During a panel debate today in Brussels , Belgium , Luis Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) said that "the competitiveness of nuclear energy continues to improve. If the decision to include nuclear in the energy mix is made on economic grounds alone, then the case for nuclear energy can be compelling." Mr. Echávarri's comments came during the panel debate "Nuclear: A persuasive economic option", organised as part of the European Nuclear Assembly.
Mr. Echávarri went on to cite how lower investment and fuel cycle costs had improved the projected profitability of new nuclear power plants. At the same time, gas prices were projected to rise and other technologies face the likely internalisation of their external costs in their price, he said. The external costs of energy are costs that are imposed on society and the environment, but which are not included in the cost to producers and consumers. For conventional technologies these typically include waste disposal costs and environmental impact.
The NEA has extensively studied the economics of nuclear energy. These studies have covered its capital, investment, operation, maintenance and total costs as well as its competitiveness in liberalised energy markets. Mr. Echávarri said that the competitiveness of new or existing plants in these markets is often influenced by such country-specific factors as the availability and price of natural resources. The NEA will publish in March 2005 a major new joint study with the International Energy Agency (IEA) on the economics of electricity, including nuclear.
The European Nuclear Assembly is a biannual, high-level meeting of European nuclear industry leaders and officials. The assembly focuses on political, economic and strategic energy issues. Invited speakers represent the full scope of nuclear industry activity in Europe and European institutions (ENA website: www.foratom.be/ENA ). The European Nuclear Assembly concludes tomorrow.
News media contact in Brussels during the European Nuclear Assembly, 25-26 November 2004 :
News media contacts, Paris :
Ms. Cynthia Gannon-Picot
Acting Head, External Relations and Public Affairs
OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)
Tel.: +33 (1) 45 24 10 10
Fax: +33 (1) 45 24 11 10
Nuclear Electricity Generation: What Are the External Costs?
Nuclear Power in Competitive Electricity Markets
Paper copies may be requested from the NEA.
NEA membership consists of 30 OECD countries. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co-operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally friendly and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The NEA also provides authoritative assessments and forges common understandings on key issues, as input to government decisions on nuclear energy policy and to broader OECD policy analyses in areas such as energy and sustainable development.