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The Economics and Uncertainties of Nuclear Power

December 2014

Cambridge University Press

Is nuclear power a thing of the past or a technology for the future? Has it become too expensive and dangerous, or is it still competitive and sufficiently safe? Should emerging countries invest in it? Can we trust calculations of the probability of a major nuclear accident?

In the face of divergent claims and contradictory facts, this book provides an in-depth and balanced economic analysis of the main controversies surrounding nuclear power. Without taking sides, it helps readers gain a better understanding of the uncertainties surrounding the costs, hazards, regulation and politics of nuclear power.

Written several years on from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, this is an important resource for students, researchers, energy professionals and concerned citizens wanting to engage with the continuing debate on the future of nuclear power and its place in international energy policy.

  • An even-handed treatment of the main controversies surrounding nuclear power
  • Provides a rigorous economic treatment of the key topics, analysing the costs, hazards, regulation and politics of nuclear power generation
  • A post-Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster overview, gathering insights several years on from the catastrophe and encouraging debate


"François Lévêque uses his vast academic experience to help us understand the risks, opportunities and uncertainties of nuclear power. Nuclear power is a gamble and that's why we have to think twice. We need books like this one that provide a balanced assessment of our options, which will allow people from any background to engage with the arguments and make up their own minds about this important issue" Jean-Michel Glachant, Chief-editor of Economics of Energy and Environmental Policy (EEEP) and Director of the Florence School of Regulation.

"Francois Lévêque has written an extraordinary and comprehensive book about all aspects of the economics and uncertainties of nuclear power. It covers a wide range of topics including the complexities and uncertainties of capital cost estimation, the reasons for the historical rising costs of building nuclear power plants, the appropriate methods for calculating safety risks, public risk perceptions, the strengths and weaknesses of alternative safety regulatory frameworks, and the successes and failures of international governance arrangements focused on enhancing safety and controlling nuclear weapons proliferation. The book applies state of the art methods drawn from conventional economics, behavioral economics, psychology, political science and statistics. Even if you are not interested in nuclear power per se, the book provides a terrific education about the appropriate modern methods to apply to energy technology evaluation" Paul L. Joskow, President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"François Lévêque has provided us with exactly what is needed for a sober evidence-based assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the role that nuclear power might play in climate change mitigation. Lévêque draws on recently released French data on costs as well as evidence from the rest of the world to look at the past and prospective future costs, potential and risks of nuclear power. His admirable aim is to clarify the uncertainties that all claims face to better inform and de-politicise the debate" David Newbery, Emeritus Professor, University of Cambridge, and Director of the Energy Policy Research Group, University of Cambridge.

"Professor Lévêque's book is an excellent choice for inquiring minds looking for a fresh approach to the economics of nuclear power. Chapter 6 alone is worth the price of the book. In it, Professor Lévêque introduces the reader to Bayesian analysis and shows how to incorporate nuclear accidents during the last 35 years into the calculation of the probability of a future nuclear accident. The book fills an important niche in educating the public, university students, and decision makers about how to think about the costs, benefits and risks of nuclear power" Geoffrey Rothwell, Principal Economist, Nuclear Development Division, OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA); formerly of Stanford University.



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