Report | 2008

The Nuclear Illusion

By Amory Lovins

This paper challenges the view that nuclear power is competitive, necessary, reliable, secure, and affordable. The authors explain why nuclear power is uncompetitive, unneeded, and obsolete. The authors explore the economics of nuclear power by looking at past and future costs of new nuclear plants, what alternatives they must beat, and the rapidly shifting competitive landscape in which they must contend. They compare nuclear’s market success with that of energy competitors and contrast those in deployment speed, reliability, and overall adequacy. They also consider how government subsidies approaching or even exceeding 100% of nuclear power’s entire cost do not attract investors and that capitalists are instead flocking to competitors that offer lower costs and lower financial risks. By comparing all these options’ ability to protect the climate and enhance energy security, the authors show why nuclear power could never effectively deliver these crucial benefits even if it could find free-market buyers—while its carbon-free rivals do offer those benefits with greater scale, speed, and confidence.