PNNL Nuclear Technologies Fueling Carbon-Free Energy Future

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Source: PNNL,
Source: PNNL,

June 2, 2021 | Originally published by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on May 24, 2021

The nation is sharpening its focus on sustainable energy, including the goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Here in Washington state, the 2019 Clean Energy Transformation Act sets the course for carbon-free electricity by 2045.

As we embark upon the journey of energy decarbonization, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is helping advance the science and technology needed for safe, reliable nuclear energy. This carbon-free source of energy will become increasingly important given the changing dynamics of energy supply, demand, and usage on the horizon. For example, the demand for electricity will grow with the greater adoption of electric vehicles and the electrification of buildings.

To meet this demand for clean electricity, we will see more carbon-free energy resources integrated into the system—including renewables like solar and wind. There also will be a growing need for stable baseload electricity to replace that produced from coal and natural gas. This is where nuclear comes in.

A recent techno-economic report published by PNNL and collaborators from industry and academia concluded that advanced small modular reactors can be cost-competitive in Washington state, especially where existing infrastructure can be leveraged. As home to the state’s only operating commercial nuclear reactor, the Tri-Cities offers that infrastructure and boasts a depth of nuclear knowledge and a trained workforce.

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