In this week’s issue, we highlight the need for a comprehensive and effective strategy to prepare the global market for next-generation nuclear technologies. We also note recent data releases by the IAEA that showcase the total nuclear operating capacity and the application of nuclear safeguards for 2019. Finally, we draw attention to a recent Congressional report – ‘Solving the Climate Crisis – which calls for increased support and funding for advanced nuclear technologies.
Pulling the Pieces Together for the Next-Gen Nuclear Market
If there is one thing that has become crystal clear in this calamitous year, it is that lack of preparation is a killer. That is true for the novel coronavirus and it will be true for marketing next-generation nuclear technologies unless a comprehensive global preparation plan is rapidly developed.
Next-gen nuclear has been one of the few issues benefitting from bipartisan support in the thoroughly shattered U.S. political landscape. The Congress has rhetorically and financially supported technology development and demonstration on an accelerated schedule. The Department of Energy (DoE) has responded with the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program  (ARDP)  that aims to build two operational reactors in 5-7 years. DoE has identified three driving forces for this push – security, the environment, and market opportunities.
While the focus on technology development and demonstration is essential, it is insufficient. Even the best technology will face serious headwinds if the global market is not prepared to use it.
A case in point is the new   report  from the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The document expresses its support for the zero-carbon electricity generation by existing nuclear reactors, noting that it makes up “more than half of all zero-carbon electricity” in the country. 
It also identifies next-generation nuclear technologies as a “promising” source of future carbon-free energy. It further highlighted the potential for a long-term power purchase agreement from next-gen reactors by federal agencies, particularly those with national security responsibilities.
 But the committee raises two key concerns about the emerging technologies – safety (including cyber security) and the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation. Both of these issues will be high on the list of any country, community, or commercial industry investigating whether these small reactors are applicable for their needs. So, they need to be thoroughly addressed.
The Global Nexus Initiative (GNI) , is the leading entity examining the intersection of nuclear power, climate change, and global security – the very intersection on which the Congress and executive branch are now both focused. Last Summer, GNI produced the first comprehensive public analysis  of the nuclear proliferation, security, and geopolitical implications of advanced reactors. There clearly is more detailed follow-up work to be done from that publication’s initial findings and that is being explored both inside and outside of government.
But there are a number of other activities that are required to prepare both the domestic and international markets for next-gen technologies. Many of these focus on the intellectual, industrial, financial, and legal readiness of newcomer nuclear nations to deploy advanced nuclear technologies.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has a comprehensive Milestones Approach  designed to guide nations through the nuclear power development process. It identifies 19 important issues, but they currently are scaled for the deployment of large Light-Water Reactors (LWRs), not smaller next-gen technologies. These future reactors may mitigate some of those key issues and require more attention to others. But the adaptation of the Milestones is not well advanced and the process for achieving its evolution is currently undefined.
Any new nuclear nation will need a deep and expansive support system to ensure adequate project finance capability, risk assessment, educational and training capacity, industrial infrastructure, and legal, regulatory and governance competence.
These issues plus nuclear security and nonproliferation need to be woven into a comprehensive strategy in the near term so that the global community can become familiar and comfortable with the technology evolution that is coming over the next 10-15 years.
The next-gen nuclear wave is breaking onto a very different global landscape. The market is going to demand low carbon and high security. Preparing for these dual demands now by creating an integrated, effective market strategy is the smart way to proceed.
Ken Luongo, Partnership for Global Security

Solving the Climate Crisis’, a new report by the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, issues a call for Congress to support the development of advanced nuclear technologies as part of a strategy to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The report sets a blueprint to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S. by 2050, and recognizes nuclear power as a reliable, carbon-free energy source.
Nuclear Collaborations
President Trump and Polish President Duda have agreed to the signing of a civil nuclear development deal in Poland, which will take place “in the nearest future.” The agreement comes as Poland moves to build a 4.5 GWe nuclear power plant (NPP) by 2030.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The European Commission, through its Joint Research Centre, will assess whether nuclear technology should be included in the European Union’s sustainable finance taxonomy as a ‘green’ energy source. The move follows groups of scientists and businesses , including Foratom , calling for civil nuclear power to be classified as a clean energy source earlier this year, and will allow it to be recognized as a contributor to Europe’s zero-carbon energy. 

European Union countries have agreed to block nuclear energy from receiving funding as part of the EU’s green transition fund. The agreement between the 27 countries comes amidst a heated debate between EU policy makers and businesses regarding the value of civil nuclear power as a zero-carbon energy source.

