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Nuclear energy revival underway in the United States

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By Filip Karinja - 
Nuclear energy revival United States

For decades, nuclear power has been the United States’ largest source of clean energy, accounting for 19% of the total energy produced last year.

The industry directly employs nearly 60,000 workers in stable, well-paying jobs and supports hundreds of thousands more.

Alongside wind and solar power, a new generation of nuclear reactors is currently gaining attention for its ability to produce clean, reliable energy and meet the needs of a fast-growing economy.

Nuclear initiatives

The Biden-Harris administration has already taken various actions to strengthen the nation’s energy and economic security.

These include building a new supply chain for nuclear fuel to eliminate dependence on Russian uranium, signing a multi-country declaration at COP28 to triple nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050 and developing new reactor designs, extending the service lives of existing reactors, and encouraging new deployments.

Now, in a significant move aimed at reshaping America’s energy landscape, the administration is hosting a White House summit on domestic nuclear deployment.

This event underscores the administration’s commitment to achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 while ensuring affordable and reliable power for consumers.

Risk mitigation

To mitigate project risks, the administration is creating a nuclear power project management and delivery working group.

This team will draw on experts from across the industry to identify opportunities to reduce cost and schedule overruns.

In addition, the US Army will soon release a request for information to inform a deployment program for advanced reactors at multiple army sites.

These small modular reactors and microreactors can provide resilient energy amid various threats that can disrupt commercial energy networks.

Safety enhancements

The Department of Energy (DOE) has released a primer highlighting the expected enhanced safety features of advanced nuclear reactors.

Idaho National Laboratory is also offering a new cost reduction pathway tool for developers.

The administration notes the successful completion of units 3 and 4 at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power plant, the first new reactors built in the US in over 30 years.

The project, supported by $12 billion in DOE loan guarantees, showcases the potential for successful nuclear projects.

Sustained push

Other initiatives include reviving shut-down plants like Palisades in Michigan and Diablo Canyon in California, providing tax credits for existing and new nuclear plants and funding demonstration projects through the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

These actions represent the largest sustained push to accelerate civil nuclear deployment in the US in nearly five decades, aiming to re-establish the country’s leadership in the industry.