Prospective techno-economic analysis of future nuclear power in Switzerland

Nuclear energy is a base low-carbon and dispachable electricity production source. Its longevity and capital intensiveness, requiring large upfront investments, make it difficult for private investors to be involved in nuclear projects. In 2017, the Swiss people voted in favor of the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050 and the progressive phase-out of nuclear power while the reactors currently in operation can continue to produce electricity as long as they comply with the safety standards. In a context of tension on the supply of electricity, the option to use nuclear power in the future is growing in the debate, in Switzerland as well as in Europe. This Master’s thesis aims at investigating technical and economical aspects of different options for the use of nuclear power in Switzerland. Nuclear power is competitive and profitable in Switzerland under low risk, carbon-constrained policies and contained construction costs. The results demonstrate through stochastic cost modeling based on real and Swiss-specific data that large scale nuclear power in Switzerland is likely to be economical as long as interest rates and construction time are limited or that climate policies are reinforced. New concepts such as Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are likely to be competitive under robust learning in Switzerland and if integrated design enables substantial cost reduction. If interest rates are high, and if there is no worldwide deployment implying limited or no learning, SMRs are likely to be uncompetitive in Switzerland. Eventually, cogeneration products such as hydrogen are only viable options in net-zero scenarios. This Master’s Thesis can be a starting point for a more detailed bottom-up cost assessment for SMRs and the integration of nuclear power in Swiss energy models to assess the cost of such energy on climate policies.