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Comparison of large scale solar PV (photovoltaic) and nuclear power plant investments in an emerging market

We examine and compare economic feasibilities and environmental effects of two energy investments options in Turkey: a NE-PP (nuclear power plant) in Mersin province on the Mediterranean coast and a large scale photovoltaic solar energy power plant (PV-PP) to be built in a governmentally reserved land area in mid-south Anatolia, namely Karapinar Energy Specialized Industrial Zone (Karapinar-ESIZ). Total installed power of both plants is taken to be 4800 MW, which is the contracted value for the four units of NE-PP. In terms of investments and energy outputs, both options have their respective advantages and disadvantages over the other. While PV-PP is cheaper without land cost, NE-PP produces quite more electricity throughout its lifetime. Applying a tool to calculate the emission factor for an electricity system (taken from UNFCCC), although NE-PP has more cumulative CO2 emission reduction potential than PV-PP, PV-PP seems slightly more advantageous in terms of CO2 reduction per unit of produced electricity. PV-PP needs more land area than NE-PP; however, it requires considerably less time for commissioning and decommissioning. The outcomes of the study notably reveal that the NE-PP has a payback only if inflation rate is taken into consideration in the unit electricity price, while PV-PP pays back with and without inflation rate. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.