Introducing Advanced Nuclear Technology
The Resurgence of Nuclear Power
While nuclear power plants currently generate approximately 20% of the electricity consumed in the United States, there are several factors hampering the construction of new nuclear facilities. The ultimate challenge is construction costs, but other contributors include burdensome regulation, safety concerns, questions regarding waste management, and public perception.
On the other hand, experts and government leaders have concluded that nuclear power is essential to meeting future demand for electricity. As more data centers, electric vehicles and other technologies that require electricity are built, the demand for power will increase. There is virtually no possibility that solar, wind and hydro power can meet the need, as those sources currently account for only 1.5%, 6.5% and 7% in the U.S., wind and solar only provide intermittent power, and there are huge barriers to renewables deployment. Advanced nuclear designs are essential to the world’s ability to transition from coal and natural gas to emission-free sources.
Evidence of the general movement toward advanced nuclear technology includes increasing government investment. The Department of Energy (DOE) has recently announced the intent to fund the construction of two demonstration advanced reactors as well as additional funding to help accelerate the development of another five advanced reactor designs. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is actively pursuing the development of mobile nuclear reactors to support both energy security at military bases and operational deployment. Fuel supply convoys account for substantial military casualties in recent military operations; and mobile reactors could help replace the need for large scale fuel movement or provide energy independence to military bases. Congress has passed legislation and appropriated funds to begin development of these mobile reactors for the DOD. For 2020, the total U.S. government budget for nuclear approved by Congress is nearly $1.5 billion is for DOE nuclear energy funding, representing a dramatic increase over the 2018 budget.