The Department of Energy issued a request for information (RFI) last week in response to President Biden’s February 24 executive order directing it to submit a report on supply chains for the energy sector industrial base within one year.
According to the order, the United States requires supply chains that are “resilient,” meaning “secure and diverse—facilitating greater domestic production, a range of supply, built-in redundancies, adequate stockpiles, safe and secure digital networks, and a world-class American manufacturing base and workforce.”
In its RFI, the DOE identifies technologies and crosscutting topics for analysis in the following areas: solar photovoltaic, wind, electric grid, energy storage, hydropower, nuclear energy, fuel cells and electrolyzers, semiconductors, neodymium magnets, platinum group metals and other catalysts, carbon capture materials, cybersecurity, and digital components.
The DOE also lists a series of specific questions regarding each area, including, for nuclear energy:
- What are the current and future supply chain vulnerabilities as we continue operation of existing commercial nuclear reactors and accelerate the deployment of new reactor technologies? Of these vulnerabilities, which are the most crucial for the U.S. to address and focus on, and why?
- Where in the supply chain does it make sense for the U.S. to focus and prioritize its efforts both in the short term and long term, and why? Where in the supply chain do you see opportunities for the U.S. to build domestic capabilities of nuclear energy technology manufacturing? What areas of the supply chain should the U.S. not prioritize for attraction or expansion of domestic manufacturing capabilities, and why? For areas in the supply chain where opportunities to build domestic manufacturing capabilities are limited, which foreign countries or regions should the U.S. government prioritize for engagement to strengthen/build reliable partnerships, and what actions should the government take to help ensure resilience in these areas of the supply chain?
- What challenges limit the U.S.’s ability to realize these opportunities to build the domestic nuclear energy technology supply chain? What conditions are needed to help incentivize companies involved in the nuclear energy technology supply chain to build and expand domestic manufacturing capabilities?
- How can government help the private sector and communities involved in nuclear energy technology manufacturing build and expand domestic manufacturing? What investment and policy actions are needed to support onshoring the nuclear energy supply chain?
- What specific skills are needed for the workforce to support the nuclear energy technology supply chain? Of those skills, which ones are lacking in current education/training programs? What resources (including time) and structures would be needed to train the nuclear energy technology workforce? What worker groups, secondary education facilities, and other stakeholders could be valuable partners in these training activities? What new education programs should be included (developed?) to prepare the workforce?
- What other input should the federal government be aware of to support a resilient supply chain for this technology?
Due date: Comments must be submitted no later than January 15, 2022. The DOE strongly encourages online submissions, via www.regulations.gov/docket/DOE-HQ-2021-0020, but will also accept emails to email@example.com, with “RFI Supply Chain Review” in the subject line.