Nuclear Fuel Cycle Economics and Tax Impacts in Spain

by Cameron Bernhardt

The long-term treatment of nuclear waste is often considered one of the most significant issues to address when developing nuclear energy generation. There are currently two fuel cycles and respective waste disposal options available to industrial scale nuclear generation: open cycle and closed cycle. The open cycle strategy functions as a “one time use” cycle where nuclear fuel elements are considered as high level waste and ought to be disposed of in a deep geological repository. The closed cycle strategy recycles uranium oxide elements for additional use, but the final waste products are still comparable to open cycle processes in the long term. Soria et al. (2015) used a comparative trend analysis model to quantify the costs of two taxes on used nuclear fuel in Spain for each waste disposal strategy. One tax applied to the production of used fuel when it was extracted from the reactor while the other applied to fuel after storage. While it was clear that these taxes would have significant impacts on the costs of back-end nuclear fuel management, Soria et al. sought to analyze the difference in management costs between open cycle and closed cycle disposal processes. Continue reading