On October 21, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight & Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing titled “Judicious Spending to Enable Success at the Office of Nuclear Energy.” A recording of the hearing is available here. Key witnesses at the hearing included Dr. Katy Huff, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Todd Allen, Department Chair of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan, Mr. Scott Amey, General Counsel and Executive Editorial Director, of the Project on Government Oversight, and Hogan Lovells Partner, and blog author, Amy Roma.
Amy’s testimony from the House Subcommittee hearing can be found here. Amy’s current appearance follows testimony she provided to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in March 2021, as well as an testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in August 2020.
As explained in Amy’s testimony, the benefits of nuclear power include—
- U.S. economic interests, including creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and enabling the U.S. to participate in a robust market of nuclear trade.
- Climate change goals, by providing over half of the U.S. carbon-free power and supporting a just transition to clean energy; and
- U.S. national security objectives, by promoting U.S. safety, security, and non-proliferation standards globally, and strengthening U.S. influence abroad.
There are many domestic ventures in next-generation nuclear technologies and new opportunities being created every day. While these endeavors take various forms and incorporate different advanced designs and technology, one common theme is the robust list of benefits advanced nuclear can provide the U.S. if adequately supported. And we should want to take advantage of our position at the forefront of this technology: the market opportunity is immense and the stakes of climate change are too big.
- Supports the U.S. economy. The nuclear industry supports nearly half a million jobs in the United States and contributes about $60 billion to the U.S. GDP annually.
- Is a non-greenhouse gas emitting power generation source, and a crucial tool in the battle against climate change. As the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, the world needs to take on a “full court press” in decarbonization. The electricity and industrial sectors account for about half of GHG emissions. Nuclear power could be used to decarbonize both.
- It has the ability to provide clean, affordable, and reliable power around the world, helping raise the global standard of living, including for the nearly billion people in the world without access to electricity, and promote energy independence and grid stability.
- The world electricity demand is expected to double globally by 2050, presenting a huge market opportunity for the U.S. in the trillions of dollars; and
- Advanced reactors have a wide range of sizes and applications beyond power generation, in addition to helping decarbonize the electricity and industrial sectors, it can be used to desalinate water, produce hydrogen, and support deep space exploration and space colonies.
We cannot harness this opportunity without the government and industry working together. The U.S. Department of Energy’s support for advanced reactors, including the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Advanced Reactor Program (ARDP), is a critical part of this support. This program was discussed in a prior blog. The demonstration of advanced reactors through cost shared partnerships with U.S. industry, and the three different demonstration pathways the ARDP offers, solidify this opportunity as pivotal to supporting widespread advanced nuclear deployment in the commercial markets both in the U.S. and abroad. Currently the program is being used to support 10 different reactor projects, including two that are expected to be deployed by the end of 2027.
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