Society faces the herculean task of decarbonizing our global economy – from transportation to manufacturing and other industrial processes to electricity production – by 2050. TerraPower’s business case is built on the reality that this requires not only conservation and increased use of renewable resources, but also the rapid deployment of advanced nuclear technology. Clean energy goals also require American industry and government to work together in new, innovative ways.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that to avoid the worst effects of climate change we must limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by mid-century. This effort will require a vast reduction in global carbon emissions even as energy demand is expected to double in the same timeframe.
That means business leaders cannot wait for government to act. State and federal policymakers play an essential role in setting the clean energy agenda and have made great strides, but CEOs must also stay attuned to what their operations can offer public institutions as market forces continue to drive climate progress and best-in-class technologies. By working with government authorities and policymakers, the private sector can identify the cornerstones of our climate solutions and begin to build on them.
The U.S. Department of Energy has introduced cost-sharing partnerships that aim to reduce the burden of commercializing and support advanced clean energy technologies. This latest iteration of the familiar public-private partnership has the potential to produce fantastic results. If industry’s relentless drive for economic results is effectively combined with government’s capacity for large-scale mobilization, the realm of the achievable is nearly endless.
Of all the clean energy technologies, advanced nuclear offers the surest and fastest pathway to decarbonizing our economy. Currently, TerraPower is engaged in numerous public-private partnerships to help nuclear science and technology deliver to its fullest potential. With the milestones-driven focus of a business, the company is swiftly delivering on technologies that can produce less waste, reduce reprocessing needs, lower proliferation risks and slash production costs for nuclear energy.
American industry and government must band together as they did in World War II when automakers and other industries supplied the Allies with an “Arsenal of Democracy.” Of course, we’re now facing a different kind of existential threat. We can’t see this enemy, but from wildfires and heatwaves to floods and tsunamis, we continue to witness its blitzkrieg of destruction. We can ignore the threat no longer. Fortunately, we know the way: strong public-private partnerships will unlock the strength of government and the ingenuity of its citizens to bring advanced nuclear technology to bear in the fight for civilization.