Biden administration preparing to invest in infrastructure

March 23, 2021, 7:05AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The New York Times has reported on a set of massive spending proposals under President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda that is adding up to $3 trillion aimed at boosting the economy and combating climate change. The proposals are expected to be presented to Congress in three parts instead of as one massive bill. Details still need to be worked out and the proposals remains in flux, according to the Times.

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.”

States sue Biden over social cost of carbon order

March 12, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Schmitt

Twelve states are suing the Biden administration over the president’s January 20 executive order on climate change. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on March 8 by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, who was joined in the action by his counterparts in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

The reason: The suit objects to a provision in the order that revitalizes the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric—a tool used by regulators to weigh the cost to society, in dollars, of emitting one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The SCC—which takes into account such things as human health, agricultural productivity, property damage from increasingly severe storms, and the value of ecosystem services—had faded into insignificance under President Trump.

FERC to look at grid reliability

February 26, 2021, 9:32AMNuclear News

Spurred by last week’s power grid failure in Texas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday announced that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability. The proceeding, FERC said, will investigate how grid operators prepare for and respond to these events, including droughts, extreme cold, wildfires, hurricanes, and prolonged heat waves.

Manchin voices strong support for nuclear energy

February 26, 2021, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Manchin

Speaking at a U.S. Senate committee meeting this week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) said that continuing support for nuclear energy would be essential in meeting the country’s goals of reducing the emissions that fuel climate change, according to the Politico Pro newsletter.

Details: Manchin, who heads the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was highly critical of anyone suggesting that climate change can be addressed without nuclear energy being in the mix.

Gates highlights nuclear’s role in fighting climate change

February 19, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Gates

Bill Gates is making the media rounds to promote his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, which was released on Tuesday. Along the way, he’s been touting nuclear energy as part of his master plan for battling climate change.

60 Minutes: Gates kicked off the week with an appearance on 60 Minutes on Sunday. During the nearly 15-minute segment with correspondent Anderson Cooper, Gates discussed TerraPower, the company he founded in 2006 that is dedicated to nuclear innovation. “Nuclear power can be done in a way that none of those failures of the past would recur, because just the physics of how it's built,” Gates said, referring to TerraPower’s Natrium reactor. “I admit, convincing people of that will be almost as hard as actually building it. But since it may be necessary to avoid climate change, we shouldn't give up.”

COVID-19 wake-up call: Doomsday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight

January 27, 2021, 12:05PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Bulletin members reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/Thomas Gaulkin

Citing the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board kept the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, remaining as near to midnight as it has ever been.

“The mishandling of this grave global health crisis is a ‘wake-up call’ that governments, institutions, and a misled public remain unprepared to handle the even greater threats posed by nuclear war and climate change,” a press release from the Bulletin stated. The group also cited a lack of progress in 2020 in dealing with nuclear and climate perils as the reason for not moving the Doomsday Clock from its 2020 position.

Climate change needs an Operation Warp Speed

January 18, 2021, 3:12PMNuclear News

The government of the United States should throw its muscle behind ramping up a mammoth, rapid rollout of all forms of renewable energy through Operation Warp Speed, similar to what is being done with COVID-19, Clive Thompson writes in an Ideas column for Wired.

The rollout should include energy sources that we already know how to build—like solar and wind — but also experimental emerging sources such as geothermal and small nuclear, and cutting-edge forms of energy storage or transmission.

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.

ANS Board of Directors votes to retire outdated position statements

November 23, 2020, 3:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society’s Board of Directors on November 19 voted to retire several outdated position statements, as requested by the Public Policy Committee. Among them are Position Statements #37 and #63, dating from 2010, which have been retired for lacking policy recommendations and for being redundant, as other position statements exist with language that better articulates the Society’s stance on those topics.

Opinion: U.K. power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes, and decarbonize industry

November 5, 2020, 12:19PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear reactors have evolved to achieve more than just electricity generation and should be part of the U.K.’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Photo: Royal Society, authors provided

The United Kingdom needs to start rebuilding its capacity to generate nuclear power, according to an opinion article published Wednesday on The Conversation by two members of the U.K.-based Bangor University faculty.

