Nuclear power plays a critical role in keeping our nation safe. Energy independence is a core component of our country’s national security, and nuclear energy plays a significant role in establishing and maintaining that leadership. In addition to keeping the grid online when disaster strikes, a strong civil nuclear sector allows the United States to set international rules and keep nuclear materials out of the wrong hands.
Nuclear energy is homegrown energy, providing reliable electricity to communities across the country. As the source of one-fifth of all the nation’s electricity, nuclear is an essential component of our energy mix. By limiting our dependence on foreign energy sources, a strong nuclear fleet increases the security of the country and makes us less vulnerable to unanticipated global energy supply shocks.
Our national security also depends on the uninterrupted availability of affordable energy sources. As an always-on source of energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nuclear power is critical to maintaining the country’s reliable electricity supply. While other energy sources can be put under great strain during periods of severe weather and become unreliable, nuclear power does not experience the same restraints, limiting the possibility of energy brownouts or blackouts.
The reliability benefits of nuclear energy will increase as advanced nuclear technology continues to develop. Existing nuclear reactors run an impressive 18 to 24 months between refueling, but some advanced reactors have the potential to operate up to 20 years between refueling. Advanced nuclear technology unlocks the potential for reactors that can operate without ever going offline and can be used for purposes other than electricity, such as hydrogen production or for use in fuel cell vehicles.
The success of the U.S. nuclear industry reinforces our country’s leadership across the world and has led the way in nuclear development and innovation for years. Our nuclear fleet is the largest in the world, utilizing the most advanced technology and maintaining the most rigorous safety standards.
But this dominance is not guaranteed. Other countries, including China and Russia, have committed extensive resources to nuclear energy. They are focused on innovation, constructing new facilities and developing groundbreaking technologies to gain a competitive advantage over the United States. With the possibility of reactor exports, countries are able to form 100-year strategic relationships that span the construction, operation and decommissioning of a nuclear plant – and other countries are already taking advantage of this opportunity.
While the United States only has two reactors under construction (both at Plant Vogtle in Georgia), Russia brought five reactors online in the past five years and currently has six reactors under construction. Meanwhile, China brought 26 reactors online in the last half-decade and has 13 additional plants under construction domestically. Together, the two countries have an additional 29 reactors under construction worldwide, aggressively becoming suppliers to the global market, and in turn, creating an international reliance on them for energy needs. (All as of April 2021)
Last year, thirty-eight national security experts wrote to Congress about the importance of nuclear power exports for the United States, championing how these supplier relationships bring “long-term influence on nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation, as well as the ability to advance energy security and broader foreign policy interests.” Today, you can join them.
If you believe in the need for continued U.S. global leadership in nuclear power innovation as a cornerstone of our national security interests, we hope you’ll take 30 seconds to remind your legislators to support solutions that value the carbon-free generation of America’s nuclear plants and prioritize the deployment of advanced reactor technologies.