September 2, 2021
September 2, 2021
The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) has released the results of its 2021 Advanced Nuclear Survey of advanced nuclear developers and presented them at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Advanced Reactor Stakeholders meeting on 26 August 2021. USNIC President and CEO Bud Albright recognized, “This represents a comprehensive survey that addresses a wide range of issues important to U.S. advanced nuclear developers, and demonstrates USNIC’s role to gather and present relevant information for government decision makers and industry.”
Survey results include information from 17 Advanced Nuclear developers who are USNIC members regarding policy issues, reactor types being developed, how often they intend to refuel, US/Canadian licensing, need for control room operators, need for power in Environmental Impact Statement, NRC fees, Capitol Hill and state issues, international programs, U.S. Department of Energy programs, and High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU). In addition, 24 companies (including USNIC members and non-members) provided perspective on NRC's planned Part 53 regulation for Advanced Reactors.
According to Cyril Draffin, USNIC Senior Fellow for Advanced Nuclear, “This is a meaningful detailed survey. We received rankings and detailed comments on 42 questions, fifty percent more than the 27 questions in last year’s survey. And for Part 53 questions (new this year) we received responses from 100% of DOE Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, risk reduction, and Advanced Research Concepts awardees, and from 75% of all non-Light Water Reactor developers.”
Results of the USNIC 2021 Advanced Nuclear Survey and the USNIC 2020 Advanced Nuclear Survey can be found on the USNIC website and are linked below. The 2021 survey includes a comparison to the 2020 survey.
What issues keep you up at night?
The top two issues that keep developers up at night are (1) need to provide multi-decade U.S availability of High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) for advanced reactor deployment, and (2) ability to sell and deploy 10-20 commercial units (after initial demonstrations). Addressing these issues is important for the advanced nuclear industry’s health, and to prove advanced nuclear can substantially contribute to the world’s clean energy goals. Availability of HALEU also was the top issue in the USNIC 2020 Advanced Nuclear Survey.
Jeff Merrifield, USNIC Chair, Advanced Nuclear Working Group observed: “Since 2016, NIC has been a leading voice in advocating that ensuring an adequate supply of HALEU is the major stumbling block to the prompt deployment of advanced nuclear technologies. This survey demonstrates that this need has not ebbed but has increased and prompt government action is needed now more than ever.”
Part 53 planned risk-informed performance-based regulation
Although over 90% of Advanced Nuclear developers think NRC’s Part 53 is important or desirable for industry (with the rest likely to use Part 50 or 52 or take a different approach), the majority of developers are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the usefulness of June 2021 (and current) preliminary Part 53 language. Eight questions elucidate industry’s perspective, from the vantage point of innovative developers attempting to license promising simpler technologies with potentially improved safety benefits.
Regulatory policy issues were rank-ordered. According to the survey, attention is especially needed for fuel qualification (such as for molten salt), the fuel cycle (facilities, higher enrichment, transportation—including cost), Probabilistic Risk Assessments (PRA) including multiple “grades” of PRA (with only 35% of companies planning on using significant PRA input), and operator staffing (when some microreactors can operate without staff on-site).
Because two-thirds of companies plan on licensing in Canada and U.S., harmonization and reciprocity are desirable. Also when Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is applicable, all developers think the appropriate EPZ is the site boundary.
U.S. government programs
Ongoing U.S. government (e.g. U.S. Department of Energy) funding and incentives for advanced nuclear development and deployment are important; as well as inclusion of nuclear in state and U.S. government clean energy standards. Internationally, U.S. government programs are important for international sales to compete against foreign national government sponsored competitors.
Extensive details on all of these points, and many others, are available in the USNIC 2021 Advanced Nuclear Survey results, which can be found HERE.
Caleb Ward, COO, USNIC (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cyril Draffin, Senior Fellow, Advanced Nuclear, USNIC, (email@example.com)
Jeff Merrifield, Chair, USNIC Advanced Nuclear Working Group, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
About the USNIC
The United States Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) is the leading U.S. business advocate for advanced nuclear energy and promotion of the American supply chain globally. USNIC represents approximately 80 companies engaged in nuclear innovation and supply chain development, including technology developers, manufacturers, construction engineers, key utility movers, and service providers. USNIC’s educational programs, industry insights, and market intelligence brings together bi-partisan Federal and State legislators to create a successful clean energy paradigm that includes nuclear. For more information visit www.usnic.org.