Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 2020
- Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-17)
- Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4)
- A variation of H.R.6097 was signed into law as part of the Energy Act of 2020
WHAT IT IS
The Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act focuses nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) programs around key issues that benefit both the current fleet of light-water reactors and future fleet of advanced reactors. These initiatives include multiple fuel cycle-related programs, including the creation of a commercial High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) supply and the development of innovative used nuclear fuel storage options, and a Nuclear Hybrid Energy Systems program to demonstrate multiple systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both the power and non-power sectors. Most importantly, this bill authorizes a program to demonstrate two advanced nuclear reactors by 2027, an initiative that first received federal appropriations in FY20 and is currently being constructed by the Department of Energy.
WHY WE LIKE IT
In order for the U.S. to maintain its global leadership in nuclear energy, it needs to preserve its operating fleet while deploying a new generation of reactors. Nuclear energy provides around the clock low-carbon energy and this bill creates targeted demonstration programs that can lead to commercialization of improved advanced reactor designs. The bill also addresses important nuclear fuel cycle topics including HALEU supply and used nuclear fuel storage.
- Directs the Secretary of Energy to align federal, national lab and private-sector efforts and demonstrate two advanced reactors by 2027
- A Sustainability Program for Light Water Reactors to support operation up to 80 years, and operating efficiency
- Creation of a Nuclear Hybrid Energy System program to use nuclear energy for applications like desalination, hydrogen production, or process heat
- Fuel cycle programs focused on High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) supply, innovative used nuclear fuel storage options, and advanced fuels development
- Stronger focus on international cooperation
- Creation of a Nuclear Energy Budget Plan
- University and apprenticeship programs to develop the future nuclear workforce