By James C. Sherlock
Bill Gates and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm demonstrated and published a joint position on nuclear energy nearly two years ago:
“Nuclear power is the only carbon-free energy source we have that can deliver power day and night throughout any season, almost anywhere on earth. And it’s been proven to work at a large scale,” said Bill Gates, founder and chairman of TerraPower and noted philanthropist, during his remarks at this year’s Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA).
In a clean energy system, wind and solar will play important roles as renewable resources, but they will need support from reliable, carbon-free electricity. Nuclear energy, which accounts for over half of our carbon-free energy, is poised to be a critical part of decarbonization efforts.
“It’s hard to imagine a future where we can decarbonize our power grid affordably without using more nuclear power,” Gates said.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to investing in nuclear energy when she spoke at NEA.
“Between DOE’s historic budget request and the massive investments in the American Jobs Plan, this administration is going to be able to launch more nuclear energy projects across the country,” said Granholm.
“It’s going to be able to bring the benefits of clean sources of electricity and the high-quality jobs they’ll create to more communities. It will move mountains in our pursuit of President Biden’s bold climate and clean energy jobs agenda.”
“These next few years offer a can’t-miss opportunity to harness nuclear’s full potential,” said Granholm.
Policymakers recognize the need to expand and innovate, as it becomes clear that we need more nuclear power to fight climate change. And in turn, new nuclear sites and projects expand opportunities for steady, high-paying jobs for skilled workers.
Governor Youngkin agrees wholeheartedly.
The governor’s “all-of-the-above” energy plan includes nuclear expansion in Virginia and mirrors in every way that matters the nuclear power policy of the Biden administration.
- didn’t get that message and study the evidence that has brought Mr. Gates, Gov. Youngkin and the Biden administration and its Department of Energy to that common position; or
- have studied the scientific evidence of technology advances and still oppose nuclear energy; or
- have not studied the evidence but remember when opposition to nuclear energy was a progressive virtue signal; or
- think their friends (professors? classmates?) dislike nuclear energy and don’t want to offend; or
- some combination of the above.
But occupying ground to the left of Mr. Gates and the Biden Administration on nuclear energy is well into Luddite territory and precariously close to the edge of the economic cliff represented by unreliable energy.
I believe most Virginians can be converted to the federal and state position if the Youngkin administration publicizes the facts surrounding nuclear power and:
- advances in safety;
- the stability of the grid;
- the potential for consumption of nuclear waste produced by legacy generations of nuclear plants;
- economic competitiveness; and
- the bipartisan agreement that backs expansion.
Especially the bipartisan agreement. It will surprise most people.
I believe the Biden administration position and its own ethos (it is not “Green Virginia”) is why Clean Virginia has offered to come to the table with the Governor’s team to negotiate the terms of further nuclear energy deployment in Virginia.
There will be some foot dragging, but the path is clear.