There are three components to the costs of electricity:
The NEA continues to review the role of nuclear energy in the broader perspective of climate change and sustainable development. The Agency analyses the economics of nuclear power across the full nuclear fuel cycle as well as at the system level in the context of changes in electricity markets, social acceptance and technological advances, and assist member countries in evaluating the role of nuclear energy in their energy policies.
The NEA is also currently exploring with a number of member countries the possibility of undertaking tailor-made system cost studies based on national energy mixes and flexibility resources, as well as on their specific carbon reduction objectives.
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 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.
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.
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.