World Energy Outlook 2021: Nuclear innovation needs to accelerate

October 18, 2021, 6:43AMNuclear News
Nuclear power capacity by scenario, 2020–2050 (STEPS: stated policies scenario, APS: announced pledges scenario, NZE: net-zero emissions by 2050 scenario). (Graphic: IEA World Energy Outlook 2021)

The International Energy Agency released its flagship report, World Energy Outlook 2021, on October 13, “at a time when policymakers are contending with the impacts of both climate change and volatile energy markets” and ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which begins October 31. With a net-zero emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario that calls for nuclear power capacity to almost double by 2050, the report acknowledges that rapid development of advanced nuclear technologies could expand opportunities for nuclear energy to provide low-carbon electricity, heat, and hydrogen.

Opining online, journalist urges regulatory flexibility for new reactors

October 13, 2021, 2:43PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In his article, “The nuclear policy America needs,” journalist Matthew Yglesias says upfront that he is not a “nuclear bro.” He is not a scientist or a nuclear engineer. But he is part of an open, online conversation about the energy policy decisions shaping our future. And in the article posted on newsletter platform Substack on October 12, Yglesias says that nuclear prospects should not be determined by a zero-sum competition between zero-carbon energy resources. Instead, he says, “What nuclear really needs is specific regulatory changes that would give advanced reactor designs a chance to prove themselves.”

ITER director general hails the promise of hydrogen—in fusion

October 12, 2021, 3:18PMANS Nuclear Cafe
This June 2021 photo of ITER vacuum vessel sector #6 includes two panels of thermal shielding ready to slide into place. (Photo: ITER/Courtesy of Chang Hyun Noh)

Following a week of heightened attention to all things hydrogen preceding Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day (October 8), Bernard Bigot, director general of the ITER Organization, published an op-ed on October 11 in The European Files, a magazine billed as an “effective work tool for European deciders.” Bigot’s article, “Hydrogen fusion: The way to a new energy future,” doubled as a fusion primer, promoting the technology as a future source of clean energy that is fueled by hydrogen and is capable of providing heat and power to produce more hydrogen.

Australia has invested in batteries for grid security. It’s not going as planned.

September 29, 2021, 1:07PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Two battery Megapacks were destroyed in a July fire at Victorian Big Battery. Each battery is about the size of a standard shipping container. (Photo: Country Fire Authority)

Australia’s two large lithium-ion storage batteries are getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Hornsdale Power Reserve, a 150-MW battery collocated with a wind farm in South Australia, is being charged in federal court with failing to deliver on promises to respond to grid demands, and of being technically unable to deliver under the terms it was being paid to meet. Proceedings were filed September 22, just before the testing of a second Tesla-manufactured “Big Battery resumed after a two-month delay following a fire in July.

Germany: Coal tops wind energy in 2021, but there’s more to the story

September 23, 2021, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Coal-fired plants fed the most power to Germany's electricity grid in the first half of 2021, while wind power dropped to its lowest level since 2018. As a September 13 article published on the German news site DW.com explained, the situation was blamed in part on a wind energy shortfall that is causing power price spikes across Europe.

Energy markets strained by price spikes make the case for nuclear

September 16, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Energy prices surged across Europe recently as markets were stricken by reduced output from wind turbines. Low supplies of natural gas had already boosted the cost of the gas–powered generation required to make up for dips in renewable energy sources. The result: a series of dire headlines, soaring prices for natural gas, and the startup of idled coal power plants.

Time to get serious about our energy future

August 18, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven Curtis
(Photo: mik Krakow)

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

It is hard to get anyone to agree on anything these days. However, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us want clean air to breathe and adequate energy supplies. It is difficult to see any current or proposed energy policy that brings us closer to that goal. In fact, over the past 15 years, we have not put a dent in our “carbon footprint,” despite the proliferation of “renewable energy” supported by staggeringly large subsidies. What is really puzzling, however, is the huge amount of subsidy money going toward fossil fuels when we are told that these have to be gone completely by the year 2050. Of $18.4 billion dollars in subsidies in 2016, 59 percent went to renewables, 25 percent went to fossil fuels, and 15 percent went to “energy efficiency.”

Could Hawaii get its clean energy from nuclear?

August 11, 2021, 6:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A satellite image of Hawaii. Image: NASA

Jacob Wiencek, a self-described concerned resident of Honolulu, is doing his part to encourage the state of Hawaii to embrace nuclear power. An opinion piece written by Wiencek was published in Honolulu Civil Beat, an online, nonprofit news site, on August 4.

Nuclear-generated hydrogen could decarbonize marine shipping

August 10, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

On August 4, the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) released a white paper, Bridging the Gap: How Nuclear-Derived Zero-Carbon Fuels Can Help Decarbonize Marine Shipping, containing policy recommendations for a U.S.-led transition away from fossil-based shipping fuels to nuclear-produced fuels and energy carriers like hydrogen and ammonia. According to CATF, in 2018, the international shipping industry accounted for 2.6 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions—more than the international aviation sector. Sector-wide emissions are on pace to triple by 2050.

