Bill to spur clean energy investment brought back in Senate

April 12, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Moran

Coons

Sens. Chris Coons (D., Del.) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) late last month reintroduced legislation to give investors in clean energy projects, including advanced nuclear, access to a tax advantage currently available only to fossil fuel investors. The bipartisan bill, the Financing Our Energy Future Act (H.B. 1034), was initially introduced in June 2019.

The measure would enable clean energy companies to form master limited partnerships (MLPs)—business ventures that combine the tax benefits of private partnerships (where profits are taxed only when investors receive distributions) with the liquidity of publicly traded companies. By statute, MLPs are currently available only to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.

Road to advanced nuclear: How DOE and industry collaborations are paving the way for advanced nuclear reactors

April 2, 2021, 8:58AMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

As electric utilities rush to reduce carbon emissions by investing in intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, they often rely heavily on fossil fuels to provide steady baseload power.

More than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated with fossil fuels, especially coal-fired and gas-fired power plants that have the ability to quickly ramp up or ramp down power to follow loads on the electric grid. Most experts agree that even with a radical advancement in energy storage technology, relying exclusively on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels won’t be enough to maintain a stable electric grid and avoid the major impacts of climate change.

To complete the transition to a carbon-free energy future, one key piece of the puzzle remains: nuclear power.

Biden administration releases plan to build back U.S. infrastructure

April 1, 2021, 12:03PMEdited April 2, 2021, 6:09AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Biden

President Biden introduced a $2 trillion American Jobs Plan on Wednesday to overhaul and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure as part of his “Build Back Better” campaign pledge. His plan is ambitious: “It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Biden said. “It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.”

According to Axios, the policy would be “the most far-reaching federal investment to date in programs that would help curb greenhouse gas emissions. But it faces serious challenges in the closely divided Congress.”

NARUC partners with DOE to explore nuclear power issues

March 9, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has launched a five-year nuclear energy partnership with the Department of Energy. Announced on March 8, the partnership is aimed at providing opportunities for state public service commissioners and their staffs to “better understand barriers and possibilities related to the U.S. nuclear fleet.”

Partnership members will engage in activities such as stakeholder dialogues, peer-sharing calls, site visits, educational webinars, and briefing papers, according to NARUC.

Support for the project is furnished by the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the NARUC Center for Partnerships and Innovation. A kickoff meeting is scheduled for later this month.

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.

U.S., Slovenia ink nuclear cooperation MOU

December 10, 2020, 3:01PMNuclear News

Anže Logar, Slovenia’s foreign minister (left), talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on December 7 in Washington, D.C. Photo: State Department

In the latest example of the Trump administration’s recent efforts to forge nuclear agreements with Central and Eastern European nations (for other examples, see here, here, and here), the United States earlier this week signed a memorandum of understanding concerning strategic civil nuclear cooperation (NCMOU) with Slovenia.

The NCMOU was signed on December 8 during a visit to Washington, D.C., by a Slovenian delegation headed by Foreign Minister Anže Logar. Signing it were Christopher Ford, the administration’s assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, and Jernej Vrtovec, Slovenia’s minister of infrastructure.

The previous day, Logar met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss, among other topics, “the importance of energy security and how civil nuclear cooperation can strengthen the strategic bilateral relationship,” according to a State Department readout.

Japan should revive its nuclear industry, says new report

December 8, 2020, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center has issued a report, Japan’s Nuclear Reactor Fleet: The Geopolitical and Climate Implications of Accelerated Decommissioning, contending that Japan’s reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident has led to an increased dependence on carbon-emitting energy sources that ultimately undermine the country’s recently announced climate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Recommendations: Released just a few months prior to the 10-year anniversary of the accident on March 11, 2011, the report recommends that Japan:

  • Use its existing nuclear fleet in the near and long term to 2050,
  • remain involved in global civil nuclear trade,
  • develop a role for advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, which it should deploy as soon as feasible,
  • rebuild its nuclear energy workforce and public trust in nuclear power, and
  • regain its leadership position in the climate battle.

GE Hitachi SMR reaches U.S. licensing milestone

December 2, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

A cutaway view of the BWRX-300. Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final safety evaluation report for the first of several licensing topical reports (LTR) submitted by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) for the BWRX-300 small modular reactor, the company announced on December 1.

The initial LTR, titled “BWRX-300 Reactor Pressure Vessel Isolation and Overpressure Protection,” was submitted to the NRC in December 2019, officially beginning the U.S. licensing process. This LTR forms the basis for the “dramatic simplification” of the BWRX-300, according to GEH.

