In this week’s issue, we discuss re-establishing U.S. global nuclear energy leadership to facilitate carbon reduction commitments, promote equitable economic growth and strengthen national security objectives. We also highlight a recent report from the Partnership for Global Security and the Nuclear Innovation Alliance laying out a roadmap for the U.S. to become a global leader in advanced nuclear energy. Finally, we draw attention to a Hydrogen Roadmap released by the Nuclear Industry Association detailing how nuclear energy could produce one-third of the UK’s green hydrogen by 2050.
Leadership Strategy for Climate, Nuclear Energy, and Global Security
The recent blackouts in Texas are a black eye for the nation and underscore the perils of a changing climate. If the punishing winter storms of 2021 weren’t enough, the U.N. secretary general has called it a red alert that the latest national commitments to carbon reduction would reduce emissions by less than 1 percent.
This sets the stage for a U.S.-proposed climate summit on Earth Day. Designed to escalate global zero-carbon commitments, the event also has the potential to be an important springboard for the November Glasgow COP supporting the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
But the summit’s currently opaque scope raises questions about whether it will include all the clean energy technologies needed to meet the mid-century global carbon reductions that can avoid the worst climate impacts. This includes nuclear energy. Current nuclear power plants already produce the lion’s share of carbon-free electricity in the U.S. and other major industrialized nations. The next-generation of nuclear power offers promising support for carbon-free energy and economic growth of the developing world.
A new strategy report spearheaded by the Nuclear Innovation Alliance and PGS makes the case that the next-generation of nuclear energy has a vital role to play in climate protection, as well as economic prosperity, national security, and global leadership. It was the result of extensive outreach and was endorsed by a bipartisan group of eight additional organizations.
The report identifies 10 high level objectives to establish and sustain U.S. leadership in the advanced reactor area.
A necessary first step in rebuilding the U.S. leadership position is to incorporate advanced nuclear energy into domestic and global decarbonization strategies. That’s why making sure the scope of the Biden climate summit includes nuclear energy is so important.
Re-establishing U.S. leadership in global nuclear energy and exports is another essential underpinning of this leadership role. The world is looking to the U.S. for direction on climate change responses and the nation has to be able to compete in the next-gen global reactor competition or abandon the market to Russia and China.
The deployment of smaller next-gen reactors is already occurring, but the first supplier has been Russia. It may soon be joined by China, a major challenger to the U.S. in technology development. In his recent confirmation hearing, the nominee for director of the CIA said, “Out-competing China will be the key to our national security in the decades ahead.”
The U.S. also must be a strong participant in the export market if it wants to exert continued influence over the international safety, security, and non-proliferation requirements for these reactors. Adjustments from current guidance will be required and the U.S. has been a strong advocate for strong international best practices in these vital areas.
These international guidelines are particularly important as the smaller advanced technologies expand into developing economy countries that require clean, distributed energy to support their sustainable development. A number of nations interested in advanced reactors may not be fully prepared for nuclear operations. A combination of strong best practices, IAEA engagement, and reactor supplier-nation support will be important for safe and secure operation.
The development of this new generation of reactors also can have significant domestic benefits.
It can lead to an emerging new industry that can create high-wage, high-technology jobs that support the domestic and international framework for the rapid commercialization of these reactors. But it also is important that the development of this industry correct past approaches and support environmental and social justice.
A strong advanced nuclear industry also can strengthen the existing nuclear fleet workforce and the faltering U.S. nuclear supply chain. Just this week, the administration launched a 100-day review to secure critical supply chains for minerals and materials including those essential for the energy sector.
The development of a leadership position on advanced reactors will require that the U.S. tackle two especially tough issues.
The first is the management of spent nuclear fuel, which will require the development of a consent-based approach. The second is to innovate the financial and business models for advanced reactors. The competition from Russia and China is from companies that are state-financed and directed. The private sector in the U.S. cannot be asked to stand alone in the face of these state-owned enterprises. There must be private-public partnerships.
The last several years have set the stage for a revitalization of U.S. nuclear leadership. The Congress has passed important legislation, the executive branch has launched necessary technology demonstration projects, and an influential segment of civil society has increasingly come to understand that the clean energy contribution of nuclear power is necessary.
The international environment also has changed. Nuclear power is not just about energy and economics. It is about national security and geopolitics. Playing by 20th century rules in this new game is a losing proposition.
Advanced nuclear energy is an essential element of the global quest to develop a full suite of clean energy technologies and strengthen global security. The NIA-PGS strategy offers a comprehensive roadmap for advanced reactors technology and the policy framework needed to support it. It should be welcomed at the Biden climate summit and beyond.

