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.

What is Nuclear Energy? | National Geographic


U.S. Bets on Small Nuclear Reactors to Help Fix a Huge Climate Problem

By Brad Plumer 11/12/23
Towering over the Savannah River in Georgia, the first nuclear reactors built from scratch in the United States in more than 30 years illustrate the enormous promise of nuclear power — and its most glaring…
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First US Small Nuke Project Canceled After Costs Surge 53%

By Will Wade 11/09/23
NuScale Power Corp., the first company with US approval for a small nuclear reactor design, is canceling plans to build a power plant for a Utah provider as costs surge. The move is a major…
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First planned small nuclear reactor plant in the US has been canceled

By John Timmer 11/09/23
Nuclear power provides energy that is largely free of carbon emissions and can play a significant role in helping deal with climate change. But in most industrialized countries, the construction of nuclear plants tends to…
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Democratic Governors Block Bills For New Nuclear Power Plants

By Alexander C. Kaufman 10/21/23
In just the last three months, the Democratic governors of Illinois and North Carolina have vetoed bills to build new reactors in their states, warning that doing so would divert money and attention from a…
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IAEA team gathers marine samples near Fukushima as treated radioactive water is released into sea

By Mari Yamaguchi 10/19/23
A member of the International Atomic Energy Agency team visiting Fukushima for its first marine sampling since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant started releasing treated radioactive wastewater into the sea said Thursday he does…
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New report shows how 80% of America’s retired coal plants could soon become nuclear reactors: ‘An important opportunity’

By Lajja Mistry 10/09/23
A 2022 report by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that 80% of the country’s retired or active coal plants are suitable to host advanced nuclear reactors.
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Holtec International formally launches process to restart Palisades nuclear power plant

By Larry Pearl 10/09/23
Holtec International announced Tuesday the signing of a long-term power purchase agreement between its Palisades Energy subsidiary and Wolverine Power Cooperative, which provides energy to rural communities across Michigan.
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New York State Energy Plan Needs More Balanced Approach

By Keith Schue 09/21/23
As dignitaries from around the world arrive in Manhattan for United Nations climate talks this month, they might wonder what New York is doing for the planet. Will they ponder state energy policy while renting…
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New Data Proves Nuclear Energy Is Safer Than You Think

By Felicity Bradstock 09/02/23
There is now a concerted effort to change the global public perception of nuclear power, as governments worldwide look to rapidly expand their clean energy sources to achieve a green transition. Nuclear power has come…
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Turtles carry signs of humanity’s nuclear history in their shells

By Celia Ford 08/30/23
ON A SPRING day in 1978, a fisherman caught a tiger shark in the lagoon surrounding Enewetak Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the north Pacific. That shark, along with the remains of a…
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Japan releases nuclear wastewater into the Pacific. How worried should we be?

By Lesley M.M. Blume 08/24/23
Japan has started releasing wastewater into the ocean. But this isn’t the kind of wastewater that flows from city streets into stormwater drains. It’s treated nuclear wastewater used to cool damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi…
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Nuclear Power Polling Archive: Decades of Volatile Public Opinion

By Patrick Chase 08/24/23
Nuclear power has been a major component of the American power grid since the late 1960s and public opinion regarding this controversial energy source has ridden a rollercoaster of highs and lows the entire time.…
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Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a key part of the Department’s goal to develop safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options. The advanced SMRs currently under development in the United States represent a variety…

The Future History of Nuclear Fusion

Letter from 2073: Fifty years ago, fusion energy was a ludicrous pipe dream. Now it powers everything. Dr. Tritium takes you back to the pioneers of nuclear prosperity.

Mapped: Nuclear Reactors in the U.S.

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

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?

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

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.

No, nuclear power is not actually ‘dangerous’

The global heating catastrophe being fostered by humanity’s proclivity to burn fossil fuels for energy is an emergency. An all-hands-on-deck emergency. An employ-every-tool-in-the-toolbox emergency. Despite that, a myth persists that blocks humankind’s use of the…

Backgrounder on the Three Mile Island Accident

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?

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

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

"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

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

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

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

A Report to the president-1962

Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

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

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

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…

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

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

How the US Nuclear Debate Transcends Traditional Party Lines

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


Japan releases Fukushima water into the Pacific—is it dangerous?

