This is the total annual cost associated with the "burnup" of nuclear fuel resulting from the operation of the unit. This cost is based upon the amortized costs associated with the purchasing of uranium, conversion, enrichment, and fabrication services along with storage and shipment costs, and inventory (including interest) charges less any expected salvage value.
For a typical 1,000 MWe BWR or PWR, the approximate cost of fuel for one reload (replacing one third of the core) is about $40 million, based on an 18-month refueling cycle. The average fuel cost at a nuclear power plant in 2012 was 0.75 cents / kWh.
Because nuclear plants refuel every 18-24 months, they are not subject to fuel price volatility like natural gas and oil power plants.
Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Costs
This is the annual cost associated with the operation, maintenance, administration, and support of a nuclear power plant. Included are costs related to labor, material & supplies, contractor services, licensing fees, and miscellaneous costs such as employee expenses and regulatory fees. The average non-fuel O&M cost for a nuclear power plant in 2012 was 1.65 cents / kWh.
Production costs are the O&M and fuel costs at a power plant. Since 2001, nuclear power plants have achieved the lowest production costs between coal, natural gas and oil.
Fuel costs make up 30 percent of the overall production costs of nuclear power plants. Fuel costs for coal, natural gas and oil, however, make up about 80 percent of the production costs.