Conca: What would Biden-Harris administration do for nuclear energy?

August 19, 2020, 9:29AMAround the Web

With the Democratic Convention now under way, it is good to remember that all the leading climate scientists say that we cannot address climate change without significant nuclear power, Jim Conca noted in his opinion column on the Forbes blog site. Supporting nuclear power - or not - is a clear signal about how serious a candidate is about climate change and supporting science over mere activism, Conca said.

Biden’s plan: Conca talked about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan that calls for development of small modular reactors, specifically because SMRs are ideal for load following or backing up wind. The plan calls for “leveraging the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower.”

The plan also includes establishing a new Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-C) focused on climate. It will target “affordable game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100 percent clean energy target.” SMRs are specifically included as one of the focus points for ARPA-C.

Looking forward: In a section of Biden’s plan labelled, “Identify the Future of Nuclear Energy,” it said that Americans “must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies. That’s why Biden will support a research agenda to look at issues, ranging from cost to safety to nuclear waste disposal systems, that remain an ongoing challenge with nuclear power today.”

Conca also pointed to current trends that could affect nuclear energy’s future and Biden’s ability to attain the plan’s goals. Labor unions are one of those forces. According to a report cited by Conca, 40 of the 50 unions studied had not taken a position on the proposed Green New Deal. Of the 10 that did, only seven support it. But high-paying nuclear energy jobs should be a plus in nuclear’s corner.

Conca noted that another trend showed that surveys of young people overwhelmingly favor the Democrats’ stance on environmental issues, and that 73 percent of males aged 18-34 have the highest approval of nuclear power of any age group.

Conca said that it showed there could be an upturn for nuclear energy under a Biden-Harris administration.


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