The nuclear energy policy landscape in the US has changed significantly during the past 5 years. Once seen as an issue with enormous differences between the political parties, it has become one of the few topics on which both parties can have a civil discussion and agree on many key provisions in supportive legislation.
Matt Crozat is the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Executive Director for Strategy and Policy Development. He and his supporting team have played a role in helping Representatives, Senators and their key staff members to understand the value supplied by operating nuclear plants and the advanced nuclear power systems that are being developed.
Some of the progress began with efforts at the state level and then proceeded to capture the attention of the national level politicians and leaders.
We talked about the strong financial support provided to operating plants to keep them economically viable and about the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that will encourage and reward the deployers of new nuclear power plants.
We talked about the results of an NEI survey of companies that own and operate the existing nuclear fleet that provided an intriguingly large number of expected new capacity additions between now and 2050. (Spoiler alert: Though representing a limited portion of the potential buyers, those companies expect to add enough reactors to double current nuclear generating capacity by 2050.)
Efforts to ensure capable supply chains and workforce development for that kind of growth have begun, but there is a lot of work remaining to be done. We discussed the importance of committed orders to convince suppliers that investments will produce product sales and the importance of jobs to ensure that workers are convinced to invest in developing their skills and education.
An important topic in our discussion was the importance of a consistent, steady effort and the extreme cost and vulnerability that can be imposed by wide swings in support that lead to bumpy, halting efforts.
We talked a bit about the potential that one or more of the companies that already own issued and active combined licenses for AP1000s may recognize that their decision matrix has changed in the past 2 years, with dramatic movements upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and then again upon passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
I’d wager that construction on those project could be organized to begin within about two years from the time the corporate board is convinced that is an investment worth the time and resources involved.
For reasons of fairness and not leaving anyone out of the mentions, we did not discuss the numerous organizations and individuals that helped achieve the successful change in the policy landscape.
I hope you enjoy the episode. Please participate in the discussion here with comments, questions and suggestions.