The U.S. electric power system is undergoing a sweeping transition as the nation moves to reduce emissions and prevent the worst effects of climate change. Plans for decarbonization rely heavily on powering as many industries as possible with low-carbon energy, from transportation to manufacturing. Meeting the growing demand for low-carbon electricity in the future will be a key challenge to overcome for the United States and the world.
If the United States wants nuclear power as part of its future low-carbon energy landscape, it will be important to provide support for the demonstration, commercialization, and deployment of new and advanced nuclear reactors.
Nuclear power plants provide half of all low-carbon electricity in the United States. They supply 18.2% of the nation’s total electricity.
There are 92 nuclear power plants in operation in the United States (with 442 across the globe).
The initial licensing lifetime of a nuclear power plant in the United States is 40 years.
Despite uncertainty about the level of future demand, there are likely to be many opportunities for low-carbon energy technologies such as advanced nuclear.
Light water reactors (LWRs) are the only type of reactor currently in use at commercial nuclear power plants in the United States. However, many companies are working to develop new small modular LWR designs as well as advanced reactor concepts that are fundamentally different from the LWR design. These new and advanced nuclear reactors could potentially meet a much wider variety of energy needs than the light water reactors in service today. These applications could include:
GENERATING ELECTRICITY FOR THE GRID The main use for advanced nuclear reactors moving forward is likely to be as small modular reactors producing electricity for the grid. Some smaller reactors could be manufactured in a controlled factory setting to reduce on-site construction costs. These new power plants could potentially repurpose fossil fuel plants and take advantage of existing infrastructure.
Advanced nuclear reactors could provide heat for:
Advanced nuclear reactors could provide portable power for:
The race against climate change is both a marathon and a sprint. Growth in electricity demand and the need to achieve economy-wide decarbonization over the coming several decades present important long-term opportunities for advanced nuclear technologies.
The earliest demonstrations of advanced nuclear reactors are likely to be complete in the 2030s, but the timing of widescale deployment depends on many issues, especially market competitiveness.
Developing advanced reactors on a timeframe to significantly contribute to a decarbonized energy system will require sustained effort and robust financial support in this decade and beyond by the U.S. government, the nuclear industry, and the financial community. The successful commercialization of advanced reactors will require:
For the complete list of findings and recommendations, see Appendix I of the report.
Advanced nuclear reactor technologies hold the promise for safer, more efficient, and more nimble designs than currently deployed nuclear technologies. However, the various advanced reactors under development are at different levels of technological maturity. These projects must resolve technology gaps and demonstrate new business use cases before wide-scale deployment.
While many of the current concepts plan to move towards commercial reactor demonstration with existing materials, focused investment to create better-performing materials (particularly for reactor core materials and cladding) could lead to significant improvements in safety, reliability, and affordability.
RECOMMENDATION 2.2: The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy should initiate a research program that sets aggressive goals for improving materials performance. This could take the form of a strategic partnership for research and development involving NRC, EPRI, the nuclear industry, national labs, and universities. The program should incentivize the use of modern materials science to decrease the time to deployment of materials with improved performance and to accelerate the qualification (ASME Section III, Division 5 or equivalent) and understanding of life-limiting degradation processes of a limited number of high performance structural materials, e.g., reactor core materials and cladding.
Learn more in Chapter 2.
In addition to providing electricity to customers across economic sectors, nuclear power plants can provide heat for industrial processes. The heat generated could be used for desalination, district heating, or producing hydrogen or synthetic fuels. All of these applications could become important as the chemical, materials, and transportation sectors transition to low-carbon operations.
RECOMMENDATION 5.1: Industrial applications using thermal energy present an important new mission for advanced reactors. Key research and development needs for industrial applications include assessing system integration, operations, safety, community acceptance, market size as a function of varying levels of implicit or explicit carbon price, and regulatory risks, with hydrogen production as a top priority. The Department of Energy, with the support of industry support groups such as the Electric Power Research Institute and the nuclear vendors, should conduct a systematic analysis of system integration, operation, and safety risks to provide investors with realistic models of deployment to inform business cases and work with potential host communities.
Learn more in Chapter 5.
In order to ensure the efficient deployment of scarce resources, U.S. federal government programs for advanced nuclear development need better coordination and continuity from early research and development through demonstration and deployment. Programs should include decision points for continuation or termination of funding for specific reactor concepts dependent on meeting key milestones for performance, budget, and siting.
