1) assesses the commercial viability of advanced nuclear technology as a means of meeting future demand for electricity by comparing the costs of producing electricity from different sources under varying circumstances.
2) estimates the cost of producing electricity using a new generation of nuclear reactors and other base-load technologies under a variety of assumptions about prospective carbon dioxide charges, Energy Policy Act (EPAct) incentives, and future market conditions.
3) compares the cost of advanced nuclear technology with that of other major sources of base-load capacity that are available throughout the country—including both conventional and innovative fossil-fuel technologies.
4) focuses only on technologies that can be used as base-load capacity in most parts of the country, it does not address renewable energy technologies that are intermittent (such as wind and solar power) or technologies that use resources readily available only in certain areas (such as geothermal or hydroelectric power).
■ In the absence of both carbon dioxide charges and EPAct incentives, conventional fossil-fuel technologies would most likely be the least expensive source of new electricity-generating capacity.
■ Carbon dioxide charges of about $45 per metric ton would probably make nuclear generation competitive with conventional fossil-fuel technologies as a source of new capacity, even without EPAct incentives.
■ Also at roughly $45 per metric ton, carbon dioxide charges would probably make nuclear generation competitive with existing coal power plants and could lead utilities in a position to do so to build new nuclear plants that would eventually replace existing coal power plants.
■ EPAct incentives would probably make nuclear generation a competitive technology for limited additions to base-load capacity, even in the absence of carbon dioxide charges. CBO anticipates that only a few of the 30 plants currently being proposed would be built if utilities did not expect carbon dioxide charges to be imposed.
■ Uncertainties about future construction costs or natural gas prices could deter investment in nuclear power.