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Sustainability Indicators for Open-Cycle Thorium-Fuelled Nuclear Energy


  • Ashley, S.F.
  • Fenner, R.A.
  • Nuttall, W.J.
  • Parks


The potential for countries which currently have a nominal nuclear energy infrastructure to adopt thorium-uranium-fuelled nuclear energy systems, using a once-through “open” nuclear fuel cycle, has been presented by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This paper highlights Generation III and III+ nuclear energy technologies that could potentially adopt an open thorium-uranium fuel cycle and qualitatively highlights the main differences between the open thorium-uranium and open uranium fuel cycles. Furthermore, 28 indicators (and corresponding metrics) have been identified that could elucidate the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy systems which utilise thorium-uranium fuels in an open cycle. Such systems will be compared to an AREVA EPR operating with a once-through uranium fuel cycle. The indicators determined in this work have been drawn by grouping 270 indicators from eight previous studies of indicators associated with holistic and specific appraisals of the various life-cycle stages associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. The 28 indicators cover technoeconomic, environmental, waste, social, and proliferation-resistance themes and can be determined quantitatively, either by explicit determination or from an appropriate sensitivity analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashley, S.F. & Fenner, R.A. & Nuttall, W.J. & Parks, 2012. "Sustainability Indicators for Open-Cycle Thorium-Fuelled Nuclear Energy," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1233, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1233

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stamford, Laurence & Azapagic, Adisa, 2011. "Sustainability indicators for the assessment of nuclear power," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 6037-6057.
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    More about this item


    Nuclear; Thorium; Sustainable Development; Indicators;

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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