As the nuclear vendor community grows and expands, the variability in operations, productions, features, etc. also continues to become more varied.
With so much variation, the benefits of each new alternative becomes harder and harder for outsiders to assess and to determine what market niche each alternative is best suited for. Additionally, markets are not stagnant, and changes to traditional business practices, operations, or technology can result in the opening or closing of markets, a process which is not well characterized in the nuclear community. Clean Air Task Force activities under this focus area look to better understand the actual global markets for future nuclear deployment, how actual markets could be more palatable for deployment, and what design features improve or limit compatibility with what markets. Current projects and activities under this focus area are:
- Nuclear Market Assessment – Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area would seek to provide better understanding of what design factors, features, and components are likely to facilitate or block entry to current and prospective global markets. This work will include developing nuclear energy system specifications reflecting what new and traditional markets are seeking from new nuclear deployment. This assessment will include potential large-scale use of nuclear energy to produce zero-carbon fuels (hydrogen and ammonia, for example) and industrial process heat.
- Global Business Model Action Plan – Assessing current and stalled nuclear projects around the world illustrates many less than desirable business practices in addition to best practices. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area aim to illustrate the failings in current nuclear deployment business models and offer alternatives, based on successes seen around the world.
- Preserving Existing Units – Nuclear energy provides the vast majority of US carbon-free power, and a third of the world’s, avoiding hundreds of millions of tons of climate warming emissions which would otherwise linger in the atmosphere for centuries. Premature closure of nuclear plants removes an important foundation for a low carbon strategy. In addition, deploying new nuclear technologies becomes more and more challenging as currently operating nuclear plants retire and sites are closed. Operating existing plants preserves the manpower, knowledge, and skills needed to operate the next generation of plants. , Finally, adding a unit to an existing site has historically been the most expeditious pathway for capacity expansion. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area is focused on how best to support and preserve existing units and pave the way for the next generation of plants.
- Thermal Storage – Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area, described above, aims to open new markets to nuclear power facilities by providing a thermal storage option that increases competitiveness and usability of nuclear technology in markets that have or may have high penetration of intermittent generation resources.
- Nuclear Waste – The question of what to do with unspent nuclear fuel remains a large barrier for the expansion of nuclear energy. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area seek to reduce the questions and burdens associated with nuclear waste and move in a direction where nuclear waste concerns no longer limits expansion.
- Non-proliferation – Any future nuclear expansion will have to address the potentially increased risk of weapons proliferation. Clean Air Task Force recommendations and research in this area seek to address these issues and concerns through design requirements and enhanced governance.