Modelling the Effects of Nuclear Fuel Reservoir Operation in a Competitive Electricity Market

Maria Lykidi, Jean-Michel Glachant and Pascal Gourdel

July 2010

Maria Lykidi, Jean-Michel Glachant and Pascal Gourdel, July 2010

In many countries, the electricity systems are quitting the vertically integrated monopoly organization for an operation framed by competitive markets. In such a competitive regime one can ask what the optimal management of the nuclear generation set is. We place ourselves in a medium-term horizon of the management in order to take into account the seasonal variation of the demand level between winter (high demand) and summer (low demand). A flexible nuclear set is operated to follow a part of the demand variations. In this context, nuclear fuel stock can be analyzed like a reservoir since nuclear plants stop periodically (every 12 or 18 months) to reload their fuel. The operation of the reservoir allows different profiles of nuclear fuel uses during the different seasons of the year. We analyze it within a general deterministic dynamic framework with two types of generation: nuclear and non-nuclear thermal. We study the optimal management of the production in a perfectly competitive market. Then, we build a very simple numerical model (based on data from the French market) with nuclear plants being not operated strictly as base load power plants but within a flexible dispatch frame (like the French nuclear set).

Our simulations explain why we must anticipate future demand to manage the current production of the nuclear set (myopia can not be total). Moreover, it is necessary in order to ensure the equilibrium supply-demand, to take into account the non-nuclear thermal capacities in the management of the nuclear set. They also suggest that non-nuclear thermal could stay marginal during most of the year including the months of low demand.

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