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.

What is Nuclear Energy? | National Geographic

CURRENT NEWS

Second new Georgia reactor begins splitting atoms in key step to making electricity

By Jeff Amy 02/14/24
A nuclear power plant in Georgia has begun splitting atoms in the second of its two new reactors, Georgia Power said Wednesday, a key step toward providing carbon-free electricity.
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Is Nuclear Energy Having a Renaissance?

By Nicole Pollack 02/12/24
For a while there, nuclear energy looked like it was on its way out. After taking off post-World War II, it lost momentum toward the dawn of the 21st century, when sagging public support and…
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Donalds Leads Colleagues In Advocating For Historic American Nuclear Energy Project

01/30/24
Yesterday, Congressman Byron Donalds (R-FL) sent a letter to the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, seeking to expedite the historic revitalization of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant with safe, reliable, and efficient nuclear energy technology.
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Biden administration finalizes a $1.1 billion aid package for California’s last nuclear power plant

01/18/24
President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday finalized approval of $1.1 billion to help keep California’s last operating nuclear power plant running.
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Inside the Nuclear Fusion Facility That Changed the World

By Alejandro de la Garza 01/11/24
Shortly after 1 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 5, 2022, Dave Schlossberg, an experimental physicist at National Ignition Facility (NIF), was woken by a phone call. A fusion experiment using NIF’s massive lasers was…
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DOE docs: Carbon removal proposal bets on rare nuclear reactors

By Corbin Hiar 01/03/24
A climate technology startup aims to suck carbon from the atmosphere using a new type of nuclear power plant that’s never been built in the United States.
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs measure lifting Illinois’ moratorium on new nuclear power plants

By Dan Petrella and Jeremy Gorner 12/08/23
A nearly four-decade moratorium on the construction of nuclear plants in Illinois will end next year under a measure signed Friday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who vetoed an earlier version of the bill.
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22 Countries Pledge to Triple Nuclear Capacity in Push to Cut Fossil Fuels

By Jenny Gross 12/02/23
The United States and 21 other countries pledged on Saturday at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050, saying the revival of nuclear power was critical for cutting…
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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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KEY RESOURCES

Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

05/09/23
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

04/21/23
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.

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.

No, nuclear power is not actually ‘dangerous’

11/19/21
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

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

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…

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.”

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

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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Small nuke reactors emerge as energy option, but risks loom

By Menelaos Hadjicostis   09/11/22  
A global search for alternative sources to Russian energy during the war in Ukraine has refocused attention on smaller, easier-to-build nuclear power stations, which proponents say could provide a cheaper, more efficient alternative to older…
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Governments Are Rethinking Nuclear Power

By Molly Taft   08/31/22  
The crisis in Ukraine may be rushing in a new golden age for nuclear power. Recent announcements from Germany, California, and Japan—three places where early retirement of nuclear plants has been a heated policy debate—signal…
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Why even environmentalists are supporting nuclear power today

By Uri Berliner   08/30/22  
Resistance to nuclear power is starting to ebb around the world with support from a surprising group: environmentalists. This change of heart spans the globe, and is being prompted by climate change, unreliable electrical grids…
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Clashes brew over Diablo Canyon extension plan as 40% of expected renewables fail to come online

By Kavya Balaraman   08/29/22  
California policymakers and other stakeholders remain split on a proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom, D, to extend the operations of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant’s two units beyond their scheduled retirement in 2024 and 2025.
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Will the microgrid industry and the public accept small nuclear reactors?

By Lisa Cohn   08/19/22  
The federal Department of Energy (DOE) is studying small nuclear generators as a carbon-free, resilient and potentially affordable component of microgrids, but some microgrid industry members say it’s unlikely their nonmilitary customers will soon embrace…
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Emerging small reactors projected to provide 90 GW of nuclear power to the US grid by 2050: NEI survey

By Elizabeth McCarthy   08/18/22  
The push for carbon-free energy will drive the growth of small modular reactors, or SMRs, with 300 of them expected to be online by 2050 supplying 731 TWh of power, according to the results of…
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Newsom plan aims to extend life of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

By Michael R. Blood   08/12/22  
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proposed extending the life of the state’s last operating nuclear power plant by at least five to 10 years to maintain reliable power supplies in the climate change era.
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Wildfires could release radioactive particles from nuclear sites

By Ycc Team   08/12/22  
Nuclear disasters can release widespread, dangerous radioactive fallout. Research facilities and nuclear weapons tests can also leave behind varying levels of radioactive particles in soil and plants. Christine Eriksen of ETH Zürich warns that at…
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A New Era Of Nuclear Power Has Just Begun

