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IAEA KIND Project Tests INPRO's Novel Analytical Approach for Nuclear Energy Planning


The BN-800 commercial fast reactor at the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant in Russia. (Photo: Rosenergoatom)

As the IAEA’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) marks its 20th anniversary this year, INPRO is building on its decades-long work to strengthen support for countries in evaluating their nuclear energy options.

Established in 2000, INPRO recently published the results of a three-year project involving experts from 16 countries known as Key Indicators for Innovative Nuclear Energy Systems (KIND). Now, it’s further developing KIND’s findings through 14 case studies as part of a new initiative, the Comparative Evaluation of Nuclear Energy System Options (CENESO).

KIND, which took place from 2014 to 2017, involved five national and two global case studies designed to help countries to consider the status, prospects, benefits and risks of developing innovative nuclear technologies. The tool used for this purpose, the Excel-based KIND-ET, was developed within the framework of the INPRO methodology, an approach for assessing the sustainability of nuclear energy systems in areas such as economics, infrastructure, waste management, proliferation resistance and safety.

“As countries deliberate on their options for developing and implementing future nuclear energy systems, the decision to go in one direction as opposed to another can be very challenging, given the multitude of factors to consider,” said Galina Fesenko, an IAEA nuclear engineer who led the KIND project. “Through simplified multi-criteria analysis facilitated by KIND-ET, countries can focus on specific areas crucial to their decision-making process and make more informed development decisions.”

KIND-ET allows stakeholders to choose which high-level objectives (HLOs), weighted based on their relative value, are most important to the decision-making process, and assign key indicators to these, such as investment level and waste inventory. KIND-ET then identifies the pros and cons of each nuclear energy system (NES) scenario and ranks them according to their performance in the chosen areas relative to the other energy systems evaluated.

KIND’s case studies included Armenia, Romania, and Thailand as well as two in Russia to demonstrate the viability of the project’s approach. Three HLOs (cost, performance and acceptability) were chosen, with evaluation areas including economic considerations, waste management and technological maturity. They involved comparisons of evolutionary and innovative nuclear energy systems as well as different deployment scenarios.

The case study of Romania, which operates two pressurized heavy water reactors at its Cernavoda nuclear power plant, compared an evolutionary NES with an enhanced CANDU reactor and an innovative NES with a lead-cooled fast reactor with the country’s existing CANDU reactors. Key indicators for each HLO such as levelized energy cost, passive safety features and spent fuel management costs were analyzed in three separate cases, with varying weights given to the HLOs of cost, performance and acceptability in each case. Key indicators specific to Romania such as socioeconomic and technological impact at the national level were also considered.

“Our analysis with the KIND approach demonstrated that the innovative lead-cooled fast reactor technology received very high scores in the cost and especially the performance HLOs,” said Cristina Alice Margeanu, a senior researcher at the Institute for Nuclear Research (RATEN ICN) Pitesti. “This is encouraging for the future of our work in developing this technology, as it may create more opportunities for collaboration in this area and knowledge transfer between the research community and industry.”  

Armenia’s 408 MW(e) pressurized water reactor, first connected to the grid in 1980, is scheduled for permanent shutdown in 2026. Therefore, the country of around 3 million is looking for long-term options for nuclear power, which generated nearly one third of the country’s electricity last decade.  The Armenian case study considered future energy scenarios involving a variety of evolutionary, innovative and existing NESs while also examining a scenario in which nuclear energy would play no role. Analysis of key indicators for a deployment scenario involving a medium-sized reactor in the range of 600 MW(e) showed that medium-sized reactors scored best compared with the alternatives, with high scores in both the performance and cost categories.

“The case study helped us analyze the various nuclear power options available to us, verify the results of long-term power system expansion plans and support the development of an energy strategy up to 2040 to be adopted later this year,” said Vahan Sargsyan, Director of Energy Strategy at Armenia’s Scientific Research Institute of Energy. “The main finding of the study was that Armenia will require at least a medium-sized power plant based on the given assumptions of what is required for our energy system.”

KIND project participants confirmed that this comparative evaluation approach is suitable for a wide range of energy systems, including non-nuclear energy systems. They also found that it is most practical to focus on no more than three HLOs and that the weighting of variables should be well-considered and reflective of national preferences for nuclear energy development, with significant input from relevant experts.

Participants in the ongoing CENESO initiative, which runs until the end of 2020, are expanding upon the KIND approach by examining how KIND-ET can be used to address practical issues in developing a sustainable NES, such as long-term financing and public acceptance. They are also looking to bolster the KIND approach by developing guidance on how to examine the impact of uncertainty on the ranking of results generated by KIND-ET.


The International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) is a membership-based project that supports its members in their long-term planning and collaboration on innovations in nuclear power reactors, fuel cycles and institutional approaches to promote the sustainable development of nuclear energy. It currently includes 42 members – 41 IAEA Member States and the European Commission (EC). Several other countries participate on a working level or as observers with Ghana in the process of joining INPRO in 2020.

INPRO was established in 2000 by an IAEA General Conference resolution. In 2020, the IAEA is marking INPRO’s 20th anniversary with a variety of activities and events.

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