In its announcement, GEH noted that two additional LTRs were submitted in early 2020 and that it anticipates reviews of those reports to be completed in the coming months. A fourth LTR was submitted in September 2020, the company added.

Nuclear scores point in U.K. green plan

December 1, 2020, 12:03PMNuclear News

The United Kingdom, the first of the world’s major economies to adopt a legally binding commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, has released a blueprint to help realize that goal—one that includes a substantial role for nuclear energy

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will mobilize a total of £12 billion (about $16 billion) of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the United Kingdom and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030, according to the UK government on November 18.

In addition to nuclear, offshore wind, hydrogen production, carbon capture, and vehicle electrification are also earmarked for significant investment in the 38-page document.

Senate bill introduced to reestablish U.S. leadership in nuclear energy

November 24, 2020, 9:29AMNuclear News

Barrasso

Whitehouse

The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA), S. 4897, released as draft legislation in July and supported by a panel of energy experts at a Senate hearing in August, has been introduced in the Senate.

The bipartisan bill—sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and cosponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), and Cory Booker (D., N.J.)—was introduced on November 16.

Nuclear champions make another push for NELA

October 22, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

Murkowski

Luria

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Elaine Luria (D., Va.), along with 29 of their colleagues, sent a letter last week to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, urging them to include the text of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) in the final fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Murkowski joined Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and 18 other lawmakers in a similar letter to the Senate Armed Service Committee earlier this year. Murkowski and Booker introduced NELA on September 6, 2018 (NN, Oct. 2018, p. 39).

The House and Senate passed their respective versions of the NDAA in July, by votes of 295–125 and 86–14, respectively. (NELA provisions have been included in the Senate’s NDAA and in the House’s Clean Economy and Jobs Innovation Act.) Last month, speaking at the 2020 Defense News Conference, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that the final House and Senate conference report on the NDAA should be coming out soon after the November election.

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.

Entergy takes net-zero pledge, teams with Mitsubishi to decarbonize with hydrogen

October 2, 2020, 9:56AMNuclear News

Paul Browning, Mitsubishi Power, and Paul Hinnenkamp, Entergy, sign the joint agreement on September 23. Photo: Entergy

New Orleans–based Entergy Corporation last week announced a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, joining a growing list of major energy companies to make that promise—including Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and Public Service Enterprise Group. And, like those companies, Entergy says that it sees nuclear playing an important role in the realization of that goal.

New report explores value of flexible nuclear energy in clean energy systems

September 17, 2020, 6:59AMNuclear News

A report just released from the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM) Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE) Future initiative examines the potential roles that flexible nuclear energy generation can play in both current and future clean energy systems.

A product of the initiative’s Flexible Nuclear Campaign for Nuclear-Renewables Integration, the 154-page report, Flexible Nuclear Energy for Clean Energy Systems, includes the views of experts from government agencies, ministries, and industry organizations across the globe.

The report uses the term “flexibility” to mean the ability of an energy source to economically provide services when and where they are needed by end users. Energy services can include both electric and nonelectric applications using both traditional and advanced nuclear power plants and integrated systems, according to the report.

Duke companies include advanced nuclear in plans to speed carbon reduction

September 4, 2020, 9:38AMNuclear News

Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have filed their 2020 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) with state regulators, parent company Duke Energy announced September 1.

The plans outline a range of options to achieve varying levels of carbon reduction, including, for the first time, potential pathways to achieve up to 70 percent carbon-emission reduction through policy and technology advancements.

Aggressive carbon-reduction targets are attainable, the company said, with investments in solar, wind, and energy storage, as well as with advanced nuclear, offshore wind, and other technologies “as they become available.” (Last September, Duke Energy declared its intention to seek subsequent license renewal for the 11 reactors it operates in six nuclear plants in the Carolinas [NN, Oct. 2019, p. 9].)

ARPA-E Energy Briefs highlight innovations and programs

August 7, 2020, 7:28AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is at work developing and demonstrating novel energy technologies and connecting those technologies with private-sector investors. The researchers and innovators behind ARPA-E want to tell you all about it in a series of “Energy Briefs” available through the agency’s YouTube channel.

Senate bill aims to recharge U.S. nuclear industry

July 31, 2020, 10:31AMNuclear News

Barrasso

Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) on July 29 released a draft bill to revitalize the United States’ nuclear sector—the same day that GOP colleagues in the House introduced similar legislation. According to the senator, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 (ANIA) would enable U.S. international leadership, preserve America’s uranium supply chain, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen the nation’s economic, energy, and national security. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, of which Barrasso is chairman, is scheduled to hold a legislative hearing on the draft on August 5.