Act now: Comments sought on hydrogen tax credit

February 12, 2024, 4:37PMNuclear News
The U.S. Treasury Department building in Washington, D.C.

Two weeks remain for public comments on the proposed language in the new federal rules proposed for hydrogen production tax credits. A public hearing on the regulations is scheduled for March 25, 2024.

While the federal proposal is largely popular among environmentalists and some pronuclear advocates, there are concerns from others that it would cut out opportunities for existing legacy nuclear plants that are well-equipped to convert part of their operations to hydrogen production. The proposed rules require hydrogen to come from newly built resources—the largest obstacle for legacy nuclear sites but further incentive to deploy new reactors—and would permit using natural gas if employed with carbon capture and sequestration.

Hydrogen production tax credits may exclude legacy nuclear

January 8, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News

New guidelines for federal hydrogen production tax credits may leave legacy nuclear plants out in the cold.

The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have released proposed language about who would qualify for the 45V Clean Hydrogen Production Tax Credit created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The public comment period on the proposal is open until February 26.

Laying the foundation for advanced reactors

November 15, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear NewsRichard A. Meserve

Richard A. Meserve

Climate change presents a grave threat, demanding increasing reliance on low-carbon energy over the coming decades. Nuclear power today contributes half of U.S. low-carbon generation, and achievement of climate goals requires the continued operation of existing plants. But there are competitors for low-carbon energy, and nuclear’s further role remains uncertain. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) conducted a study to explore the challenges that must be overcome for widespread new nuclear deployment.1 This article provides my summary of the study, highlighting and abbreviating some of its principal recommendations. Note that the italicized portions of the article are shortened versions of the recommendations in the report.

House approves FY 2024 energy funding bill

November 1, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

With a new speaker finally seated, the GOP-led House of Representatives recently passed the fiscal year 2024 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4394) in a near–party line vote of 210–199. A lone Republican—Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado—opposed the measure, as did all voting Democrats.

A focus where it is needed

September 7, 2023, 6:57AMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen
president@ans.org

The front end of the fuel cycle is getting a lot of attention lately—and it needs it. The war in Ukraine has disrupted the global supply chain for many products, nuclear fuel being one. Several countries have determined that they no longer want to rely on nuclear fuel from Russia. This can be anything from fabricated fuel including uranium, conversion, and enrichment to just enrichment.

Since the Cold War, Russia has been a major supplier of nuclear fuel to the West. Replacing Russia as the main supplier will take both time and money—a fact that has become even more clear as the small modular reactor community grows, and with it, the demand for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for fuel.

The American Nuclear Society has been highlighting the immediacy of the fuel supply problem—which will become a crisis without immediate action—for years. In 2021, ANS wrote to Congress, urging swift action. This year, Nuclear News and ANS’s Nuclear Newswire have run a three-part series by energy writer and consultant Matt Wald on the domestic nuclear fuel shortage. The first article, “On the verge of a crisis: The U.S. nuclear fuel Gordian knot,” was published on Newswire on April 14; the second, “The U.S. nuclear fuel Gordian knot: From global supplier to vulnerable customer,” on May 19. The final piece of the series, “The U.S. nuclear fuel Gordian knot: The uncertain path forward,” was posted on September 1.

Duke seeks approval for SMRs at retiring N.C. coal plant

August 18, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Duke Energy has filed an update to its 2022 state-mandated carbon-reduction plan with the public utility commissions of North and South Carolina, proposing the deployment of small modular reactors at the Belews Creek coal plant in Stokes County, N.C., which is slated for retirement next decade. A similar system would be added at a second site yet to be determined for a total of 600 MW of advanced nuclear. (Both the advanced reactor production tax credit and investment tax credit included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act offer a 10 percent bonus for facilities sited in certain energy communities, including those with retiring coal plants.)

NEI's Benton Arnett: On the nuclear benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act

June 16, 2023, 3:02PMNuclear News

It has been said that the nuclear provisions in the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act are strong enough to be stand-alone bills. The IRA contains various tax incentives for nuclear, to the point where it seems that few in Congress are questioning the importance of nuclear energy to the nation’s power grid and climate goals.

Invested in nuclear

June 8, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt
president@ans.org

This will be my last column in Nuclear News as president of the American Nuclear Society. Where has the year gone? For me and for all of us in the nuclear community it has been an exciting and productive 12 months. We have cheered the decision to extend Diablo Canyon operations, witnessed fuel loading and—hopefully by the time the June issue of NN is out—the start of commercial operations of Unit 3 at Vogtle, and seen significant strides forward in the licensing and deployment of small modular reactors. Internationally, we have watched the progress in the deployment of new units in the United Arab Emirates and other countries, as well as renewed commitment to nuclear in countries including Japan, South Korea, India, and the United Kingdom. All of this has been a result of both public and private investment in and commitment to nuclear.

Recently, the Inflation Reduction Act and other government actions in the United States have provided opportunities for increased investment in nuclear energy, including production tax credits and investment tax credits.

NEI defends eligibility of existing nuclear for clean hydrogen tax credits

May 26, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Energy Institute—along with Constellation, Energy Harbor, PSEG, and Vistra—submitted a 19-page letter on May 24 to the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, taking issue with April 10 comments to those agencies from the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concerning the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean hydrogen production tax credit (Internal Revenue Code sec. 45V). (The Treasury and the IRS released a notice last November requesting public input on the credit’s implementation.)

