Skip to main content

The White House’s All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy

White_HouseThe White House has released an energy plan, which it calls The All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth. In it, nuclear energy is always grouped with renewable energy sources, clean coal and energy efficiency as a means of affecting climate change. And in no uncertain terms:

Nuclear energy provides zero-carbon baseload electricity, and through the Energy Department the Administration is supporting nuclear research and deployment. A high priority of the Department has been to help accelerate the timelines for the commercialization and deployment of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies through the SMR Licensing Technical Support program. Small modular reactors offer the advantage of lower initial capital investment, scalability, and siting flexibility at locations unable to accommodate more traditional larger reactors. They also have the potential for enhanced safety and security, for example through built-in passive safety systems. In December 2013, the Energy Department announced an award to support a new project to design, certify and help commercialize SMRs.

And not just small reactors:

The Energy Department is also supporting deployment of advanced large-scale reactors. In February 2014, the Department of Energy issued $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to support the construction of the nation’s next generation of advanced nuclear reactors. The two new 1,100-megawatt reactors, which will be located in Georgia, feature advanced safety components and could provide a standardized design for the U.S. utilities market.

This is true of the two reactors in South Carolina, too, but SCANA did not apply for a loan guarantee to build them. It’s interesting to see that small reactors are established enough that the White House now refers to large-scale reactors. The need to differentiate them has developed.

The plan recognizes nuclear energy’s role in mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

The United States is further reducing its GHG emissions through improved energy efficiency, taking advantage of nonconventional natural gas as a transitional fuel, supporting renewable, nuclear, and clean coal energy sources, and regulation under the Clean Air Act.

The plan notes that combatting carbon emissions is an international issue, but might have gone a little further than that: that exporting U.S. nuclear energy technology has the potential to limit carbon emissions even in developing countries while further bolstering the economy.

Obviously, a plan with this name is not making the case for any particular energy source, but one could certainly quibble with how any single energy source is handled.

Looking further ahead, developing natural gas generation infrastructure now prepares for future widespread deployment of wind and solar generation.

Hey, where’s nuclear energy here? I’m not even sure how such an infrastructure sets the table for renewable energy – it seems like two vagrant thoughts mashed together. But the idea of natural gas as a transitional fuel for renewable energy already seems a bit careworn, something the natural gas people would like to hear for a long, long time. Anyway, where nuclear energy provides the lion’s share of electricity, there is no need for transition. It does exactly what renewable energy might do one day – and has done it for 50 years.

In a plan such as this one, the occasional odd thought or peculiar omission can easily be over parsed, as just demonstrated. What’s really important is the bottom line:

The All-of-the-Above energy strategy has three key elements: to support economic growth and job creation, to enhance energy security, and to deploy low-carbon energy technologies and lay the foundation for a clean energy future.

And nuclear energy has a high significance in all three goals.


Be sure to check out NEO President and CEO' Marv Fertel’s comments on this plan. He zeroes in on the economic benefits of nuclear facilities, which are significant and answers powerfully to the first of the plan’s three elements:

The typical nuclear plant generates approximately $470 million in sales of goods and services locally and nearly $40 million in total labor income. Each nuclear plant generates almost $16 million in state and local tax revenue annually, and the average plant generates federal tax payments of approximately $67 million annually.


And take a look at the whole report to see how everything fits together. We kept the focus pretty tightly on nuclear energy, but anyone interested in energy policy will want to read the whole thing.


Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…