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Revisiting the cost escalation curse of nuclear power, New lessons from the French experience

December 2012

CERNA Working Paper

Co-author: Lina Escobar Rangel.

Since the first wave of nuclear reactors in 1970 to the construction of Generation III+ reactors in Finland and France in 2005 and 2007 respectively, nuclear power seems to be doomed to a cost escalation curse.

In this paper we reexamine this issue for the French nuclear power fleet. Using the construction costs from the Cour des Comptes report, that was publicly available in 2012, we found that previous studies overestimated the cost escalation. Although, it is undeniable that the scale-up ended up in more costly reactors, we found evidence of a learning curve within the same size and type of reactors.

This result confirms that standardization is a good direction to look, in order to overcome the cost escalation curse.

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