In this issue, we highlight noteworthy research, including a new report analyzing the geopolitical issues and challenges facing nuclear power. We also note the latest civil nuclear developments in Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria. Additionally, we highlight the U.S. decision to add Chinese nuclear power entities to a trade blacklist amid accusations of helping to acquire advanced U.S. technology for military use in China.

Prizing Practicality over Ideology to Address Climate Change
As the climate crisis worsens, and the evidence of its destructive impact becomes more vivid, the conflict over how best to address the challenge is throwing more heat than light. A recent article makes the case against a significant role for nuclear power as a carbon free response to the ravages of climate change. But, at the moment nuclear power is one of the world’s most significant zero carbon energy sources. It does not make sense to fight an ideological battle over a technology that can significantly contribute to solving a problem that continues to grow worse.

A recent report makes the frightening case that climate change may significantly impact global food production. This at a time when the world population is projected to grow from 7.7 to 9.7 billion people by 2050. Similar alarms are being raised about how climate change will impact water availability and the global economy . Water availability and temperature are important to the effective operation of existing large reactors and some have been negatively impacted in recent years, taking carbon free power off the electrical grid.

While the rise of renewable energy is very welcome in the contest against climate change, it is currently not capable of supplanting all existing global fossil fuel energy production, nuclear generation, and the significant projected growth of an expanding and electrifying global population and economy. If significant battery storage and grid modifications can be achieved and scaled, that will be a significant positive advancement. But these technologies are not more virtuous than other carbon free generation sources including nuclear power when facing the climate crisis.

There are several significant arguments against nuclear power. Its long-lived waste, cost, and potential for nuclear weapons proliferation are undeniable and perennial problems that have been a struggle to manage. The potential exists for a new generation of reactors to make headway against these issues . And none negate it as an effective pillar in the climate combat strategy.

Also,  there is little acknowledged toxic pollution from renewable technology manufacturing. A surprising new movie also makes the case that “green” technologies are not as pure as its makers wanted to believe when they began the project.

And, at least in the case of solar power, the panels need to be replaced at regular intervals. Existing nuclear reactors are in the process of being licensed for up to 60 years of operation and that may be extended to 80 years. Their land mass footprints are also smaller than either solar or wind.

The reality is that there are no easy and completely clean answers to powering the modern world. The growing demand for electricity combined with the impact of global transportation are driving emissions higher. The carbon growth is primarily in developing economy nations that need economic advancement and improvements in living conditions that approach or equal developed nations.

The global effort to curb carbon emissions has been grossly inadequate. There is no virtue in fighting against technologies that can reduce this concentration at a time of extreme need. The real goal is to solve the problem. That will be expensive and all the options have, and likely will continue to receive, subsidization and create toxic waste streams. No technology will be immune from having downsides.

Therefore, it is not realistic to remove nuclear power from the carbon combatting arsenal because, if the target is deep decarbonization by 2050 or even 2100, the battle cannot be won without it. It makes more sense to place practicality above ideology when facing down what many believe is an existential threat to mankind.

Ken Luongo, Partnership for Global Security

“Nuclear innovation is essential in the 21 st  century, a period of powerful technological evolution and intensifying global competition. The challenges posed by climate change and to global nuclear security must be addressed in a strong and effective manner. Advanced reactors are an important response to both of these critical issues.”
Nuclear Collaboration
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have signed a memorandum of cooperation to explore joint regulatory reviews of developing nuclear technologies, including advanced reactors and small modular reactors (SMR).

The Ukraine Embassy in the U.S. has launched a joint Ukraine-U.S. cooperation project to facilitate information exchange in nuclear science and engineering. 
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The U.S. blacklisted Chinese nuclear power entities, accusing them of helping to acquire advanced U.S. nuclear technology for military use in China. There has been ongoing concern in the Trump administration that the export of U.S. technology to China could be illegally diverted for military or other unauthorized purposes. 

Russia has produced the world’s first floating nuclear power plant able to produce up to 70 megawatts of electricity. Critics are concerned about potential radiation and environmental effects, while its chief engineer has assured it has a state-of-the-art security system.

Rosatom postponed its fast neutron reactor programme, with Russia reducing funding and delaying the commissioning of the BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast reactors to 2036, from the previous target of 2027. 

Russia’s largest state-owned bank will provide a seven-year, $400 million loan for the construction of the Akkuyu NPP in Turkey. This comes as Turkey’s quest for its first NPP - a $20 billion project led by Rosatom -  is facing new safety and environmental setbacks.

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce proposed to build SMRs in an investment with the United Kingdom government totaling £500 million. This comes after the UK revealed last month plans to invest up to £18 million in the creation of “mini nuclear power stations”.  

Bulgaria has received 13 applications for participation in the Belene nuclear power project, including from the state-backed nuclear entities China National Nuclear Corporation, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co, and Rosatom. The government has said it will have a majority stake in the project, while shortlisted applicants will next be asked to file binding bids.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has published an official legislative discussion draft of the Strategic Energy for America Act calling to enable the U.S. Export-Import Bank and new International Development Finance Corporation to pursue civil nuclear energy projects in developing countries.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has chosen to site the new National Reactor Innovation Center at the Idaho National Laboratory. This center will partner with private companies to test and demonstrate new reactor concepts using the DOE’s national laboratory system.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies 
The U.S. DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration signed a contract with Cray Computing to develop a $600 million exascale supercomputer to make critical assessments for the NNSA in ensuring the safety and security of the nation's nuclear stockpile.

Finish state-owned energy company Fortum has begun using virtual reality (VR) to simulate a first-of-its-kind dedicated VR training room for control operators at a tenth of the cost of a physical training room.
Noteworthy Research
The Energy Futures Initiative released a new report proposing five principles for achieving deep decarbonization by mid-century: committing to innovation, building inclusive cross-sector coalitions, addressing socially equitable solutions, and enabling economy wide solutions to the climate challenge.

The Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Climate Change Risks and Adaptation Potential highlighted twelve major climate change risks affecting Canada, including national security risks related to changing geopolitical dynamics.

The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University published a report examining geopolitical issues surrounding nuclear power. The report recommends policy makers to demystify the science around nuclear power, develop global partnerships to manage proliferation risks, and improve investment vehicles for supporting nuclear research and development.

In a new report released by Energy for Humanity , author Dr. Staffan Qvist explores the impact of recent European heatwaves on nuclear power output, and addresses technical solutions for mitigating these challenges.

The Council of Strategic Risks released a new briefer addressing Nigeria's evolving security landscape in the context of the Nigerian nuclear energy program, climate fragility, and security risks.
The Nuclear Conversation
For more than two decades, the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) has developed actionable responses to global security challenges by engaging international, private sector, and multidisciplinary expert partners to assess policy needs, identify effective strategies, and drive demonstrable results.
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