Poised to Play Important Role in Global Nuclear Energy Renaissance
L. “Skip” Bowman is president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy
Institute, the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization.
the United States, growing demand for baseload electricity, bipartisan interest
in a secure and diverse supply of electricity, and deepening concern about climate
change have led to one indisputable conclusion: The nation must begin building
new nuclear power plants as part of its future energy mix.
By the end of 2007, the industry will have spent $2 billion to set the stage for
building advanced-design reactors within the next two decades. Companies are developing
applications for up to 32 new plant combined construction and operating licenses,
which they intend to file with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the
next two years.
More than 30 reactors are now under construction worldwide, and more than two
dozen countries are exploring new nuclear projects—clear signs that a global nuclear
renaissance is also under way.
electricity demand will increase by 45 percent over the next 25 years, government
experts say. Worldwide, electricity demand will nearly double in the same period.
New generating facilities, including nuclear power plants, will address increased
and many other nations are acutely aware that energy security and national security
are inextricably linked. A diverse mix of energy sources enables the United States
to balance the cost of electricity production, availability and environmental
impacts to our best advantage. As a result, a broad portfolio of energy sources
will free us from being overly dependent on foreign sources of energy, often from
unstable parts of the world.
and nuclear energy are the foundation of the U.S. electricity supply system, representing
50 percent and 20 percent of U.S. electricity supply, respectively. The remainder
comes from natural gas-fired power plants, hydroelectric dams and small amounts
of renewable energy. We need to maintain this diverse portfolio of energy sources
to ensure energy security in the future.
produces about 30 percent of its electricity from sources that are considered
non-emitting. Nuclear-generated electricity represents nearly three-quarters of
that emission-free electricity. The carbon dioxide emissions avoided by nuclear
power in the United States are more than twice the emissions prevented by all
other carbon-free sources of electricity combined and are roughly equivalent to
the carbon dioxide emissions of all U.S. automobiles.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions
plants account for the majority of voluntary greenhouse gas emission reductions
in the electric power sector, according to a January report from Power Partners,
a partnership between the electric power industry and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The electric power sector reported more carbon dioxide emission reductions than
any other sector—63 percent of 445 million metric tons—in 2004, the latest year
for which data are available. The electric sector’s progress resulted primarily
from increased electricity production at nuclear power plants.
report confirms that nuclear energy plays a vital role in reducing greenhouse
gas emissions, but cannot do so alone. It will take the combined effort of the
entire electric power sector to strike the balance between increased electricity
demand and meeting national and global environmental goals.
103 reactors more efficiently and reliably, the industry has added the equivalent
of 26 large power plants to the electrical grid during the past 15 years. The
industry has compiled an outstanding safety record in doing so, all while greatly
reducing overall emissions from electricity production.
energy has proven economic efficiencies that position it as an essential source
of reliable, affordable electricity for consumers and business. It has lower average
production costs—at 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour—than coal, natural gas or oil.
The U.S. Congress
recognized the need for a diverse energy portfolio in the Energy Policy Act of
2005. The bill provides limited, broad-based stimulus for investment in new electric
power infrastructure, including new nuclear power plants. Coupled with growing
electricity demand, the comprehensive energy legislation has stimulated companies
to pursue license applications for new reactor designs.
investment by the public and private sectors in exploring the construction of
new nuclear plants has generated renewed interest within the financial community.
Fitch, in a 2006 report, said it is not a matter of debate whether there will
be new nuclear plants in the future. Rather, the discussion has shifted to predictions
of how many, where and when.
energy planning demands a balanced approach, one in which all fuels—including
nuclear energy, coal, natural gas, hydro, and renewables such as geothermal, solar
and wind power—play an appropriate role. The G8 energy ministers endorsed this
concept last March and said that nuclear energy is crucial to long-term, environmentally
sustainable, diversification of energy supply.
Nuclear Fuel Management Policy
“He who fails to plan, plans to fail,” a proverb warns. That planning also extends
to the industry’s stewardship of the byproducts of nuclear power production.
The global expansion of nuclear energy is redefining used nuclear fuel management
policy. Industry and policymakers are considering whether the United States should
recycle used nuclear fuel rods rather than simply using them once and disposing
of the vast amount of energy that remains in the rods.
Within the past 18 to 24 months in this country, we have seen renewed interest
in “closing” the nuclear fuel cycle—in developing the advanced technologies necessary
to reprocess used nuclear fuel, extract the materials that can produce additional
energy, recycle them into new reactors, and reduce the volume, heat and radiotoxicity
of the byproduct requiring deep geologic disposal.
The industry’s goal is to define and implement a program that integrates clearly
defined short-, medium- and long-term goals. The long-term goal—the development
of an underground repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada—has not changed.
industry’s short-term goals include a disciplined technology development program
for used fuel treatment and starting the process of identifying volunteer sites
for interim storage of used fuel. Logically, interim storage will be co-located
with the fuel processing facilities necessary to close the fuel cycle, because
the used fuel is the feedstock for those reprocessing plants.
The U.S. Department of Energy must start the process of licensing the Yucca Mountain
facility, but maintain flexibility to adjust the facility design until it knows
the final form of the materials that will be placed in the mountain.
we consider the next two decades, it is clear that America and other nations must
take decisive action now to secure their energy future or face dire consequences.
With new-reactor construction on the horizon, nuclear energy is poised to continue
to play a major role in the U.S. energy mix well into the future.
have the technology and the means to achieve energy security, address climate
change and meet growing electricity demand through a comprehensive and rational
energy strategy that includes a prominent role for nuclear energy.
The Nuclear Industry
Frank L. “Skip” Bowman is president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear
Energy Institute, the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. NEI represents
more than 270 domestic and international corporations and organizations involved
in nuclear energy and related technologies.
Prior to joining NEI, Bowman served for more than 38 years in the U.S. Navy, rising
to the rank of admiral. He served as director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion
Program, and was the third successor to Adm. Hyman G. Rickover in that command.
Bowman also was deputy administrator-Naval Reactors in the National Nuclear Security
Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy. In these dual positions, he was
responsible for the operations of more than 100 reactors aboard the U.S. Navy’s
aircraft carriers and submarines, four training sites, and two Department of Energy
laboratories in Pittsburgh and Schenectady, N.Y.
a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., is a 1966 graduate of Duke University. He completed
a dual master’s program in nuclear engineering and naval architecture/marine engineering
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 and was elected to the Society
of Sigma Xi.
has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Duke University.
He serves on the MIT Nuclear Engineering Visiting Committee, the Engineering Board
of Visitors at Duke University and the Nuclear Engineering Department Advisory
Committee at the University of Tennessee. Bowman also serves on the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce Committee of 100, the BP U.S. Refineries Independent Safety Review
Panel, and the boards of directors for the National Energy Foundation, U.S. Energy
Association, American Council for Capital Formation and the Armed Services YMCA
of the USA.
2006, Bowman was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order
of the British Empire in recognition of his commitment in support of the Royal
Navy submarines program.
He also is an ex officio member of the boards of directors for the Institute of
Nuclear Power Operations, Electric Power Research Institute and Nuclear Electric
also is a member of the American Nuclear Society, the Council on Foreign Relations,
the Management Committee of the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, Women
in Nuclear and the World Nuclear Association’s Council of Advisors.