
If the goal is a total carbon emission decrease, one would have to consider the carbon emissions that are produced when renewable energy or storage devices are created. I don’t have any data to back this up, but would welcome any responses as to the processes that are required to manufacture solar panels and battery storage and the net carbon emissions generated by that process. Is the lifetime net, inclusive of manufacturing, less in renewables than nuclear?
a Little Pal
a Little Pal Hace 10 horas
when the school creates save space, teaches social studying, this is what you get.
SeBu Hace 12 horas
Let the people play Factorio so that they will understand the benefit of nuclear power.
Harry CallahanX
Harry CallahanX Hace 14 horas
another dishonest video to push an agenda
terry Hace 18 horas
This video convinced me that REAL ENGINEERING has run out of tech they actually understand. I am UNSUBSCRIBING.
fitty77 Hace un día
Yes we have plenty of solar energy. Now wonder what would be the footprint to collect and store it...
ed Hace 2 días
Wait just a minute. Isn't a molten salt reactor cheaper to build, cheaper to operate and safer to boot? Where are the molten salt reactors?
ed Hace 17 horas
@terry Or they were paid off. I think it's high time to raise a stink.
terry Hace 18 horas
No one at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission understood Salt Reactors, so they killed it.
bitVictim Hace 3 días
@4:20 well it's pretty obvious the problem here is CAPITALISM
Thomas Kouroughli
Thomas Kouroughli Hace 3 días
Couple points to add to this: 1. Cost of storing the waste appropriately is prohibitively high. Usually tax payers foot the bill for this and its not included in the finances of the nuclear plant. So as a government you also have too include this cost/uncertainty. 2. You touched on the fact that nuclear is a baseload technology which is not flexible. This will become more and more of a problem in the long-term as more variable renewables come onto the grid. Flexibility will be key for survival in the power market of the future. At least with the current technology, nuclear will not be able to provide this service and will therefore not be a good investment today considering its long life span.
Pasajero del toro
Pasajero del toro Hace 4 días
Expect more leukemia cases if you live in the North:
david kopecky
david kopecky Hace 4 días
And thats why capitalism doesnt work.
Pasajero del toro
Pasajero del toro Hace 4 días
You forgot one thing: "Externality" costs. We are better off with natural gas.
Pasajero del toro
Pasajero del toro Hace 4 días
"The now-defunct, bankrupted Solyndra used its $535 million in guaranteed federal dollars to generate about 12.5 million pounds of hazardous waste, much of which was carcinogenic cadmium-contaminated waste, during its four years of operations."
Pasajero del toro
Pasajero del toro Hace 4 días
Solar panels are NOT immune!
Yann Hoertel
Yann Hoertel Hace 4 días
i'm sad today because the green in France succeed to make our government close a nuclear power plant... It would need 2.700 windmill to obtain the same amount of energy Fessenheim used to produced for Luxembourg Germany Belgium Switzerland and of course France
ReactorFox3 Hace 4 días
now what if we could build a nuclear reactor at 1 / 6 to 1/10 the cost and remove most saftey fetures that add a huge expense and delay in the reactor introducing the gen 4 nuclear reactor program how to make reactors cheap and affordable and safe for everyone to build
Isi Hace 4 días
Son I am disappoint... You cannot compare on demand energy sources like gas and nuclear to PV or Solar unless you take into account storage. Also, on a geopolitical standpoint, the cost of gas makes you dependent on US, Russia or UAE. And finally, mass production of electric energy to transition towards electric vehicles will require so much gas, everybody will wich they went full nuclear. Truth is: Marginal CO2 emissions from Nuclear is 0. If we want this planet to be still livable in a few centuries we should all make the switch now
Sirajul Monir
Sirajul Monir Hace 5 días
Please make the video explaining how we can improve the nuclear power plants!
Chaomatic Hace 5 días
Nuclear: insanely high profits! Also nuclear: insanely high risks!
ThatGamePerson Hace 5 días
This is a dumb question but what would it take (not politically) to have solar plants on the other side of the earth to generate enough power for the side of the planet in nightfall? Would a global power grid be a technically achievable goal with current technology?
Air Wind and Fire
Air Wind and Fire Hace 5 días
The Biggest Flaw of Vid: "Wind dose not blow all the time so needs natural gas to prop it up" This is BS! Dose wind stop in some places.... YES! Dose the wind stop in all places..... NO!! So wind power over several/many parts of a country can provide wind power when needed and or stored in "battery" (s) Why BS!!! This is a fucked up mis-sight and misleading shit for a problem that is not there!