RECOMMENDATION 4.2: The nuclear industry and the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy should fully develop a structured, ongoing program to ensure the best performing technologies move rapidly to and through demonstration as measured by technical (testing, reliability), financial (cost, schedule), regulatory, and social acceptance milestones. Concepts that do not meet their milestones in the ordinary course should no longer receive support and newer concepts should be allowed to enter the program in their place.
RECOMMENDATION 4.3: Congress and the DOE should maintain the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program concept. The DOE should develop a coordinated plan among owner/operators, industry vendors, and the DOE laboratories that supports needed development efforts. The ARDP plan needs to include long-range funding linked to staged milestones; on-going design, cost, and schedule reviews; and siting and community acceptance reviews. This plan will help DOE downselect among concepts for continued support toward demonstration. A modification in the demonstration schedule that takes a phased (vs. concurrent) approach to reactor demonstration may be required. For example, funding would be continued for the first two demonstrations under the ARDP. A second round of demonstrations of designs expected to mature from the current ARDP Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations award recipients could be funded for demonstration under an “ARDP 2.0” starting thereafter and going into the future.
Learn more in Chapter 4.
Nuclear projects in the U.S. and Europe have not been built on budget or on schedule in recent decades. These cost overruns are due to a variety of factors, including that a typical U.S. utility company does not have adequate technical and engineering personnel to plan and manage a nuclear construction project. Expertise and resources for project management are needed to support and streamline power plant construction.
Much of the cost growth does not necessarily arise from the nuclear island, but from the civil works (e.g., concrete or steel structures and the rest of the power plant).
RECOMMENDATION 6.9: While it is vital to demonstrate that advanced reactors are viable from a technical perspective, it is perhaps even more vital to ensure that the overall plant, including the on-site civil work, can be built within cost and schedule constraints. Since it is likely that costs for onsite development will still be a significant contributor to capital cost, and the ~$35M in DOE funding for advanced construction technologies R&D is small in comparison to the hundreds of millions spent on nuclear island technology research, more should be done over an extended period to research technologies that may streamline and reduce costs for this work.
Learn more in Chapter 6
Some advanced reactor vendors are considering moving from the traditional “project-based” approach to a “product-based” approach in which the reactor is produced in a factory or shipyard, with the goal of improving schedules and quality while reducing costs and construction risks. However, even if this method improves the construction of nuclear components, extensive on-site construction work will still remain for the civil works.
RECOMMENDATION 6.2: Nuclear owner/operators pursuing new nuclear construction should consider establishing a consortium or joint venture to pursue the construction on behalf of the group, thereby enabling the creation and maintenance of the necessary skilled personnel to pursue projects successfully. Alternatively, advanced reactor developers operating within the traditional project delivery model should implement a long-term business relationship, preferably an equity partnership such as a joint venture or a consortium, with a qualified engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm experienced in the nuclear industry.
Learn more in Chapter 6.
Nuclear energy technologies require a highly skilled workforce, and the process to support and sustain these technologies over their 60+ year service life is complex and expensive. In addition to the staff needed to develop and build the next-generation of nuclear power plants, there must also be a training pipeline for staff to service the plants over many decades; technical experts to manage the fuel cycle; and regulatory, legal, and policy experts to handle licensing and oversight.
RECOMMENDATION 6.1: In anticipation of the necessary expansion in workforce to support more widespread deployment of nuclear technologies, the Department of Energy should form a cross-department (whole of government) partnership to address workforce needs that is comparable to initiatives like the multi-agency National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The program would include the Departments of Labor, Education, Commerce, and State, and would team with labor organizations, industry, regulatory agencies, and other support organizations to identify gaps in critical skills and then fund training and development solutions that will close these gaps in time to support more rapid deployment.
Learn more in Chapter 6.
Domestic power reactors are tightly regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in all phases of their lifecycle, including design, construction, operations, and decommissioning. The NRC is tasked with protecting public health, safety, and the environment by adjusting regulatory requirements and verifying safety claims for new reactor technologies and applications. Advanced nuclear reactors present new use cases and regulatory challenges. Work to develop new regulatory frameworks should begin now to support future deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.
While the NRC must maintain its overriding commitment to safety, the regulatory process should be made as efficient as possible if advanced reactors are to be commercialized in the coming decades.
