Senate Convenes Hearing on Nuclear Energy

Mar 29, 2021

by ASME.org

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing last week to examine the latest developments in the nuclear energy sector and discuss ways to maintain and expand the use of nuclear energy in the United States and abroad. The Committee received testimony from the Tennessee Valley Authority, TerraPower, the Uranium Producers of America, X-Energy, and the Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition, representing interests from across the existing nuclear fleet and those developing new reactor designs. Two of the witnesses, TerraPower and X-Energy, were selected as winners of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), which was recently reauthorized by the Energy Act of 2020 to speed the demonstration of advanced reactors through cost-shared public-private partnerships. Several other advanced reactor companies also received ARDP awards for their projects and are in discussions with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for licensing.
 
Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) opened the hearing noting the role of competition from state owned entities in the nuclear energy sector and its impact on U.S. investments. “Russia and China have made a strategic effort to supplant our nuclear leadership over recent years. We must push back. With the necessary policy and funding, we can maintain our nuclear supply chain, create high-paying manufacturing jobs, and reassert U.S. leadership. We also need to discuss the role of our existing fleet, where we’re seeing more closures. This year alone five reactors at three locations with 5.1-gigawatt capacity are slated to close… We cannot afford to let this carbon-free energy resource fade out.”
 
Amy Roma, testifying on behalf of the Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition at the Atlantic Council, emphasized in her testimony the benefits of nuclear energy to a variety of U.S. national security, energy, and economic goals, and outlined how Congress can better support industry development. “There are many ways Congress can help support this industry, including by continuing to fund and support the Department of Energy’s ADRP program, other R&D initiatives, moving forward on spent fuel disposal solutions, supporting the existing fleet and infrastructure, supporting efforts to streamline and improve the efficiency of NRC licensing and exports, supporting efforts to expand financing options for new nuclear projects, including through the Export/Import bank and Development Finance Corporation, just to name a few,” noted Roma.
 
To view an archived webcast of the hearing, visit: https://www.energy.senate.gov/hearings/2021/3/full-committee-hearing-on-nuclear-energy
 
For more information on the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, visit: https://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/advanced-reactor-demonstration-program
 

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