Economics

Economics

In order to make nuclear power an economically viable alternative for the future, we must continue to improve the economic metrics of nuclear power in three main categories:

  • Remove barriers to new construction. Reduce the time to grid connection by standardizing the design, licensing, and construction of new facilities.
  • Continue to reduce fuel cycle costs. Total fuel cycle costs make up only 25% of the total plant cost, but are easiest to impact in operating reactors.
  • Quantify and solidify decommissioning costs. Until decommissioning costs are fully understood, companies will be unable to create an accurate and total economic forecast for a nuclear facility.

It was noted that the first and third categories make up over 50% of the total cost of a nuclear power plant. Thus, any action taken to decrease these components of the cost can have a large and measurable impact on the overall cost of nuclear power.

When evaluating the economics associated with nuclear power, it was quickly demonstrated that there is a large variance between countries. For example, the availability of resources within a country impact the economics as the needs for self-sustainability, security of supply, and dependable resource availability are considered. Also, each country faces a unique environmental situation and level of urgency to meet certain environmental targets. Only when these country-specific factors are considered can a complete economic picture be developed.

There were a couple of concerns raised over improvements to existing technology and the development of future technologies, and any negative impact due to an increased focus on economic sustainability. Sample improvements to existing technology include the implementation of new workflow and information management systems, but the economic merits of any such upgrades must be evaluated before pursuing a new option.

Additionally, it remains to be demonstrated where the responsibility for the development of future technologies will fall: on utility companies, service providers or governmental organizations.

In an economic world, all investments must have an expected rate of return. At this point in time, any private investment into future nuclear technologies is based on speculation.

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