Nuclear Power in Eastern Europe: Learning or Forgetting Curves?

by Roland Sturm

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This paper analyzes the operating experience of nuclear power plants in Eastern and Western Europe, the former Soviet Union and the United States to investigate differences in the effects of learning, technical change and the effect of recent political developments. The performance of Soviet-designed reactors compares favorably with Western reactors on the standard performance measures. However, learning curve estimates reveal a disturbing trend: the former Soviet Union and all countries in Eastern Europe experience increasing unplanned losses as plants age, whereas all Western countries reduce their unplanned losses. A similar 'forgetting' phenomenon is observable for plant availability and there is some evidence that the recent political and economic reorganization have exacerbated this trend.

Originally published in: Energy Economics, v. 15, no. 3, July 1993, pp. 183-189.

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