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



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Recycle Nuclear – “Waste to Energy Now” !

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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.

War in Ukraine generates interest in nuclear energy, despite danger

By Steven Mufson and Claire Parker  Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters   04/15/22  
European nations are weighing climate benefits against the perils of putting nuclear power plants in harm’s way.

Nuclear energy should not be part of the global solution to climate change

By Amory B. Lovins  Photo: David McNew , Getty Images   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.

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…

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.

Nuclear and Net Zero

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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:

Opinion: Nuclear power can be part of the energy solution if we can get over our unfounded fears

By Jurica Dujmovic  Photo: Christof Stache , AP Photo   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…

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…

Report slams NuScale SMR: “Too late, too expensive, too risky”

By Alan Neuhauser  Photo: Sarah Grillo , Axios   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…

Energy Department invests $6 billion into nuclear energy program

Photo: AP Photo/Christof Stache   02/14/22  
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program to support the country’s U.S. nuclear reactors.

Time to bring back Indian Point?

By Herschel Specter, Isuru Senaviratne and Leonard Rodberg   02/12/22  
Gov. Hochul has inherited an energy emergency from her predecessor. At the same time, two state entities with different responsibilities for managing our energy system are in conflict as the state charts its energy future.

France Announces Major Nuclear Power Buildup

By Liz Alderman  Photo: Jean-Francois Badias   02/11/22  
President Emmanuel Macron announced a major buildup of France’s huge nuclear power program on Thursday, pledging to construct up to 14 new-generation reactors and a fleet of smaller nuclear plants as the country seeks to…

The opportunity cost of not using nuclear energy for climate mitigation

By Alex Gilbert   02/03/22  
The biggest obstacle to addressing climate change is that it requires a sustained whole-of-society effort, yet we are still fighting about its seriousness and urgency. The second biggest obstacle is that those of us who…

Could small nuclear reactors help protect the climate?

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As the U.S. transitions from fossil fuels, utilities must ramp up the amount of clean energy on the grid. Wind, solar, and nuclear power do not emit carbon pollution. But the amount of energy produced…

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

By Kate Abnett  Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman   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…

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

By James Bruggers  Photo: Georgia Power   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.

3 Reasons Nuclear Power Has Returned to the Energy Debate

By Jason Bordoff  Photo: Julian Stratenschulte , Getty Images   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.

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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  Photo: Thomas Lohnes , Getty Images   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  Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds , Getty Images   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

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

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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

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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  Photo: J. Park / Energy Northwest   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  Photo: Carolyn Cole Los Angeles Times   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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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  Photo: Grace Barbic   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

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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…

US lab stands on threshold of key nuclear fusion goal

By Paul Rincon  Photo: Philip Saltonstall , BBC   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  Photo: Christopher Peterson   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  Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier   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  Photo: Charles Platiau   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  Photo: Erin Scot , Reuters   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.