The competitiveness of nuclear energy in an era of liberalized markets and restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions - The debate on the benefits of nuclear energy revolves around the very competitiveness of this energy source. This article tries to show why it is not easy to answer unambiguously the question whether or not it is convenient to resort to nuclear power in a given country. After listing the factors on which the cost of electricity generation rests and discussing the range of probability of their value, the levelized cost of electricity generation from nuclear, coal and gas-fired plants is calculated using the Monte Carlo method. The results show that nuclear power is likely to be competitive, especially if policies to combat CO2 emissions will continue in the coming decades. There are, however, some margins of uncertainty, mainly related, to the one hand, to the cost of nuclear plants, that depends on the socio-institutional context, and on the other, to the fossil fuels cost, that are inherently difficult to anticipate even on average. Finally it is noted that the context of liberalized electricity markets may make it more difficult for investors to accept the risk of investing in nuclear power plants and for the community to socialize some of the costs associated with this technology.
Key words: Nuclear energy, generation costs, Montecarlo method, environmental impacts.
JEL classifications: G11, H23, L72, L94, Q31, Q40