Bill Lee, a professor of materials in extreme environments, and Michael Rushton, a senior lecturer in nuclear energy, argue that the plan by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the U.K. government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, is “strangely silent on nuclear power.”

To fight climate change, accept nuclear energy

October 23, 2020, 12:17PMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The world needs a mix of renewable power sources, including one that can carry on producing power when the others can’t—the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow,” British journalist Jonathan Gornall writes in an opinion piece posted Wednesday on the Asia Times website. Gornall argues that the residents of Suffolk County in the United Kingdom would be better served by the expansion of the Sizewell nuclear power plant than by leaving a wooded area untouched.

IAE, IAEA warn that climate challenge would be much harder without nuclear

October 12, 2020, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Birol

Grossi

“Given the scale and urgency of the climate challenge, we do not have the luxury of excluding nuclear from the tools at our disposal,” the leaders of the International Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in an op-ed article posted on the CNN website last Friday.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IAE, and Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, said that the COVID-19 crisis not only delivered an unprecedented shock to the world economy, it also underscored the scale of the climate challenge the world faces: Even in the current deep recession, global carbon emissions remain unsustainable.

Nuclear power: Are we too anxious about the risks of radiation?

September 30, 2020, 11:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Rowlatt

Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent restatement of the United Kingdom’s commitment to nuclear power, BBC News chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, wrote an article aimed at separating fact from fiction regarding the safety and benefits of nuclear energy.

Among his points, Rowlatt defended the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, examined the data behind deaths from radiation exposure directly caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, and explained that exposure to low levels of radiation is not a major health risk.

IAEA kicks off annual meeting in Vienna

September 22, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

IAEA General Director Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks to socially distanced attendees at the agency’s 64th General Conference plenary session on September 21. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

With special precautions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Atomic Energy Agency commenced its week-long 64th General Conference yesterday with a plenary session that included remarks from Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency’s director general.

“The latest IAEA annual projections show that nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix, with global nuclear electrical capacity seen nearly doubling by 2050 in our high-case scenario,” Grossi said, referring to a recently released agency report. “Climate change mitigation remains a key potential driver for maintaining and expanding the use of nuclear power.”

The IAEA conference runs through September 25.

Can chemical heat pumps for integrated energy systems and industrial applications change the world?

August 28, 2020, 3:27PMNuclear NewsVivek Utgikar, Piyush Sabharwall, and Brian Fronk

Nuclear energy is faced with a number of challenges in a changing energy landscape, driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. Renewable energy technologies are being considered as the solution to climate change and are increasingly being deployed across the world. However, renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, are highly variable, and deployment of these technologies has resulted in significant perturbances in the energy market, raising questions about grid stability and the adaptability of other sources to compete in a changing marketplace that prioritizes renewables. Nuclear plants, well suited for baseload operation, have demonstrated technical capability and flexibility to respond to the fluctuating demand; however, they have also discovered that the economics of such operating mode are not necessarily optimal to their financial security. On the other hand, despite contributing to the carbon emissions, the low cost of abundantly available natural gas and resultant low-cost electricity have exacerbated the economic pressure on nuclear technologies, raising questions about their survival and role in future energy systems1.

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.

Alternate History: What could have been

July 9, 2020, 7:39AMAround the Web

In an entertaining “alternate history” article from The Economist posted online on July 4, a turning point in human history may have occurred on March 6, 1974. That was the day that French prime minister Pierre Messmer made an announcement that “may have saved the world from a dangerous rise in temperatures—an obscure phenomenon known in scientific circles as ‘global warming,’” noted the article. The article, What if nuclear power had taken off in the 1970s? gives a fictional account of what might have happened around the world had nuclear energy been more widely accepted decades ago.

U.S., Poland to talk nuclear later this week

June 22, 2020, 3:08PMNuclear News

Duda

Energy, including nuclear energy, will be among the topics discussed at a June 24 meeting in Washington between President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda, according to remarks by Duda at a June 18 news conference. “We will definitely talk about cooperation between Polish companies and Polish authorities, and companies and authorities from the United States, over conventional nuclear energy and its use,” he said. The meeting will take place just days before Poland’s June 28 presidential election.