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

Here’s What Happens if You Replace Nuclear with Onshore Wind or Solar.

By David Watson   09/13/19  
Solar and wind energy have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years. The upfront price tag for these intermittent sources of energy continues to fall. However, it’s worth looking beyond those capital costs…

Japan’s New Environmental Minister Calls for Closing Down All Nuclear Reactors to Prevent Another Disaster Like Fukushima

09/13/19  
By Jessica CorbettJapan's new environmental minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, called Wednesday for permanently shutting down the nation's nuclear reactors to prevent a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima...

Camden nuclear firm Holtec diversifies into renewable-energy battery systems

09/11/19  
Holtec International, the Camden energy firm primarily focused on nuclear power, has seen the future, and it is in the expanding market for renewable power.

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

09/06/19  
Three Mile Island, in Middletown, Pennsylvania. | ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images Guess what? You don’t have to be “pro-nuclear” or “anti-nuclear.” One of the more vexing and heated debates in climate policy has to do with…

France is still cleaning up Marie Curie’s nuclear waste

09/01/19  
Her lab outside Paris, dubbed Chernobyl on the Seine, is still radioactive nearly a century after her death....

More Blowback on Nuclear Hurricanes

08/26/19  
Things Twitter loves. Advertisements ...

Nuclear energy and alternatives old and new | Letters

08/14/19  
Let’s go for an expansive renewable energy system, backed up with energy efficiency and energy storage, says David Blackburn. Plus Mike Ellwood on the integral fast reactor, and John Barstow on the case for keeping…

Ohio Governor signs coal and nuclear bailout at expense of renewable energy

07/27/19  
Opponents fear the law will send the growing wind and solar industry to neighboring states while Ohio homeowners are stuck boosting old, uneconomical power plants....

Ohio nuclear energy company gets $1.1 billion bailout

07/26/19  
A newly elected state legislature, backed by a dark-money effort linked primarily to the nuclear industry, overcame years of opposition to pass the bailout....

Nuclear power, once seen as impervious to climate change, threatened by heat waves

07/03/19  
The nuclear power sector is often portrayed as resistant to unpredictable weather associated with climate change. Heat waves, however, are punching holes in that narrative.

Nuclear power is helping to drive the climate crisis | Letters

07/02/19  
Linda Rogers says the CBI has its head in the sand over nuclear reactors and Iain Climie wants politicians prepared to fund action to combat the climate emergency Has the Confederation of British Industry got…
CBC

‘It’s the future’: How going small may fuel nuclear power’s comeback

By Jacqueline Hansen   06/25/19  
'It's the future': How going small may fuel nuclear power's comeback Canada is positioning itself up to be a leader in a new age of nuclear power by exploring the use of small modular reactors…

Re-Opening the Nuclear Waste War

06/17/19  
Anti-nuke types are going to have to come to the realization that we have a storage problem with nuclear waste, and keeping it, for instance, on the beach of the Pacific Ocean, or the Great…

Department of Energy change could send radioactive waste to Utah and Texas

By Leia Larsen   06/14/19  
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced plans to downgrade certain types of high-level radioactive waste. The move could help facilities send World War II and Cold War-era waste to shallow disposal sites in…

Nuclear power doesn’t stack up without a carbon price, industry group says

06/03/19  
Nuclear could provide cheap energy but would only be competitive with gas and coal if carbon pollution is priced, nuclear association says Australia would need to adopt a carbon price for nuclear power to be…

IEA rings alarm bell on phasing out nuclear energy

By Geert De Clercq   05/27/19  
A steep decline in nuclear energy capacity will threaten climate goals and power supply security unless advanced economies find a way to extend the lifespan of their reactors, the International Energy Agency said.

HBO’s Chernobyl’s Authenticity a Hit Among Russians

05/26/19  
Those that remember the Soviet era, at least. Slava Malamud on Twitter: I have just finished watching Episode 1 of Chernobyl on @HBO. My perspective is that of someone born and raised in the Soviet…

Former U.S. Nuclear Safety Chief: ‘New Nuclear Is off the Table’

05/23/19  
By Grant SmithFrom 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is…

I oversaw the U.S. nuclear power industry. Now I think it should be banned.

By Gregory Jaczko   05/17/19  
Nuclear power was supposed to save the planet. The plants that used this technology could produce enormous amounts of electricity without the pollution caused by burning coal, oil or natural gas, which would help slow…

Could Nuscale Make Nuclear Smaller, Safer, Cheaper?

05/08/19  
Another contender for new nuclear power. While I wish them all the luck in the world, I have questions. Nothing in the NPR story about potential for proliferation. Nothing about waste. (see below for Nuscale…

In a time of cheap fossil fuels, nuclear power companies are seeking – and getting – big subsidies

By Talia Buford   04/18/19  
Illinois and New York have approved hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-energy incentives for nuclear power companies. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland could be next.
CBC

Nuclear and the climate: the good, the bad and the long-term.

By Desiree A. Rammon   04/10/19  
A skeptic’s analysis of the role of nuclear power in the fight against climate change.

Ohio GOP lines up bill to save FirstEnergy nuclear plants

By Gavin Bade   04/08/19  
Ohio Republicans are reportedly circulating legislation that would provide financial support to FirstEnergy’s two nuclear plants slated for closure in the state.

Rewarding failure: Taxpayers on hook for $12 billion nuclear boondoggle

By Debbie Dooley and Sara Barczak   04/02/19  
There was plenty of fanfare recently at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle nuclear construction site with elected officials, including Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp and all five Georgia Public Service Commissioners, clamoring for photo ops with U.S. Energy…

Rick Perry calls expanding nuclear energy “the real” Green New Deal

By Dino Grandoni   03/25/19  
President Trump loves to talk about coal-fired power: Whenever he travels to West Virginia or Kentucky he boasts of bringing back “beautiful clean coal.”

