NUCLEAR

NUCLEAR

For the last 30 years, nuclear power has consistently provided around 20 percent of annual electricity generation in the United States, and half of the country’s carbon-free energy. But while efficiency updates increase output, allowing fewer reactors to provide the same amount of electricity, the average nuclear reactor is almost 40 years old and more than a dozen have been shuttered. Just one new reactor has come online since 1996, though two more are expected in by 2022. For a host of reasons, the legacy of nuclear power in the United States includes years-long delays in construction, power plants abandoned before they were even completed, and massive cost overruns that are passed on to the public.

Early in 2020, though, the federal Department of Energy announced its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which calls for construction of two new prototype nuclear reactors within seven years. It may or may not happen, depending on who one asks: as the cost of renewable energy continues to fall and natural gas remains abundant and inexpensive, new nuclear reactors simply may not be cost-competitive.

Additionally, in April 2020, the DOE announced its Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership, which includes a plan to increase domestic uranium mining and establish a national uranium reserve.

The coming decade will be pivotal to nuclear power’s future in the United States. Supporters cite climate change as one very important reason to ramp up construction of new reactors, as it is ever more critical to prevent the greenhouse gases which burning still more fossil fuels would produce. Opponents point to concern about the security of nuclear material in an age of terrorism, the very long-term storage of radioactive waste (thousands of years), and the fear of an accidental release of radiation, as happened in Japan in 2011, in the former Soviet Union in 1986, and in Pennsylvania in 1979.

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Mapped: Nuclear Reactors in the U.S.

09/24/22
The United States is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, representing more than 30% of the world’s nuclear power generation. America has 92 reactors in operation, providing about 20% of the country’s electricity. The…

Consent-Based Siting

08/02/22
Management of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is the Department of Energy’s responsibility. This includes finding sites to store and dispose of the spent nuclear fuel. DOE is committed to a…

What is Nuclear Fusion?

03/31/22
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two light atomic nuclei combine to form a single heavier one while releasing massive amounts of energy. Fusion reactions take place in a state of matter called plasma…

Critique of NYSERDA’s Draft Plan

03/10/22
This document is a critique of the “New York State Climate Action Council’s Draft Scoping Plan” prepared by NYSERDA with the assistance of E3 and Abt Associates, herein called the NYSERDA Draft Plan.

Recycle Nuclear – “Waste to Energy Now” !

03/10/22
After 50 years of Earth Day efforts, let’s actually try something that works. If You Want Different Results, You Have to Try Different Approaches! If we are still trying to solve the clean air problem…

Backgrounder on the Three Mile Island Accident

11/05/21
The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, although its small radioactive…

What is nuclear waste, and what do we do with it?

11/05/21
Like all industries and energy-producing technologies, the use of nuclear energy results in some waste products. There are three types of nuclear waste, classified according to their radioactivity: low-, intermediate-, and high-level. The vast majority…

A Nuclear Innovation Company

11/01/21
With the growing demand for electricity, TerraPower entered the nuclear energy arena because its founders saw clean energy as the pathway to lift billions out of poverty. The company has since expanded that vision to…

Putting Nuclear Power In Perspective: An Interview with David Watson

10/07/21
"Beating climate change is hard enough without taking away one of the best low-carbon tools we have. It’s time to talk about nuclear." --David Watson

Storage and Disposal of Radioactive Waste

05/01/21
Most low-level radioactive waste (LLW) is typically sent to land-based disposal immediately following its packaging for long-term management. This means that for the majority (~90% by volume) of all of the waste types produced by…

How Advanced Nuclear Got on the Map

04/08/21
Advanced nuclear could play a critical role in getting the domestic and global electricity sector to net-zero emissions by 2050, decarbonizing industrial processes, and producing green hydrogen. These contributions from new nuclear technologies are possible,…

Nuclear Power is the Most Reliable Energy Source and It’s Not Even Close

03/24/21
Nuclear energy is America’s work horse. It’s been rolling up its sleeves for six decades now to provide constant, reliable, carbon-free power to millions of Americans. Just how reliable has nuclear energy been? It has…

Civilian Nuclear Power

02/22/21
A Report to the president-1962

Nuclear Energy Institute

08/24/20
What can get D.C. politicos and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, environmentalists and business leaders, conservatives and liberals, national security experts and celebrities to finally agree? Nuclear energy provides nearly 20 percent of America’s electricity, all without…

Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

08/14/20
Advanced nuclear energy systems hold enormous potential to lower emissions, create new jobs, and build an even stronger economy. The Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) will speed the demonstration of advanced reactors through cost-shared partnerships with U.S.…

The Health and Environmental Impact of Uranium Mining

06/26/20
Nuclear is an efficient and powerful energy source with life cycle carbon emissions that are as low as some renewable sources. While not as popular as liquid and coal, nuclear power plants still generate a…

Three Mile Island Accident

03/01/20
In 1979 at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in USA a cooling malfunction caused part of the core to melt in the #2 reactor. The TMI-2 reactor was destroyed. Some radioactive gas was released…

Whatisnuclear.com

02/21/20
We are a group of nuclear engineers hoping to help the world learn some interesting and important information about nuclear energy. We find ourselves explaining things like waste recycling and passive safety over and over…
Vox

A beginner’s guide to the debate over nuclear power and climate change

12/19/19
Guess what? You don’t have to be “pro-nuclear” or “anti-nuclear.”