Dominik Krömer
Dominik Krömer Hace 5 días
You stole this Video from Prof. David Ruzic of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign!!!! He made this 1 year ago
01harvey Hace 6 días
nuclear sucks
P K Hace 4 días
Ignorance is bliss
Dialectical Materialism
Dialectical Materialism Hace 7 días
So I watched the "economics of nuclear power" video when it was first posted and there is very little original content in this video. You basically just lifted the entire bideo, added the point that gas power plants can spin up and down while nuclear can't. (which is irrelecant because it isn't a low-carbon source of energy, so you might as well just compare coal-fired plants as well.) PG&E was essentially browbeat by politicians and anti-nuclear groups to close the plant down. California now has essentially no chance of meeting their 50% low-carbon by 2025 plan because Diablo Canyon was shut down. This is what happens when our grid is run by for-profit companies; we get massive cost overruns and premature shutdowns of plants because they aren't economically viable which ultimately costs the taxpayers millions anyway. Nuclear reactors will run for 60-80 years without any serious issue. In that amount of time, they will far surpass any other form of energy source both on energy production and economics.
J’Deveon White
J’Deveon White Hace 7 días
Anyone who doesn't want nuclear because it's not safe enough is a moron Anyone who doesn't want nuclear because it's too expensive to build is the source of the environmental issue Anyone who doesn't want nuclear because they don't understand how it should also be fighting against brain surgery and computers Those profit returns are gonna look real good in 30 years when we run out of oil/natural gas and have to go back to coal because renewables can't support the whole load
Fe1ixJ Hace 7 días
For Sweden Nuclear is perfect. We have uranium in our bedrock even if we import most of it. the cost of the powerplant is not the problem eighter since Sweden is a pretty rich country. Don't forget the risk of a nuclear accident are minimal here since We have no earthquakes or Tsunami. Sweden has been reported for good work on closing oil and coal-burning power plants. But WTF they shut down the nuclear powerplant to replace it with oil-burning power plants this summer. No joke I really got pissed. The leaders of Sweden are stupid. They have handled corona very bad and now the fuck up the energy. The younger generation is just gonna suffer. I Vote Moderaterna no more sossar
Benoit E.
Benoit E. Hace 7 días
One of the biggest problem : we don’t take into account the cost of every ton of CO2 we put in the atmosphere. Count a big tax on fossil power plant for what they'll cost us in climate change and your economic equation shift a lot in favour of low GHG mean of production…
Oui Oui
Oui Oui Hace 7 días
Comparing controllable energy with intermittent doesn't make any sense... You just can't say that nuclear does not compite with something that... Does not do the same thing. Unless you specify the mean of storage and its cost. That's interesting you're saying we need citizen aware of the energy market and how it works. Yet, this video (that does a great job at explaining a lot of stuff about nuclear) lacks explanation about key concepts. I understand that we can't talk about everything in a 16 minutes video, then it was maybe a mistake to compare nuclear to renewable without those key concepts... Unless I missed something in the video ?
SpaceDave1337 Hace 8 días
But you also have to say that most nuclear reactors in france are at the border and the wind will yeet all of that radiation goodness and it will destroy germany, not france
Douglas Manofsky
Douglas Manofsky Hace 8 días
I'm very excited to learn more about next-gen nuclear and how it could be used to replace gas peakers. 👍
The_Blazer Hace 8 días
As usual, a big part of the problem is that nobody pays the true price of carbon-emitting electricity, so of course they are cheaper than nuclear (and renewables). When you run a fossil plant, you are dumping waste into the environment at the cost of 0 dollars per Kg of CO2... if that waste and the damage it causes was fairly priced, nuclear and renewables would be competitive.
Thorsten Guntz
Thorsten Guntz Hace 8 días
Good Video but you missed out 2 very important points. 1. What to do with the nuclear waste? 2. Who ensures the safety of a neclear power plant? And who pays the cost if something happens? I bet we would se the good old: profits get privatized costs get socialized Only acceptable form of socialism for a capitalist 🤑
Łuk Nie
Łuk Nie Hace 9 días
One thing that is typically neglected - what is the cost of the storage of waste? I know it's does not take much space really. But what is the cost of maintaining of such facility for more than 200 000 years? Nuclear power plant could pay for the time its working (lets assume 60 years). Who is going to pay for next 200 k years? Please correct me if I'm wrong here bout the lifetime of long lived fission products - I must admit my lack of expertise here.
Łuk Nie
Łuk Nie Hace 9 días
The video explains the concept quite well in my opinion. However, some of the assumptions, such as rate of 3% seems to be quite generous for nuclear ;)
Mascaradoviski Hace 9 días
Why not thorium?