By Lesley M.M. Blume   08/23/23  
Japan has started releasing wastewater into the ocean. But this isn’t the kind of wastewater that flows from city streets into stormwater drains. It’s treated nuclear wastewater used to cool damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi…
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US scientists achieve net energy gain for second time in nuclear fusion reaction

US scientists have achieved net energy gain in a nuclear fusion reaction for the second time since a historic breakthrough in December last year in the quest to find a near-limitless, safe and clean source…
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America is heavily reliant on Russia for nuclear fuel. Congress might change that.

By Maxine Joselow   08/03/23  
Nearly a year-and-a-half after Russia launched a brutal invasion of Ukraine, Congress appears poised to reduce America’s reliance on Moscow for uranium, the main fuel used by nuclear power plants.
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Barrasso’s Nuclear Fuel Amendment Overwhelmingly Passes Senate

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the passage of his amendment (#999), the Nuclear Fuel Security…
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Healey administration opposes release of waste water from decommissioned Pilgrim nuclear power plant into Cape Cod Bay

By Mike Damiano and David Abel   07/24/23  
The state moved Monday to block Holtec International from discharging radioactive waste water from the decommissioned Pilgrim nuclear power plant into Cape Cod Bay, the latest salvo in a years-long dispute over how best to…
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The case for 1 mSv per day

By Jack Devanney   07/16/23  
Once again I'm done in by the limitations of the substack editor and my WYSIWYG inability. There is a properly referenced PDF of this piece at This is true of most of the Gordian…
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We toured California’s last nuclear power plant. Take a look inside

By Sammy Roth   07/13/23  
Seen from a small dive boat on a foggy June morning, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant hardly looked like an imminent threat to the health and safety of millions of Californians — or a clean…
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The US may soon get its first new source of nuclear fuel in 70 years

By Eric Wesoff   07/12/23  
The U.S. government is committed to bringing an abundance of advanced nuclear reactors to market as part of its decarbonization strategy — but until now, there has been no domestic corporate supply of the specialized…
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The ‘Game-Changing’ Technology The Nuclear Industry Is Betting On For A Revival

By Alexander C. Kaufman   07/07/23  
On a bright, humid afternoon last September, Allen Hickman made the rounds on the floor of a factory that embodies the past, present and future of the nation’s atomic energy industry perhaps more than any…
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Hydrogen, nuclear among winners in last-minute changes to Ohio budget bill

By Kathiann M. Kowalski   07/06/23  
Policies for new utility charges, natural gas, nuclear power promotion and solar energy were scattered throughout the 6,198-page two-year budget bill passed by Ohio lawmakers on June 30. Line item vetoes released in the wee…
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Scientists discover game-changing bacterium that literally eats nuclear waste — here’s how it could protect us from toxins

By Rick Kazmer   07/03/23  
Microbes being studied in the United Kingdom can chow down on toxic nuclear waste — and they don’t get heartburn after dinner.
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The US is getting its first new nuclear reactor in 40 years

By Emily Jones   06/06/23  
The first new nuclear reactor built in the United States in more than 40 years is now up and running in Waynesboro, Georgia. After more than a decade of construction and spiraling costs, Plant Vogtle…
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Nuclear fusion startups set to receive $46 million from the Department of Energy

By Justine Calma   06/02/23  
The Department of Energy is pumping $46 million into eight companies developing nuclear fusion power plants, which has been an elusive clean energy dream for scientists for over half a century. Now, after a big…
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Southern’s first new Vogtle reactor achieves 100% power

Plant Vogtle's Unit 3 has reached 100% power, Southern Co.'s (NYSE:SO) Georgia Power announced Monday, bringing the new reactor closer to commercial operation.
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This startup says its first fusion plant is five years away. Experts doubt it.

By James Temple   05/10/23  
A startup backed by Sam Altman says it’s on track to flip on the world’s first fusion power plant in five years, dramatically shortening the timeline to a carbon-free energy source that’s eluded scientists for…
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US regulators OK spent nuclear fuel facility in New Mexico

By Susan Montoya Bryan   05/09/23  
US nuclear regulators licensed a multibillion-dollar complex to temporarily store tons of spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico from commercial power plants around the nation, a decision likely to be challenged in court. The Nuclear…
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U.S. Support for Nuclear Power Soars

By Akielly Hu   05/09/23  
A Gallup survey released in late April found that 55 percent of U.S. adults support the use of nuclear power. That’s up four percentage points from last year and reflects the highest level of public…
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Should We Be Worried About Nuclear Waste?

