[Beowulf] Academic sites: who pays for the electricity?

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Thu Feb 17 17:21:05 PST 2005

>Please note that nothing beats the price of nuclear power

Nuclear power, if all the incidental costs (often absorbed into government 
budgets) for things like liability cover, waste disposal, etc. is not 
overwhelmingly competitive with other sources.   One must also consider the 
capital cost of the production equipment and it's retirement (which is 
quite a bit higher than for, say, coal fired, gas fired, etc.)

>Electricity production costs of nuclear power are hundreds of times cheaper
>than producing it with oil, oil produces it roughly for 5 dollar cent a
>kilowatt (if memory serves me well).
Implying that nuclear energy generation costs are <0.0005/kWh?  I find this 
quite hard to believe.  Can you cite a reasonable source for the data? Just 
the capital cost of the generating plant is more than that. (2 GW plant, 20 
yr life, 3.5E11 kWh.  If the plant costs $1B, you're at about $0.003/kWh)

I think that nuclear power, by the time you figure in all the stuff you 
need to, is a bit cheaper than fossil fuel, but not hugely cheaper, and 
certainly not an order of magnitude.

In fact, the chart at the end of  http://www.uic.com.au/nip08.htm shows 
that they're all within a factor of 2:1, except for high cost oil fired. 
(this chart has cost for OECD 1990)

>Coals have a CO2 problem for nations
>which are in Kyoto agreement (USA isn't), but also is nearly as cheap as
>nuclear power.
>So the actual price they deliver huge power for to big institutes is a very
>easy negotiation to get it factors down.

Now there's an interesting prospect... buy your electricity on the open 
traded market, and schedule your cluster computation as the price goes up 
and down. Don't laugh.. it's been done in other industries.

>Vincent Diepeveen
>ex-member of high voltage powerline forum.

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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