NEI Chairman Brandt speaks on challenges to nuclear energy expansion

Published on May 27, 2016 by Jessica Limardo

Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) Chairman Donald Brandt opened the NEI’s annual meeting on Tuesday by discussing challenges to the widespread adoption of nuclear technology and encouraging increased public awareness and investment in newer infrastructure.

“The nuclear industry has the facts on its side…but a dry recitation of data does not stir people’s emotions, hearts or imaginations,” Brandt said. “Unless we get people’s attention to nuclear energy’s benefits, our data mean little or nothing to them. We must promote the benefits of carbon-free, baseload nuclear energy as a critical part of a diverse, cleaner electricity supply.…Tell people why they should care about nuclear energy.

“A loss of energy diversity also can complicate efforts to reduce carbon. The United States cannot meet its carbon-reduction goals without a continued strong contribution from nuclear energy. No other carbon-free generating source can match the scale of nuclear energy’s carbon-free electricity output, or its reliability.”

Despite excellent, carbon-free performance, 15-20 out of 99 commercial nuclear reactors are currently at risk of being shut down prematurely. Brandt said that the industry should address the issue by increasing public awareness regarding the environmental benefits of the technology.

Brandt added that increasing the adoption of AP1000 reactors is also crucial for public awareness.

“We believe a second wave of AP1000 reactors would provide the industry with the opportunity to demonstrate significant improvements in cost, schedule and certainty, based on lessons learned from the initial projects,” Brandt said. “Whether that second wave is forthcoming will depend on such factors as electricity demand forecasts, clean air policy, and how well we address issues facing our existing plants.”

Nuclear energy provides more than 60 percent of the United States’ carbon-free energy.