Commentary: What Will A Biden-Harris Administration Do For Nuclear Energy?

Source: James Conca, Forbes, August 17, 2020

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The idea that Republican Administrations are pro-nuclear and Democratic ones are anti-nuclear is one of those enduring myths, like the idea that Republicans are better for the economy than Democrats. When either party had control of Washington in the last 40 years, neither did anything great for nuclear power.

That’s because nuclear has no real constituency. There’s no West Virginia like there is for coal, no Texas like there is for oil, no Pennsylvania like there is for natural gas, and no national environmental movement like there is for wind and solar. Nuclear has always been a national asset, and now it’s suffering from hostile regional forces and a fractured Nation unable to make important national decisions.

That said, there has been some recent political and legislative movement on nuclear energy, including passage of the Nuclear Energy Leadership ActLifting of the Prohibition on Nuclear Funding, adoption of the Democrat’s America’s Newest Climate Plan that includes nuclear, and DOE’s funding of the Advancing Nuclear Research initiative and the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project.

The fact that Joe Biden has a $2 trillion climate plan that includes nuclear power means that things might actually move forward when he is elected – depending on what happens with the Senate.

In particular, Biden’s plan calls for development of small modular reactors, specifically because SMRs are ideal for load-following or backing up wind, even better than natural gas. The Plan calls for “leveraging the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower.” 

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