In the area of Economics four selected scenarios from the SRES study have been analysed within the International Project on Innovative Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) of the IAEA. They cover a range of possible future developments characterized by different degrees of globalisation and by different relative priorities on economic and environmental objectives. Four “aggressive nuclear” variants, one for each of the four selected SRES scenarios, are also analyzed. Provided innovative nuclear energy systems (INS) are economically competitive, they can play a major role in meeting future energy needs. Future economic competitiveness will depend on the speed of continuing cost reductions achieved by nuclear energy relative to competing technologies. The paper presents specific capital costs and electricity production costs at which nuclear energy is competitive in 2050 in the four selected SRES scenarios, and estimates corresponding costs for nuclear energy in the four aggressive nuclear variants. The important message is that for nuclear technology to gain and grow market share it must benefit sufficiently from learning to keep it competitive with competing energy technologies. For such learning to take place experience must be gained and to gain such experience the energy from INS must be cost competitive with energy from alternative sources and INS must represent an attractive investment to compete successfully in the capital market place. In total, INPRO defined two basic principles, five user requirements and several criteria in this area, which are presented in the full paper. To be cost competitive all component costs, e.g., capital costs, operating and maintenance costs, fuel costs, must be considered and managed to keep the total unit energy cost competitive. Limits on fuel costs in turn imply limits on the capital and operating cost of fuel cycle facilities, including mines, fuel processing and enrichment, fuel reprocessing and the decommissioning and long term management of the wastes from these facilities. Cost competitiveness of energy from INS will contribute to investor confidence, i.e. to the attractiveness of investing in INS, as will a competitive rate of return.

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