The Current Situation and Perspectives on the Use of Nuclear Energy for Electricity Generation:Decommissioning Costs and Current Situation of the Nuclear Energy Sector in the EU

Decommissioning Costs

One of the important components of the cost associated with the construction of a nuclear power plant is the decommissioning cost. These costs are between 9 and 15 % of the initial capital cost of a nuclear power plant. But when discounted, they contribute only a few percent to the investment cost and even less to the generation cost. The back-end of the fuel cycle, including spent fuel storage or disposal in a waste repository, contributes up to another 10 % to the overall costs per kWh— less if there is a direct disposal of spent fuel rather than reprocessing.

Current Situation of the Nuclear Energy Sector in the EU

If no actions are taken, then the participation of nuclear energy for electricity generation in the European region will decline notably due to the following reasons:

• There are only 18 nuclear power reactors under construction in six European countries, three of them EU member states. These six countries are Belarus (2), Finland (1), France (1), Slovakia (2), Ukraine (2), and the Russian Federation (10);

• The closure of 98 nuclear power reactors, due to the extinction of their exploitation license;

• The prohibition of the construction of new nuclear power reactors in Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany;

• The implementation of the phase-out policy adopted by a group of European states, such as Germany and Sweden, among others.

Finland is one of the two European states that are constructing a third-generation PWR, designed by the French company AREVA, the so-called “EPR system”. It was expected initially that the nuclear power reactor under construction would be connected to the electric grid in 2009, but a delay in the construction of the unit has made impossible with to respect this deadline. The possible date for the connection of the nuclear power reactor to the grid is in 2018. The other country that is constructing a third generation of nuclear power reactor is France. French state-owned power generating company, Électricité de France (EdF), is building, since 2007, an EPR system in the country. At the same time, in Eastern Europe, the Bulgarian government awarded a contract for the construction of two units, Slovakia has two units under construction, Poland has taken the decision to build a nuclear power plant in the future and is taking the necessary steps for the imple- mentation of that decision, and Romania has restarted building a nuclear power reactor that was mothballed 15 years ago. Within the European region, Russia has the largest plan for the construction of new nuclear power reactors in the coming years with ten units under construction and Ukraine has two units.

The Swiss parliament ended Switzerland’s moratorium on building new nuclear power reactors and extended the operating lifetime of the country’s five existing units. The British government has planned to build ten nuclear power reactors in the coming years and the industry has requested the British’s government to reduce regulatory and planning risks associated with the construction of nuclear power reactors in order to encourage the private industry to support the construction of new units in the future.

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