Ms. Hilly states that spent nuclear fuel is safe and should be “a chief selling point” for nuclear energy. In fact, it is an extremely hazardous material that requires considerable effort to manage safely and…
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Nuclear Waste Is Misunderstood

By Madison Hilly   04/28/23  
On a visit in February to the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York did something refreshing: She discussed radiation exposure and nuclear waste without fanning fear.…
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This Pioneering Nuclear-Fusion Lab Is Gearing up to Break More Records

By Jeff Tollefson   04/28/23  
Last month, the US National Ignition Facility (NIF) fired its lasers up to full power for the first time since December, when it achieved its decades-long goal of ‘ignition’ by producing more energy during a…
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‘Nuclear Now’ Review: Oliver Stone Makes the Case for Power Plants

By Brandon Yu   04/27/23  
The director’s new documentary considers our complicated relationship to nuclear energy and argues that it is our best hope against climate change....
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New nuclear power could help US climate fight but faces hurdles, report says

By Timothy Gardner   04/27/23  
A next generation of smaller nuclear power plants could help the U.S. reach long term climate change goals but face technical, regulatory and economic hurdles, a report by nonprofit scientific institutions said on Thursday.
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A Nuclear Phase-Out Is Literally A Fatal Mistake

By Will Lockett   04/21/23  
Recently, the echoes of Fukushima, Chornobyl, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki have resonated louder than ever. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine threatened the stability of Chornobyl, and their haphazard assault on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could…
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Will NY rely on nuclear to reach its lofty climate goals?

By Kyle Chouinard   04/17/23  
Just under half a mile separates the south shore of Lake Ontario from Nine Mile Point nuclear facility’s cooling tower, standing at almost 550 feet. A plume of white steam dominates the view of the…
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Will Washington Halt the Global Renaissance of Nuclear Power?

By Ted Nordhaus and Adam Stein   04/08/23  
For anyone hoping to reboot the nuclear power sector as a source of zero-carbon energy in the age of climate change, the news has not been good. On Feb. 28, the staff of the U.S.…
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Sustainable and inclusive growth: A weekly briefing

By Seth Stevenson   03/23/23  
Innovative new designs could accelerate the construction of nuclear power plants. Our weekly digest of McKinsey insights explores that topic and more.
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Germany, Spain push to keep nuclear out of EU renewable energy goals

By Kate Abnett   03/16/23  
Seven EU states including Germany, Spain and Denmark have strengthened their resistance to efforts by France to count nuclear energy towards EU renewable energy targets, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
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To scientists’ relief, key research reactor to restart 2 years after accident

By Adrian Cho   03/15/23  
More than 2 years after an accident that caused a small and fleeting release of radiation, a research reactor that serves as a key source of neutrons for studying materials should soon be back online.…
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Georgia’s Years-Delayed Nuclear Plant Finally Starts Splitting Atoms

By Molly Taft   03/09/23  
The troubled Vogtle plant, which is billions of dollars over budget but will be a key source of carbon-free power, has reached a crucial milestone.
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Nine Mile Point Begins Clean Hydrogen Production

Clean hydrogen production is underway at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Oswego, New York. The facility is the first-of-its-kind in the United States to generate clean hydrogen using nuclear power.
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Can nuclear energy help solve the climate crisis? Here are the pros and cons

By Abby Jackson   03/05/23  
Many people cringe at the mention of nuclear energy, as it elicits mental images of the Chernobyl disaster and satirical commentary on “The Simpsons,” despite the fact that it is relied on more prevalently in…
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Nuclear power is the future: here’s why

By Will Lockett   03/05/23  
I don’t know about you, but I quite like living on planet Earth. Nice, stable weather, plenty of food, and healthy ecosystems make it pretty pleasant. Unfortunately, all of that is set to change over…
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PSEG to consider nuclear plant investments, capitalizing on the IRA’s production tax credits, CEO says

By Stephen Singer   02/22/23  
Public Service Enterprise Group will consider “small but important value-added investments” at its nuclear plants, capitalizing on production tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, President and CEO Ralph LaRossa said Tuesday
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The real obstacle to nuclear power

