As we continue to celebrate National Clean Energy Week, today we turn to the most reliable, cheap, and zero-emission sources of energy: nuclear power.
Nuclear power is the largest source of clean energy in the United States, producing about 20 percent of total U.S. annual electricity. While nuclear power has a safe and reliable track record of reducing emissions, many climate activists work to shut down reactors and undermine its growth, citing largely unfounded safety issues in favor of a renewables-only approach. Because of this, America’s nuclear capabilities have remained at the same level for the last three decades.
Nuclear energy is a product of American innovation. Back in the 1940s, Americans in Illinois invented nuclear energy. And only two decades later, American engineers were working to apply nuclear energy to commercial power production.
Fast forward to today and nuclear power is used across the world. France, in particular, relies heavily on nuclear power, with about 75 percent of their electricity produced by nuclear power. Their use of nuclear power has led to low electricity prices for the French while also bringing in revenue for the country as France earns over 3 billion euros per year from their electricity exports.
Nuclear power is an energy source that the U.S. must take advantage of. Not only does it provide our only source of reliable carbon-free electricity, it is also a matter of national security and global leadership. If we do not lead the world in the development and deployment of nuclear energy, China, Russia and other international competitors will.
American innovators are working to develop a new generation of nuclear reactors. One such development is small modular reactors (SMRs). These are less expensive to build and can be constructed much faster — two hurdles that traditional nuclear projects struggle to overcome.
If the United States really wants to be a leader in combating climate change, we must embrace nuclear power and continue to invest in the development of new nuclear technology. To do this, we must leverage public-private partnerships to support American innovators in finding the solutions to our energy challenges.