Report links US nuclear industry to national security

Friday, August 18, 2017

The U.S. nuclear energy enterprise is a key national security enabler, according to a report released this week by a new non-profit.  The Energy Futures Initiative's report describes the domestic nuclear energy industry as playing important roles in both electricity supply and "maintaining a robust supply chain (equipment, services, and skilled personnel) that is necessary for U.S. leadership in global nuclear nonproliferation policy."

According to its website, Energy Futures Initiative, Inc. (EFI) is "a new not-for-profit dedicated to driving innovation in energy technology, policy and business models."  EFI's principals include fomer U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz.

EFI's August 2017 report, "The U.S. Nuclear Energy Enterprise: A Key National Security Enabler," analyzes the domestic nuclear energy sector's role in meeting national security imperatives, including:
  • maintaining U.S. leadership in ensuring nuclear non-proliferation;
  • supporting the U.S. nuclear Navy; and
  • supporting the global strategic stability and deterrence value of nuclear weapons.
It notes that in addition to supplying electricity, nuclear power provides values including climate change risk mitigation, fuel price risk management, and national security -- some of which are not addressed in electricity rate-making policy.  The report notes:
The analysis suggests that the imperatives of global climate change, collective energy security, balance of trade and U.S. national security require a viable domestic commercial nuclear power industry, including a robust supply chain of technology, services and human resources. Recent events and future trends point in the opposite direction: commercial reactors are shutting down, new builds are struggling, the supply chain is at risk, and it is likely that the educational pipeline will negatively respond to these challenges.
To ensure that the federal government addresses the relationship between a robust nuclear energy enterprise and goals including nonproliferation, Navy fleet modernization, and "the global strategic stability and deterrence value of nuclear weapons," the report suggests steps the U.S. could take.  These include making "maximum flexible use of its existing resources and capabilities, including credit support, tax incentives and federal siting and/or purchase power agreements, to bolster support for current new builds and to encourage additional new builds," as well as directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to "place greater emphasis on the national security importance of nuclear power and its associated supply chain."  It also suggests that Congress allocate $2 billion per year for the next five years to fund research and development into new reactor designs.

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