COP21 Advanced Nuclear Panel – Hope for a New Year

Slide1Happy New Year from Forum on Energy!

At the outset of what we hope to be a full, productive, informative year, we are thrilled to spotlight the accomplishment of one of our Editorial Advisory Board members.

On December 7, Don Wolf had the singular opportunity to address COP21. He was an expert presenter on the industry panel “Nuclear Power: A Sustainable Clean Power Source,” for which U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was the esteemed keynote speaker.

Sec. Moniz framed his remarks as “the chance to discuss nuclear power as one of the essential elements to the low-carbon portfolio,” setting the stage for the industry panel by outlining what he perceives to be the two essential elements common to every “reasonable” model for a sustainable energy future: demand-side inputs (such as increased energy efficiency, conservation, and changes in habit), and decarbonization of the electricity sector.

To this end, Sec. Moniz asserted, the options are “fundamentally renewables, nuclear, and carbon capture,” and proceeded to tout the November launch of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), to support private sector progress on nuclear energy.

With his address, Sec. Moniz underscored the importance of innovation beyond light water reactors and promotion of the future of the advanced nuclear sector.

Watch Secretary Moniz’s statements and the full panel here:

Mr. Wolf spoke on behalf of Advanced Reactor Concepts, LLC (ARC), of which he is Co-Founder and CEO. Alongside him, the panel also consisted of John Hopkins of NuScale, Jeff Harper of X-energy, and Gene Grecheck of the American Nuclear Society (ANS).

The focus of each panelist’s remarks centered on the benefits of advanced nuclear innovation, particularly models under development by their respective companies. Mr. Wolf, therefore, emphasized design elements of the ARC-100- a 100-megawatt fast reactor with liquid sodium coolant- such as its ability to operate at atmospheric pressure, its prospective ability to use LWR waste as fuel, and its security against weapons development.

Mr. Wolf graciously provided a transcript of his remarks, which can be read here.

To close the session, John Holdren, Chief Science Advisor to President Obama, gave remarks. After reiterating the necessity of demand-side inputs and decarbonization identified by Sec. Moniz, as well as the role nuclear must play given the few viable options, he drove home the overarching theme behind advanced nuclear innovation:

“The point that I really want to emphasize is that the litany of challenges that these options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions face is not a reason for taking any of them off the table. Given the importance- indeed the imperative- of electricity supply that is adequate, affordable, reliable, secure, and far more climate-friendly than today’s, the only sensible strategy is do everything we reasonably can do through research and development, innovation, and public-private partnerships to master and overcome the challenges that each option presents.”

Forum on Energy is proud to recognize a key member represented on such a global stage. Even more importantly, the nature of this COP21 panel affords a certain degree of optimism for the future of advanced nuclear licensing and innovation in 2016 and beyond.