People’s Summary of Roadmap to Nowhere: The Myth of Powering the Nation with Renewable Energy

12/03/19
Climate change activists seeking alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels have been buoyed by the studies of Mark Jacobson and his colleagues at Stanford University, who have developed what they believe are feasible carbon-free…
gtm

How the US Nuclear Debate Transcends Traditional Party Lines

08/22/17
Democrat and Republican policy experts weigh in on how to value reliable and low-carbon energy resources.

MORE NEWS

EU proposes rules to label some gas and nuclear investments as green

By Kate Abnett   02/02/22  
Investments in some gas and nuclear power plants would be labelled as sustainable under rules proposed by European Commission on Wednesday, a plan that has split countries and investors, and which some lawmakers will attempt…

Save Clean Energy

02/01/22  
We are some of the living scientist.....

In Georgia, Bloated Costs Take Over a Nuclear Power Plant and a Fight Looms Over Who Pays

By James Bruggers   01/21/22  
Ballooning cost overruns and construction delays at Georgia Power Co.’s Vogtle nuclear project threaten to cost the state’s electricity consumers billions of dollars in the decades to come, a new think tank report concludes.

The growing financial support for nuclear energy

By Ben Geman   01/21/22  
Investment in nuclear energy is slated to rise in the next couple of years as countries "seek greener, low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels," the consultancy Rystad Energy said in a new analysis. By the numbers:…

3 Reasons Nuclear Power Has Returned to the Energy Debate

By Jason Bordoff   01/03/22  
If you still needed proof that nuclear energy has returned to the conversation after decades of disfavor, it came with an unexpected celebrity boost last month. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Canadian singer Grimes…

Opinion: Germany is closing its last nuclear plants. What a mistake.

By The Editorial Board   01/01/22  
A little more than 10 years ago, the world held its breath as Japanese authorities struggled to contain an accident that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station following a major earthquake.

After years of doubts, hopes grow that nuclear fusion is finally for real and could help address climate change

By David Abel   12/22/21  
It’s been compared to everything from a holy grail to fool’s gold: the ultimate solution to clean, readily available energy or an expensive delusion diverting scarce money and brainpower from the urgent needs of rapidly…

Is nuclear energy green? France and Germany lead opposing camps.

By Rick Noack   12/18/21  
When President Emmanuel Macron announced the revival of nuclear energy in an address to the nation last month, residents of a small town in eastern France initially thought they had misheard him.

Could Someone Please Help the Biden Administration Store All This Nuclear Waste?

By Brian Kahn   12/02/21  
The federal government has restarted a search for towns that will volunteer to be temporary homes for thousands of tons of nuclear waste.

Op-Ed: California needs to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open to meet its climate goals

By Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz   11/21/21  
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is scheduled to close when its federal 40-year license expires in 2025 — marking the end of nuclear power generation in California. This schedule was set in a complex…

A New Generation of Nuclear Reactors Could Hold the Key to a Green Future

By Andrew Blum   11/16/21  
On a conference-room whiteboard in the heart of Silicon Valley, Jacob DeWitte sketches his startup’s first product. In red marker, it looks like a beer can in a Koozie, stuck with a crazy straw. In…

Is it green, or forever toxic? Nuclear rift at climate talks

By The Associated Press   11/04/21  
Deep in a French forest of oaks, birches and pines, a steady stream of trucks carries a silent reminder of nuclear energy’s often invisible cost: canisters of radioactive waste, heading into storage for the next…

Nuclear Energy Industry Angles for Bigger Role in Washington State and US as Climate Change Accelerates

By Hal Bernton and The Seattle Times   11/03/21  
COLUMBIA GENERATING STATION, BENTON COUNTY, Washington—Clad in yellow suits, three workers took position on a steel bridge inside the concrete reactor building of Washington’s only nuclear power plant.

