In a report on the future of nuclear fission, the US-based NIA says advanced nuclear energy has the potential to greatly reduce carbon emissions by mid-century and help achieve 100% clean energy in the US. But this promise can only be achieved with “the timely, efficient and widespread deployment of advanced reactors”.
The report warns that the US will need to rebuild the supply chain, complete nuclear projects on time and on budget, create incentives for deployment and enact policies that enable private investment.
The report cites other conditions for success that it says are critical to the successful deployment of advanced reactors. They include modernising advanced nuclear energy regulation, making progress on spent nuclear fuel, getting siting right and prioritising environmental and energy justice. This would ensure, for example, that communities benefit from the repurposing of retiring fossil fuel infrastructure with advanced reactors.
According to the report, doubling domestic nuclear energy production from 800 TWh to at least 1,600 TWh by 2050 requires rapid and sustained deployment of advanced nuclear energy. Doubling domestic nuclear energy by 2050 requires constructing at least 100 GW of new nuclear energy production in the next 30 years.
This deployment rate may seem daunting, the report notes, but nuclear energy has been constructed this quickly in the US before. Over 100 GW of light-water reactors were constructed between 1960 and 1990.
“The application of modern manufacturing and construction practices can help us meet or exceed historic nuclear energy deployment rates and enable the doubling of domestic nuclear energy production by 2050 using advanced nuclear energy,” the report says.
The US has a fleet of 93 commercial nuclear reactors, but only two under construction at Vogtle in Georgia.