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Enabling High Volume Licensing of Advanced Nuclear Energy

Patrick White & Rama T. Ponangi |

This report reviews the current licensing process for new nuclear power plants at the NRC and concludes that it is unlikely the agency could reasonably scale existing licensing processes as they are currently implemented to meet the potential future high volume licensing demand (tens to hundreds of new reactors per year) to meet mid-century climate goals. It also identifies major licensing processes that most significantly constrain NRC licensing capacity limitations relevant to future high volume licensing. Finally, it presents three specific proposals that aim to enable high volume licensing of advanced nuclear energy by the NRC in the long term.

To view NIA's press statement regarding the publication of this paper, click here

This report by NIA provides new technical analyses of high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) production cost and the funding requirements for federal programs to support HALEU availability for advanced reactors. The production cost analyses highlight and quantify the role of different cost drivers (including both existing uranium mining, conversion, and enrichment capacity as well as new HALEU enrichment and deconversion capacity) in the cost of domestic HALEU production. These production cost-drivers are the starting point for commercial and government efforts to catalyze domestic HALEU production. The federal HALEU availability program evaluations we present characterize the Congressional appropriation needs to catalyze private investment new HALEU production capacity under a wide range of market conditions. These detailed program evaluations reinforce on-going work by Congress to secure additional legislative authorizations and appropriations for domestic HALEU production. This report provides a strong technical, economic, and policy basis for on-going efforts by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy to catalyze new domestic commercial production of HALEU for advanced reactors.

 

To see this report's summary for policymakers that focuses on the full report’s high-level policy takeaways, click here

This summary for policymakers provides high-level policy takeaways from NIA's report, "Characterizing an Emerging Market for High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium Production". This report by NIA provides new technical analyses of high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) production cost and the funding requirements for federal programs to support HALEU availability for advanced reactors. To read the full report, click here

Advanced Nuclear Energy Guide for State Policymakers

Victor Ibarra Jr., Judi Greenwald & Erik Cothron |

This 2023 update of the Guide incorporates new information since the initial 2021 release.

This Guide serves as an introduction to advanced nuclear energy technologies and policies for state-level policymakers and stakeholders. The first part of this Guide describes advanced reactor technology and its benefits, provides an overview of enabling federal policies, and reviews state options to incentivize local development of advanced reactors. The second part of the Brief provides case studies of emerging state leaders in these technologies:     

  • nuclear projects in Wyoming
  • Energy Northwest’s plans in Washington State
  • the state of play in Virginia and the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium
  • Texas’ leadership in deploying advanced nuclear energy
  • the Nuclear Alternative Project in Puerto Rico

Finally, the last section of this Brief is a compendium of topical briefs that elaborate the characteristics of advanced reactors with respect to safety, economic benefits, waste management, the flexibility and dispatchability of advanced nuclear power, its timing and development. These briefs also include one-pagers on key provisions found in the IRA to spur nuclear innovation.

Implications of Inflation Reduction Act Tax Credits for Advanced Nuclear Energy

Marc Chupka, Judi Greenwald, Victor Ibarra Jr. & Jeffrey D. Brown |

This paper focuses the impact of the new Inflation Reduction Act clean electricity tax credits on new nuclear energy projects, using the same tools developed for an initial 2021 NIA analysis. The results show that the current IRA tax credits effectively reduce the costs of electricity produced by advanced nuclear projects, both for first-of-a-kind and nth-of-a-kind projects, which will enable advanced nuclear reactors to compete effectively with other clean and firm generation options.

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and the Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp (NIB) hosted a webinar event series entitled Fueling Your Future for NIB Alumni. This panel covered introductions to the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, Workforce Sectors, Advanced Reactors 201, and updates on the Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp. The panel featured NIA's own Judi Greenwald, Patrick White, and Devin Watts as panelists. Mya Zepp served as moderator.

The Urgency of NRC Reform

Judi Greenwald |

This brief authored by NIA Executive Director Judi Greenwald connects the role of advanced nuclear energy in meeting climate and energy security goals with the urgent need for NRC reform to enable advanced nuclear energy. It outlines the short-, medium- and long-term NRC reforms that are necessary to achieve that goal. It provides recommendations for action by Congress and the NRC and highlights several of NIA's recommendations for improving licensing efficiency. NIA developed this brief to serve as a guide for policymakers, the NRC itself, and key stakeholders in considering and then taking action to ensure the NRC can "become an agile, modern, risk-informed, and performance-based regulator to successfully meet this moment."

Resources for Coal Repowering with Nuclear Energy

Erik Cothron |

This document serves as a high-level introduction to coal repowering with nuclear energy (also known as coal power plant repurposing, or coal-to-nuclear transitions) and a directory of useful resources for those looking to dive deeper into the topics discussed herein. It presents the key concepts, opportunities, and challenges associated with this energy transition, and provides readers with solid foundations and condensed information, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of this subject matter. It is intended for a diverse range of stakeholders interested in exploring coal repowering with nuclear energy, and is meant to foster informed decision-making, strategic planning, and meaningful discussions that contribute to coal repowering efforts. Policymakers, industry stakeholders, researchers, community leaders, potential customers, and interested individuals will find a concise overview of coal repowering to help navigate the multifaceted aspects of this energy transition and the extensive body of literature already available.

In July 2023, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) released two new Deployment Maps that showcase scheduled deployments of North American advanced reactors design across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Alongside the release of the two Deployment Maps, NIA also release an updates of their “Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Company Compendium” and their “Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Primer”. These releases were accompanied by a Zoom media briefing event. The NIA's new and updated reports provide information, resources and insights into advanced nuclear technology innovation and commercialization. They should serve as resources for investors, reporters, policymakers, regulators and others who want to learn more about advanced nuclear technologies and the key players building this industry.