While the prospects look bright for nuclear energy development in China, no consensus about an optimum transitional path towards sustainability of the nuclear fuel cycle has been achieved. Herein, we present a preliminary study of decision making for China’s future nuclear energy systems, combined with a dynamic analysis model. In terms of sustainability assessment based on environmental, economic, and social considerations, we compared and ranked the four candidate options of nuclear fuel cycles combined with an integrated evaluation analysis using the Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) method. An improved integrated weighting method was first applied in the nuclear fuel cycle evaluation study. This method synthesizes diverse subjective/objective weighting methods to evaluate conflicting criteria among the competing decision makers at different levels of expertise and experience. The results suggest that the fuel cycle option of direct recycling of spent fuel through fast reactors is the most competitive candidate, while the fuel cycle option of direct disposal of all spent fuel without recycling is the least attractive for China, from a sustainability perspective. In summary, this study provided a well-informed decision-making tool to support the development of national nuclear energy strategies.
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