Nuclear power plants have traditionally offered CO2 -free baseload power for the economy, but the economic case for this energy has not been made. Currently, the industry discusses alternatives to the traditional light-water cooled reactors, as summarized under the heading of “Gen IV” reactor types. Small Modular Reactors technology (SMRs) is another topic currently discussed, and whether offering smaller power ratings might induce cheaper production and lower financial risk per reactor. Some countries such as France or Finland still rely on nuclear power to decarbonize their economies. Furthermore, the recent E.U.’s taxonomy on sustainable economic activities considers nuclear power a sustainable investment. Finally, the recent record-high gas prices have renewed concerns regarding the E.U.’s energy security, raising voices in favor of additional investments in nuclear energy. However, at present, the nuclear energy industry faces escalating costs. In Europe, the cost of deploying nuclear power plants turned out to be much higher than expected, with civil works, site preparation, installation, and indirect costs being the dominant cost drivers. Many therefore argue that nuclear power is “too cheap to meter, but too expensive to build”. The war in Ukraine has made nuclear technology from Russian nuclear-tech providers less appealing, putting pressure on Europe to speed up its efforts and development. Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Australia have indeed exited and abandoned nuclear power over safety concerns. Overall, the future of nuclear remains heavily debated.
In this webinar, we will discuss the future of nuclear power for the E.U., speaking specifically about three different cases: France, Germany, and the European Eastern region. France and Germany are on opposite spectrums regarding the future development of Nuclear. While Germany decided to shut down its nuclear power plants following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, France announced as late as February 2022 the construction of six new nuclear power plants. The Eastern European nuclear power sector faces (at least) two issues. The first one is the development of nuclear power plants, as in the case of Poland, debating (since the 1960s) to construct two nuclear power plants. The second is the diversification of nuclear fuel procurement to avoid Russia's imports.
Ewa Lazarczyk Carlson is Assistant Professor at the Department of Business Administration at Reykjavik University. She is affiliated with the SIF – Sustainability Institute and Forum at Reykjavik. Her main research interests are industrial organization, energy economics, environmental economics. She is currently also working on topics relating to consumer choices and digital economics. She has published in top energy journals focusing on topics such as: electric vehicles, structure of electricity markets, transparency and competition. She holds a PhD in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.
Chloé Le Coq is a Professor of Economics at the University Paris-Pantheon-Assas, a Research Fellow at the Stockholm School of Economics and a DIW fellow in Berlin. She has held visiting positions at Purdue University, the University of California Energy Institute at Berkeley, and the National University of Singapore. Her research investigates topics related to antitrust policy, industrial organization, and experimental economics, with a particular focus on energy markets and their regulation. Her recent work includes empirical studies on forward markets, energy security issues, and experimental studies of electricity auctions.
Sebastian Schwenen is Assistant Professor at TUM School Management in Munich and Research Fellow at DIW Berlin and at the Mannheim Institute for Sustainable Energy Studies.
His research interests are industrial organization and energy economics. His recent work studies market design in electricity markets and the impact different designs have on consumers and producers. In addition to research and teaching, he has provided research-based economic consulting to DG Energy and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the scope of various research projects on energy markets. Sebastian Schwenen obtained a PhD in economics and management from Copenhagen Business School and an MSc in economics from Humboldt University Berlin. He is Research Fellow at DIW Berlin and at the Mannheim Institute for Sustainable Energy Studies.
Christian von Hirschhausen is Professor for Economic and Infrastructure Policy at Berlin University of Technology, and Research Director for International Industrial and Infrastructure Policy at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) His research focusses on environmental, energy and resource economics, infrastructure and network economics, applied industrial economics, and political and institutional economics. He published extensively on energy and resource markets (electricity, gas, coal, nuclear, renewables), regulation, network economics, and, more recently, on the low-carbon energy transformation in Germany, Europe, and globally.
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