Plutonium Shipment Highlights Nuclear Contradictions

By Peter Sinclair   03/25/19  
I’ve never been accused (yet) of being a pro-nuclear shill, but we’re going to have to take a clear-eyed view of our nuclear waste problem, whether or not we go forward with the Nuclear industry.

First-of-its-kind US nuclear waste dump marks 20 years

By Susan Montoya Bryan   03/23/19  
In a remote stretch of New Mexico desert, the U.S. government put in motion an experiment aimed at proving to the world that radioactive waste could be safely disposed of deep underground, rendering it less…

There Really, Really Isn’t a Silver Bullet for Climate Change

By Robinson Meyer   03/05/19  
Nuclear power might be part of a Green New Deal, but it can’t meet all U.S. energy needs.

The new, safer nuclear reactors that might help stop climate change

By Leigh Phillips   02/27/19  
Experts might be lining up behind nuclear, but convincing skeptical voters is something else.

Should nuclear plants get a bailout in the name of climate change?

By Paulina Firozi   02/26/19  
In 1979, Pennsylvania was the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in U.S. history. The partial meltdown of a reactor at Three Mile Island launched a wave of antinuclear sentiment that eventually led…

Does clean energy include nuclear? Pennsylvania is latest state to debate

By Marie Cusick   02/18/19  
Some environmental groups see a proposed nuclear power plant bailout as an opportunity to boost clean energy, too. Clean energy advocates in Pennsylvania are weighing whether to throw their support behind a proposed bailout for…

In Illinois, potential plant closures reignite nuclear debate

By Jeffrey Tomich / Energywire   02/14/19  
A day after Exelon Corp. CEO Chris Crane had a White House meeting with President Trump, a pair of Illinois Republicans are seeking their own sit-down with the utility executive to discuss what has become…

Is nuclear power worth the risk?

By Nathanael Johnson   01/22/19  
These five people changed their minds about nuclear power. Are you next?

‘Bright Future’: New book argues that nuclear power is worth another look

By Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media   01/08/19  
Reducing global warming is a huge challenge. But Joshua Goldstein, Professor Emeritus at American University, says it’s not impossible. The authors say coal is a bigger threat.

California Wildfire Likely Spread Nuclear Contamination From Toxic Site

By Dahr Jamail   11/26/18  
The fire may also have released large amounts of radiation and toxins into the air after burning through a former rocket engine testing site where a partial nuclear meltdown took place nearly six decades ago.

California Wildfire Likely Spread Nuclear Contamination From Toxic Site

By Dahr Jamail   11/26/18  
The fire may also have released large amounts of radiation and toxins into the air after burning through a former rocket engine testing site where a partial nuclear meltdown took place nearly six decades ago.

Report: New England’s Nuclear Plants Will Be Key To Fighting Climate Change

By Annie Ropeik   11/13/18  
A new report suggests New Hampshire's Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant will be essential to curbing the effects of climate change in the coming years. Seabrook and Millstone Station in Connecticut will be the only two…

The Nuclear Power Dilemma: Declining Profits, Plant Closures, and the Threat of Rising Carbon Emissions

By Steve Clemmer, Jeremy Richardson, Sandra Sattler, Dave Lochbaum   11/01/18  
For decades, nuclear power has provided most of the nation’s carbon-free electricity. However, the owners have shut down many nuclear plants in the last five years or announced plans to close them well before their…

The Nuclear Power Dilemma

10/09/18  
Nuclear power is the single largest source of low-carbon electricity in the United States. In 2017, some 99 nuclear reactors operating at 60 plants provided 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Fusion start-ups hope to revolutionize energy in the coming decades

By Katherine Bourzac   08/06/18  
Martin Greenwald stands in a windowless control room at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holding a heavy, thick cable in his left hand. Pinched between his right index finger and thumb is a thin strip of…

New Jersey Takes a Big Step Toward Renewable Energy (and Nuclear Gets Help, for Now)

By Nick Corasaniti and Brad Plumer   04/12/18  
New Jersey significantly altered the future of its energy sector on Thursday, passing two bills that set ambitious goals for expanding renewable power and curtailing greenhouse gases in the state. The bills, which require power…

America’s Secret Ice Base Won’t Stay Frozen Forever

America’s Secret Ice Base Won’t Stay Frozen Forever   02/22/18  
Climate change is turning a Cold War project into an environmental hazard.

New Jersey Takes a Big Step Toward Renewable Energy (and Nuclear Gets Help, for Now)

By Nick Corasaniti and Brad Plumer   02/12/18  
New Jersey significantly altered the future of its energy sector on Thursday, passing two bills that set ambitious goals for expanding renewable power and curtailing greenhouse gases in the state.

Legendary Climate Scientist Likes a GOP Proposal on Global Warming

By Annie Sneed   04/10/17  
James Hansen, the “father of climate change awareness,” wants the same carbon fee–and-dividend strategy proposed by Republicans

Nuclear Power Must Make a Comeback for Climate’s Sake

By Gayathri Vaidyanathan   12/04/15  
James Hansen and other climate scientists argue for more reactors to cut coal consumption

Green New Deal is already sparking debate over nuclear energy

By Dino Grandoni   02/11/19  
As Democrats last week rolled out their long-awaited Green New Deal, one of the plan's lead sponsors also released a fact sheet to explain in plain English how the United States could drive down to…

In his climate change quest, Bill Gates tries resetting after nuclear energy setback

By Amy Harder   07/15/19  
The Microsoft co-founder has focused much of his time lately on climate change and energy innovation. In an exclusive interview with Axios, Gates said that setbacks he is facing with TerraPower, a nuclear technology firm…