Granholm talks nuclear and other energy issues with WSJ

May 22, 2023, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Granholm

Secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm recently discussed the future of clean energy with Christopher M. Matthews, the U.S. energy editor for the Wall Street Journal. The May 15 live Q&A focused on Granholm’s perspective on the Biden administration’s policies for decarbonization and energy security. Granholm, who mentioned nuclear briefly at beginning of her remarks, returned to the issue at the end of the half-hour interview. In her answer to Matthews’s question, she addressed nuclear industry incentives, safety and waste concerns, next-generation technologies, and fusion.

Fossil fuels? Matthews opened the discussion by noting President Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) last year, allocating “billions of dollars in tax credits and federal loans to boost green energy, including electric vehicles, hydrogen production, and more.” He added, “At the same time, the administration has called on oil and gas producers to increase drilling to slow inflation and to tamp down energy prices.”

The NASEM report: Laying the foundation for a nuclear-powered, low-carbon grid

May 2, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
This slide on the right from the consensus committee’s public briefing identifies 10 core variables that are important to the success of advanced reactor deployments. (Image: NASEM, Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States)

Richard Meserve, who for more than two years chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Consensus Committee on Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Nuclear Reactors in the United States, introduced its 300-page report on April 27 during a public briefing.

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: Credits where due

April 28, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

Forty years ago, Nuclear News published an analysis of U.S. nuclear plant operations over the three years that followed the Three Mile Island-2 accident in 1979, scrutinizing capacity factors as a measure of how well a reactor was performing compared to its potential. The purpose: “To call attention to the units that have had the best results, and to explore the question: What have the personnel at these top units been doing right?”

A window opens for the U.S. in global nuclear markets

March 13, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
piercy@ans.org

I have always enjoyed reading BP’s annual Energy Outlook. It’s usually the first major energy report of the new year, and while it is written by a fossil fuel company, it’s one with well-documented clean energy intentions. So, assuming you dial in the right “bias correction,” it’s a good hot take on macro energy trends.

The 2023 edition essentially confirms what we have all been thinking: The Russia-Ukraine war has caused “persistent effects” in the global energy landscape, which in turn have accelerated the shift to clean technologies.

Nuclear fares well. Its share of energy generation grows in all three of the report’s scenarios. In fact, only nuclear and renewables see growth as a percentage of total world primary energy between now and 2035.

Constellation starts hydrogen production at Nine Mile Point

March 10, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Constellation’s Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant. (Photo: Constellation Energy)

A nuclear-powered hydrogen production facility has commenced operation at Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point plant, the company announced this week. The facility is the first of its kind in the United States to generate hydrogen using nuclear power, courtesy of the New York plant’s two boiling water reactors, the 620-MWe Unit 1 and 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

Reflections on a year in D.C.

January 26, 2023, 7:14AMNuclear NewsMatt Marzano

Matt Marzano
2022 ANS Congressional Fellow

Each year, the American Nuclear Society Congressional Fellow enters the halls of the Congress bringing with him or her a unique background and perspective, but also a common interest in shaping policy by drawing on his or her expertise to inform decision makers. For me, crossing that threshold had to wait, as I started my fellowship term amidst a surge in the pandemic. Awaiting the return to in-­person work and drinking from the proverbial firehose in this new role, I quickly realized that effective congressional staffers are those who are able to communicate accurately and concisely, adeptly navigate complex policy issues, and exhibit selflessness and dedication in service of their members’ priorities. As part of the clean air, climate, and energy team for the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), I was fortunate to be surrounded by staffers who demonstrated these qualities and helped smooth a steep learning curve.

Deploy, deploy, deploy: Achieving our climate goals requires nuclear this decade

November 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsJigar Shah

Jigar Shah

The Biden-­Harris administration has committed to decarbonizing the power sector by 2035 and the economy by 2050, while creating good jobs and promoting equity. There’s no question that the lowest-­cost, most reliable grid of the future will require clean, firm baseload power to support intermittent renewable energy.

Nuclear is such a reliable source of firm, flexible baseload power for the grid. Energy mix optimization models show that as penetration of renewables (such as solar and wind) grows, required energy storage capacity also grows, leading to increasing cost competitiveness of dispatchable carbon-­free power sources (including low-­impact hydro, geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage, zero-­carbon fuels like hydrogen, and nuclear). Nuclear power is an essential component of America’s transition to a clean electric grid to maintain reliability, resiliency, and affordability.

Canada proposes tax credits for SMRs

November 11, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Canadian government last week released its 2022 Fall Economic Statement, featuring, among its many proposals, investment tax credits for a variety of clean energy technologies, including small modular reactors.

Fusion is prioritized in net-zero R&D initiative and IRA funds, but fission factors in too

November 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The U.S. ITER Project Office in Oak Ridge, Tenn. U.S. ITER has received $256 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding. (Photo: U.S. ITER)

Just days before COP27 and the U.S. midterm elections, the White House announced $1.55 billion in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding for national laboratories and the launch of a Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative based on a new report, U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals. Out of 37 research and development opportunities identified, fusion energy was selected as one of just five near-term priorities for the new cross-agency initiative. Together, the announcements signal policy and infrastructure support for fusion energy—the biggest chunk of Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) IRA funding went to ITER, via Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and for advanced nuclear technologies to power the grid and provide process heat to hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors.

Constellation planning license renewals for Clinton, Dresden

November 2, 2022, 9:33AMNuclear News
Constellation Energy's Clinton nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

Constellation Energy, owner and operator of the nation’s largest reactor fleet, will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating licenses of the Clinton and Dresden reactors by 20 years, the company announced Monday, adding that it expects to file license applications with the agency in 2024.