By Jonathan Rauch   02/07/23  
Replacing fossil fuels is much easier with nuclear power in the equation. And yet the industry, in many respects, looks unready to step into a major role....
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The next generation of US nuclear plants could be tiny but powerful

By Andrew Paul   01/24/23  
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently announced its approval of the designs for a first-of-its-kind small modular reactor (SMR). This could signal a potential shift in the development and integration of next generation power plants…
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U.S. Approves First Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Design

By Molly Taft   01/24/23  
The U.S. has just given the green light to its first-ever small modular nuclear design, a promising step forward for a power source that remains controversial among some climate advocates but is experiencing a popular…
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Nuclear power gets another look in ‘all-of-the-above’ energy approach as climate worries mount

By Stephen Singer   01/20/23  
Nuclear energy is increasingly getting another look by federal and state officials seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and bolster energy security.
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Oliver Stone goes nuclear at Davos

By Andrew Ross Sorkin et al.   01/18/23  
At the World Economic Forum, the provocative filmmaker received a warm reception for his film promoting nuclear power.
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What’s next after the nuclear fusion breakthrough?

By Ognjen Š. Miljanic   12/18/22  
Earlier this week, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) announced a momentous breakthrough in harnessing controlled nuclear fusion. The LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) achieved “ignition” — a fusion experiment that produced more energy than…
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The long road to a fusion-powered future

By Alison Snyder   12/16/22  
The path to powering the world with nuclear fusion energy involves solving key materials science and technology problems. The big picture: This week's announcement of a major fusion reaction advance was a demonstration of the…
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Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough With Blast of 192 Lasers

By Kenneth Chang   12/13/22  
Scientists studying fusion energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced on Tuesday that they had crossed a long-awaited milestone in reproducing the power of the sun in a laboratory.
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Fusion breakthrough sparks hope of unlimited clean power

By Joel Achenbach and Evan Halper   12/13/22  
Federal scientists announced Tuesday that they have created the first nuclear fusion reaction that generated more energy than it took to produce, a major advancement in the worldwide quest for a new source of abundant,…
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From nuclear power to bamboo: The climate solutions at COP27

By Pranshu Verma   11/11/22  
Homes built out of bamboo shoots. Zero-emission hydrogen fuels for cars and jets. Small nuclear reactors to power Africa. Restoring ocean mangroves to store carbon.
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DOE touts nuclear-powered hydrogen production projects with Xcel, Constellation, 4 other partners

By Rod Kuckro   11/10/22  
The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday highlighted plans to fund projects at four nuclear plants to demonstrate the clean production of hydrogen.
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House Republicans to push nuclear power, natural gas at COP27

By Maxine Joselow and Vanessa Montalbano   11/08/22  
House Republicans heading to the United Nations climate conference in Egypt plan to argue that nuclear power and natural gas are essential to meeting global climate goals, the head of the delegation said Monday, even…
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Governments turn attention to nuclear, amid energy price spikes

By James Osborne   10/26/22  
Top officials from nations around the world said Wednesday they were rethinking their decadeslong skepticism toward nuclear power, amid global spikes in oil and natural gas prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a…
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DOE Expects To Start ‘Vitrifying’ Hanford Nuclear Waste Next Year

By Jeff McMahon   10/11/22  
In 2023 the Department of Energy will begin transforming the toxic soup stored in tanks at the Hanford, Wash. nuclear waste site into a more storable glass form, according to the head of DOE’s Office…
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These ‘nuclear bros’ say they know how to solve climate change

By Shannon Osaka   09/30/22  
The typical “nuclear bro” is lurking in the comments section of a clean energy YouTube video, wondering why the creator didn’t mention #nuclear. He is marching in Central California to oppose the closing of the…
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Nuclear Power Still Doesn’t Make Much Sense

By Farhad Manjoo   09/16/22  
Whenever I write about the plummeting costs and growing capabilities of wind power, solar power and batteries, I’m usually met with a barrage of radioactive responses from the internet’s overheated nuclear reactors — social-media-savvy environmental…
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US study assesses potential for coal-to-nuclear conversion

By World Nuclear News   09/14/22  
Hundreds of coal power plant sites across the USA could be converted to nuclear plant sites, providing huge decarbonisation gains as well as bringing tangible economic, employment and environmental benefits to the communities where those…
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