Nuclear plays key role in new jobs recovery plan

October 6, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

A recently published paper on clean energy policy for economic recovery calls for the preservation of the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet and the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies.

The paper, Energy Transitions: The Framework for Good Jobs in a Low-Carbon Future, was released last week by the Labor Energy Partnership (LEP), formed earlier this year by the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the AFL-CIO. According to a joint press release from the two organizations, the LEP was established to “develop policy solutions for a 21st century energy system that creates and preserves quality jobs while tackling the climate crisis.”

The LEP is jointly chaired by Ernest Moniz, founder and chief executive officer of EFI and former U.S. energy secretary, and Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

What they’re saying: “Our road map is based on the reality that there are no silver-bullet solutions for net-zero emissions by mid-century” Moniz said. “We need all-of-the-above solutions, broad coalitions, and major advances in energy innovation to reach our mid-century goals. This Labor Energy Partnership framework offers a road map for that transition.”

Trumka added: “The Labor Energy Partnership is coming to the table with solutions that meet the climate challenge with a focus on good jobs. At this time of economic crisis, we need to put as many people as possible to work as soon as possible.”

Critical elements: The 28-page paper identifies 10 key areas deemed “necessary for creating new jobs and advancing social equity in a deeply decarbonized economy,” with current and next-generation nuclear collectively recognized as one of the 10.

“The LEP will evaluate alternative electricity market design policies that would enable the safe extension of operations at [today’s nuclear power facilities] and a phased-in retirement plan that allows their replacement with new zero-carbon generation, including opportunities to replace existing nuclear power plants with advanced nuclear technologies,” the paper states. “Currently, the workforce in the nuclear power generation sector provides the highest average pay rates, employs the greatest percentage of women, and is the most diverse workforce in the entire electric generation sector. It is also highly unionized at twice the national rate.”

The other nine key areas:

■ A national action plan for the deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technology.

■ A priority energy infrastructure analysis that provides a road map for key energy infrastructure needs, financing mechanisms, and approval and permitting pathways.

■ Policies needed to site and permit new electricity transmission projects in the near term.

■ The development of technology and policy pathways for the use of natural gas, consistent with meeting climate goals.

■ An exploration of the economic challenges and costs and benefits of developing hydrogen as an alternative fuel for the transportation, power, and industrial sectors.

■ The expansion of energy efficiency finance mechanisms and policy recommendations to enable the full utilization of energy efficient technologies in commercial and residential buildings, industrial processes, and transportation.

■ An assessment of the capacity of the United States to mine, process, and manufacture the critical minerals and materials necessary for the domestic production of low-carbon technologies, including, but not limited to, rare earths, lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel, and palladium.

■ An analysis of the offshore wind supply chain, including its raw material requirements, manufacturing technologies, and geographical differences between the East Coast, West Coast, and Great Lakes resources and policy options to encourage domestic manufacturing.

■ A road map for implementing natural and engineered carbon dioxide removal at scale.

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