RECOMMENDATION 7.1: Advanced reactors will not be commercialized if the regulatory requirements are not adjusted to accommodate their many differences from existing light water reactors. A clear definition of the regulatory requirements for a new technology must be established promptly if timely deployment is to be achieved. The NRC needs to enhance its capability to resolve the many issues with which it is and will be confronted. In recognition of the urgency for the NRC to prepare now, Congress should provide increased resources on the order of 10s of millions of dollars per year to the NRC that are not drawn from fees paid by existing licensees and applicants.
Learn more in Chapter 7
Some reactor vendors anticipate opportunities to deploy their reactors near or in urban environments or in the vicinity of industrial facilities that will use heat produced by the reactor. These applications of advanced reactors will present unique siting and emergency planning issues. Careful and early examination of such issues is necessary to define the future range of economic opportunities that are available for advanced reactors.
RECOMMENDATION 7.4: The NRC should expedite the requirements and guidance governing siting and emergency planning zones (EPZs) in order to enable vendors to determine the restrictions that will govern the deployment of their reactors.
Learn more in Chapter 7.
Societal acceptance is necessary if new reactors are to play an expanded role in a decarbonized energy system, and it should be considered early in the design and verification process. The industry should engage with communities affected by prospective new construction, hear their needs and concerns, and adjust plans as a result. The effort should reflect an overriding commitment to honesty, early engagement through credible information channels, and genuine effort to develop a partnership.
Sociological approaches must become part of the nuclear energy research and development cycle, treated with the same seriousness as technology development. New risk communication strategies—grounded in rigorous social science (rather than polling) and respect for community apprehensions and desires—could greatly improve the prospects for nuclear deployment in the coming decades.
RECOMMENDATION 8.4: The developers and future owners that represent the advanced nuclear industry must adopt a consent-based approach to designing, siting, and operating new facilities. The siting approach will have to be adjusted for a particular place, time, and culture. The nuclear industry should follow the best practices, including:
Following these practices will require additional time and financial resources to be allotted to successfully site and construct new nuclear power facilities, and the industry must account for these costs in their plans. The industry should be willing to fully engage with a community, hear their concerns and needs and be ready to address them, including adjusting plans. The industry, guided by experts in consent-based processes, should capture best siting practices in guidance documents or standards.
Advanced reactor designs and deployment scenarios are far different from conventional nuclear power reactors, with a different set of security concerns. New security considerations for advanced nuclear reactor designs include:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has proposed significant modifications to physical security requirements to accommodate designs and operations proposed by licensees of advanced reactors. There are many hurdles remaining. Clear NRC guidance is needed, as well as a fuller understanding of the vulnerabilities that the new designs and deployment scenarios may present.
RECOMMENDATION 9.1: The modification of the security requirements proposed by the NRC staff could have significant implications for the design, staffing and operations of advanced reactors, thereby impacting business plans. Delays in providing clear regulatory guidance may impact capital availability and increases the potential for costly re-design if guidelines do not align with expected modifications to existing protocols. Congress should provide additional funding for NRC evaluation of security guidelines and the Commission should expedite its consideration of the staff proposal and seek to complete the rulemaking promptly if significant changes are deemed appropriate. In that case, the prompt completion of the associated guidance should also be a high priority.
Learn more in Chapter 9
As advanced reactors continue to be developed with the potential of rapid scale-up both domestically and internationally in the coming decades, it is crucial to recognize, prioritize, and address gaps in safeguards technology and to incorporate key measurement capabilities at the earliest stages of the design process.
The U.S. government has established a robust set of programs and organizations that will support advanced reactor developers across the spectrum of research, development, and deployment, including support for domestic and international safeguards and security research, international engagement, and licensing assessment.
RECOMMENDATION 9.4: The United States should increase sustained long-term financial and technical support for bilateral and multilateral programs (e.g., IAEA) to build capacity in likely partner countries to deploy new and advanced reactors that meet safety, security and safeguards requirements, including support from U.S. national labs and universities as training platforms. It should seek commitments from vendors, supplier countries, and customer countries to adhere to the highest standards of safety, safeguards, and security. The Departments of Energy and State should partner with U.S. reactor vendors to develop a safety, safeguards and security “package,” where the United States and the vendor could offer customized support to a host country for developing and implementing new safety, security and safeguards arrangements.
Learn more in Chapter 9.
