International Journal of Energy Research, Vol.43, No.9, 3928-3958, 2019
The economic competitiveness of promising nuclear energy system: A closer look at the input uncertainties in LCOE analysis
In this study, we aimed to provide important information about the potential economic benefits and risks of nuclear electricity generation associated with existing and prevailing nuclear technologies and to examine the economic effects of nuclear fuel cycle strategies in Korea. An economic analysis model that evaluates the overall life-cycle costs of nuclear energy systems coupled with multiple fuel cycle options was specially developed by using the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) as the fundamental methodology. This model is capable of identifying a range of techno-economic uncertainties underlying each individual nuclear energy system taking into account the state of the art in fuel cycle technologies. It can also quantify and incorporate the resulting impacts into a system-wide LCOE distribution for each fuel cycle option based on Monte Carlo probabilistic simulation. We analyzed and discussed examples of the economic performance of 13 promising candidates for nuclear energy systems integrated with extensive fuel cycle technologies (including one direct disposal and 12 specific reprocessing and recycling fuel cycle options). We also conducted a sensitivity analysis to investigate the major sensitivity factors of the system component cost in each fuel cycle option and their impacts on individual economic performances. Furthermore, a closer look at the techno-economic uncertainties of advanced fuel cycle technologies in a break-even analysis offers evidence of the potential economic feasibility and cost-reduction opportunities in the reprocessing and recycling options relative to the direct disposal of spent nuclear fuel.