Back in April 2010, I wrote a post “Nuclear century outlook – crystal ball gazing by the WNA”. It looked at an interesting study, undertaken by the World Nuclear Association, that made some low/high bound projections for electricity production between 2008 and 2100, including nuclear, new renewables, fossil fuels with CCS, etc. (see figure to the left). After describing the study in some detail, I noted the following:
One underlying problem with the NCO forecast … is the lack of explicit detail about technology type/role… What of the technological mix within the nuclear domain? (For instance, what is the likely proportion of Gen II, Gen III and Gen IV technologies, and how will that mix of contributions change over time?) What would such a massive nuclear build-out mean for uranium demand? How might nuclear power growth rates be constrained (or otherwise) by the availability of fissile material? On these seemingly rather important points, the NCO is, alas, silent. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to make an informed guess as to the answers…
Well, motivated by some recent discussions, I am now going to write a series of posts on BNC to try and address these questions. (I’m not quite sure how many parts I’ll need to accomplish this!) The idea is that rather than doing a single (monolithic, detailed, lengthy, behind-closed-doors, indigestible) analysis, I want to treat this scenario mapping as an iterative and evolutionary exercise, where each new post builds on the last, and takes accounts of earlier comments and suggestions.
Open Science in its most basic form requires two things: (i) the clear and complete presentation of data and methods, and (ii) for the authors to care genuinely about the correctness of their work, and to act with due diligence in response to any mistakes or problems that arise, before and after publication… To practice Open Science is to embrace the critical analysis of your work by others, whoever they may be. This allows for fault finding in the first instance, and enables deeper understanding of the conclusions in the longer term.
I’ve also created a new category for this series, called ‘Scenario Analysis‘, and will, at some point, also back-edit some other past BNC posts that also fit with this theme.
Okay, the first step will be some projections of the build out of Gen III/III+ thermal reactors (i.e., advanced water-moderated reactors: PWRs, BWRs, HWRs etc.), over a 50 year time frame (2011 to 2060). I hope to post that up tomorrow. Subsequent posts will look at IFRs, LFTRs, synergies, etc.
At each step, I will be careful to lay out all of my assumptions and constraints (and do my best to justify them — remembering that these will usually be open to disagreement), my workings/tools (e.g., direct analysis, Excel worksheets, R scripts), and also to undertake some ‘sensitivity analysis‘ — to identify input parameters that most influence, or outputs that are most influenced by, a given assumption, constraint, or parameterisation, as well as to quantify a plausible fan of uncertainty.
Although the exercise will, by its nature, be somewhat technical, I will also write a layman’s summary at the end of each post, for the benefit of those BNC readers who (mostly) just care about the bottom line. The idea is to use the BNC blog as a kind of research tool, where I present some analysis, invite criticisms, update my models/thinking and progress to the next stage. Ultimately, it might even form enough coherent material to be worth writing up for publication in a peer-reviewed energy journal. We’ll see. But it’ll be a fun experiment, regardless of where it ends up.
Initial comments/thoughts on the process are welcome, but the first ‘meat and potatoes‘ gets posted tomorrow.