Nuclear activities remain one of the most, if not the most, regulated industrial activities in the world. While a high level of oversight and regulation is justified, the growth in regulation and lack of international cooperation has created an environment that is unintentionally but effectively prohibitive for nuclear innovation.
Potential vendors spend hundreds of millions of dollars and many years engaging with and seeking to satisfy the regulator, resources that many companies do not have, in order to first receive permission to begin a multi-billion dollar and multi-year long construction projects. These barriers are then duplicated when a vendor seeks to enter a new market with a new regulator. Additionally, many of these barriers are higher when seeking to commercialize new, novel technology, with which the regulator has never had experience. Clean Air Task Force activities in this focus area seek to make recommendations and provide data to maintain the current safety and operational requirements enforced by the regulators but reduce unnecessary burdens on a vendor and increase international cooperation. Current projects and activities under this focus area are:
- International Licensing Harmonization – Clean Air Task Force recommendations will address how to increase international cooperation and reduce the burden for entering new regulatory markets once a well-established and experienced regulatory body has already been satisfied for a particular nuclear plant design.
- International Nuclear Safety – While considered the leader in the nuclear community for many decades, the United States is quickly being challenged by many other nations, some of which are traditional allies and some of which are not. As expansion and growth happens around the world, international nuclear safety requirements and best practices will continue to evolve, and this evolution can inform and support other regulatory bodies. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area would seek to determine what are the best practices in international nuclear safety and licensing and what practices should be replicated.
- Developing World Barriers – All estimates of energy growth over the coming decades indicate that the largest segment of electricity generation growth will occur in the developing world. However, supplying nuclear energy as the solution to these growing needs introduces new challenges in how to regulate and license a nuclear power facility in a country with no or a newly-established and inexperienced regulatory body. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area would revolve around how best to deploy, license and regulate nuclear energy facilities in the developing world.
- Ocean-based Reactors – Ocean-based reactors have been utilized by numerous navies around the world for hundreds of reactor-years. Some have argued that ocean-based reactors, whether floating or fixed, offer potential advantages in safety, security, siteability, and cost. However, commercialized floating reactors have been largely the exception, rather than the rule. Today, that situation is changing with the Russia recently deploying an ocean-based nuclear energy facility and the United States and many others intrigued by the opportunities offered. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area would aim to determine the safest and most effective way to license the deployment and operation of a new generation of ocean-based commercial reactors.