Josh Hace 9 días
This is strange, reaches the opposite conclusion to the Planet of the Humans. Which basically said solar is very wasteful in terms of its short life and the inability of the panels to be recycled. Also claimed that bulk of renewal energy actually comes from bio-mass i.e burning trees and that to replace coal with biomass burners would mean you would have to chop down all the trees in the USA for one year's worth of energy. Hard to know who to believe with renewals especially solar because they say it produces so much energy but fail to say that the batteries cost so much to store it and fail to take into account the decommissioning cost and wast. I've seen other documentaries that basically say the only real solution is new safer nuclear energy. I wonder if these guys are independent and look at the totals and issues in much detail.
Killian Harle
Killian Harle Hace 9 días
Germany replacing nuclear with natural gas is so backwards. They want to pollute less, but ended up choosing a fuel that releases pure co2.
tahaak Hace 9 días
Germany is just nuts with its double standards. We want to shut down nuclear reactors asap but don‘t care about all the coal power stations in the country (they fear that many coal people lose their jobs, but nobody cares about the jobs of the nuclear people)
FunGi Channel
FunGi Channel Hace 9 días
Me: *builds a nuclear reactor in modded Minecraft* ESwomen: hey wanna see something about nuclear energy? Me: DUCK YEA! Edit: quick translation from Ukrainian @ 12:00 : to those who saved the world
Kyrius Alarcón
Kyrius Alarcón Hace 9 días
update urself, go thorium. like this comment.
Bodragon Hace 9 días
And what about decommissioning costs ? What about all the nuclear waste ? What about all that ? I'm outta here. Stoopid video (That was Homer Simpson, not me.) >
DirectorWinter Hace 10 días
why. do you. keep. pausing. when. you. talk.
HW1099 Hace 10 días
The natural gas plant operates only a few hours of the day, therefore it doesn't produce as much electricity as the nuclear plant and thus doesn't need as much fuel. Calculation is bullshit. Pick a real example if the numbers are too far spread, don't just make up something and argue on the base of that.
Sai Bharadwaj
Sai Bharadwaj Hace 10 días
Please do a video on biomass energy vs coal
Boar Fat
Boar Fat Hace 11 días
batteries... Ha-ha-ha... Oh... come on.
Boar Fat
Boar Fat Hace 11 días
You CAN NOT replace nuclear Power Plant with renewables. Simply can not. "Renewables" is just a scum.
Eclipse Now
Eclipse Now Hace 11 días
Dr James Hansen says we should build 115 GW a year to solve climate change, which we know we can do because on a reactor to GDP ratio, the French have already beat it in their 1970's Mesmer plan. At one stage they were building 15 reactors a year! With nuclear, you've got to go big or go home. 6 years each to build? That's the status quo. Industry loans at 3%? Status quo. But where is the government funded Mesmer plan of the French where they were building up to 15 reactors a year at one point? This is costing the individual build Rolls Royce model where we want assembly line Toyotas! Electricity prices drop at night? Status quo! What about when we have so many electric cars we can ONLY about a third of our vehicles at night? That will bring that night time demand and prices way up! We'll be competing to charge overnight, and need smart cars that can stagger their charge times just to charge a third of all vehicles overnight! What about simpler, easier to build reactors like the MCSFR? Thorcon?
A Jim Fan
A Jim Fan Hace 11 días
Now do solar economics.
Marshall Cierovola
Marshall Cierovola Hace 11 días
Been watching your videos for a while now. Thank you for all the effort. It's certainly making the world a better place, one mind at a time.
TriforceFiction Hace 11 días
I have to say something about the point made at around 1:00. Consider that a huge part of electricity generated in Germany is based on coal. That is why the percentages only add up to 60%. This is the main reason for the high carbon impact. Showing statistics about renewable energy compared to nuclear energy without even mentioning coal implies that renewable energy creates a carbon footprint 10 times the size of nuclear energy which kind of creates a wrong narrative. It is possible to rely on renewable energy sources without creating a huge amount of carbon dioxide
Uptin Sinclaire
Uptin Sinclaire Hace 11 días
Nuclear isn't remotely clean. It's literally the most toxic out of all of them. It creates cancer causing radioactuve waste that takes thousands of years to degrade. Nobody wants to store it anywhere near them. They haven't fugured out how to handle the toxic waste leaking at the Hanford. It's a billion dollar boondoggle at taxpayers expense.
