Event Recap: Fireside Chat with DOE’s Dr. Katy Huff

On January 13, Nuclear Matters convened a conversation with two leading experts in nuclear energy to discuss the year ahead and the important role nuclear power plays in our clean energy future. Dr. Katy Huff, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy (DOE), and John Kotek, Senior Vice President of Policy Development and Public Affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and Nuclear Matters President, provided an insightful look into the state of nuclear power today, including new state and federal policies regarding nuclear generation, the role of nuclear energy alongside renewables, and exciting innovations in the industry. 

In case you missed the event, here are our key takeaways:

How DOE and the Office of Nuclear Energy are changing:

  • The Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) continues to provide new rounds of funding to bring the latest innovations in nuclear energy generation to life, such as the Natrium plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming, and a Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) at Idaho National Laboratory.
  • DOE is expanding significantly by adding a Clean Energy Corps to spend funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law effectively to prepare America’s energy system for the transition to a low-carbon future.
  • Building on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s work from 2010-2012, the revived Consent-Based Siting program aims to revision how the end of the nuclear energy production cycle is managed. The Request for Information (RFI) period has already yielded creative and insightful ideas showing everyday citizens genuinely care that DOE continues to approach fuel waste management with economic, safety and justice in mind.

Opportunities for nuclear energy:

  • Difficult-to-decarbonize sectors such as heavy industry and hydrogen production present a pathway for nuclear energy to help reduce carbon emissions across the economy. Not only does nuclear energy provide a reliable baseload source of power that facilities running continuously can depend on, but heat produced by nuclear power plants can be recycled to maintain the correct temperature conditions for heavy industrial processes, often above 200⁰ C.
  • The recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes provisions to preserve existing nuclear plants, and the nuclear production tax credit in the proposed Build Back Better Act would both preserve existing plants and encourage the development of new nuclear energy generation.
  • Nuclear fusion systems hold enormous promise for the coming decades. While it will take time before these systems are up-and-running at utility scale, DOE supports investment and development of this groundbreaking technology through the Fusion Energy Sciences

How the U.S. can continue to lead in nuclear energy advancements around the world:

  • Other countries recognize that the S. leads on nuclear energy innovation, safety, and quality. They also value the strength of our international nuclear energy relationships and regard U.S. industry regulations as the gold standard. New project development financing programs for nuclear generation development around the world could offer the U.S. a chance to maintain an edge over competitors.
  • The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been critical for maintaining the country’s technical leadership. Now, INL is building an even-faster Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) to better support and progress advanced nuclear technology testing.
  • Nuclear science and technology education will prepare the next generation of brilliant minds for the cutting-edge research that will keep the U.S. at the forefront of nuclear energy innovation. The recently announced Nuclear Energy Distinguished Early Career Program “is designed to foster the next generation of faculty, their students, and their innovations for advancing nuclear energy and decarbonizing our planet,” by funding novel proposals from early-career academics interested in nuclear energy research. But this education can start even earlier in a student’s career — the DOE supplies a Navigating Nuclear Toolkit for elementary and middle schoolers to learn more about our nation’s largest source of carbon-free energy.

For those who could not attend, you can watch the event recording below. Be sure to sign up for Nuclear Matters to hear about future events and stay up to date on the latest nuclear energy innovations. You’ll also find opportunities to advocate on behalf of our nation’s largest source of carbon-free energy and helping build America’s clean energy future!