Uranium enrichment capacity : Public versus private owership



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Continual growth of conventional nuclear capacity requires an assured supply of enriched uranium and, hence, potential expansion of domestic uranium enrichment capacity. The question of ownership of new enrichment capacity, i.e. public or private, entails not only the social opportunity costs of alternative investments but also technical parameters of uranium utilization and advanced reactor development. Inclusion of risk preferences in both the public and private sectors produces interesting results in terms of optimal investment strategies with respect to choice of technology and scale of investment. Utilization of a nuclear fuel cycle requirements process model allows explicit specification of production technology. Integration of process model output with a least cost investment model permits flexibility in parametric analysis. The results indicate minimum incentive for Government subsidy of a private enrichment sector through 2000 given moderate to low nuclear growth assumptions. The long-run scenario, to 2020, exhibits potentially greater incentives for private enrichment investment.