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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Knowing What You’ve Got Before It’s Gone in Nuclear Energy

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest source of carbon prevention in the United States, but this is a rough time to be in the business of selling electricity due to cheap natural gas and a flood of subsidized renewable energy. Some nuclear plants have closed prematurely, and others likely will follow.
In recent weeks, Exelon and the Omaha Public Power District said that they might close the Clinton, Quad Cities and Fort Calhoun nuclear reactors. As Joni Mitchell’s famous song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
More than 100 energy and policy experts will gather in a U.S. Senate meeting room on May 19 to talk about how to improve the viability of existing nuclear plants. The event will be webcast, and a link will be available here.
Unlike other energy sources, nuclear power plants get no specia…

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…