Jennifer Call, Meteorologist: When you think of a meteorologist, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many it is your local TV meteorologist delivering a weathercast for the 5 o’clock news, or perhaps a meteorologist at the National Weather Service issuing severe storm warnings. But did you know that utilities rely on meteorologists for daily support?
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration is establishing an Energy Resilient Infrastructure and Climate Adaptation (ERICA) initiative, which will help position it to deal with climate issues. In a recent press release, the NNSA noted that ERICA will help it to meet the requirements of federal legislature and executive orders, along with the DOE’s climate adaptation, energy resilience, and sustainability goals in support of the agency’s national security missions.
The initiative was outlined in President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request for the DOE.
Notwithstanding the snubbing of nuclear in its recently released Green Bond Framework, the Canadian government is showing support for small modular reactors in its 2022 budget plan, which was presented to the House of Commons by the minister of finance, Chrystia Freeland, on April 7.
According to the Canadian Nuclear Association, “This is the first documented government policy that provides explicit financial support for SMRs as a key solution for climate change.”
The U.S. and Latvian governments announced last week a new partnership under the Biden administration’s Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.
Launched in April of last year, the FIRST program is designed to deepen strategic ties, support energy innovation, and advance technical collaboration with partner nations on nuclear energy infrastructure.
The U.S.-Latvia FIRST project, according to the State Department, will draw on expertise from across government, industry, national laboratories, and academia for policy and technical exchanges focused on topics such as workforce development, stakeholder engagement, regulatory development, and familiarization with advanced nuclear technologies—including SMRs—to support Latvia’s energy independence and security and climate priorities. Latvia currently has no nuclear power facilities.
What they’re saying: “We are pleased to be working with Latvia to explore what role advanced nuclear technologies can play in Latvia’s future energy mix,” said Bonnie Jenkins, the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security. “The United States and Latvia share a commitment to energy security, combatting climate change, and nonproliferation. The FIRST program provides a framework for our countries to work together to achieve these goals.
The U.K. government has released a new energy strategy aimed at boosting Britain’s energy independence, stabilizing its soaring energy prices, and accelerating the deployment of new nuclear, wind, solar, and hydrogen to mitigate climate change.
At the same time, the 38-page document, British Energy Security Strategy, calls for near-term support for domestic oil and gas, stating, “Net zero is a smooth transition, not an immediate extinction, for oil and gas.” (The United Kingdom in 2019 became the first of the world’s major economies to embrace a legal obligation to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.)
Following through with this strategy, the government says, could result in low-carbon sources generating up to 95 percent of British electricity by 2030.
In its latest report on the climate, released yesterday, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declares the need for immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors for the world to stand a realistic chance of limiting the increase in global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).
The governments of four Canadian provinces—Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Alberta—have published a plan outlining the path forward for the advancement of small modular reactors, which could provide the nation with safe, reliable, and zero-emissions energy and create new export opportunities.
The 60-page document, A Strategic Plan for the Deployment of Small Modular Reactors, builds on an SMR feasibility study conducted under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2019 by the premiers of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan and in 2021 by the premier of Alberta. Prepared by Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, New Brunswick Power, and SaskPower, the study concluded that SMR development would support domestic energy needs, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and position Canada as a global leader in clean technologies and the fight against climate change.
Michigan’s nuclear professionals urge Gov. Whitmer to halt premature closure of Palisades nuclear power plant
The Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society warned of environmental and economic harm if Palisades’ clean energy is lost in May
The combined Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) urged Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers in a letter to reconsider the premature closure of the carbon-free Palisades nuclear power plant in May.
Imagine life without refrigeration, television, clean cooking facilities, clean water, clothes washers, and electric lights. For the roughly 1 billion people around the world without access to electricity, energy poverty is a reality that drastically reduces their quality of life and economic opportunities.
At the same time, fossil fuels currently provide more than 60 percent of electricity and about 80 percent of energy worldwide, even as global carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.
When I came to work at BWX Technologies immediately after getting my degree in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia, I was amazed to see how nuclear energy could be harnessed to both power and protect our country. Since then, I’ve come to see that nuclear energy can do even more. The nuclear industry’s next tasks are to address climate change, propel us to other bodies in the solar system, and provide power when we arrive. Recently developed coated fuels are an enabling technology for these tasks.
An article published on the Carlsbad Current-Argus news site on February 5 presents the wide gap between lawmakers in New Mexico on either side of the issue of temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel in the state.
The article noted that two identical bills—Senate Bill 54 and House Bill 127, which advanced in legislative committees last week—would block a spent fuel storage facility in New Mexico by prohibiting state agencies from issuing permits for such a facility.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the United Nations body established to assess the science related to climate change—is offering experts an opportunity to review the draft version of its Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report.
IPCC assessment reports are published every six to seven years. The Fifth Assessment Report, completed in 2014, provided the main scientific input to the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Interested experts can register for participation in the review here. Registration is open through March 13. The review period ends on March 20.
Like many of you, I have dedicated my career to the advancement of nuclear energy. We chose this path because clean energy changes lives. If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, end energy poverty, develop a U.S. power grid that is secure and resilient, and ensure national security, nuclear must be a significant part of the mix.
But let us acknowledge the reality of our situation. Nuclear power plants continue to close. New reactor projects are too often delayed by cost overruns and red tape. Not having solved the politics for a permanent repository, spent fuel sits at shut-down reactor sites.
We find ourselves perpetually running the hamster wheel, building paper reactors, and grinding our teeth as critics cloud public discourse by regurgitating old fears and clinging to the tired tropes of a bygone era.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) has been in the news over the past week—and that’s good news for the nuclear community. Last week, The Hill reported on Manchin’s support for climate action, and according to Bloomberg News this week, Manchin is “big on nuclear” and supports the tax credits for nuclear power plants included in the administration’s Build Back Better plan.
ANS sponsored 10 young nuclear professionals from the Young Generation Network, a branch of the U.K.’s Nuclear Institute, to attend COP26, the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, held in Glasgow, Scotland, where they helped deliver what was “by all accounts nuclear’s best representation at the COP ever,” according to George Burnett, one of four U.K.-based attendees sponsored by ANS.
The construction of Unit 3 at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant has been completed, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced yesterday on the sidelines of COP26, the high-profile climate confab taking place in Scotland this week and next.
According to ENEC’s announcement, Barakah-3 will now undergo operational readiness activities and is on track to start up in 2023.
The Department of Energy has released its 2021 Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, outlining steps that it will take to ensure its facilities and operations adapt to and are increasingly resilient to the impacts of a changing climate. As announced by the White House last week , the DOE was one of more than 20 federal agencies to release climate change plans, which were developed in response to President Biden’s executive order on tackling the climate crisis, issued in January.
Claiming 3.8 million members and supporters, the Sierra Club is one of the most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. Yet, the Sierra Club says it remains “unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy,” despite the technology’s incredible ability to provide clean, safe, and reliable energy.
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.