Earlier in the year, Weinberg Next Nuclear reported on the exciting GAIN initiative that the Obama administration launched to support nuclear progress in the USA. The companies chosen were X-energy and Southern Nuclear Operating Company. X-energy is working in a partnership to develop its Xe-100 pebble bed high temperature gas-cooled reactor whilst Southern’s partnership is pursuing the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor.
In August, these two companies announced that they will work together to further their projects. They have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on development and commercialization of their respective advanced reactor designs.
As World Nuclear News reported, X-energy said its collaboration with Southern aims “to make available an additional nuclear solution that supports the global clean energy movement.” The X-energy CEO Kam Ghaffarian added, “We are thrilled to have Southern Nuclear involved in our project. I founded X-energy in 2009 out of a desire to make a significant and lasting contribution to clean energy generation in the US and around the world. This relationship firmly puts us on that path.”
Southern Nuclear chairman, president and CEO Stephen Kuczynski said, “Our relationship with X-energy builds upon the DOE awards we each received and puts the industry on a strong path to providing clean and safe nuclear enrgy for generations to come.” He added, “We understand fully the time and manpower it will take to bring the first advanced reactor to market and feel confident that pursuing this goal together will best leverage our combined research and commercial operation experience to do so.”
This partnership in the USA is a great step in the right direction and should help to realize the promise of an advanced nuclear future. However the future of nuclear power in the USA is in doubt with the upcoming election. Although Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton is an advocate of the “all of the above” approach of the Obama administration to tackle climate change, Republican candidate Donald Trump is a climate denier. Whilst Clinton has said “rapidly shutting down our nation’s nuclear power fleet puts ideology ahead of science and would make it harder and costlier to build a clean energy future”, Trump has said he supports nuclear power but favors gas, and now focuses more on promoting a coal regeneration. Energy is not a key debating issue in the US election, but there is potential for significant change based on the outcome, so it must be hoped US energy policy continues to be progressive and pro-nuclear innovation.