Under what conditions nuclear energy could become competitive?
Nuclear energy could be competitive if you consider a reduction in construction costs about $1,500 / kW, at a cost well below those experienced in the 80 and 90, and 25% lower than those estimated by the EIA in 2003. You should reduce the construction period to 4 years. And a reduction in operating and maintenance costs by 25%, including fuel costs. Added to this internalization of the costs of CO2 emissions by penalizing coal power plants and gas at a rate between 100 and 200 $ / TC.Modern designs can reduce the risk of serious accidents, but it is essential to follow the “best practices” in construction and operation.
Little is known of the complete fuel security. Chernobyl aside, the U.S. experience gives us an accident with core damage in 3,500 reactor-years. Using Probabilistic Risk Assessment techniques (PRA) and the opinion of experts, the best estimate of the rate of accidents in the U.S. with core damage accident is 1 in 10,000 reactor-years. Assuming that the rate was correct PRA accidents per reactor-year, with current technology at MIT’s proposal would 4 accidents before 2055, which is clearly unaffordable. Rate accidents per reactor-year are considered feasible, although not proven, based on what the industry says about their new designs for LWR and HTGR. Secure these rates, however, would require strict control and supervision of all construction phases, and very ready templates, which may impact the timing and construction costs.
Today almost all the reactors are LWRs and likely will remain so, since the introduction of new types of reactors would require considerable resources and a long period of operational experience before establishing their dissemination. Terrorism poses a host of new threats for which no countermeasures were provided. Unresolved the question of what to do to strengthen nuclear facilities against possible terrorist attacks 11-S type. It is assumed that structurally resist the reactor building, but it is unknown what might happen when suddenly were affected all adjacent facilities.
The management and disposal of highly radioactive waste is one of the most intractable problems facing the nuclear industry. No country has successfully implemented an effective system for storing and / or eliminates waste.
The AGP is still the most-studied option, but after more than 15 years of analysis and assessment, the CPA of Yucca Mountain is still no time or budget to put into operation. Even if Yucca Mountain becomes operational some day, would not solve the problem, nor for the U.S. or to other countries, if nuclear power expands substantially. The global scenario of 1,000 GW of LWRs would require the construction of a Yucca Mountain repository type (70 kT) every three or four years somewhere in the world.
Nuclear power should not expand unless the proliferation risk from commercial fuel cycle can be reduced sufficiently. The aim should be to minimize the proliferation risks related to the operation of the business cycle of nuclear fuel. So he could carry out the program of 1,000 GW with acceptable risk of proliferation, enrichment and reprocessing facilities should be restricted to a few countries.