Евгений Крохин
Евгений Крохин Hace 12 días
Where is the coal energy cost? :)
rblibit Hace 12 días
Additional false assumptions made by nuclear proponents include: 1) High levels of carbon dioxide is a problem for Earth -- This is incorrect. In fact, we are in a carbon drought using science that compares current levels to levels for the last one million years. 2) Nuclear is safe and we can ignore all of the damage to humans and property in the costs -- FALSE. Please ask the parents of the 220 THOUSAND children with Leukemia in the greater Tokyo area, and the 10,000 children born with holes in their hearts (caused by radiation during the pregancy) not to mention the other hundreds of thousands of people with diseases related to high levels of radiation from the ONGOING Triple Core meltdown that is destroying the entire nation of Japan and continues to destroy the Pacific Ocean as well as Canada and the US where high level of radiaition (up to 500 CPMs of ionizing radiation) can be measured on a daily basis up and down the west coast in the sand on the beaches using a $75 Geiger Counter any one can purchase.
Brian Hace 11 días
1. FYI the argument you are making is in contradiction to vibrational spectroscopy of greenhouse gases, which is based not only on a scientific theory, scientific law but also a mathematical law. (Equipartion theorem, infrared remittance, molecular spectroscopy). So good luck disproving those... 2. What is CPM? That’s not a unit for radioactivity, dosage or absorbed radiation. It immediately looks sketchy when you don’t use proper units. Furthermore when you just say radiation from x event is impacting people, that’s not how you evaluate damage or risk from a nuclear INES event. It’s based per isotope so that way you can actually compare and track materials from a nuclear event as it impacts the public over time. Problem is these reports will make some argument like “residents of Chernobyl can’t live anywhere because their water is still contaminated from 500mSv of tritium.” One these arguments don’t make sense with the context of quantity they are talking about, and two Tritium has a half life of 12 years, so how are we seeing an increased impact of contamination from an isotope whose radiation profile has significantly diminished over the last 30 years (that scientifically does not make any sense).
arcm113 Hace 12 días
Dkxtro2 Hace 12 días
Its cheaper. At what cost? How long will it take till its not profitable anymore because the batterys or material used to build these things are all dumped onto africa because that is cheaper than refurbishing it?
Will Freer
Will Freer Hace 12 días
marsbar 709
marsbar 709 Hace 13 días
Real engineering has 1.9k natural gas plant owners
The Graceful Savage
The Graceful Savage Hace 13 días
a few years ago everyone was talking about LFTR being the nuclear power of the future. the idea was that they could be very small, easy to shut down, with cheap fuel and relatively safe. what ever happened to LFTR? is there some major flaw preventing it from being adopted?
Kai Laine
Kai Laine Hace 13 días
I watched an economic comparison video between nuclear and natural gas and one interesting thing is that while nuclear takes longer to break even, once it breaks even, the rate of profit is insanely higher in the long run
Seb C
Seb C Hace 13 días
Yeah and fossile based plants will only get more expensive since the cost of fossile extraction is only increasing.
Rajan Sippy
Rajan Sippy Hace 13 días
Where is sefty concern
Captain OOF
Captain OOF Hace 13 días
Virgin Nuclear Reactor vs. Chad Nuclear Fusion Reactor.
giganova Hace 13 días
Looking at energy return on energy invested (EROI) data comparisons on nuclear vs. fossil fuels and natural gas is also interesting. We should probably get started on building a Dyson Sphere...
jasonhessels Hace 13 días
Look up Bruce county Ontario Canada nuclear waste dump. Nobody ever talks about the waste product
Paul Anthony
Paul Anthony Hace 13 días
what is the cost of nature gas emissions ? Calculate that then compare the two again
Paul Anthony
Paul Anthony Hace 13 días
When building a nuclear power plant you have to build big like 1700-2000 MW, Plus what about the nature gas emissions cost
Vacnol Hace 13 días
Long story short, investors are greedy and people are stupid.
Seb C
Seb C Hace 13 días
Investors are smart* Why invest in something with a recoup time of ~25 years when it might be obsolete in 10-15 years?
drop2001 Hace 13 días
Small Modular Reactors. Try using wind and solar electricity in high grade heat applications like steel, glass, ceramic, cement and metal casting industries and tell me how the economics work, the only answer to these applications are either geothermal or small modular.
Stéphanε γvelines
Stéphanε γvelines Hace 13 días
#RealEngineering Really enjoy your channel. Hope you're going strong. @1:10: The french policy is not nuclear instead of renewables but rather nuclear energy instead of fossil fuels in the transition period we are nowerdays. And so far it's cheaper and more efficient than the German way (EEG). Furthermore, nuclear always has a geopolitical implication as well. That's the reason why France, Russia but als countries like Iran maintain nuclear power plants because that gives them geopolitical leverage and (potential) strategic deterrence.
Vikarn RAJORA [10M2]
Vikarn RAJORA [10M2] Hace 14 días
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