Reports Envision a Leading Role for Nuclear in this Administration | Hogan Lovells
On February 16, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) released a report designed to assist the Biden administration in helping the nuclear industry amid the president’s ambitious climate change agenda. The report, US Advanced Nuclear Energy Strategy for Domestic Prosperity, Climate Action, National Security and Global Leadership, provides detailed recommendations for encouraging advanced reactor development that could receive bilateral support in its implementation. Federal, state and international goals for the further development of nuclear power are discussed.
The next day, February 17, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) released a report on Public Investment in Nuclear Research and Development that added $ 10.3 billion in funding to demonstration reactors and streamlining projects by 2030 the commercialization of advanced nuclear facilities. While the NIA and PGS reports provide a roadmap for advanced reactor development, the purpose of the ANS report is to advocate increased federal investment in nuclear facilities.
Here are some recommendations from the NIA / PGS report:
- The executive and legislative branches should coordinate to prioritize advanced reactors. Legislative action should provide adequate funding for US Department of Energy (DOE) activities, finance demonstration projects aimed at commercialization, incentivize unique nuclear power plants (e.g., tax credits, grants, loan guarantees), prioritize research, and finance development (F. & E) and support for university research.
- Industry should develop business models applicable to nuclear energy (e.g. direct sales of electricity, project finance, etc.), empower the workforce through diversity and inclusion and create attractive jobs, work to lower costs for consumers and ensure that global security reactors meet requirements.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should aim to develop a final regulation for Part 53 by October 2024, ensuring that licensing for advanced reactors is affordable and timely. The NRC should also address challenges for certain non-electrical applications.
- Congressional and regulatory agencies should provide support for High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel and the commercial opportunities associated with it, while also considering the impact of uranium mining.
- States can include advanced nuclear power in their renewable energy standards and remove restrictions that prevent advanced nuclear power plants from being built.
- The US should work with the international community to coordinate multinational deals and develop an export control framework that ensures non-proliferation obligations. It should also assess Russia and China’s nuclear portfolios to identify challenges and lessons learned.
- Congress should repeal the foreign ownership, control, or rule (FOCD) provisions in the Atomic Energy Act for US allies to encourage foreign investment in US nuclear power.
Below are some highlights from the ANS report:
- The report recommended doubling R&D funding for nuclear power plants to allow for advanced reactor development. The recommended funding ($ 10.3 billion over 9 years) was found to be only 0.6% of President Biden’s climate plan.
- Nuclear should receive further funding for its clean energy, national security and job creation promises. Nuclear power plants generate 54.8% of the carbon-free electricity and prevent 505.8 tons of CO2 emissions. Nuclear also contributes $ 60 billion to GDP and $ 42.4 billion annually to US national security.
- Federal funding is needed to cut costs, accelerate deployment, and further promote private investment, which has already increased due to market demand for low-carbon energy. Nuclear energy is the only energy source that fits into utility energy portfolios while still ensuring grid reliability and affordability.
- The market opportunities for advanced nuclear power are growing. For example, nuclear reactors can be a source of hydrogen production and the DOE is currently exploring this option.
- The US would fall behind countries like Russia and China if it lacks adequate funding. Russia and China are leaders in nuclear reactor exports, and the US has no foreign orders in a market valued at $ 500-740 billion for the next decade. Without additional funding from US public-private partnerships, the US risks losing its voice on global norms for nuclear safety and non-proliferation.
- Nuclear power also powers a number of other industries, such as the medical industry, which relies on radioisotopes to treat cancer, and NASA, which uses microreactors to explore space.
- Each phase of nuclear R&D must be funded, including innovation (e.g. technological advances, economic research and social acceptance of nuclear technology, etc.), development (e.g. providing the necessary data for the commercial use of fuels), Demonstration (e.g. identifying opportunities for cost reduction, answering regulatory questions, etc.) and provision (e.g. support for HALEU).
Both reports highlight the important role nuclear power plays in today’s energy sector, which thrives on source diversification, grid reliability and the goal of a carbon-free future.