The upfront financing costs for developing nuclear reactors are currently higher than those for other energy technologies because of large capital requirements, extended development timelines, and limited financing options. Incentives to support commercialization and more flexible financing options would help support new reactor deployment.
The commercial deployment of low-carbon energy resources will require substantial investment. In order to obtain funds at this scale, the investments must present sufficiently low risk that they can compete with other “ordinary” investments in the public equity and debt markets. Widespread commercial deployment of nuclear reactors will occur only if the projects can convincingly demonstrate that they can compete in a marketplace with alternatives.
RECOMMENDATION 4.4: To enable a cost-competitive market environment for nuclear energy, federal and state governments should provide appropriately tailored financial incentives (extending and perhaps enhancing those provided recently in the Inflation Reduction Act) that industry can use as part of a commercialization plan, consistent with the successful approaches used with renewables. These tools may vary by state, locality, and market type. Continued evaluation of the recently passed incentives will need assessment to determine their adequacy. The scale of these incentives needs to be sufficient not only to encourage nuclear vendors, but also the supporting supply chains.
Learn more in Chapter 4
Many new and advanced nuclear vendors in the United States anticipate a strong international market for their designs. However, non-U.S. vendors have more options for financing the export and deployment of advanced reactors than U.S. vendors, which will reduce the competitiveness of U.S. companies and limit opportunities for the United States to promote global nuclear safety and security.
RECOMMENDATION 10.2: International nuclear projects by U.S. exporters are likely to require a financing package that reflects a blending of federal grants, loans, and loan guarantees along with various forms of private equity and debt financing. The Executive Branch should work with the private sector to build an effective and competitive financing package for U.S. exporters.
Learn more in Chapter 10.
Richard A. Meserve, Chair
Michael L. Corradini
Allison M. Macfarlane
David K. Owens
Steven J. Zinkle
Dr. Ahmed Abdulla is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University (Ottawa, ON). He develops energy system models for deep decarbonization. Modeling efforts focus on evaluating the role of disruptive energy technologies that sit at a low level of technical readiness; including energy storage systems, advanced nuclear power, and negative emissions technologies. Dr. Abdulla advances process modeling, systems engineering, engineering economics, and quantitative risk and decision analysis in his research. He integrates insights from public policy and behavioral science in his models, to deploy truly sustainable technologies—ones that are both techno-economically viable and socio-politically acceptable. Dr. Abdulla co-leads the APEX (Alternative Pathways for the Energy Transition) research group at Carleton, which consists of highly interdisciplinary engineers devoted to accelerating the transition to a deeply decarbonized energy system and averting the worst consequences of climate change. Results from his research have been published in leading journals, including Nature Climate Change, Nature Communications, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society; Environmental Science and Technology; Risk Analysis; and Environmental Research Letters. His findings have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, and National Public Radio. He received his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, and his Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.
Dr. Todd Allen is currently a faculty member and chair of the Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences Department at the University of Michigan and a senior fellow at Third Way, a DC-based think tank, supporting their clean energy portfolio. He was the Deputy Director for Science and Technology at the Idaho National Laboratory from January 2013 through January 2016. Both the INL and Third Way positions occurred while on leave from the University of Wisconsin. Previously, he was a professor in the Engineering Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin, a position held from September 2003 through December 2018. In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities at Wisconsin, he was also the Scientific Director of the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility, centered in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the Idaho National Laboratory. He held that position from March 2008-December 2012. He was also the Director of the Center for Material Science of Nuclear Fuel, a Department of Energy-sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, he was a Nuclear Engineer at Argonne National Laboratory-West in Idaho Falls. His doctoral degree is in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan (1997). Prior to graduate work, he was an officer in the United States Navy Nuclear Power Program.
Dr. Jaquelin Cochran is the director of the Grid Planning and Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where she has worked since 2009. Dr. Cochran’s work has focused on the evolution of the power grid with high deployment of renewable energy. She recently led the Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study and a portfolio of analyses about India’s power system. Before joining NREL, Dr. Cochran was an Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Management with KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years with the Polish Foundation for Energy Efficiency (FEWE) in Krakow. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the Energy & Resources Group at the University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. from Pomona College.
