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Optimization of Fuel Cycle Strategies with Constraints on Uranium Availability

P. Silvennoinen, J. Vira, R. Westerberg

Nuclear Technology

Volume 56 / Number 1 / January 1982 / Pages 72-80


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Optimization of nuclear reactor and fuel cycle strategies is studied under the influence of reduced availability of uranium. The analysis is separated in two distinct steps. First, the global situation is considered within given high and low projections of the installed capacity up to the year 2025. Uranium is regarded as an exhaustible resource whose production cost would increase proportionally to increasing cumulative exploitation. Based on the estimates obtained for the uranium cost, a global strategy is derived by splitting the installed capacity between light water reactor (LWR) once-through, LWR recycle, and fast breeder reactor (FBR) alternatives. In the second phase, the nuclear program of an individual utility is optimized within the constraints imposed from the global scenario. Results from the global scenarios indicate that in a reference case the uranium price would triple by the year 2000, and the price escalation would continue throughout the planning period. In a pessimistic growth scenario where the global nuclear capacity would not exceed 600 GW(electric) in 2025, the uranium price would almost double by 2000. In both global scenarios, FBRs would be introduced, in the reference case after 2000 and in the pessimistic case after 2010. In spite of the increases in the uranium prices, the levelized power production cost would increase only by 45% up to 2025 in the utility case provided that the plutonium is incinerated as a substitute fuel.

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