Nuclear power is a great export opportunity for America, but U.S. reactor suppliers like GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) face unique hurdles in the global marketplace because they compete with companies owned or supported by foreign governments, according to GEH Chairman Jack Fuller. Fuller, a participant in the bipartisan New Millennium Nuclear Energy Summit in Washington, D.C., on December 7, released the following statement about the industry’s future prospects:
“America invented civilian nuclear technology, and American companies remain at the forefront of nuclear technology development. GEH, for example, is licensing and investing in advanced nuclear technologies. GEH is developing even more advanced Generation IV reactor technology, including small modular reactors that can reduce the initial capital costs of a nuclear power plant. GEH also is developing nuclear recycling technology to extract more energy from nuclear fuel and dramatically reduce the long-term radioactivity of used fuel – an advanced technology that is smarter, safer, more efficient and a U.S. innovation.
“America and the world can benefit from advanced U.S. nuclear power technology but only if government levels the playing field for U.S. companies. A nuclear energy policy partnership, led by Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D-Delaware) will help drive policy decisions that will launch renewed expansion of nuclear power in the United States and, if done right, the reemergence of America as a nuclear energy technology export powerhouse. The economic and national security benefits of a robust domestic civilian nuclear power industry cannot be overstated. In order for the United States to lead the conversation on non-proliferation, it is critical that the domestic nuclear industry is strong and that it is selling into the countries that are moving forward with new plants. It behooves the U.S. government to adopt policies that strengthen the ability of U.S. companies to compete internationally – and thereby contribute to economic growth and job creation here at home.
“The partnership, which includes experts from Wall Street, also can potentially help create a new financing model to support reactor construction. The cost of electricity from nuclear energy is among the lowest from any fuel source, but the initial capital investments required are daunting. Loan guarantees and other tools that lower the financial barriers to plant construction are investments in the future that will yield dividends for decades to come in the form of economical and reliable low-carbon energy for America’s homes and factories.
“In the global race for energy technology leadership, America is still a leading innovator of nuclear energy technology, but with other nations modernizing their power infrastructure at a more rapid pace, we need to quicken ours to continue a leadership role. Let’s take stock as we have many inherent advantages. U.S. prowess in nuclear engineering, technology development and plant management is still the best in the world. The newly elected 112th Congress has a golden opportunity to set America on a new course. With the right policies in place, America can capitalize on her advantages, build new power plants here in the United States – the surest route to greater U.S. energy security – and start exporting high value-added energy technology to the rest of the world. This week’s summit will begin charting a roadmap for renewal in the U.S. power sector. That’s something policy makers in both parties can agree on.”
The New Millennium Nuclear Energy Summit was organized by the Idaho National Laboratory and Third Way, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
About GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
Based in Wilmington, N.C., GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is a world-leading provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services. Established in June 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry. The nuclear alliance executes a single, strategic vision to create a broader portfolio of solutions, expanding its capabilities for new reactor and service opportunities. The alliance offers customers around the world the technological leadership required to effectively enhance reactor performance, power output and safety.