ECN publication
Safety and economics of new generations of nuclear reactors.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1991
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-I--91-028 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
69 Download PDF  

In the framework of the so-called ENGINE program (Energy Generation In the Natural Environment) of ECN, safety and economie aspects of nuclear reactor generations have been reviewed. After the Chernobyl accident in 1986 much has been done to enhance the safety of nuclear reactors. One promising development is the so-called passively safe light water reactor, which can be considered as the next generation of iight water reactors. It has a rated power of 600 MWe or less, and safety is primarily based on passive systems. In accident conditions there is no need for operator action to keep the core cooled and covered with water for at least 72 hours. Passively safe light water reactors need no demonstration stage and could be commercial around 1995. Two nuclear reactors of current design (first generation, APWR and ABWR) and three passively safe reactors (second generation, AP600, SBWR and SIR) are reviewed. Besides these second generation reactors, other reactor types come into consideration, which are characterised by the most consequent utilisation of passive safety. A core melt accident with such a reactor is either highly unlikely or virtually impossible. Because of their advanced design demonstration is inevitable. Two reactor types of this third generation are reviewed. Commercial introduction is expected after 2005. The economics of nuclear reactors are compared to those of advanced coal fired power plants for the period 2000-2045. The Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant is used as a reference, and economically acceptable nuclear investment costs are calculated, based on annualised costs and a 30 year economic life. These economically acceptable investment costs are compared to published investment costs of current reactors.

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