Legislation to spur clean energy innovation debuts on Capitol Hill

July 30, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Approximately 40 percent of cumulative carbon dioxide emission reductions needed to meet sustainability targets rely on technologies not yet commercially deployed on a mass-market scale, according to last year’s Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation from the International Energy Agency.



Intent on lowering that percentage, both the Senate and House earlier this week introduced bipartisan legislation to rapidly scale up and diversify emerging energy technologies. On July 27, Sens. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and committee member Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) introduced the Energy Sector Innovation Credit (ESIC) Act, or S. 2475. The credit, according to Crapo’s office, is a technology-inclusive, flexible investment tax credit (ITC) or production tax credit (PTC) designed to promote innovation across a range of clean energy technologies, including generation, energy storage, carbon capture, and hydrogen production.

Oklo awarded $2 million to commercialize advanced fuel recycling

June 29, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
An artist's rendition of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

California-based Oklo has received a $2 million cost-share award from the Department of Energy for the commercialization of advanced fuel recycling capabilities by using electrorefining technology. Oklo is matching $1 million in funds and is partnering with the DOE and Argonne National Laboratory on this public-private partnership, which is intended to help reduce fuel costs for advanced reactor designs while reducing waste by turning used fuel into advanced reactor fuel.

Group calls for NRC licensing fee reform to spur advanced nuclear

May 20, 2021, 2:59PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) yesterday released a report, Unlocking Advanced Nuclear Innovation: The Role of Fee Reform and Public Investment, arguing that a reform of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s user-fee model for new license applicants, combined with more funding for advanced reactor licensing and regulatory infrastructure, will unlock innovation and support U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear energy.

The 38-page report asserts that as currently structured, the NRC’s fee model inhibits carbon-free advanced nuclear innovation in two primary ways: First, it limits the agency’s resources, flexibility, and efficiency; and second, the open-ended costs associated with paying fees impose barriers to new entrants.

Road to advanced nuclear: How DOE and industry collaborations are paving the way for advanced nuclear reactors

April 2, 2021, 8:58AMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

As electric utilities rush to reduce carbon emissions by investing in intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, they often rely heavily on fossil fuels to provide steady baseload power.

More than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated with fossil fuels, especially coal-fired and gas-fired power plants that have the ability to quickly ramp up or ramp down power to follow loads on the electric grid. Most experts agree that even with a radical advancement in energy storage technology, relying exclusively on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels won’t be enough to maintain a stable electric grid and avoid the major impacts of climate change.

To complete the transition to a carbon-free energy future, one key piece of the puzzle remains: nuclear power.

GAIN vouchers connect three companies with national lab experts

March 26, 2021, 12:15PMNuclear News

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced that three nuclear technology companies—Radiant, Oklo, and Lightbridge—will receive GAIN nuclear energy vouchers to accelerate the innovation and application of advanced nuclear technologies. The second set of Fiscal Year 2021 awards was announced March 25.

Advanced reactors take center stage in Popular Mechanics

December 17, 2020, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The January/February 2021 issue of Popular Mechanics hit subscriber mailboxes this week with a stark cover image of a single small reactor under the headline, “Tiny nuclear reactors are about to revolutionize American energy.” The story looks at advanced reactors as a pivotal step to “redeem nuclear’s stature in American energy.”

A good primer: The article does a good job introducing the casual reader to the idea that “bigger is no longer better” and that the future of nuclear power in the United States will most likely be “a combination of traditional large plants and smaller, safer megawatt reactors.”

Advanced reactors, including small modular reactors, show that nuclear is no longer a one-size-fits-all operation, the article notes. The industry now “is all about personalization,” says Ken Canavan, Westinghouse’s chief technical officer, who is quoted in the article. The capacity and scalability of SMRs “is just irreplaceable,” he adds.

The article explains that SMRs, microreactors, and other advanced reactor designs will be able to bring reliable, carbon-free power to small or remote locations, replacing fossil fuel power plants and supplementing the “resource-sucking downtimes left by renewables.”

Petition window opened for Oklo’s microreactor license application

July 1, 2020, 12:25PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced a notice of opportunity to intervene in an adjudicatory hearing on Oklo Power’s combined license application (COLA) for construction of a microreactor at Idaho National Laboratory. The notice, dated June 24, was published in the Federal Register on June 30, opening a 60-day window for petitions.

Aurora’s docketing marks dawn for advanced reactor licensing

June 16, 2020, 12:33PMNuclear News

Artist’s conception of Oklo’s Aurora. (Image: Gensler)

Oklo's 1.5-MWe fast spectrum design known as Aurora is the first advanced non–light-water reactor to be accepted for a licensing review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Both the reactor’s design and the anticipated licensing process mark a major departure from large light-water reactor design and licensing.