New Nuclear

Legal and Policy Advancements for Advanced Reactors

Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators re-introduced the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA), which is aimed at improving the nation’s nuclear infrastructure and supply chain, growing the economy, creating jobs, reducing carbon emissions, and strengthening U.S. energy and national security. The bill was re-introduced by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). As discussed in a previous blog post, ANIA was introduced in a similar form in mid-November 2020.  Prior to…
There is a new space race developing, with higher stakes and more ambitious goals than just going back to Earth orbit or the Moon.  The U.S. has developed a sizable technological lead in rockets and satellite technology, which has in turn grown our national and global space ambitions.  Now that it is feasible to get to low Earth orbit affordably and reliably, astronauts and private companies are now looking to go further—including establishing permanent colonies on the Moon and Mars, mining asteroids for their immense natural resources, and sending astronauts to search for life on the moons of the…
Many advanced reactor developers are designing their technologies to pair with renewables.  A recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the government entity responsible for overseeing America’s bulk power system, underscores the benefits that can be achieved through an advanced nuclear/renewable energy partnership to compensate for the intermittent nature of solar and wind power. For power grids relying on renewable energy, supply and demand hang in a balance based on the time of day and weather forecast. To maintain equilibrium in grid systems powered by renewable energy, flexible backup sources must remain online at all times. To…
On May 28, 2021, President Biden submitted a proposed federal budget for Fiscal Year 2022  (FY22) that included a significant funding increase for clean energy initiatives. The budget proposal, which complements the President’s American Jobs Plan, among other things affirms support for nuclear energy as an option to combat climate change by allocating $1.85 billion to the Department of Energy (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy, prioritizes the development of new, clean energy innovation offices, and takes advantage of tax credits to support clean energy innovation. The increased funding to the Office of Nuclear Energy–a 23 percent increase from the…
Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new funding program issued by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). An impressive $40 million in funds are being set aside to support the new Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program. This endeavor will focus on preventing or reducing nuclear waste and improving disposal options. The goal is for a 10x reduction in nuclear waste, through the following three options identified in the press release: Process: Improvements in fuel recycling that significantly minimize waste volumes, improve intrinsic proliferation resistance, increase resource use, and bolster advanced reactor commercialization.…
Today the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comment on categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires that federal agencies conduct environmental reviews for any “major Federal action” that significantly affects “the quality of the human environment.” As a background to NEPA, for major federal actions that may impact the quality of the human environment, an environmental review is conducted either in the form of an Environmental Analysis (EA), when it is unclear if a project will have a significant environmental impact or as an Environmental Impact Statement…
On April 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) announced it is soliciting Expressions of Interest (EOI) from industry stakeholders and technical experts on innovative uses of nuclear energy. The EOI should be for a multi-phase demonstration program in partnership with the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) and the Crosscutting Technology Development Integrated Energy Systems (CTD IES) program in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. This prospective effort demonstrates a public-private sector opportunity to advance carbon-free initiatives through nuclear innovation. INL stated the potential demonstration program should begin in…
The White House demonstrates its continued support for fossil fuel communities during the  current clean energy transition by standing up the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communicatees and Economic Revitalization (“Working Group”). The Working Group aims to deliver federal resources to revive the local economics of coal, oil and gas areas, particularly in the Appalachian Region. On April 28th, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center hosted a “fireside chat” on an equitable low carbon energy transition in the Appalachian region. One of the panelists, the Honorable Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator from West Virginia, emphasized the significance of…
On April 22 and 23, President Biden hosted forty world leaders virtually at the Leaders Summit on Climate (“Climate Summit”) to employ a “whole of government” approach in the fight against climate change. The world leaders announced a variety of commitments to include creating global partnerships, setting financial benchmarks, and transforming current energy supply schemes, as discussed in a recent Hogan Lovells Client Alert. Among the domestic and international commitments, President Biden pledged that the U.S. would cut its emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. This announcement dovetails into his larger promise to make the…
Today, we issued a Client Alert summarizing the White House Climate Change Summit from last week.  We are replicating it below for the benefit of our blog readers. President Biden hosted the Leaders Summit on Climate (Climate Summit) on 22-23 April. The Climate Summit is a next step in the President’s plan to employ a “whole of government” approach to combat climate change. The Climate Summit, which was attended by 40 world leaders, also shows that the United States intends to become a global leader in the fight against climate change, both at home and abroad. During the meeting, the U.S., the…
On March 31st, President Biden unveiled a massive $2 trillion infrastructure and clean energy plan called the American Jobs Plan that aims, in part, to tackle what the White House calls two of the greatest challenges of our time: the climate crisis and competition with China.  Among the proposed investments, the American Jobs Plan calls for funding for the development of advanced nuclear reactors and for a clean electricity standard that can potentially support operating plants. Other provisions of the plan include clean energy tax credits, investments for upgrades to the electric grid, and plans to clean up abandoned mines…
On March 25, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing entitled “The Latest Developments in the Nuclear Energy Sector with a Focus on Ways to Maintain and Expand the Use of Nuclear Energy in the United States and Abroad.” A recording of the hearing is available here.  This full Committee hearing included testimonies from experts in nuclear, including blog contributor and Hogan Lovells Partner Amy Roma, whose testimony can be found here. Her testimony discusses the important benefits nuclear power offers for this country’s national security, economic interests, and climate change goals. Amy…
On Friday, February 26, the Biden Administration’s newly-resurrected Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (IWG) announced new values for three specific metrics that seek to monetize the environmental impacts of greenhouse gases:  the Social Cost of Carbon, Social Cost of Nitrous Oxide, and Social Cost of Methane.  Collectively these are known as the Social Costs of Greenhouse Gases, or SC-GHG. Using 2020 as a baseline and a 3% average discount rate (explained further below), the IWG calculated the Social Cost of Carbon at $51/metric ton (mt), the Social Cost of Methane at $1,500/mt, and the Social Cost…
On February 16, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) issued a report to help guide the Biden Administration in its support of nuclear amidst the President’s ambitious climate agenda. The report, U.S. Advanced Nuclear Energy Strategy for Domestic Prosperity, Climate Protection, National Security, and Global Leadership, provides detailed recommendations to promote advanced reactor development that could garner bipartisan support if implemented. It discusses federal, state-level, and international goals for advancing nuclear. The next day, February 17, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) published a report on Public Investment in Nuclear Research and Development that…
President Biden ran on an energy and environmental platform calling for a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In pursuit of this clean energy plan, he also called for a modernized energy infrastructure that supports advanced nuclear commercialization. Advanced nuclear technology is capable of generating power with net-zero emissions and can help the new Administration achieve its goals concerning climate change. On January 27th, the Biden Administration has hit the ground running on climate initiatives with the following Executive Orders and other measures to address climate change and scientific integrity. Executive Order on tackling the…
The year 2020 is surely to be remembered for the pandemic that swept the globe and affected the lives of millions of people and touched practically every industry sector. Despite the hardships faced, the nuclear industry has thrived with its promise of coupling American innovation and a zero-carbon energy solution. This blog post will highlight some of the most notable 2020 activities in nuclear. Nuclear Regulatory Commission The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) boasts a number of accomplishments that sets the stage for advanced nuclear technology. Part 53 framework: In April 2020, the NRC proposed to develop the 10 CFR Part…