A Five-Year Window
This week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) sponsored an event on "Nuclear Energy at a Crossroads." (A video from the meeting is on their website.)
The meeting featured an opening keynote presentation by Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, followed by three panel sessions: 1) Global and U.S. Outlooks for Nuclear Power, 2) Key Developments in the Global Nuclear Industry, and 3) Nuclear Retirements: Policy, Economic and Climate Implications. The panelists in the sessions that followed included:
Laszlo Varro, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency
Frank Graves, Principal and Utility Practice Area Leader, Brattle Group
Tina Taylor, Director, Nuclear Sector, Electric Power Research Institute
Jonathan Hinze, Executive Vice President, International, UxC
Shoichi Itoh, Senior Analyst, Global Energy, Institute for Energy Economics - Japan
The Hon. Allison Macfarlane, Director, Center for International Science and Technology Policy, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Eric Knox, Senior Project Director, Nuclear & Environment, AECOM
and Whitney Herndon, Research Analyst, Rhodium Group.
While it is difficult to summarize such a meeting succinctly, this diverse and distinguished group was able to address a variety of issues associated with the US and global nuclear power programs and prospects. Collectively, this group represented international, Japanese, and American perspectives, as well as different sectors in the nuclear field. In addition to their current titles, some of the speakers have previous affiliations that were relevant for the discussions. For example, Allison Macfarlane, of course, is a former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Eric Knox was formerly at the U.S. Department of Energy in the office of waste management.
The stage was set very nicely by Secretary Moniz, when he opened the meeting by commenting that he sees a 5-year window for a number of decisions affecting longer-term nuclear developments. He named 8 important developments that he saw would reach pivotal points in the next 5 years. Many of the subsequent presentations addressed issues in some of those 8 areas.
On a personal level, I was particularly interested that Sec. Moniz said that electricity and telecom are key elements to all our infrastructure. This was important to me because my career has been on the energy side, while my husband's has been in telecom, and more than once over the years, we've noted just what Sec. Moniz said about the importance of the two sectors. It was nice to see that importance recognized by the Secretary of Energy as well.
Obviously, this would be a very long blog if I tried to summarize the presentations of all the speakers, as well as of the Q&A. I will simply urge interested readers to take advantage of the material CSIS has posted on their website, and to read the link summarizing the points Sec. Moniz made. The video of the conference (about 6 hours) can be accessed by clicking on the photograph at the top of the page.