By Will Lockett   08/09/22  
Nuclear power is key to our fight against climate change. Despite its potential dangers, it actually has the lowest death rate per gigawatt of power produced by any energy source and is one of the…
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Breakthrough Discovery Will Make Fusion Reactors More Powerful & Compact

By Will Lockett   08/03/22  
Fusion energy has the potential to revolutionise human society. In theory, it can create copious amounts of energy from a minuscule amount of fuel and generate on-demand power with no carbon emissions or high-level nuclear…
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Climate Change Could Make Nuclear Power Plants Useless

By Will Lockett   07/31/22  
Nuclear power is incredible when you think about it. We can harness the power of atomic degradation and utilise Einstein’s theory of special relativity (E=MC²) to create powerful on-demand low carbon energy. Such technology has…
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‘The clock is ticking’: PG&E exploring possibility of keeping Diablo Canyo open to boost reliability: CEO

By Kavya Balaraman   07/29/22  
Pacific Gas & Electric is exploring the possibility of keeping the 2.2 GW Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open beyond its currently scheduled retirement in 2024 and 2025 to support the reliability of California’s electricity system,…
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Nuclear Power Plants Are Struggling to Stay Cool

By Gregory Barber   07/21/22  
FROM ITS HUMBLE start as a glacial trickle in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône River quickly transforms into one of the world’s most industrialized waterways. As it winds through the south of France toward the…
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Calif.’s last nuclear plant faces closure. Can it survive?

By Anne C. Mulkern   07/19/22  
California political leaders are debating whether to keep the state’s final nuclear power plant open beyond 2025, a decision with repercussions for the state’s emissions, electricity mix and ability to prevent blackouts amid high demand…
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Huge Growth In Fusion Energy Industry, Shows New Report

By Melanie Windridge   07/14/22  
Investment in private fusion companies has more than doubled in the past year and eight new companies have been founded, bringing the total to around 33.
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The agency securing the U.S.’s toxic nuclear waste has its work cut out

By Mack DeGeurin   07/13/22  
Experts and lawmakers attended a hearing to discuss significant funding and staff issues hindering the DOE’s waste containment efforts.
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The Future of Nuclear Power Has A Major Problem

By Will Lockett   06/26/22  
Nuclear power is incredibly tempting. On one hand, it can deliver enormous amounts of low carbon energy and could be a crucial part of our transition to environmental net zero. Yet on the other hand,…
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Nuclear Power Is Poised for a Comeback. The Problem Is Building the Reactors.

By Matthew Dalton   06/23/22  
The Problem Is Building the Reactors. Countries have lost their expertise in building nuclear plants after shunning them for years. The Problem Is Building the Reactors. Countries have lost their expertise in building nuclear plants…
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Defense Department picks BWXT to build 1st US advanced nuclear microreactor, with 2024 delivery

By Robert Walton   06/09/22  
The U.S. Department of Defense has selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies to construct the nation’s first advanced nuclear microreactor, the company said in a Thursday statement.
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Inslee: Feds need to increase nuclear waste cleanup funds

By Nicholas K. Geranios and Ted Warren   06/03/22  
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has recently criticized the slow pace of cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, toured the former nuclear weapons production site on Thursday and said more federal money is needed to…
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The energy in nuclear waste could power the U.S. for 100 years, but the technology was never commercialized

By Catherine Clifford   06/02/22  
The technology to turn nuclear waste into energy, known as a nuclear fast reactor, has existed for decades. It was proven out by a United States government research lab pilot plant that operated from the…
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Bottling The Sun

By Bostjan Videmsek   05/30/22  
From a small hill in the southern French region of Provence, you can see two suns. One has been blazing for four-and-a-half billion years and is setting. The other is being built by thousands of…
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Climate worries galvanize a new pro-nuclear movement in the U.S.

By Evan Halper   05/24/22  
Charles Komanoff was for decades an expert witness for groups working against nuclear plants, delivering blistering critiques so effective that he earned a spot at the podium when tens of thousands of protesters descended on…
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Can Europe survive without Russian oil? Nuclear power may be key

By Joanna Gill   05/05/22  
Christophe Collignon, mayor of Huy - whose skyline and history are dominated by the Tihange nuclear plant - said most people in the medieval city in eastern Belgium welcomed the decision to extend the ageing…
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Energy Department announces oil buyback to replenish SPR

By Ben Lefebvre   05/05/22  
The actual purchases would be for deliveries after fiscal year 2023, in “future years when prices are anticipated to be significantly lower than they are today, and will represent a first tranche of purchases to…
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Why shoreline nuclear power plants pose problem for Great Lakes

