The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy
U.S. Energy Secretary Voices Support Opening Yucca Mountain
Earlier this week, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. Throughout the hearing, the secretary voiced his support for the re-opening of Yucca Mountain and stated, “we have a moral and national security obligation to come up with a long-term solution, finding the safest repositories available.” The Trump Administration has already asked for $120 million in its budget proposal in order to resume licensing the Yucca Mountain project, but the site remains inactive.
Source: The Washington Post
Key U.S. Senator Supports Private Nuclear Waste Storage
At the same hearing, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development subcommittee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), stated his support of nuclear waste storage facilities funded by private entities. Spent nuclear fuel is currently piling up in 39 states across the country, and without the re-opening of Yucca Mountain, new solutions need to be created in order to store the nuclear waste. Senator Alexander believes that private contracting offers the “quickest, and probably the least expensive, way for the federal government to start to meet its used nuclear fuel obligations.”
Source: Morning Consult
U.S. House Passes Nuclear Energy Tax Credit Extension
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that “would increase the number of utilities that can qualify for the tax credit and remove construction deadlines for facilities that use it.” Nuclear facilities originally had to begin service by 2020 in order to receive a tax credit of 1.8-cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This legislation lifts that requirement and also allows government-own utilities and nonprofit electric co-ops to receive the credit. These entities will also be able to transfer credits to other partners on the facilities.
Additional Small Modular Reactor Funding Questionable
As the development of NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design continues, its federal budget funding could be in jeopardy. President Trump’s proposed budget calls for large cuts to the Energy Department, and this includes slashing funding of licensing support for NuScale’s design. Former Idaho National Laboratory Director John Grossenbacher voiced his concern about the lack of additional federal funding for the project and said that it will be difficult to complete without it. Funding cuts are not certain however, as President Trump’s budget still must be approved by Congress.
South Korea Plans to Shift Away from Nuclear Power Production
On Monday South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in announced that the country will abolish its “nuclear-centred energy policy and move towards a nuclear-free era.” Mr. Moon plans to scrap all existing plans for new power plants and also cancel lifetime extensions for aged reactors. Currently, South Korea generates about a third of its energy from 25 reactors. Experts have cautioned that the shift could lead to energy supply shortages and higher energy costs.
Source: Financial Times