Nuclear power from small modular reactors should be a central part of the chemical industry’s drive toward achieving carbon neutrality, according to Jim Fitterling, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow Inc. Fitterling’s comments, delivered at the 2022 International Petrochemical Conference, hosted by American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and held March 27–29 in San Antonio, Texas, were reported by Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS).
Beyond renewables: The ICIS report noted that more than 25 percent of Dow’s manufacturing sites are fully or partially powered by renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, and hydropower. Nevertheless, Fitterling said, “We need a broader and more realistic approach to feed our energy needs. Renewables are great, and we’re a tremendous supporter . . . but renewables alone are not the answer.” He added that renewable power generation would have to increase 90 times to equal the energy that is currently provided by hydrocarbons in the United States.
SMRs: “Math and physics and economics tell us that it’s just not possible to get to 100 percent renewable energy in our lifetimes—nor is it necessary, as we have alternatives like advanced small nuclear reactors,” Fitterling said. He characterized the outlook for SMR technology as “very promising.”
Dow is considering adding SMRs at two of its U.S. production sites. “Those would take each site to zero carbon emissions and serve as a baseload for energy needs,” Fitterling said. “Coupled with natural gas as another baseload, it seems like a practical way to increase the country’s carbon-free energy and provide the constant power needs for industries like ours.”