Achieving energy security through a diverse energy mix — experts weigh in from COP27

November 30, 2022

Achieving energy security through a diverse energy mix — experts weigh in from COP27

Sharm el-Sheikh, The UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) — On November 16, Anthropocene Institute Chief Scientist Dr. Frank Ling spoke on the UN Nuclear for Climate Panel, “Achieving Energy Security While Meeting Climate Goals.” The panelists included Dr. Ling; Antony Roberts, Urenco; Diane Cameron, OECD NEA; Soheir Korraa, WiN Africa; David Arinze, SDG Youth Constituency; and Alan Woods, Rolls Royce SMR — moderated by Princess Mthombeni, African YGN.

U.S. Government support for nuclear The panelists agreed that nuclear energy is among the only energy sources with broad bipartisan support in the United States, with both parties recognizing that nuclear must play a role in solving climate change. The U.S. government has taken important steps to ensure that nuclear power is ready to meet the climate change challenge.

The first was the passage and enactment of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) in which the U.S. Department of Energy is supporting 10 U.S. advanced reactor designs to help mature and demonstrate the technologies, including the X-energy reactor in Washington State and the TerraPower demo reactor that will replace a coal plant near Kemmerer, Wyoming.

The second is the inflation Reduction Act, which provides tax credits for nuclear power, not only to support operation of the existing fleet, the backbone of the United States energy system, but also to provide generous tax credits for the construction of new nuclear power plants. The government’s moves put support for nuclear power on par with wind, solar, batteries and other forms of clean energy.

"The idea is to have nuclear-level outputs of energy, with no radiation produced in the process ... something that we could do.”

Dr. Frank Ling, Anthropocene Institute

Thoughts on nuclear safety and future options like Solid State Fusion Energy Panelists also touched on the ethics and energy security of next-generation nuclear technology and the ability to provide safe, carbon-free power to the broader global population. Other exciting developments include production of e-fuels, also bolstered by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Dr. Ling closed with thoughts on safety of the new nuclear innovations. “With SMR technologies such as molten salt reactors, high-temperature-gas-cooled reactors, and the reactors NuScale is working on, they have inherent safety. These reactors, if there was a catastrophic accident, where nobody is able to manage these facilities, because of the physics of how they are designed, they do not melt down or have the Fukushima-style accidents that we associate with nuclear.

…And if you think about fusion, we’ve been supporting a novel category of fusion called Solid State Fusion Energy, otherwise known as cold fusion, and that's a very interesting technology where it's very early-stage science. But also if it works, it could be very quickly deployed. The idea is to have nuclear-level outputs of energy, with no radiation produced in the process. And this is something that we could do with readily available metals and a little bit of hydrogen.”

The message was clear: we can achieve energy security through a diverse energy mix today and into the future, with nuclear energy taking the lead.
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