Hungary has submitted a licence application for two new reactor units at its Paks NPP. The construction of the Generation III reactors will be 80 per cent financed by Russia, who will also supply the two VVER-1200 Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs).

Rosenergoatom, a subsidiary of Rosatom, announced that it has begun preparatory work for the construction of four new reactors. The corporation plans to build two VVER-TOI units near the Smolensk NPP, while two other VVER-1200 reactors will be constructed at the Leningrad II plant.

The Saskatchewan government in Canada has announced the establishment of a new office in its bid to develop small modular reactors (SMRs) in the province. The office, which will "co-ordinate nuclear policy and program work within the Climate Change & Adaptation Division in the Ministry of Environment", is hoping to implement an SMR by early next decade.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
Westinghouse has been awarded an open-ended contract from the DOE for nationwide Deactivation, Decommissioning and Removal services (DD&R), lasting until at least 2030. Several other contractors were also awarded portions of the $3 billion contract, under which federal nuclear agencies may request DD&R work at any time.

U.S.-based X-energy will receive $6 million as part of a funding blitz from the Department of Energy announced in late June. The company, which engineers nuclear reactors and fuels, hopes to put the money towards its Xe-100 advanced modular reactor.

The Senate has unanimously adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 to prevent nuclear cleanup funding being redirected to the Department of Defense (DOD). The amendment follows a recommendation by Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, who urged the separation of funding and control for civil nuclear technologies and nuclear weapons. 

Lisa Murkowski, the Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman, is leading a bipartisan group of senators seeking to introduce advanced nuclear reactors into Senate defense spending. Having filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021, the senators argue that small advanced reactors can contribute to national security by providing reliable, affordable and clean energy to remote military bases. 
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
The IAEA has made a call for public input in the creation of a crowdsourcing competition that will encourage nuclear energy innovation. The competition will attempt to bolster the competitiveness of nuclear power plants by making their current practices more efficient, including digital twinning, advanced manufacturing, machine learning, and research frameworks. 

Virginia-based BWXT Technologies has been awarded a US$26 million contract by the Idaho National Laboratory to expand its TRISO fuel manufacturing line and upgrade existing systems for production of the fuel. While advancing the feasibility of emerging nuclear technologies and safer nuclear fuels, BWXT is also hoping the fuel will be beneficial to U.S. security interest, citing a desire to support the Department of Defense and NASA. 

Three Idaho universities will improve their research and development of advanced nuclear technologies after it was announced that they would receive more than $800,000 as part of a DOE nuclear funding program. Idaho State University (ISU), Boise State University (BSU) and the University of Idaho (UI) will all take a share in the investments, with a particular focus being given to improving the safety and reliability of control rod drives for nuclear reactors. 
Noteworthy Research
A recent annual letter from the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) Chairman, Richard Meserve, to IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, provides a series of recommendations to the nuclear industry as it navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. While emphasising the need for safe and cautious reopening, Meserve says that NPPs must provide personal protective equipment to employees, encourage remote working, preparation for potential accidents and international cooperation within the civil nuclear sector.

Global nuclear operating capacity fell by 4.5 GW(e) in 2019 compared to the previous year, as shown by the IAEA’s newly released annual nuclear power data for 2019 . With a total of 443 operational nuclear power reactors across 30 countries in 2019, the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) found that the reduction in generation capacity was due to Japan’s decision to permanently shut down five reactors that had not been operational since 2011. 

In a separate Safeguards Statement for 2019 , the IAEA has released information showing that it applied nuclear safeguards in 183 nations last year. Of the 175 states with existing comprehensive safeguards agreements in 2019, 131 implemented additional protocols, according to the statement. 

A recent report by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), titled ‘Unlocking Reductions in the Construction Costs of Nuclear: A Practical Guide for Stakeholders’ , concludes that building new nuclear capacity can be done cheaply and with certain guarantees, with the help of government action. The report argues that many of the inflated costs that often accompany new nuclear builds are due to weak supply chains and a lack of experience, and are not inherent in the construction of new nuclear projects. 

The NEA has also released a set of policy briefs called ‘ The Role of Nuclear Energy During COVID-19 and Beyond ’, which examine nuclear energy’s role in global energy systems in the post-COVID-19 recovery. The policy briefs focus on four key issues; the cost effective decarbonization of electricity systems; creating high-value jobs through civil nuclear projects; financing nuclear infrastructure; and building energy resilience with nuclear power.
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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