Dr. Michael L. Corradini (NAE) is Emeritus Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He served from 1995 to 2001 as Associate Dean for the College of Engineering and as Chair of Engineering Physics from 2001-2011. He has published widely in areas related to vapor explosion phenomena, jet spray dynamics, and transport phenomena in multiphase systems. From 1978-1981 he served as a member of technical staff of Sandia National Laboratories. In 1998, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He has also served as a presidential appointee in 2002 and 2003 as the chairman of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (a separate government agency). From 2004-2008, he served as a board member of the INPO National Accreditation Board for Nuclear Training. In 2006, he was appointed to the NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards and was elected to the National Council on Radiation Protection. In 2010, he was appointed Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the French Atomic Energy Agency. He began and served as the Director of the Wisconsin Energy Institute. He was elected as the President of the American Nuclear Society for 2012 – 2013. Michael received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Marquette University, Milwaukee WI; M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Richard Cupitt is a senior fellow and director of the Partnerships in Proliferation Prevention program at Stimson. His areas of expertise include WMD nonproliferation, export controls, and foreign policy. Prior to joining Stimson, he served as the Special Coordinator for U.N. Security Council resolution 1540 in the Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives at the U.S. State Department from 2012 through 2016. As such, he led U.S. government efforts to further implementation of the more than two hundred legally binding obligations and recommendations of the resolution, which aims to combat proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery, especially to non-state actors such as terrorists and criminal organizations. From 2005 to 2012, he worked as an expert for the committee established pursuant to U.N. Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), a subsidiary body of the U.N. Security Council, monitoring and facilitating implementation of the resolution in all U.N. Member States, along with building relationships with more than forty international organizations, coordinating assistance activities, and conducting outreach with industry and academia. Elected coordinator of the experts from 2010-2012, he also led the work in several specialized areas including combating the financing of proliferation and export controls. From 2004 to 2008, Cupitt also held a position as Scholar-in-Residence at American University and worked as Special Adviser for International Cooperation for the U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce in the Bureau of Industry and Security from 2002-2004. From 1988 to 2002, Cupitt had various posts for the Center International Trade and Security (CITS) of the University of Georgia, including Associate Director, as well as acting as a visiting scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 2000-2002. Cupitt also has held academic positions at Emory University and the University of North Texas. He has produced four books and more than 20 peer-reviewed articles on nonproliferation export controls, along with dozens of other security or trade-oriented publications. In addition, he has served as a consultant on projects for the U.S. State Department, several U.S. national commissions, U.S. national nuclear laboratories, and various international organizations.
Dr. Leslie Dewan is the CEO of RadiantNano, a nuclear startup developing next-generation radiation detectors with applications in national security, clean energy production, and medical diagnostics. Previously, she was the CEO of Transatomic Power, a company that designed safer nuclear reactors that leave behind less waste than conventional designs. Leslie received her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from MIT, with a research focus on computational nuclear materials. She also holds S.B. degrees from MIT in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering. Before starting her Ph.D., she worked for a robotics company in Cambridge, MA, where she designed search-and-rescue robots and equipment for in-field identification of chemical and nuclear weapons.
Leslie has been awarded an MIT Presidential Fellowship and a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. She has served on the MIT Corporation, MIT’s board of trustees. Leslie has been named a TIME Magazine "30 People Under 30 Changing the World," an MIT Technology Review "Innovator Under 35," a Forbes "30 Under 30,” a National Geographic Explorer, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
Dr. Michael Ford is the Associate Laboratory Director for Engineering at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. In this role, Dr. Ford leads the pursuit of PPPL’s mission to develop advanced fusion engineering knowledge and techniques and is responsible for all engineering support throughout the Laboratory. Prior to assuming his position at PPPL, Dr. Ford served as the Strategy Development Director for the Energy and Global Security (EGS) Directorate at the Argonne National Laboratory. At Argonne, he helped develop strategies designed to build increased sponsor support for energy and national security-related research. Dr. Ford remains active in energy, engineering risk, and environmental policy research, and led Phase I of the National Demonstration Reactor Siting Study supporting the National Reactor Innovation Center. Prior to his work in the National Laboratories system, Dr. Ford held research positions at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. He earned his PhD in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where he conducted research in energy and the environment, with a focus on advanced reactor technology development and proliferation risk. Dr. Ford also served a full career as an officer in the United States Navy and held Navy subspecialties in nuclear engineering, resource management, and operations analysis. During his time on active duty, CAPT (Ret) Ford commanded the guided-missile cruiser USS BUNKER HILL (CG 52) and the guided-missile destroyer USS MUSTIN (DDG 89) and served as lead nuclear engineer (Reactor Officer) aboard USS NIMITZ (CVN 68). Ashore, he held senior finance and resource management positions on the U.S. Navy and U.S Joint Staffs at the Pentagon. In these positions, he developed standards for new warfare systems development and helped lead the Navy Quadrennial Defense Review process.
