Journal Article - Environmental Science and Technology

Expert Judgments about RD&D and the Future of Nuclear Energy

| 2012


Probabilistic estimates of the cost and performance of future nuclear energy systems under different scenarios of government research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) spending were obtained from 30 U.S. and 30 European nuclear technology experts. We used a novel elicitation approach which combined individual and group elicitation. With no change from current RD&D funding levels, experts on average expected current (Gen. III/III+) designs to be somewhat more expensive in 2030 than they were in 2010, and they expected the next generation of designs (Gen. IV) to be more expensive still as of 2030. Projected costs of proposed small modular reactors (SMRs) were similar to those of Gen. IV systems. The experts almost unanimously recommended large increases in government support for nuclear RD&D (generally 2–3 times current spending). The majority expected that such RD&D would have only a modest effect on cost, but would improve performance in other areas, such as safety, waste management, and uranium resource utilization. The U.S. and E.U. experts were in relative agreement regarding how government RD&D funds should be allocated, placing particular focus on very high temperature reactors, sodium-cooled fast reactors, fuels and materials, and fuel cycle technologies.

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For Academic Citation: Anadon, Laura D., Valentina Bosetti, Matthew Bunn, Michela Catenacci, and Audrey Lee. Expert Judgments about RD&D and the Future of Nuclear Energy.” Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 46. no. 12. (2012):

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