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[en] The literature on energy technology costs, diffusion, and learning has been characterized by data limitations, partial or arbitrary data sets, apples to oranges comparisons, and imprecision in the use of key concepts and terminology. Two responses to our paper, Lovering et al. (2016), by Koomey et al. and Gilbert et al. reflect many of these problems, conflating learning curves with experience curves, trends in actual costs with the relationship between cost estimates and final construction costs, and component costs with total installed costs. The respondents use inconsistent definitions of demonstration, first-of-a-kind, and commercial deployment across different energy technologies. They also propose to compare final installed costs for nuclear power plants, encompassing construction and finance costs, across different national economies and time periods encompassing a wide range of macro-economic circumstances and finance arrangements that overwhelm any signal from trends associated with the actual construction costs of the plants in question. In this response, we address the specific issues raised in these papers and suggest better practices for comparing energy technology costs, trends, and technological learning. - Highlights: • Responds to arguments in and • Discusses shortcomings in broader energy cost literature. • Defends metric of Overnight Construction Cost (OCC). • Suggests better practices for comparing energy technology costs and trends.
[en] The existing literature on the construction costs of nuclear power reactors has focused almost exclusively on trends in construction costs in only two countries, the United States and France, and during two decades, the 1970s and 1980s. These analyses, Koomey and Hultman (2007); Grubler (2010), and Escobar-Rangel and Lévêque (2015), study only 26% of reactors built globally between 1960 and 2010, providing an incomplete picture of the economic evolution of nuclear power construction. This study curates historical reactor-specific overnight construction cost (OCC) data that broaden the scope of study substantially, covering the full cost history for 349 reactors in the US, France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58% of all reactors built globally. We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology. - Highlights: •Comprehensive analysis of nuclear power construction cost experience. •Coverage for early and recent reactors in seven countries. •International comparisons and re-evaluation of learning. •Cost trends vary by country and era; some experience cost stability or decline.