Addressing the economics of clean energy

May 10, 2022, 12:01PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit
president@ans.org

I often say that nuclear energy will play a key role in our clean energy future, and I believe that is true. However, it won’t happen automatically. There is no “divine right” behind nuclear energy. We like to admire the fascinating aspects of nuclear technology, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the money, and that’s where we stubbed our toe badly over the past two decades.

The “Nuclear Renaissance” foundered when advanced light water reactors turned out to be much more expensive than their marketing claimed, while alternatives—primarily natural gas—plummeted in price. We tend to point to impediments to nuclear technology, such as overly restrictive licensing requirements and adverse public opinion, but these matter only to the extent of their impact on the bottom line. Again, it comes down to the money.

Huff approved to head Office of Nuclear Energy

May 5, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News

Huff

The Senate has confirmed ANS member Kathryn Huff as the next assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the Department of Energy. The bipartisan vote, held earlier this afternoon, was 80–11.

President Biden selected Huff in January to fill the top spot at NE—a post that has been vacant since Rita Baranwal (also an ANS member) announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Huff came to the DOE in May of last year to serve as principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, going on unpaid leave from her position as an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group.

Senate panel vets Biden’s pick to lead DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy

March 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nominated to lead the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 17.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met yesterday to consider the nomination of Kathryn Huff to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). President Biden selected Huff to fill the top spot at NE in January.

ANS to DOE: HALEU availability program needed ASAP

February 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society is urging the Department of Energy to accelerate the development of an availability program for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

In a letter sent to the DOE earlier this week, ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy state that HALEU availability is critical to the continued development of advanced nuclear technologies.

ANS Winter Meeting: What it will take to “Fuel our Nuclear Future"

December 1, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo began this morning with a Opening Plenary Session chaired by Winter Meeting general chair Amir Vexler, president and chief executive officer of Orano USA. It was an opportunity to both celebrate achievements that are already building a “Nuclear Future” and to identify needs and challenges ahead.

Influential speakers from the U.S. Congress, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute joined ANS president Steven Nesbit and ANS CEO/executive director Craig Piercy to explore key issues associated with the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including supply and demand for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). They didn’t stop there, however. They took questions from an in-person and virtual audience that probed other requirements of a sustainable nuclear future, including fueling a human resources pipeline.

Biden signs infrastructure bill into law

November 16, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Surrounded by members of his cabinet, congressional leaders, and others, President Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—representing a much-needed victory for the president, whose approval rating, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, sits at 41 percent.

The big nuclear world

November 3, 2021, 7:01AMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

As I write this column, it’s late September, and I’m sitting in Dulles Airport waiting for my connecting flight back to Charlotte from Vienna, Austria, where I attended the 65th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It was quite an experience, and I want to share a few observations with you. But first, let me provide some background on the IAEA, which is perhaps not as well-­known to Americans as to those in other countries.

The IAEA was established in 1957 within the United Nations family and as an outgrowth of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous 1953 “Atoms for Peace” speech. It is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field. The objectives of the IAEA’s dual mission—to promote and control the use of the atom—are defined in Article II of the IAEA Statute.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission

October 26, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Depending on where you reside on this nuclear technology world of ours, you may care a great deal, or not at all, about who happens to be sitting on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at any given point in time. If you live on the Department of Energy continent or the Academia continent, it’s probably not a big deal. If you are on the Nuclear Power Plant Operator continent or the Vendor continent (which are actually part of the same landmass), it is quite important. If you are on the NRC island, it’s huge.

The NRC comprises five presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate–confirmed commissioners who are commonly referred to as “the Commission,” and approximately 3,000 federal employees referred to as the staff. The Commission oversees the NRC staff; together, they license and regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety. The president of the United States designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman, the principal executive officer of and the official spokesperson for the agency.

ANS's Nesbit joins panel on Illinois radio program

September 20, 2021, 9:30AMANS News

Nesbit

Following the passage of Illinois’s Energy Transition Act last week, an NPR affiliate in central Illinois hosted a 30-minute panel discussion with three guests to discuss the landmark legislation. The radio program, The 21st Show, invited Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, Mark Denzler, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, and Steven Nesbit, president of the American Nuclear Society, to discuss the different sides of this debate. Two were supporters of the bill, and one was opposed to it.

Background: Because of the “landmark but controversial clean energy bill,” as described on The 21st Show’s website, “Nuclear power plants will be kept online, and solar and wind developments will continue to grow, while coal and natural gas power plants are expected to gradually go off line. In the long term, Illinois's electricity will be produced completely from clean sources by 2050.”

ANS urges Congress to address availability of HALEU for advanced reactor fuel

September 16, 2021, 9:30AMANS News
Click image to enlarge

Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to fuel advanced reactors, the American Nuclear Society declares in a September 14 letter to Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the committee’s ranking member.