Nuclear Development

Nuclear Energy Agency

1990-066X (online)
1990-0678 (print)
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A series of publications from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency on various aspects of nuclear development. The publications in this series provide authoritative, reliable information on nuclear technologies, economics, strategies and resources to governments for use in policy analyses and decision making.

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The Economics of the Back End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The Economics of the Back End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle You do not have access to this content

Nuclear Energy Agency

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07 Jan 2014
9789264208520 (PDF)

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The feasibility and costs of spent nuclear fuel management and the consequent disposal of ultimate waste continue to be the subject of public debate in many countries, with particular concern often expressed over the lack of progress in implementing final disposal. Uncertainties about back-end costs and the financial risks associated with management of the back end have also been singled out as possible deterrents to investment in new nuclear power plants.

This report offers an appraisal of economic issues and methodologies for the management of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste from commercial power reactors. It includes a review of different backend options and current policies and practices, with a focus on the cost estimates for these options and the funding mechanisms in place or under consideration in OECD/NEA countries. A generic economic assessment of high-level estimates of back-end cost impacts on fuel cycle costs is undertaken for selected idealised scenarios, by means of a simple static model. Sensitivity analyses are conducted for the evaluation of uncertainties in major components and the identification of cost drivers. Since factors other than economics are an important part of the decision-making process, an analysis of the influence of key qualitative parameters in the selection of back-end strategies is also presented in this report.

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Table of Contents

Executive summary 9
Chapter 1.. Introduction: Management of radioactive waste in NEA member countries 21
-1.1. Background 21
-1.2. Objectives and approach 22
-1.3. Types of radioactive waste 23
-1.4. Management of short-lived, low- and intermediate-level waste in NEA countries 26
Chapter 2. . Description of various options and current SNF/HLW management policies 29
-2.1. Industrially available and future options 29
-2.2. General principles and frameworks 31
-2.3. Policies, implementation and financing arrangements in NEA member countries 34
-2.4. A brief summary for non-NEA countries 55
-2.5. Conclusions 57
Chapter 3. Modelling the economics of back-end options 63
-3.1. Discussion of key quantitative economic parameters and factors  63
-3.2. High-level estimates of key cost parameters for near-term, back-end strategies  68
-3.3. Overview and comparison of existing studies on the economics of the back end  102
Chapter 4. Other factors influencing back-end options  111
-4.1. Introduction  111
-4.2. Security of energy supply  111
-4.3. Non-proliferation 113
-4.4. Public attitudes 116
-4.5. Environmental effects 117
-4.6. Waste streams 119
-4.7. Transport 121
-4.8. Development of fast reactors and advanced fuel cycles 123
-4.9. Retrievability of waste 125
-4.10. Legal and regulatory aspects 128
-4.11. Safety aspects 128
-4.12. Summary 130
Chapter 5. Summary, conclusions and recommendations 135
-5.1. Introduction 135
-5.2. Current status and progress of national policies and programmes 136
-5.3. Theoretical cost analysis for selected SNF management strategies 140
-5.4. Non-quantitative factors 143
1. Details on principles and responsibilities underlying spent fuel and waste management  147
-2. Spent fuel management policies and developments in different NEA countries 155
-3. Development of deep geological repositories in different NEA member countries 159
-4. Financial arrangements adopted by different NEA member countries 165
-5. Fuel cycle costs at 7% discount rate 175
-6. Comparison of results of existing economic models 179
-7. List of contributing experts 185
-8. List of acronyms and abbreviations 187

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