By: Roger Reynolds, Senior Technology Advisor
In the next few decades, incredible strides in energy innovation will need to be made in order to counteract the effects of climate change and population growth. As the Global Commission on Climate and Energy concluded last year, “Actions today and in the next 15 years will be critical to stabilising [sic] and then reducing emissions to try to meet the international target of keeping the average global temperature increase below 2°C.”
Over the last several years, we’ve seen a significant shift in the world’s energy markets. Domestically, there is demand for localized power, currently supplied by natural gas. Overseas, especially in broader Asia, there is immense demand for base load power, such that nuclear energy can easily supply. Right now, more than 40 of the 66 reactors under construction around the world are located in Asia.
Ensuring that the U.S. industry – historically the nuclear industry trailblazer – continues to play a leading role in energy innovation is important. As Eric McFarland, a professor from the University of Queensland, points out in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, “Globalization is real. Preventing innovators in Western democracies from creating new cost-effective technologies using nuclear reactions won’t prevent it from being done.”
Interestingly, a recent survey conducted for the Nuclear Energy Institute indicated that, among 1,000 American adults, 68 percent favor the use of nuclear energy in the U.S., and 49 percent believe its importance will increase. Additionally, 83 percent agree that it is important for the U.S. industry to continue playing a leading role in world markets.
This is where companies like TerraPower can have a great impact. From the very beginning, the nuclear industry has placed great emphasis on the need to solve problems and we encourage the idea that taking a fresh look at an old idea can bring about substantial change. In fact, that’s what TerraPower does, fusing advanced computer simulations with tried and true nuclear technologies to solve global energy problems. As a result, we’ve made great progress, partnering with U.S.-based companies to spur growth in new industries.
To combat climate change and population growth, and to continue the industry’s positive trajectory, innovative work needs to be encouraged both domestically and overseas. Many other developed nations are pursuing these objectives, and it is important that the U.S. industry remains globally competitive. The type of ground-up supply chain development used by TerraPower is one way to help ensure the U.S. remains a strong player in the nuclear sector. Breakthroughs are driven by technology innovations, and TerraPower is excited to be one among many U.S. companies engaged in such work.