Where Government Needs to Focus for Bill Gates and Others to Advance Nuclear Innovation

The Daily Signal | 12/18/2018 | Staff
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Katie Tubb is a policy analyst for the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and several other senators reportedly met last week with Microsoft’s Bill Gates to discuss nuclear energy.

Meeting - Alaska - Republican - Lawmaker

Referring to the meeting, the Alaska Republican lawmaker said:

[Gates] is focused on issues related to a warming climate, and I think he has come to appreciate that if we’re really going to work to reduce emissions, the clean-energy source is really nuclear.

Advancements - Area

So, how are we making advancements in that area?

That has been the question for Congress, and the subject of many conferences and iterations of legislation on advanced nuclear technologies.

Scores - Energy - Technology - Concepts - Years

Scores of advanced nuclear energy technology concepts have cropped up over the years and received particular attention as large conventional reactors have become costly to build and the innovation of Silicon Valley has taken off.

These designs aim to provide a variety of options—smaller, more efficient, safer, less waste, different fuels, and the potential for applications beyond power generation, such as medical-isotope production and process heat.

Projects - North - America - Competition - US

With more than 75 projects underway in North America alone, competition is steep, but one has yet to be tested or built in the U.S. since the days when peaceful uses of nuclear energy were first being explored in the 1950s.

Frustration has been building as to why—hence, Murkowski’s question.

Date - Attention - Washington - Costs - Research

To date, the attention in Washington has largely focused on how to subsidize the costs of research, development, approval, and construction of advanced nuclear technology.

That approach is deeply problematic for a variety of reasons. Chief among those problems is the reality that throwing taxpayer money at companies isn’t going to solve two of the biggest problems facing advanced-nuclear companies; namely, overregulation and a failed nuclear-waste management policy.

Issues

Neither of those issues is a secret.

TerraPower, the traveling-wave reactor technology backed by...
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