Driving forces and obstacles to nuclear cogeneration in Europe: Lessons learnt from Finland

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Journal Article
Energy Policy, 2017, 107 pp. 138 - 150
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Nuclear power plants generate electricity and a large amount of waste heat which is valuable for cogeneration. District heating (DH) is a suitable technology to decarbonize the European heat sector. By contrast with most of nuclear non-electric applications, nuclear district heating (NDH) has already been implemented in Europe, thus providing us with some valuable empirical insights. This paper investigates the forces and obstacles to nuclear cogeneration by looking at the Loviisa 3 NDH project in Finland. The key forces are energy efficiency, decarbonization of the heat sector, operational competitiveness of future nuclear technologies, and synergies with renewable energies. The key obstacles are split incentives, electricity prices volatility, inexpediency of business models and regulatory frameworks, electioneering of local authorities and pessimist expectations with regards to project financing. Policy makers should recognize nuclear plants alongside other utilities generating large amounts of wasted heat. International cooperation programs involving both nuclear and heat stakeholders should be encouraged. EU28 Member States wanting to promote nuclear cogeneration may consider providing support for the electricity generated by high-efficiency plants.
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