Office of Nuclear Energy

3 Key Intangibles of the U.S. Nuclear Industry

November 14, 2019

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Graphic of a nuclear power reactor with nuclear waste in concrete casks.

There are more than a billion people in the world living in energy poverty and the majority of them don’t have access to clean drinking water.

As energy demand continues to rise, countries are faced with the challenging task of meeting these needs while lowering emissions at the same time.

Nuclear energy can help solve this problem.

It stimulates economies, produces reliable clean power, and can open up new opportunities for countries beyond electricity generation.

More than 50 reactors are under construction in the world today and that number could grow to more than 400 as countries assess their options.

If they do decide to build, the United States should be their first consideration due to three key intangibles that these nations won’t find anywhere else.

1. Technology

Construction photo of Vogtle reactors in Georgia
The U.S. is building two of the most-advanced light-water reactors in the world.
Georgia Power

The United States has the best technology in the world and our industry is developing a suite of options to meet the needs of any country. These designs run the gamut from large-scale reactors for baseload generation to smaller and more flexible units that can be scaled up over time as energy demand grows.

More than 50 U.S. companies are developing new designs, such as small modular reactors and microreactors, that will fundamentally change the way nuclear energy is used.

These smaller, simplified systems will be more affordable to build and operate and capable of producing heat, as well as power. This can be used to decarbonize a number of manufacturing processes that currently rely heavily on fossil fuels, in addition to providing clean drinking water to communities or even creating carbon-neutral fuels such as hydrogen for transportation.

2. Experience

By partnering with the United States, countries will not only get the best technology, but also the best regulatory guidance and resources they need to expand or start their civil nuclear programs.

We have unmatched experience in operating the largest fleet of reactors in the world and our 96 units are governed by the best regulations and processes in the industry. The United States is also building upon this to modernize these regulations for advanced nuclear technologies. This work is already in motion with one of our advanced light-water SMR technologies expected to complete the design certification process by next year.

By investing in the United States, countries can benefit from these resources and the robust network of our national labs and universities to further advance these technologies. This package will ultimately help us develop the human capital needed domestically in each country to ensure that they are fully in charge of their nuclear energy programs.

3. Trustworthiness

Finally, and most importantly, countries will get a trusted partner in the United States. This is not a singular transaction but a sustained partnership that will last for 100 years or longer.

We will listen to their needs and work toward them.

We understand that having superior technology is not enough. We need to compete with other countries that can provide comprehensive build, own, and operate packages that include attractive financing and the take back of their used nuclear fuel.

We need to compete with these packages and we will.

A fully-operational Export-Import Bank, along with other financing mechanisms, is allowing U.S. companies to work with countries in funding new nuclear projects. America is also working toward comprehensive fuel management solutions as well.

In short, we are here to help bring environmental sustainability, energy security and economic prosperity to the world through the incredible power of nuclear energy.