U.S. is urged to do its part in cleanup of nuclear waste

By Susanne Rust   10/25/21  
For months, U.S. refusal to accept responsibility for a leaking dome of radioactive waste in the Marshall Islands has complicated negotiations with the Marshallese government on an international compact viewed as crucial to blunting Chinese…

DOE commits $20M to create clean hydrogen from nuclear power with Palo Verde project

By Scott Van Voorhis   10/12/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday unveiled plans to spend $20 million on research into the production of clean hydrogen from nuclear power. The money will help pay for a demonstration project by PNW…

In Global Energy Crisis, Anti-Nuclear Chickens Come Home to Roost

By Ted Nordhaus   10/08/21  
For years, the proponents of wind and solar energy have promised us a green future with electricity too cheap to meter, new energy infrastructure with little environmental impact on the land, and deep cuts in…

Five Minutes with Joe Heffernan on Nuclear Energy

By Ed Newman   10/06/21  
I was first awakened to the possibilities of nuclear energy through a series of Tweets by Michael Shellenberger last year. Throughout his career Shellenberger has been quite vocal with regard to climate issues and environmental…

Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change?

By Rivka Galchen   10/04/21  
Let’s say that you’ve devoted your entire adult life to developing a carbon-free way to power a household for a year on the fuel of a single glass of water, and that you’ve had moments,…

Four takeaways from the 2021 World Nuclear Industry Status Report

By Dawn Stover   10/01/21  
Although there are 23 fewer nuclear reactors in the world today than at the 2002 peak of 438, the past year saw a small uptick in the number of reactors operating worldwide and a corresponding…

State, federal actions show growing push for a nuclear role in reaching net zero emissions

By Herman K. Trabish   09/28/21  
Nuclear power advocates are increasingly emphasizing the value of existing but financially struggling U.S. nuclear plants in curbing carbon emissions and addressing climate change.

Nuclear Is the Bastion of Pennsylvania’s Newest Climate Action Plan

By Sonal Patel   09/23/21  
Pennsylvania, a major power producer that relied on fossil fuels for 66% of its net power generation in June, plans to maintain its nuclear generation at current levels until it can ramp up other carbon-free…

What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

By Peter Sinclair   09/14/21  
Does the potential of small modular nuclear reactor technology make it a viable approach to helping solve climate change challenges not fully met by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar?

The Grassroots Movement that Saved One-Third of Illinois’ Clean Electricity

By Eric Meyer   09/14/21  
Today marks a massive victory for the United States pro-nuclear movement as key laws were passed in the Illinois legislature that secure the futures of the Byron and Dresden Nuclear Plants.

Illinois Senate passes bill to save nuclear plants, sends to House

By Timothy Gardner   09/02/21  
The Illinois Senate passed a bill early on Wednesday that aims to prevent two nuclear power plants from shutting this autumn, sending the legislation to the House where it was uncertain if the chamber would…
BBC

US lab stands on threshold of key nuclear fusion goal

By Paul Rincon   08/18/21  
The National Ignition Facility uses a powerful laser to heat and compress hydrogen fuel, initiating fusion.

Why Anyone Concerned about Climate Change Should Support Nuclear Power

By Leonard Rodberg   08/12/21  
Though many environmentalists and climate change advocates reject nuclear power, without this reliable source of clean power, we will be unable to meet the climate challenge successfully. Three propositions underlie this statement:

Flipping the Script on Nuclear Waste: Why We Need Nuclear Energy Innovation

By Alan Ahn   08/07/21  
Spent nuclear fuel, although commonly considered “waste,” contains untapped energy that can be accessed through advanced technologies that are rapidly coming to the fore. These innovations can thus revolutionize how we view nuclear waste, thereby…

State, federal efforts too late to save Exelon’s Illinois nuclear plants, CEO Crane says

By Lulia Gheorghiu   08/06/21  
Exelon Generation has two Illinois nuclear plants slated for shutdown and decommissioning this fall, despite recent federal proposals for both a tax credit and a fund for existing nuclear plants, and rising power prices in…

Utilities Eye Mini Nuclear Reactors as Climate Concerns Grow

By Elena Shao   08/02/21  
U.S. utilities are looking to miniature nuclear reactors, as they seek a steady energy source that can help reduce the carbon emissions linked to climate change.

The US Army tried portable nuclear power at remote bases 60 years ago – it didn’t go well

By Paul Bierman   07/20/21  
In a tunnel 40 feet beneath the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, a Geiger counter screamed. It was 1964, the height of the Cold War. U.S. soldiers in the tunnel, 800 miles from the North…

U.S. nuclear regulator approves fuel for next-generation reactors

By Timothy Gardner   06/15/21  
The U.S. nuclear power regulator has approved production of uranium fuel that is far more enriched than fuel for conventional nuclear power plants, the company aiming to make the material said on Monday.

