New Nuclear

Legal and Policy Advancements for Advanced Reactors

Latest from New Nuclear

The reintroduction of Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) caps off a week of activities focused on innovation, and follows on advancement of key U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) guidance on advanced reactor licensing. We covered NELA when it was first introduced in 2018, focusing on its important bipartisan contributions to reestablishing global leadership in nuclear energy.  On Wednesday,  NELA was reintroduced in the Senate with a renewed push to make it into law.  It is…
The start of 2019 has seen significant progress towards production and licensing of high-assay low-enriched uranium (“HALEU”) fuel.  If this momentum keeps up, it has the ability to check off what we have long-discussed to be a key prerequisite to commercial debut of advanced reactors. As to production of HALEU, two significant events occurred around the end of January and start of February. On January 17, DOE issued an Environmental Assessment (“EA”) finding no significant…
Activity across the government has put advanced nuclear reactors center stage early this year.  With the signing of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, hearings on Capitol Hill, and the release of a Department of Defense (DOD) Request for Information (RFI) for small mobile reactors, it is clear the federal government sees advanced reactors as a critical part of our country’s future energy portfolio, and that investment in regulatory reform along with public-private R&D…
Happy New Year!  As we start off 2019, we want to motive the nuclear community by sharing a few legal updates and popular reports that have come out around the end of the last year. Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (S.512, NEIMA):  On December 21, Congress adopted NEIMA, legislation that addresses NRC licensing activities for current and next-generation nuclear reactors—and which the President is expected to sign in due course.  The text of…
Blog author Sachin Desai, along with a member of the NRC staff, both acting in their individual capacity, recently published an article in the American Bar Association’s nuclear law publication entitled “Preparing for Advanced Reactors: Exploring Regulatory and Licensing Reform.”  The article reviews advanced reactor licensing reform efforts, discusses an NRC staff recommendation for a new, risk-informed rule for licensing new reactors (colloquially called “10 CFR Part 53”), and also explores a novel…
Earlier this month, a leading group of Canadian power companies and government entities (although not the nuclear regulator) issued a “Canadian SMR Roadmap,” an 89 page plan for Canada to become a leader in small modular and advanced reactor development (there is also a smaller executive summary).  Although the roadmap takes a look at a number of technical, commercial, and legal issues with SMR deployment in Canada, this entry focuses on some…
Significant advances in fusion energy research in recent years have helped set aside the typical storyline that fusion—long considered the “Holy Grail” of energy—is “always 40 years away.”  Instead, as we have highlighted in prior blog posts, fusion innovators are receiving millions of dollars in public and private funds to support near term deployment and testing (i.e., around the next decade).  These innovators are supported by the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, the Breakthrough
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently released a staff paper-SECY-18-0096-seeking Commission approval of a new proposed methodology for establishing “functional containment” performance criteria for non-light water reactors (non-LWRs).  This methodology would step away from deterministic containment design parameters and embrace a concept of “‘functional containment’ as a barrier, or a set of barriers taken together, that effectively limits the physical transport of radioactive material to the environment.”  If approved, the proposed methodology…
In a development that could cause every advanced reactor startup to reexamine its growth strategy, the US government (USG) yesterday afternoon issued a new framework concerning exports to China, which largely closes the export market to advanced reactor companies. The framework document, which is available here and was described to a limited audience in a briefing yesterday that we attended, sets forth the following policy regarding exports of technology or technical data subject to the…
Recently, the Hill has been taking a flurry of legislative actions that impact the advanced reactor community across all spectra.  We provide a summary of some of the major bills going through Congress below, including a couple which have recently become law or may become so soon. Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (S. 97). This bill, which has a long history before Congress, finally passed both the House and Senate and was presented to the…