Nuke Energy in the Room

Global Energy Transition 2022 Reuters Conference New York

On April 21st, I found myself at a spiffy hotel in New York surrounded by enthusiasts for advanced nuclear. And the energy in the room, ha, was infectious.

Investing in Advanced Nuclear was the title of this affair. In attendance was, well, just about anyone who is shaking the world from the dark ages to the next nuclear renaissance.

Energy Secretary Granholm waxed poetic about the innovation in nuclear technology. And the environmental and national security necessity for us to get this right and get this going.

Then came the innovators onto the stage. I was blown away frankly. I had not realized how proven the new nuke technologies are, and how bite-sized they are for a variety of important applications, and by the number of credible competing companies.

I even learned a new acronym. HALEU. Stands for high-assay low-enriched uranium. It’s the fuel for a lot of these new designs. And it has cool advantages over the fuel that the existing nuclear fleet uses. But for one consideration. Guess who is a major supplier? Russia. Needless to say, the government and industry are going all-out to diversify that dicey supply chain.

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Later in the day, financial community icons and industry execs weighed in. All the while, I kept asking myself, sitting in that ritzy venue, is this new nuke renaissance for real? Is it actually going to deliver the gazillions of carbon-free gigawatts-hours that all these folks are promising for the decades of the thirties and forties?

Maybe so. We’ll need a nimbler Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We’ll need to onshore some supply chains and attract more young folks to the mission. We’ll need continued government support.

And Uncle Sam needs you. You and I will need to keep abreast of the fast-moving developments in this critical piece of the decarbonization puzzle. And be ready to step into the breach when our industry’s enthusiasm must morph into tangible support.