The answer to that question will be determined largely by how we answer another: How do we meet future energy needs while mitigating climate change?
If the goal is to decarbonize our power grid, manufacturing processes and transportation systems, while increasing the standard of living in the U.S. and providing power to the more than 1.3 billion people worldwide currently living without, nuclear energy must be part of a mix that includes renewables such as solar and wind.
The nuclear reactors of the future will be different, however, than those currently in operation in the U.S. and around the world.
Through private-public partnerships and cutting-edge research conducted at Idaho National Laboratory, the U.S. is working to develop reactors that are safer, smaller, cheaper to build and operate, and which produce less spent fuel.
But, questions remain:
Will the U.S. open a national repository for spent fuel and Cold War nuclear waste?
Can the public be convinced that nuclear energy’s disadvantages are outweighed by its contributions to the safety, reliability and stability of our power grid, as well as our economy, environment and national security?
Will policymakers continue to make the investments necessary to ensure that the commercial nuclear energy industry, an American creation that generates 19 percent of our electricity and more than half of our carbon-free electricity, continues to power U.S. prosperity well into the 21st century?
Dr. Mark Peters will address these questions, talk about the technical evolution of reactor designs, and detail growing bipartisan support for nuclear energy in Washington, D.C.
He also will discuss the research and development history that helped create the American nuclear energy industry, and the role INL and other national laboratories will play in developing and deploying the next generation of nuclear reactors.
Bio: Dr. Mark Peters is laboratory director at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). He is responsible for management and integration of a large, multipurpose national laboratory, with a mission focus in nuclear energy, national and homeland security, and energy and environmental science and technology. He manages an organization of 4,200 staff and multiple nuclear and non-nuclear experimental facilities, with an annual budget of more than $1 billion. Peters serves as a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy on nuclear energy technologies and research and development programs, and nuclear waste policy. As a recognized expert in nuclear fuel cycle technologies and nuclear waste management, Peters is called upon frequently to provide expert testimony to Congress in formulation of policies for nuclear fuel cycles, nonproliferation and nuclear waste disposal. Peters was honored in 2015 as a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society for outstanding accomplishments in the area of nuclear science and technology. Peters serves as chairman of the National Laboratory Directors Council Executive Committee.