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."

House GOP energy agenda features nuclear-related legislation

March 18, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

In response to House Democrats’ introduction on March 2 of a massive energy bill, the CLEAN Future Act, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have unveiled their own, more modest energy agenda—a package of existing legislation that they say would “secure America’s energy future and global competitive edge against China.”

McMorris Rodgers

According to a March 15 press release from the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), along with Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and David McKinley (R., W.Va.), the GOP plan will address climate change risks and spur the development and deployment of clean energy infrastructure without the “pie-in-the-sky” mandates, regulations, and federal government spending advocated by the Democrats.

What they’re saying: “This package will modernize and improve our energy infrastructure and promote an all-of-the-above energy strategy across the board, including solutions to unleash innovation in hydropower, nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas,” the Republican lawmakers state. “These are real, workable solutions to make energy cleaner, reduce emissions, prioritize energy security, and keep energy costs low.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw writes op-ed for The Hill in support of nuclear

March 9, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Crenshaw

In an opinion piece published last Friday in The Hill, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) says that the Biden administration should focus on nuclear power in order to provide clean and reliable power to the grid. Speaking from the recent experience of dealing with the polar vortex that greatly affected the Texas electric grid, Crenshaw said, “People all over the world are . . . demanding cleaner energy that reduces carbon emissions. The Biden administration believes we can do this by prioritizing solar and wind energy. They’re wrong.”

Crenshaw continued, “If the Texas grid was solely or even mostly reliant on renewables last month, our situation would be far more dire. So how do we achieve both a massive reduction in emissions while also maintaining reliable baseload energy? Nuclear.”

China on course to lead in nuclear by 2030, says IEA

March 4, 2021, 3:18PMNuclear News

China will have the world's largest nuclear power fleet within a decade, an International Energy Agency official noted during a session at the High-Level Workshop on Nuclear Power in Clean Energy Transitions, World Nuclear News reported on March 3.

The workshop was held jointly by the IEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IEA official, Brent Wanner, head of Power Sector Modelling & Analysis for the agency's World Energy Outlook publication, said that as nuclear fleets in the United States, Canada, and Japan reach their original design lifetimes, decisions will have to be made about what will happen after that. Absent license renewals, the contribution of nuclear power could decline substantially in those countries while China’s reactor building program will boost it into the first position.

Canadian survey reveals solid support for nuclear investment

February 22, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

A new survey exploring the attitudes of Canadians toward climate change and their expectations and level of support for government intervention to tackle the issue finds that 86 percent believe that Canada should invest in clean technologies, including renewables and nuclear energy.

The survey, conducted by research and strategy firm Abacus Data between January 29 and February 3, was commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA).

CNA says: “It’s clear there is strong support for the government to implement a mix of solutions to address the [climate change] challenge, including investing in renewables and clean nuclear technologies,” stated John Gorman, CNA president and chief executive officer, in a February 18 press release. “We continue to see that the more understanding Canadians have, the more they support zero-emissions nuclear technologies to help reach our net zero 2050 goal. This includes investment in small modular reactors, which Canadians believe bring value to replace carbon-based fuels with clean electricity, decarbonize high-emissions industries, and transition remote communities away from reliance on diesel.”

A new goal for fusion: 50 MWe for the U.S. grid by 2035–2040

February 19, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Coordinated federal and private industry investments made now could yield an operational fusion pilot plant in the 2035–2040 time frame, according to Bringing Fusion to the U.S. Grid, a consensus study report released February 17 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).

Developed at the request of the Department of Energy, the report builds on the work of the 2019 Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research, and it identifies key goals, innovations, and investments needed to develop a U.S. fusion pilot plant that can serve as a model for producing electricity at the lowest possible capital cost.

“The U.S. fusion community has been a pioneer of fusion research since its inception and now has the opportunity to bring fusion to the marketplace,” said Richard Hawryluk, associate director for fusion at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and chair of the NASEM Committee on the Key Goals and Innovations Needed for a U.S. Fusion Pilot Plant, which produced the report.

Increasing costs of climate change–related disasters reflects importance of nuclear

January 11, 2021, 12:17PMANS News

Hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters across the United States caused $95 billion in damage last year, according to new data referenced by the New York Times. The cost is almost double the amount in 2019 and the third-highest loss since 2010.

The new figures, reported January 7 by Munich Re—a company that provides insurance to other insurance companies—are the latest signal of the growing cost of climate change. The spike reflects the need for increased reliance on clean energy sources such as nuclear, solar, and wind.

Ex-Im Bank, Poland sign MOU on U.S. energy investment

December 21, 2020, 7:01AMNuclear News

Polish Minister of Climate and Environment Michał Kurtyka (left) and Ex-Im Chairman Kimberly Reed sign an MOU on U.S. energy investment in Poland on December 11. Photo: EXIM

In another sign of U.S. interest in helping Poland develop a civil nuclear power program, the Export-Import Bank of the United States announced last week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Polish government to promote U.S. energy investment in the Central European nation. (For an earlier agreement, see here.)

The MOU was signed in Warsaw on December 11 by Ex-Im president and chairman, Kimberly A. Reed, and Poland’s minister of climate and environment, Michał Kurtyka, during Reed’s three-day visit to Poland.

The Ex-Im: As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im provides loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to foreign customers purchasing U.S. exports.

The MOU particulars: The MOU calls for Ex-Im and Poland to “explore and identify potential opportunities for Ex-Im financing and to work together to promote business development opportunities related to strategic energy projects and programs,” according to Ex-Im’s announcement. The agreement includes, but is not limited to, support for projects in nuclear energy, in particular in support of strategic projects under Poland’s nuclear power program, low- and zero-emission technologies, clean energy innovation, and critical energy infrastructure, including cybersecurity solutions.

U.K. sets plans for clean energy and green jobs by 2050

December 14, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

A 170-page energy white paper, Powering Our Net Zero Future, issued by the United Kingdom government on December 14 sets big goals for cleaning up the U.K.’s energy system. According to the U.K. government, the plan would create and support green energy jobs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and would keep electricity bills affordable as the U.K. transitions to net zero emissions by 2050.

The white paper notes that the U.K. will generate emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see "overwhelmingly decarbonized power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat."

The white paper builds upon the U.K. prime minister’s 38-page Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which was issued on November 18.

Texas congressman weighs in on Yucca Mountain

December 14, 2020, 12:12PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Burgess

The U.S. Congress has failed to uphold its promise to fully fund Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, as a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel, Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R., Texas) writes in an op-ed article published on December 8 in the Dallas Morning News.

More than three decades after passing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Congress has yet to fully fund the Yucca Mountain Project. Burgess points out that while some countries have found success with reprocessing spent fuels, the fission process will always produce some amount of material that must be safely disposed, making it necessary to find a permanent solution.

Popular Mechanics takes the wind out of renewables study

October 9, 2020, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A wind farm in East Sussex, England, is flanked by 400-kV power lines from the Dungeness nuclear power plant. Photo: David Iliff/Wikimedia Commons

A paper out of the University of Sussex that correlates the carbon output of 123 countries with their nuclear power programs has received a critical look from Popular Mechanics, which takes to task some of the researchers’ premises in an article by Caroline Delbert.

In the paper, the researchers make the claim that nuclear and renewable energy programs do not tend to coexist well together in national low-carbon energy systems but instead crowd each other out and limit effectiveness. Delbert, however, points out that suggesting that nuclear power plants don’t play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions is “wild and baseless.”