Nuclear fusion has attracted more than $2 billion in VC and private funding

By Eric Wesoff   06/11/21  
"I believe we are at the dawn of the fusion age," said Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies, a company working to develop commercial fusion power. For more than 70 years, nuclear fusion's massive energy-generation…

Advanced nuclear tech in ‘early innings’ but essential to widespread decarbonization, utility execs say

By Lulia Gheorghiu   06/08/21  
Utility CEOs are keeping the door open for new nuclear development while focusing on extending the life of their existing nuclear fleets, according to a Monday panel hosted by the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Fate of Illinois nuclear plants in balance after PJM auction fail and stalled subsidy plan

By Scott Voorhis   06/07/21  
Exelon Corp. reports that three of its nuclear plants in Illinois failed to clear the PJM Interconnection's capacity auction last week.Exelon, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed that its Bryon,…

Bill Gates’ next generation nuclear reactor to be built in Wyoming

By Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici   06/03/21  
Billionaire Bill Gates' advanced nuclear reactor company TerraPower LLC and PacifiCorp (PPWLO.PK) have selected Wyoming to launch the first Natrium reactor project on the site of a retiring coal plant, the state's governor said on…

U.S. senators introduce nuclear power credit to help curb emissions

By Timoty Gardner   05/27/21  
Three Democratic U.S. senators introduced a measure on Wednesday to boost existing nuclear plants to a wide energy tax reform bill, after the Biden administration pushed for such a change to help curb carbon emissions.

The Great Turning Point for Humankind: What if Nuclear Energy had not been Abandoned in the 1970s?

By Ugo Bardi   05/25/21  
I remember having read Walt Disney’s book, “Our Friend, the Atom,” (1957) in the 1960s when I was, maybe, 10 years old. That book left a powerful impression on me. Still today, when I visualize…

California’s next climate challenge: Replacing its last nuclear power plant

By Sammy Roth   05/18/21  
The twin reactors along California’s Central Coast were nearing completion, and tens of thousands of people had gathered to protest. It was 1979, just months after a partial nuclear meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island,…

Our Biggest Source of Clean Energy Is on the Line. We Have a Short Window to Save It.

By Josh Freed   05/15/21  
We’ve reached a critical juncture in America’s nuclear energy future. Put differently, we’re in make-or-break territory for reaching net-zero by 2050. That’s because nuclear still accounts for more than 50% of our carbon-free power, and…

Biden backs subsidies to keep nuclear plants alive, energy chief says

By Josh Siegel   05/06/21  
The Biden administration is “eager” to work with Congress on subsidizing economically struggling nuclear plants to keep them from retiring, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Thursday. “The DOE has not historically subsidized plants, but this…

Exelon CEO: Replacing nuclear with renewables, storage to meet carbon goals could cost Illinois $80B

By Larry Pearl   05/06/21  
Achieving the same amount of zero emissions power through renewables and storage would be 12 times more expensive than continuing to run Illinois' nuclear plants and cost the state's consumers $80 billion, Exelon CEO Chris…

Inside Clean Energy: Indian Point Nuclear Plant Reaches a Contentious End

By Dan Gearino   05/06/21  
At 11 p.m. on April 30, employees shut down the nuclear reactor at Indian Point Energy Center Unit 3, marking the end of a power plant that has been an essential part of New York…

U.S. eyes nuclear reactor tax credit to meet climate goals -sources

By Timothy Gardner & Jarrett Renshaw   05/05/21  
The White House has signaled privately to lawmakers and stakeholders in recent weeks that it supports taxpayer subsidies to keep nuclear facilities from closing and making it harder to meet U.S. climate goals, three sources…

NRC backs Dominion Energy’s application to extend Surry’s two nuclear reactor units by 20 years

By Andrew Cain   05/04/21  
The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has backed Dominion Energy’s application to extend operations at its Surry Power Station by 20 years, into the 2050s. The move means that Dominion’s nuclear power plant in…

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S.

By Lois Parshley   05/04/21  
President Joe Biden has set ambitious goals for fighting climate change: To cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to have a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. The plan requires electricity generation—the easiest…

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S.

By lois Parshley   05/04/21  
President Joe Biden has set ambitious goals for fighting climate change: To cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to have a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. The plan requires electricity generation—the easiest economic sector…
EIA

New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant closes after 59 years of operation

By Slade Johnson   04/30/21  
The Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) permanently stopped generating electricity on April 30, 2021, when it retired its last operating nuclear reactor, Unit 3, earlier than originally planned. The Indian Point nuclear power plant…

Nuclear plant north of New York City shutting down

By John Bowden   04/29/21  
A nuclear plant just north of New York City will close permanently on Friday, ending a years-long battle over its fate.

35 Years Later, Studies Show a Silver Lining From Chernobyl

By Sara Harrison   04/26/21  
ON THIS DAY in 1986, workers ran a safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. But the test went awry, starting a fire in a reactor and leading to one of…

Life goes on at Chernobyl 35 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident

By Jennifer Kingsley   04/26/21  
Every April 25, as night deepens, people gather around an angel that stands atop a stone plinth in the northern Ukrainian town of Chernobyl. The angel’s entire body is made of steel—mostly rebar that makes…