Kirsty Gogan is an internationally sought-after advisor to governments, industry, academic networks and NGOs. Kirsty is regularly invited as an expert speaker on science communication, climate change, competitiveness and innovation to high profile events around the world. She has more than 15 years of experience as a senior advisor to Government on climate and energy policy, including 10 Downing Street, and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. As Deputy Head of Civil Nuclear Security, Kirsty reviewed the UK national communications response to Fukushima, and implemented a number of recommendations supported by industry and Government. She subsequently provided editorial oversight for the revision of the Civil Nuclear Emergency Planning and Response Guidance. Leading the Government’s public consultation into the UK’s nuclear new build program, Kirsty addressed public concerns about nuclear power and engaged antinuclear campaigners in a constructive dialogue process with Government that continues to this day. Kirsty is now managing partner of LucidCatalyst, a highly specialized international consultancy offering thought leadership, strategy development and techno-economic expertise focused on multiplying and accelerating zero carbon technology options available for large-scale, affordable, market-based decarbonization of the global economy over a wide range of future scenarios. Kirsty is also co-founder of Energy for Humanity (EFH), an environmental NGO focused on large scale deep decarbonization and energy access. Under Kirsty’s leadership, EFH was shortlisted for the Business Green Leaders “Green NGO of the Year” Award in 2016 and received the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council Trailblazer Award in 2019. At COP21 in Paris, EFH organized a press conference that led to media coverage reaching an estimated audience of 800 million people globally. EFH jointly launched the Clean Energy Ministerial Flexible Nuclear Campaign in May 2019, supported by the Canadian, U.S., and UK governments, and in partnership with ClearPath Foundation. Kirsty is also co-founder, with Eric Ingersoll, of TerraPraxis, a new non-profit focused on energy innovation for a prosperous planet.
Dr. Ning Kang is the Department Manager of the Idaho National Laboratory’s Power & Energy Systems Department, specializing in modeling of distributed energy resources (DERs), microgrid design and field deployment, hydropower analysis, clean and renewable energy resources integration into the grid, power and controller hardware-in-the-loop testing, development of intermediate-temperature and high-temperature electrolysis, and integration of hydrogen production with nuclear power plants. Before joining INL, she was a Principal Engineer at the Argonne National Laboratory where she focused on research in transmission and distribution systems (T&D) co-simulation and planning and operations coordination, reliability impact of DERs on the bulk electric system (BES), advanced distribution management system (ADMS), and microgrid integration and impact analysis. Ning has had 6 years of industry R&D experience when she was a Senior R&D Engineer at ABB U.S. Corporate Research Center in Raleigh, NC. At ABB, she was the main contributor to developing a substation-based protection and automation solution, a Volt-VAR optimization solution considering high DER penetration for ABB’s DMS software, and condition-based and data-driven algorithms for ABB’s recloser controllers. She is the main creator of an open-source T&D systems co-simulation software (TDcoSim) and holds five U.S. patents and one U.S. patent application. She has co-authored more than 39 journal and conference papers, book chapters, and technical reports. Ning is a senior member of the IEEE Power and Energy Society. She is also a member of NERC’s Systems Planning Impacts of Distributed Energy Resources Working Group (SPIDERWG). Dr. Kang currently serves as the senior editor of the Power and Energy Section of the IEEE Access Journal and the steering committee member of IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing. Dr. Kang has been a registered Professional Engineer since 2015. She earned her doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Kentucky.
Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane is currently Professor and Director, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, Faculty of Arts, UBC. Dr. Macfarlane has held both academic and government positions in the field of energy and environmental policy, especially nuclear policy. Most recently, she directed the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy at the George Washington University. She recently held a fellowship at the Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and was Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Applied Public Policy at Flinders University and Carnegie Mellon Adelaide in Australia. The first geologist (and the third woman) to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2012-2014, Dr. Macfarlane holds a doctorate in earth science from MIT and a bachelor's of science from the University of Rochester. She has held fellowships at Radcliffe College, MIT, Stanford, and Harvard Universities, and she has been on the faculty at Georgia Tech in Earth Science and International Affairs, at George Mason University in Environmental Science and Policy, and in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. From 2010 to 2012 Dr. Macfarlane served on the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, created by the Obama Administration to recommend a new national policy on high-level nuclear waste. She has also served on National Academy of Sciences panels on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons issues, and she chaired the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the group that sets the Bulletin’s famous “doomsday clock.” In 2006, MIT Press published a book she co-edited, Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation's High-Level Nuclear Waste. Dr. Macfarlane has published extensively in Science, Nature, Environmental Science and Technology, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and other journals. Dr. Macfarlane’s research has focused on technical, social, and policy aspects of nuclear energy production and nuclear waste management and disposal as well as regulation, nuclear nonproliferation, and energy policy.
Richard A. Meserve is Senior Of Counsel in the Washington, DC, office of Covington & Burling LLP, president emeritus of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Early in his career, after obtaining a PhD in applied physics from Stanford and a JD from Harvard Law School, he served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and as legal counsel to the president’s science advisor. He has served on and chaired numerous legal and scientific committees, including many convened by the National Academies. Among other activities, he is the former president of the board of overseers of Harvard University and chair of the International Nuclear Safety Group (chartered by the International Atomic Energy Agency). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and served on its council. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (former member of its council and trust), the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow the American Physical Society, and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
David Owens served as the Executive Vice President of Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs at Edison Electric Institute Inc. from October 1992 to June 2017. An executive with extensive experience in public policies concerning energy and utility operations, Mr. Owens is recognized as an industry expert on business transformation. After 36 years of service, he retired from the Edison Electric Institute, the association representing all U.S. Investor-owned electric companies. He was the first African-American to hold an officer title with the organization. He guided the association on issues affecting the future structure of the electric industry and the new rules in evolving competitive markets. He also spearheaded efforts to invest in the nation’s electric infrastructure with new technology enhancing energy efficiency with smart buildings, smart meters and smart grids. He served as Chief Engineer for the Division of Rates and Corporate Regulation with the Securities and Exchange Commission where he actively participated in landmark proceedings involving utility mergers, electric integration issues and utility financial disclosure. A driving force behind the founding of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, he has mentored generations of young men in careers in energy. He has been a Director of Xcel Energy Inc., since August 22, 2017. On December 21, 2018, he was nominated to be an independent director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. He now serves as vice chairman. He is a recognized expert in the energy field and has been a leader in shaping constructive public policy frameworks to support the industry’s transition to new and cleaner technologies. He served on Boards of the National Academy of Sciences and Chaired the National Institute of Standards and Technology Smart Grid Advisory Committee. He is a graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor and Masters of Engineering degrees, as well as a Masters in Engineering Administration from George Washington University.
James A. Rispoli, a licensed professional engineer in five states, is a Professor of Practice at the North Carolina State University. Additionally, he serves as a senior executive advisor for PT&C, LLC, an ENR-ranked engineering firm with over 30 years of experience serving owners in both operations and construction roles. Mr. Rispoli served as a career senior executive in the Department of Energy, and while Director, Office of Engineering and Construction Management, was invited by the Secretary to forego career status to accept a Presidential appointment. Thus, he served as an Assistant Secretary of Energy from 2005 through 2008, nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate. Mr. Rispoli previously completed 27 years of service to the nation in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Captain, Civil Engineer Corps. Subsequently, he was managing principal for an ENR top tier engineering firm and regional president of another top tier engineering firm in Hawaii, where his practice included multi-disciplinary engineering, environmental planning and engineering, and construction management. He left the private sector to join the Department of Energy’s new Office of Engineering and Construction Management in 1999. Articles and papers written by him on various subjects in engineering and leadership have been published, including seven published in either an edited book, or a refereed journal; and he has lectured extensively domestically and internationally in Japan, China, Singapore, Italy and the United Kingdom. Jim serves on the Board of the North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute, as well as on the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Advisory Board. He earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering from Manhattan College, a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of New Hampshire, and a Master’s degree in business from Central Michigan University. He is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), a member of the National Academy of Construction (NAC), a Board Certified Environmental Engineer (National Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists), and a licensed professional engineer in five States. He is a member of two permanent boards/committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), and is chair of one of them. He also recently served on a study committee of the NASEM’s Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board. He is currently the chair of an ASCE committee charged with development of an ANSI standard on sustainable infrastructure. Mr. Rispoli has developed and teaches two graduate engineering courses at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, and initiated a curriculum for a graduate engineering concentration in facilities engineering which the College of Engineering is currently implementing.