New video stars nuclear: “The safest energy source known to man”

July 27, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
This still image from “The Green Atom” highlights how Germany’s decision to shut down its nuclear plants has resulted in electricity that is twice as expensive as in neighboring France. (Source: Kite and Key)

“You know what power source is more dangerous than nuclear? Literally, all of them. When you add up industrial accidents and the effects of pollution, nuclear is safer than coal or petroleum or natural gas.”

Nuclear power as the missing piece of the climate change solution

July 6, 2021, 7:08AMANS Nuclear Cafe
(Image: CNET)

Dietmar Detering, a German entrepreneur and cochair of the advocacy organization Nuclear New York, believes nuclear energy could be the key to solving the climate crisis. He's part of a wave of environmentalists campaigning for more nuclear energy, an idea explored by CNET in the July 1 article, Is nuclear power the missing piece of our climate change puzzle?

ANS webinar explores the future of a clean U.S. electric grid

June 25, 2021, 12:02PMANS News

ANS held a panel discussion on Wednesday to look at where the United States energy system is headed in the next 15 years. The webinar, “What will a clean U.S. electric grid look like in 2035?” drew 465 viewers from 25 nations.

A recording of this webinar is archived along with all past ANS webinars on the ANS webinars page.

The United States is losing nuclear power when we need it the most

June 4, 2021, 2:49PMNuclear NewsEd Kee

The Biden administration has a goal to decarbonize the U.S. electricity sector by 2035.1 Achieving this goal would require a massive nuclear power build program. The U.S. nuclear power industry’s size and historical success signal that we are in a good position to do this, but at present the U.S. nuclear fleet is shrinking. Why is this so, and what can be done to turn the trend around?

Biden administration’s proposed FY 2022 budget supports nuclear

June 3, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

The Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget sent to Congress last week would, according to the Department of Energy, move the United States toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The FY 2022 budget request includes $1.85 billion for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

“President Biden’s budget request puts America in the driver's seat as we transition toward a 100 percent clean energy economy,” said secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm on May 28. “These investments will ensure the U.S. is the global leader in research, development, and deployment of critical energy technologies to combat the climate crisis, create good-paying union jobs, and strengthen our communities in all pockets of America.”

U.S. and France commit to “common ambition” on advanced nuclear

June 2, 2021, 3:12PMNuclear News

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and French minister for the ecological transition Barbara Pompili issued a joint statement on May 28 in which they pledged to work together to meet shared climate goals.

“France and the United States share common goals and common resolve in fighting climate change and working toward reaching the ambitious target set forth by the Paris agreement,” the statement read. “We are united in a common ambition on both sides of the Atlantic: achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Reaching this common objective will require leveraging all currently existing emission-free technologies available to us while simultaneously intensifying research, development, and deployment across a suite of zero-emissions energy sources and systems. Ensuring that these energy systems are efficient and reliable, integrating larger shares of renewables coupled with nuclear energy, which is a significant part of today’s electricity production in both our countries, will be crucial to accelerate energy transitions. Reaching this common objective will also require a wide variety of favorable financing conditions across the range of zero-emitting power sources and systems.”

Washington and Seoul to cooperate on overseas projects, nonproliferation

May 25, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

Biden

Moon

The United States and South Korea have agreed to “develop cooperation in overseas nuclear markets, including joint participation in nuclear power plant projects, while ensuring the highest standards of international nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation are maintained,” according to a statement from the White House on last week’s Washington meeting between President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

As part of that agreement, South Korea will adopt a common policy with the United States requiring recipient countries to have a safeguards agreement “Additional Protocol” in place as a condition of doing nuclear-related business. (The Additional Protocol is an expanded set of requirements for information and access to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency in its work to confirm that states are using nuclear material solely for peaceful purposes.)

Energy innovation tax credit proposal released

April 29, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Whitehouse

Crapo

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), both members of the Senate Finance Committee, have released a discussion draft of the Energy Sector Innovation Credit (ESIC) Act, a technology-inclusive energy tax proposal to encourage innovation in the clean energy sector. (A one-pager on the proposal is available online.)

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.

The Economist asks why are people afraid of nuclear

March 23, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Economist published a video earlier this month trying to answer the question of why is nuclear so unpopular. The video is paired with a story that appeared on The Economist's website advocating for a well-regulated nuclear industry. The video starts off with very dramatic images of nuclear weapons and scenes from popular culture like Godzilla, The Simpsons, and the recent HBO miniseries Chernobyl. The video provides a quick history of nuclear science and technology starting with Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace speech in an attempt to prove to the viewer that "nuclear is one of the safest, most reliable, and sustainable forms of energy, and decarbonizing will be much more difficult without it."