Presentation of the 3 scenarios
Continued use of nuclear power, with the deployment of new EPR reactors followed by FNR fast neutron reactors (SR1)
This scenario assumes the continuation of both the nuclear power industry and France's current spent nuclear fuel reprocessing strategy. It is based on various assumptions, including:
- Existing nuclear power plants have an operating life of between 50 and 60 years.
- Existing reactors will gradually be replaced by EPR reactors and then by FNR fast neutron reactors.
- All spent fuel will be reprocessed to recover the reusable materials it contains. These materials are used to produce new fuel, part of which will be used in the existing reactor fleet and part of which will be used in future fleets.
- This inventory does not include waste that will be generated by a future fleet.
Continued use of nuclear power, with the deployment of new EPR reactors (SR3)
This scenario is based on the main assumptions used in Scenario SR1, but only includes the deployment of EPR reactors and only partial reprocessing of spent fuel.
Stopping nuclear power generation (SNR)
This scenario assumes that the existing fleet of nuclear power plants is not renewed. It is based on various assumptions, including :
- Existing plants will have an operating life of 40 years (60 years for the Flamanville EPR).
- Early withdrawal from spent fuel reprocessing.
Main lessons learned from comparing the scenarios
The nature and the quantities of High-Level Waste varies depend on whether or not nuclear power generation continues and on the types of reactors deployed (in the continuation scenarios).
In the two nuclear power generation continuation scenarios (SR1 and SR3), part of the spent fuel is used in new reactors (and is therefore not reclassified as waste), however, these new reactors themselves will in turn generate radioactive waste that is not taken into account in these figures.
In SR1, HLW only means vitrified waste. In fact, this scenario assumes that all spent fuel is reprocessed and reused in existing and future reactors.
In SR3, some materials and some unprocessed spent fuel is reclassified as waste. It is therefore assumed that this waste will be disposed of as it is. The difference with SR1 lies mainly in the fact that, in SR1, deployment of FNRs will make it possible to use recycled MOX as the fuel, whereas spent MOX is reclassified as waste in SR3.
In SNR, certain materials are reclassified as waste since they can no longer be reused. In other words, they can no longer possibly be used in reactors since this scenario entails the withdrawal from nuclear power. It is assumed that these materials reclassified as waste will be disposed of as they are.
In addition, the quantities of HLW, ILW-LL, LILW-SL and VLLW generated is related to the length of current nuclear power plant operating lives: extending operating life will increase the quantity of waste generated.