Fuel cycle economics evaluates costs related to the nuclear fuel cycle. This includes uranium, its conversion and enrichment, fuel fabrication, spent fuel, high-level waste disposal and transport.
The Working Party on Nuclear Energy Economics (WPNE) was formed in 2007 and is made up of representatives from 12 NEA member countries and international organisation observers. Formed by the Committee for Technical and Economic Studies on Nuclear Energy Development and the Fuel Cycle (NDC), the WPNE's general objective is to collect and compile information and conduct analyses and assessments on all economic aspects of nuclear energy.
This expert group was set up to conduct a study, and the overall objective was to identify the key issues addressed by governments for facilitating the financing of nuclear power plants when nuclear energy was considered a relevant option for policy reasons, such as enhancing security of supply and/or alleviating the risk of global climate change.
The goal of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on Physical Limits to the Development of Nuclear Energy is to analyse and document the physical limits, if any, arising from a possible significant increase in nuclear energy generating capacity.
The EGLTO was formed to assess the key factors from a policy, technical, operational, regulatory and economic perspective necessary to enable long-term operation decisions of nuclear power plants in NEA countries.
The Ad hoc Expert Group on Nuclear Energy and Security of Supply, which had been formed to carry out the study, met for the first time on 22-23 November 2007 at OECD/NEA offices in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. The 20 experts from member countries and the French research institution Sciences Po who attended the meeting discussed possible qualitative and quantitative approaches to measuring the security of energy supply.
The Ad hoc Expert Group on the Economics of Long-term Operation of Nuclear Power Plants is responsible for studying the economics of upgrading and long-term operation of nuclear power plants, for further development of nuclear development programs in NEA member countries.
Extending the lifetime of nuclear power plants is becoming common practice in OECD member countries. While applying for an extended operating licence, most operators are planning technical improvements, safety upgrades and modification of fuel characteristics and performance as well as refuelling patterns and lead times.
The goal of the Committee for Technical and Economic Studies on Nuclear Energy Development and the Fuel Cycle is to provide authoritative, reliable information on nuclear technologies, economics, strategies and resources to governments for use in policy analyses and decision-making.
The study will investigate what are the cogeneration capabilities of various advanced reactor designs, as well as the flexibility they may have to switch from electricity generation to heat production depending on electricity market conditions.
Decommissioning activities are clearly set to increase internationally, giving rise to a sizeable market, growing in business and competition. Meanwhile, ongoing decommissioning work continue at a sustained rate in the numerous legacy sites. It is thus clear that the challenges faced by the industry in relation to decommissioning are significant, spanning technical, political, financial, social and environmental issues, and raising questions over the adequacy of the necessary expertise and infrastructure, as well as the ability to finance the costs.
Albeit remote, the risk of a severe nuclear accident cannot be reduced to zero, carrying the potential to cause grave consequences to the concerned nuclear site and, if offsite radiological releases are involved, the surrounding territory, with effects on the surrounding population and potential contamination of associated land. As experienced in the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi accidents, direct and indirect costs can reach several percent of the GDP and seriously affect the equilibrium of a country for some years. Direct and indirect consequences of the accident can also extend to other countries. That was the case during the Chernobyl accident, when many European countries land contamination, with consequent restrictions on food consumption implemented across Europe. Another far-reaching effect caused to various degrees by the three severe accidents has been the impact on energy choices of several countries and on the whole nuclear industry. 'What are the "true" costs of a nuclear accident' is therefore a complex and highly debated question.
Challenges related to extended storage are topical in most countries with mature nuclear programmes. Effort to address this issue is ongoing in individual countries. Available knowledge from member countries is gathered and appraised to identify and assess the impact of technical, safety and regulatory, economic and social factors related to different storage options, fuel types and technical conditions. Strategies to manage waste, i.e. managing the time and phasing of decisions to ensure that the best decisions are made at the right time, are analysed in this context. The main output of the expert group will be a state-of-the-art report.
Under the Paris Agreement, OECD countries agreed to aim for a reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions sufficient to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre industrial levels.
The results outlined in the report should lead to new and more comprehensive research on the full costs of electricity, which in turn would allow policy makers and the public to make better informed decisions along the path towards fully sustainable electricity systems.