Last week, the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) and the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) released a joint report defining a comprehensive strategy for the U.S. to become the global leader in advanced nuclear power. Based on stakeholder engagement across industry, government, and civil society, this strategy provides guidance for the Biden Administration, Congress, industry, and others on the commercialization of advanced reactors for climate mitigation and the advancement of global security. The report was released with a webinar that is available online.
Nuclear Collaborations
Unipur Sweden, LeadCold, and the Royal Institute of Technology have joined forces with the aim of building a demonstration lead-cooled small modular reactor (SMR) at Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant (NPP) by 2030. These institutions plan to launch a non-nuclear prototype in 2024 to facilitate future reactor commercialization. 
NuScale Power and Bulgaria’s Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant–New Build (KNPP-NB) company have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore Nuscale’s SMR technology deployment at the country’s Kozloduy NPP. KNPP-NB hopes such technology will help stabilize Bulgaria’s energy supply security and add sufficient economic value to the nation.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
Construction of Turkey’s Akkuyu NPP, a product of Rosatom’s (Russia) build-own-operate model, is scheduled for completion by 2026. Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Ministry’s road map aims for a 27.5 percent plant completion rate by the end of 2021and the completion of the first of four units by October 29, 2023.

Rolls-Royce’s UK SMR is slated for deployment in 2030. The company plans to seek investment in May 2021 and complete the General Design Assessment process with UK regulators in 2024.
Russia’s Rostechnadzor has issued a construction license for the world’s first pilot demonstration unit with the planned BREST-OD-300 lead-cooled fast neutron reactor. The unit will be built at the Siberian Chemical Combine demonstration facility with an on-site closed nuclear fuel cycle. 
The European Commission is considering imposing restrictions on power imports from NPPs outside the European Union that do not meet the bloc’s safety standards. This proposition comes as Belarus’ Astravets NPP, whose first unit is set to become fully operational in April or May, continues to face serious safety concerns. The Baltic states halted commercial power trading with Belarus after the NPP began producing power in November 2020.
Russia’s Atomenergomash has begun producing the main components for Units 3 and 4 of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Rosatom’s planned Xudabao NPP in northeast China. Construction of the VVER-1200 reactors is due to commence in October 2021 and August 2022, respectively.

India plans to triple its nuclear power capacity from 6780 MW to 22480 MW by 2031. The country is currently building six reactors and has approved the construction of ten additional ones.

General Atomics has completed the first of seven constituent modules of ITER’s central solenoid. ITER, which is scheduled to begin plasma operations in 2025 and become fully operational in 2035, is the “world’s biggest nuclear-fusion experiment” and aims to demonstrate the large-scale potential of fusion energy.

Beginning in July, spent nuclear fuel from three of Ukraine’s four NPPs will be stored domestically in a new site known as the ‘Interim Storage Facility 2’ (ISF-2). The site, which is located near the former Chernobyl NPP, will allow Ukraine to cease exports of nuclear waste to Russia.

Work on certain aspects of England’s planned Bradwell NPP has been suspended due to pandemic-related cost concerns. Bradwell B Power Generation Company (BRB), a joint venture between China General Nuclear Power (CGN) and France’s EDF, intends to focus on technical issues like site feasibility until other project areas are ready to progress in future years.

The China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) has commenced high-power operation. The CEFR is a first step in China’s fast reactor development strategy, which entails construction, demonstration and, eventually, commercialization of fast reactors. Construction of two demonstration CFR-600 fast reactors has already begun, with construction of a commercial scale CFR1000 reactor potentially starting in December 2028 for deployment near 2034.

Cooling water levels have fallen in Fukushima NPP’s Unit 1 and 3 reactors following Japan’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake on February 13. This additional damage to the reactors’ primary containment chambers could further delay decommissioning of the NPP, which was responsible for the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has closed its resilience docket concerning the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2017 coal and nuclear plant bailout proposal. Commissioners noted that the docket has mostly remained idle since its opening and associated issues are more suited to regional arbitration.
The DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell and Nuclear Energy offices plan to grant up to $20 million in total to projects that “demonstrate systems that produce hydrogen using nuclear power energy or the heat from nuclear power plants.” Projects must include “integration of a specific hydrogen end use demonstration” and have “full system integration.”

