Several factors guide the planning of a nuclear power project; for example, geographic location, acceptance of local residents, extensive authorisation processes, long construction period, availability of skilled engineers and management and storage of radioactive waste.
Constructing a new reactor requires a very substantial investment. But the useful life of a reactor is long. A nuclear power plant produces electricity for between 40 and 60 years. Additional investments for safety and modernisation may be required.
The long-term nature of the project increases the risk that uncertainties may accumulate and present obstacles to the completion of the project as well as to profitability. Risks include regulatory requirements, financing terms and conditions, and future electricity price trends.
Many reactors rely on proximity to the coast to draw sea water used to cool the condenser. And the plant shouldn't be located too far from end-users, since much electricity is lost in long-distance transports.
New reactors have not been built for many years. This increases the risks in terms of failing to meet time schedules and potentially increasing the cost. This uncertainty, though, is being gradually reduced as new plants are built.
Storage of spent nuclear fuel
The long-term management of radioactive waste is a key issue in the planning of new nuclear plants.