By Carol Thompson   05/04/22  
The dozens of nuclear power reactors situated along the Great Lakes shoreline have produced a sizeable amount of electricity for Canada's Ontario province and the midwestern United States since they first came online in 1963.
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California promised to close its last nuclear plant. Now Newsom is reconsidering

By Sammy Roth   04/29/22  
Newsom told the L.A. Times editorial board Thursday that the state would seek out a share of $6 billion in federal funds meant to rescue nuclear reactors facing closure, money the Biden administration announced this…
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For the first time, US renewable energy output exceeds nuclear generation, EIA finds

By Elizabeth McCarthy   04/28/22  
The growing number of large solar and wind energy projects resulted in renewable generation beating out nuclear energy last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.
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Biden’s $6B nuclear plan hits ’24th hour’ roadblock

By Peter Behr and Hannah Northey   04/28/22  
A top energy executive yesterday confirmed that one of the first plants poised to qualify for financial support under the Energy Department’s newly unveiled lifeline — Michigan’s Palisades plant — remains on schedule to close…
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As Putin Threatens Nuclear Disaster, Europe Learns to Embrace Nuclear Energy Again

By Charlie Campbell   04/21/22  
In early March, the world looked on in horror as a fire broke out at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine. The blaze at the Zaporizhzhia facility following shelling by invading Russian forces…
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Gov. Whitmer wants federal aid to keep nuclear plant open

By Jennifer McDermott   04/21/22  
Michigan’s Democratic governor wants a nuclear power plant on Lake Michigan to stay open and she’s asking the federal government to pay for it. But the owner of the Palisades Power Plant says it’s too…
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Biden administration launches $6 billion nuclear plant bailout

By Evan Halper   04/20/22  
The Biden administration moved Tuesday to revive America’s troubled nuclear power industry with $6 billion in spending aimed at keeping open financially strapped plants.
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Biden announces $6B to bail out nuclear plants at risk of closure

By Zack Budryk   04/19/22  
The Biden administration will put $6 billion toward saving distressed nuclear power plants from closure, viewing the power source as another carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels.
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War in Ukraine generates interest in nuclear energy, despite danger

By Steven Mufson and Claire Parker   04/15/22  
European nations are weighing climate benefits against the perils of putting nuclear power plants in harm’s way.
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Nuclear energy should not be part of the global solution to climate change

By Amory B. Lovins   04/12/22  
The following is a contributed article by Amory B. Lovins, adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering and scholar at the Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University.
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Nuclear fusion hit a milestone thanks to better reactor walls – this engineering advance is building toward reactors of the future

By David Donovan and Livia Casali   04/04/22  
Scientists at a laboratory in England have shattered the record for the amount of energy produced during a controlled, sustained fusion reaction. The production of 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds at the Joint…
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Johnson to ‘bet big’ on nuclear energy despite Sunak’s reservations

By Rowena Mason   04/02/22  
Boris Johnson wants his promised energy security strategy to “bet big” on nuclear despite Rishi Sunak’s reservations – but he has cooled on more onshore wind turbines in England amid a Conservative backlash.
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Nuclear and Net Zero

03/25/22  
he Russian invasion of Ukraine has also prompted some European nations to take a fresh look at nuclear power as a more secure and carbon-free source of energy. The Belgian government has just announced it…
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Can Nuclear Energy Help Solve Climate Change?

By Mark Nelson and Ralph Cavanagh   03/20/22  
An important function of informed debate is indeed to narrow disagreement, so I begin by noting a conspicuous lack of rebuttal to several of my opening points, including:
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Opinion: Nuclear power can be part of the energy solution if we can get over our unfounded fears

By Jurica Dujmovic   03/19/22  
The Ukrainian State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate warned that “the loss of the possibility to cool down nuclear fuel will lead to significant radioactive releases into the environment,” which could “exceed all previous accidents at nuclear…
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Explainer-Could Germany keep its nuclear plants running?

By Christoph Steitz and Markus Wacket   02/28/22  
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and economy minister Robert Habeck on Sunday mapped out potentially radical changes to the country’s energy system, going as far as floating the possibility to keep nuclear power plants running for…
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Report slams NuScale SMR: “Too late, too expensive, too risky”

By Alan Neuhauser   02/17/22  
An analysis released Thursday by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) drops the hammer on NuScale's small modular reactor (SMR), which is arguably the most prominent next-generation nuclear reactor project currently planned…
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