Dr. Sola Talabi is a principal with Pittsburgh Technical, which is a nuclear consulting firm that specializes in advanced reactor design and deployment. He is also an adjunct professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan. Sola’s experience includes design, numerical computational analysis, manufacturing, installation and testing of nuclear power plant components. His experience includes serving as Risk Manager at Westinghouse Electric Company, where he was responsible for risk awareness, assessment and response for advanced reactors including AP1000 and SMR. He received the following degrees from Carnegie Mellon University: M.B.A., Ph.D. (Engineering and Public Policy) and M.Sc. (Mechanical Engineering). He received his B.Sc. in Engineering from University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Talabi is also a certified risk manager.
Dr. Steven Zinkle (NAE) is the Governor’s Chair Professor for Nuclear Materials in the Nuclear Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering Departments at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee, he was chief scientist for Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Nuclear Science & Engineering Directorate and director of ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division. He also served as director of ORNL’s Metals and Ceramics Division, which merged into the Materials Science and Technology Division. Much of his research has utilized materials science to explore fundamental physical phenomena that are important for advanced nuclear energy applications, focusing on microstructure-property relationships. Dr. Zinkle’s research interests include the investigation of deformation and fracture mechanisms in structural materials, physical metallurgy of structural materials, and the investigation of radiation effects in ceramics, fuel systems and metallic alloys for fusion and fission energy systems. He has written over 300 peer-reviewed publications, and is a member of the Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee. He is a fellow of 7 professional societies including the American Nuclear Society (ANS), TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society), ASM International, the Materials Research Society, and the American Physical Society. He received a B.S. and M.S. in nuclear engineering, an M.S. in materials science, and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, all from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
The study committee was asked to identify opportunities and barriers to advanced nuclear reactor commercialization in the United States over the next 30 years as part of a decarbonization strategy. The report considers:
Learn more about the study and read the official statement of task on the study website.
The funding for the report came from the Department of Energy and a philanthropic donation to the National Academy of Engineering by Dr. James J. Truchard.
There are many possible ways to achieve decarbonization, and there is a lot of uncertainty regarding what the future electricity system will look like in the United States as more low-carbon energy is deployed. This report doesn’t advocate for a specific path towards decarbonization, because the future marketplace will determine what technologies ultimately contribute to the future energy mix in the United States.
However, there is the potential for advanced nuclear technologies to play an important role in decarbonization, particularly if the cost barriers can be overcome. The committee sees the need to advance low-carbon technologies of all kinds to keep our options open and make sure we have tools that are available to confront this huge societal problem.
Nuclear waste is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Nuclear fuel cycle issues were outside the scope of this report, but a recently published National Academies’ study covers that subject in detail. Merits and Viability of Different Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Technology Options and the Waste Aspects of Advanced Nuclear Reactors discusses nuclear fuel cycle options for both existing and advanced reactors, as well as nonproliferation and security considerations for these fuel cycles.
The committee met many times over the course of two years and held many information gathering sessions with briefings from federal agencies, vendors, and other stakeholders interested in advanced nuclear across a range of issues.
All recommendations in the report are consensus recommendations, agreed upon by the whole committee, comprised of experts from a wide array of backgrounds. The final report also went through rigorous peer review as part of the National Academies consensus study process.
One of the strengths of the National Academies is the tradition of bringing together recognized experts across many disciplines and facilitating collaboration. Careful steps are taken to convene diverse committees that have an appropriate range of expertise and represent a balance of perspectives. Stakeholders have the opportunity to nominate potential committee members at the beginning of the study, and all nominations are carefully considered. Committee members are always screened for possible conflicts of interest, and they serve as individual experts, not as representatives of organizations or interest groups. Learn more about the study committee for this report above.
The report has been presented to the study sponsors and congressional staff with interest in advanced nuclear technologies. Moving forward, additional dissemination briefings will be held for government, industry, scientific, and community stakeholders. If you are interested in requesting a briefing, please contact the study staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on events, including a workshop, are planned for late 2023.
This study was organized by the National Academies’ Board on Energy and Environmental Systems and the National Academy of Engineering.