Honeywell plans to reopen Illinois’ Metropolis Works plant and restart production of uranium hexafluoride by early 2023. The plant, which is the only uranium conversion facility in the United States, was idled in 2018 due to insufficient demand for its uranium hexafluoride.
Climate Coalition, a lobby group, claimed that the April 2020 shutdown of New York’s Indian Point-2 NPP has increased state levels of fossil fuel–derived electricity. The group believes that the state’s measure will yield four million unnecessary tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which will double if Indian Point-3 goes through its scheduled closure on April 30. According to the group, Indian Point generated 16695 GWh of electricity in 2019. Additionally, experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists estimate that the closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California could result in a 15.5 million ton increase of carbon emissions over the next decade.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued contracts worth up to $220 million to three small businesses for the cleanup of the Navajo Nation’s deserted uranium mines. Radiation originating from the mines, which were largely used from the late 1940s to the 1960s, has detrimentally affected the Nation’s residents’ health and contaminated local water sources.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium (NSSC) has received a $25 million grant from the National Nuclear Science Administration (NNSA) to conduct nuclear science and security research and educate future scientists.

Framatome’s first 18-month fuel cycle test of its GAIA Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) showed ‘“expected results and excellent performance.”’ The company plans to conduct two more 18-month fuel cycle tests before deploying EATF in the United States by 2022. Accident-tolerant fuel (ATF) has the potential to “increase efficiency, improve performance, and reduce operating costs” and generate “less waste and used nuclear fuel.”
A confidential United Nations report has revealed that North Korea continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in 2020. The nation allegedly ‘“produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure”’ and publicly showcased new short-range, medium-range, submarine-launched, and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) systems.
Iran has officially begun limiting the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) access to its nuclear facilities and ceasing implementation of the Additional Protocol. The nation will stop sharing surveillance footage of such sites with the UN agency, but will keep tapes for three months and share them with the IAEA if U.S. sanctions are lifted

According to a new report, a hacking group linked to the Indian military has used spyware since 2017 to target Pakistani and Kashmiri government officials and agencies, including the former’s top nuclear regulator. Hackers allegedly obtained 2017 and 2018 WhatsApp conversations between “officials at the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and unknown third parties.”
Noteworthy Research
A new report from the American Nuclear Society, ‘The U.S. Nuclear R&D Imperative,’ delineates necessary DOE R&D investments to facilitate advanced nuclear deployment by 2030. As part of a desired $10.3 billion increase in discretionary spending from Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 to FY 2030, the authors recommend sufficient funding for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, construction of the Versatile Test Reactor by 2030, enhancement of the National Reactor Innovation Center, and construction of an advanced light-water reactor by 2029.

The Stimson Center has published a new working paper, ‘Bringing the Back-End to the Forefront,’ that discusses spent nuclear fuel (SNF) management and back-end safeguards concerns for advanced reactors. According to the author, important challenges center around the variety of fuel types and coolants, treatment and containment methods for advanced fuels, cost and proliferation concerns regarding reprocessing, and the application of international safeguards to advanced reactors and their novel fuels.

The UK’s Nuclear Industry Association has released a ‘Hydrogen Roadmap,’ which the Nuclear Industry Council, a government-industry forum, has endorsed. The report delineates how nuclear power could produce one-third (75 TWh) of the UK’s clean hydrogen needs by 2050 through government investment in NPPs that generate hydrogen via electrolysis and further financial support for fusion plants, SMRs, and advanced modular reactors (AMRs). 

A new report from the Task Force on U.S. Allies and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, a multinational group of former foreign, defense, and national security officials, discusses ‘Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Reassuring America’s Allies.’ Task force recommendations include rebuilding American leadership on global security, bolstering European defense capabilities, helping establish regional deterrence entities in Asia, and expanding multilateral arms control efforts.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have released a new NASA-commissioned report, ‘Space Nuclear Propulsion for Human Mars Exploration,’ that claims nuclear space propulsion, especially nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP), could help send humans to Mars “repeatedly and in a sustainable way.” The co-chair of the authoring Space Nuclear Propulsion Technologies Committee believes NASA must seek more nuclear propulsion funding to employ the technology in 2030s human missions.
The Nuclear Conversation
CNBC, February 25

Hogan Lovells | New Nuclear Blog, February 25

The New Nuclear Watch Institute, February 24

Physics World, February 23

The Wall Street Journal, February 23

The Australian, February 22

The New Nuclear Watch Institute, February 22

Neutron Bytes, February 20

Atlantic Council, February 19

The New Yorker, February 19

Nuclear Engineering International, February 18

The Wall Street Journal, February 17

Bloomberg Law, February 16

World Nuclear News, February 16

The Cipher Brief, February 16

Greentech Media, February 15

World Nuclear News, February 15

60 Minutes, February 14

Atlantic Council, February 12

Daily Energy Insider, February 11

The Wall Street Journal, February 11 

The New York Times, February 10

American University, February 5

Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 4
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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