The Future Costs of Nuclear Power Using Multiple Expert Elicitations: Effects of RD&D and Elicitation Design

21 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013

See all articles by Laura Diaz Anadon

Laura Diaz Anadon

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) ; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Gregory F. Nemet

University of Wisconsin - Madison - La Follette School of Public Affairs

Elena Verdolini

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), CMCC - Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change

Date Written: October 15, 2013

Abstract

Characterizing the anticipated performance of energy technologies to inform policy decisions increasingly relies on expert elicitation. Knowledge about how elicitation design factors impact the probabilistic estimates emerging from these studies is however scarce. We focus on nuclear power, a large-scale low-carbon power option, for which future cost estimates are important to designing energy policies and climate change mitigation efforts. We use data from three elicitations in the USA and in Europe and assess the role of government Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) investments on expected nuclear costs in 2030. We show that controlling for expert, technology, and design characteristics increases experts’ implied public RD&D elasticity of expected costs by 25%. Public sector and industry experts’ costs expectations are 14% and 32% higher, respectively than academics. US experts are more optimistic than their EU counterparts, with median expected costs 22% lower. On average, a doubling of public RD&D is expected to result in an 8% cost reduction, but uncertainty is large. The difference between the 90th and 10th percentile estimates is on average 58% of the experts’ median estimates. Public RD&D investments do not affect uncertainty ranges, but US experts’ are less confident about costs than Europeans.

Keywords: Nuclear Power, Uncertainty, Returns to RD&D, Expert Elicitations, Meta-Analysis

JEL Classification: O3, Q5, Q55

Suggested Citation

Diaz Anadon, Laura and Nemet, Gregory F. and Verdolini, Elena, The Future Costs of Nuclear Power Using Multiple Expert Elicitations: Effects of RD&D and Elicitation Design (October 15, 2013). FEEM Working Paper No. 85.2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340485 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2340485

Laura Diaz Anadon

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) ( email )

79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gregory F. Nemet

University of Wisconsin - Madison - La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1225 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53705
United States

Elena Verdolini (Contact Author)

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), CMCC - Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change ( email )

C.so Magenta 63
Milano, 20123
Italy

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