Energy Department’s top nuclear official says focus is on advanced technology, financing, fuel take-backs
Though the United States is in the process of exiting the Paris Climate Agreement and has withdrawn its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, Department of Energy officials said they see a potentially lucrative market in using U.S. nuclear technology to help states and other countries meet their own commitments.
Rita Baranwal, the DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy, said in an interview that at this “serendipitous” moment for nuclear power the agency is working to meet the global push for more clean energy with advanced technologies, new financing options and fuel take-backs.
“States in this country, as well as countries around the world, do have carbon reduction goals that they need to meet, and they have realized that nuclear energy has to be part of that mix,” Baranwal said earlier this week. “We’re not advocating that it needs to be 100 percent of that portfolio, but it certainly needs to be one piece of that portfolio.”
A senior DOE official, who asked not to be identified, said the office does have a mandate from President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to take an “all of the above” approach to develop technologies that will meet “our future needs better than what we have today.”
The official also said there is a “huge economic opportunity for the U.S.” with smaller modular reactors, in the range of 50 to several hundred megawatts, and even smaller micro reactors. On Thursday, the U.S. unveiled a $230 million program for the demonstration of advanced reactor technology in the next five to seven years.