Economics of Nuclear Power

Presentation and Publications

Initiated in 2010, the Cerna research program on nuclear power economics aims at better understanding the recent reorganizations and challenges of the nuclear power industry. At the international level, the nuclear industry has experienced in recent years important changes with the apparition of new vendors, the emergence of climate change policies or the revision of electricity market regulation in a number of countries. Needless to say, the 2011 Fukushima accident has called for a reappraisal of these recent developments and brings, once again, the question of nuclear safety regulation at the core of energy policy debates in existing nuclear countries and for potential new entrants.

This research program is organized around three main research areas:

 1. The role of innovation and technology transfers for nuclear power development

What is the role of innovation activity for improving nuclear power plants economic and safety performance? Unlike other energy sources, the role of innovation for nuclear power development has received little scrutiny from economists despite its importance for both nuclear reactors’ economic competitiveness and safety performance. This research axis is based on empirical work using international patent database as a proxy for innovation activity and diffusion. Current ongoing research includes the determinants of innovation activity and its impacts on nuclear power plants performance.

 2. The regulation of nuclear safety

This research area studies the specificities of nuclear accidents compared to other industrial risks and their implications in terms of safety regulation. Our recent researches include probabilistic analyses about the risk of major nuclear accidents before and after Fukushima and contribution to the current policy debates about harmonizing nuclear safety regulation in Europe.

 3. Nuclear power competitiveness and industrial organisation

What can be the expected consequences of Fukushima on the organization and strategic decisions of the nuclear industry? The reorganization of the nuclear industry in recent years has been characterized by important changes both in terms of horizontal (i.e., international cooperation) and vertical (i.e., integration of firms along the nuclear fuel cycle) relations between firms on the international market for nuclear power plants. To better understand the economic implications of the different strategies for the development of national nuclear industries, this research axis develops a fact-based empirical approach based on country case studies.

Ongoing researches also include the cost of nuclear power with a particular focus on the cost of the French nuclear program (following the 2012 Cour des Comptes report).


In addition to these main research areas, we regularly take position in the current debates about nuclear power such as the consequences of changes in policies in favor of nuclear energy following the Fukushima accident. For instance, this includes the prospect for nuclear new-build in Europe and the cost of an early retirement of the nuclear power plants in France and Germany.


This research program is financially supported by EDF. The opinions expressed are solely those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of EDF.


François Lévêque, "The Economics and Uncertainties of Nuclear Power", Cambridge University Press, December 2014.

François Lévêque, "Nucléaire On/Off - Analyse économique d'un pari", Editions Dunod,  2013.


Bizet, R. Lévêque, F. The Economic Assessment of the Cost of Nuclear Accidents, in J.Ahn, F.Guarnieri, K.Furuta (Eds.) Resilience: A New Paradigm for Nuclear Safety, Springer (2017)

Bizet, R. Lévêque, F. Are Older Reactors less Safe? Evidence from Incident data in the French Nuclear Fleet, i3 Working Paper Series, 17-CER-02

Bizet, R. Lévêque, F. Ambiguity aversion and the expected cost of rare energy disasters: an application to nuclear power accidents, i3-Working Paper Series 16-CER-01, 2016

Escobar Rangel, L. Lévêque, F.  Revisiting the Cost Escalation Curse of Nuclear Power Generation: New Lessons from the French Experience, Economics of Energy and Environmental Policy, Vol. 4, September 2015.

Berthélemy, M. Escobar Rangel, L. Nuclear reactors' construction costs: The role of lead-time, standardization and technological progress, Energy Policy, volume 82, July 2015, pages 118-130.

Bizet, R. Lévêque, F. Early Decommissioning of nuclear power plants: Is there an economic rationale?, The Electricity Journal, March 2015.

Bizet, R. Lévêque, F. La planification de la fermeture des centrales nucléaires : justifications théoriques et cas pratiques,La Revue de l'Énergie, March 2015.

Escobar Rangel, L. and Lévêque, F. (2014), How did Fukushima-Daiichi core meltdown change the probability of nuclear accidents?, Safety Science, Vol. 64, April 2014, 90-98.

