DOE releases blueprint for advancing U.S. nuclear

January 12, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) last week released its Strategic Vision report, outlining its plan to support the current U.S. reactor fleet, demonstrate the latest innovations in nuclear energy technologies, and explore new market opportunities for nuclear energy.

The 36-page document identifies five goals to address challenges in the nuclear energy sector, help realize the potential of advanced technology, and leverage the unique role of the federal government in sparking innovation. Each goal also includes supporting objectives to ensure progress.

The goals:

1. Enable continued operation of U.S. nuclear reactors. Supporting objectives include developing technologies that reduce operating costs, expanding to markets beyond electricity, and providing the scientific basis for continuing the operation of existing reactors.

2. Enable deployment of advanced nuclear reactors. Supporting objectives include reducing the risk and time needed to deploy advanced nuclear technology, developing reactors that expand market opportunities for nuclear energy, and supporting a diversity of designs that improve resource utilization.

3. Develop advanced nuclear fuel cycles. Supporting objectives include addressing gaps in the domestic nuclear fuel supply chain and fuel cycle for advanced reactors and evaluating options for establishing an integrated waste management system.

4. Maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear energy technology. Supporting objectives include facilitating global opportunities for the U.S. nuclear sector, maintaining world-class research and development capabilities, and developing highly trained scientists to support the future nuclear workforce.

5. Enable a high-performing organization. Supporting objectives include supporting and investing in DOE-NE’s workforce; effectively managing programs, projects, R&D investments, and contracts; and communicating regularly with stakeholders.

Measuring success: In addition to the supporting objectives, each goal also lists performance indicators to gauge progress. For example, to keep U.S. reactors in operation, DOE-NE calls for demonstrating a scalable hydrogen generation pilot plant by 2022 and achieving widespread implementation of accident tolerant fuel by 2030.

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