With all the Biden administration’s efforts to impose “zero-carbon,” why is so little attention paid to nuclear power? Two officials of the Institute for Energy Research (IER) point out that small nuclear reactors are already being designed in government laboratories in Idaho and Tennessee. But whether they will be built depends on whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows innovation.
Jordan McGills and Paige Lambermont write (on HumanProgress.org):
“[S]afe and scalable nuclear is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet [to reduce carbon emissions]. Yet rather than increasing nuclear plant output and getting new nuclear projects underway, the U.S. is at the beginning of a nuclear retirement en masse. In 2021, 5.1 GW of nuclear capacity will be retired, 5 percent of the current U.S. total. Up for retirement are the Dresden and Byron plants owned by Exelon Corporation in Illinois, and Unit 3 of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York.”
“To far less fanfare than the celebrated installation of dilute solar and wind arrays and the rollout of new Tesla models, tantalizing developments have been made at the Idaho and Oak Ridge (TN) National Laboratories on new designs for nuclear energy. Technologies are on the horizon that could deliver all of their predecessors’ benefits while being more adaptable and even safer, perhaps renewing nuclear’s appeal.”
“New reactor designs could lead to low-cost, low-risk, zero-carbon energy production that’s incredibly flexible, provided regulators don’t make the economics untenable. At present, these new designs are situated in a regulatory no-man’s-land. Their future rests in the hands of the Biden administration’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”
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