Berthélemy, M. Dussaux, D. and Söderberg, M. (2013), Measuring the effect of government interventions: evidence from restructuring the U.S. nuclear power sector, Working Paper.

Berthélemy, M. and Escobar Rangel, L. (2013), Nuclear reactors’ construction costs: The role of lead-time, standardization and technological progress, i3 Working Paper.

Lévêque, F. (2013), Politques d'entrée et de sortie du nucléaire, I3 Working paper.

Lévêque, F. (2013), La sûreté nucléaire : analyse économique des régulations américaine, française et japonaise, I3 Working paper.

Lévêque F. (2013), The risk of a major nuclear accident: calculation and perception of probabilties, I3 Working paper.

Lévêque F. (2013), Estimating the costs of nuclear power: benchmarks and uncertainties,I3 Working paper.

Escobar Rangel. L. and Lévêque., F. (2012), Revisiting the cost escalation curse of nuclear power: New lessons from the French experience, I3 Working paper.

Berthélemy, M. (2012), Innovation, learning by doing and nuclear reactors’ performance, Working paper.

Berthélemy, M. (2012), What drives innovation in nuclear reactors technologies? An empirical study based on patent counts", Cerna Working Paper 2012:01.

Berthélemy, M. and Lévêque, F. (2011), Harmonising Nuclear Safety Regulation in the EU: Which Priority?, Intereconomics - Review of European Economic Policy, Vol. 46 (3) pp. 132-137.

Berthélemy, M. and Lévêque, F. (2011), Korea nuclear exports: Why did the Koreans win the UAE tender? Will Korea achieve its goal of exporting 80 nuclear reactors by 2030?, Cerna Working Paper 2011:04.

Non-academic papers

Romain Bizet and François Lévêque, "Ambiguity Aversion and the Expected Cost of Rare Energy Disasters: the case of Nuclear Power Accidents". IAEE Energy Forum, Bergen 2016 Special Issue.

Romain Bizet, "Economic assessment of nuclear damage: A review of existing studies and their insights into mitigation policies". International Workshop on Nuclear Safety, UC Berkeley, March 23-24, 2015.

François Lévêque, "Evaluation of the expected costs of nuclear accidents". International Workshop on Nuclear Safety, UC Berkeley, March 23-24, 2015.

François Lévêque, "L'Après-Fukushima du nucléaire". Les Échos, March 6th, 2015.

François Lévêque, "L'europe de l'Énergie attendra encore". La Tribune, le 9 septembre 2014.

François Lévêque, "Qui doit décider de la fermeture d'une centrale nucléaire ?". Les Echos, le 13 juin 2014.

François Lévêque, "Le coût double du nucléaire", L'entretien du Dimanche, Sud-Ouest, 26 janvier 2014.

François Lévêque, "Sortie progressive ou accélérée du nucléaire ?  Les leçons de l'Allemagne", La Tribune, 20 octobre 2013.

Berthélemy, M., Iezhova, V. and Lévêque, F. (2012), The expansion of the russian nuclear power industry abroad,Report for EDF (unpublished manuscript).

François Lévêque et Bastien Poubeau, "Tarification progressive de l'énergie : marche arrière toute", Les Echos, 20 décembre 2012.

François Lévêque, "Le redémarrage nucléaire de Tokyo", La Tribune, 28 septembre 2012.

François Lévêque, "Prix de l'énergie nucléaire, un marché de dupes", Le Figaro, 29 mars 2012.

Berthélemy, M., Douguet, S. and Lévêque, F. (February 15, 2012), The economic loss of the early retirement of nuclear power plants, EU Energy Policy blog.

Berthélemy, M., Douguet, S. and Lévêque, F. (January 18, 2012), Is the nuclear phase-out a financially viable option for France?, EU Energy Policy blog.

Berthélemy, M. and Lévêque, F. (June 18, 2011), Nuclear outlook in the EU by 2020 and beyond, EU Energy Policy blog.

François Lévêque (20 April, 2011), Nucléaire : et si les vieilles centrales étaient les plus sûres ? Les Echos.

Berthélemy, M. and Lévêque, F. (March 31, 2011), Don’t close nuclear power plants merely because they are old!, EU Energy Policy blog.

Economics of Nuclear Power CERNA - MINES ParisTech


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