ClearPath’s mission is to develop and advance conservative policies that accelerate clean energy innovation. To advance that mission, we develop cutting-edge policy and collaborate with academics and industry. An entrepreneurial, young, strategic nonprofit, ClearPath partners with in-house and external experts on nuclear, carbon capture, hydropower, natural gas, geothermal, energy storage and energy innovation to advance our mission.
While ClearPath is based in the United States and focuses on American policies, climate change is a global challenge and will require cooperation and collaboration across borders. ClearPath sees nuclear energy as an important technology to decarbonize both the electricity sector, and other energy sectors. As allies and neighbors, the U.S. and Canada have a unique opportunity to work together to develop and deploy small modular and advanced reactors in our respective countries and internationally.
Today, several U.S. companies are engaged with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). In addition, some companies participating in the CNSC Vendor Design Review also have expressed interest in pursuing licenses in the United States. In August 2019, the CNSC and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to increase regulatory effectiveness on the technical reviews of advanced reactors and small modular reactors. Finalizing a framework to enable licensing in both countries is one example where the U.S. and Canada can collaborate and accelerate the deployment of these designs.
The U.S. Department of Energy is currently developing the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR). This research reactor will operate at higher temperatures and higher neutron energy fluxes to enable the next generation of nuclear reactors. Currently, this testing capability is only available in Russia. Development and construction of the VTR presents another opportunity for the U.S. and Canada to collaborate on a facility that can help both countries. As advanced nuclear has the ability to decarbonize other sectors, such as mining, desalination, and heavy industry, it is necessary to ensure that the testing capability exists to optimize the designs currently under development.
Another area where both countries can work together is financing. Enabling access to U.S. and Canadian investment financing is one idea. In addition, recently, the U.S. lifted its ban on financing nuclear energy projects at the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). China and Russia have the ability to offer attractive financing opportunities to support the export of their reactors. Their state-owned enterprises are hard for U.S. and Canadian companies to compete against, but cooperation between allied countries, like the U.S. and Canada, provides an opportunity to support our companies, clean energy deployment, and high safety and security standards internationally. Many countries who are interested in nuclear energy do not have the technical and regulatory expertise of countries with established nuclear energy programs. This is yet another opportunity for the U.S. and Canada to share their decades of knowledge to ensure safety abroad.
The SMR Action Plan can, and should, take a long term and collaborative role. Canada should strive to partner with its allies to deploy reactors domestically and internationally. Canada can also play a role to help other countries interested in nuclear develop their own technical expertise, and compete with state-owned enterprises. The Action Plan should also look to innovative solutions to ongoing challenges regarding nuclear, including cost, handling of spent fuel, and nonproliferation. These areas require stakeholder input, and the Action Plan can facilitate that framework.
ClearPath sees nuclear energy as an important technology to support decarbonization in both Canada and the United States. In addition, due to our countries’ shared values, and the multiple new markets interested in nuclear energy, it only makes sense for our countries to collaborate. Joint licensing, financing, sharing technical and regulatory expertise, and enabling the research and development of new designs all have a role to play.
ClearPath supports the Canadian SMR Action Plan Statement of Principles, and will continue its efforts to ensure that U.S. policies can enable technologies internationally, which as discussed, will require collaboration between the U.S. and its allies. A successful Action Plan will develop the framework for Canadian companies to be viable both domestically and internationally. By ensuring the Action Plan fosters collaboration between allied countries, such as the United States, success is more likely as countries can share both financial and technical resources to enable the deployment of low carbon nuclear energy.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 25
ClearPath will continue to engage with U.S. policymakers to enable the commercialization of new nuclear technologies.
This includes policies to leverage the capabilities of the U.S. Department of Energy and National Labs, modernize the regulatory framework at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, provide incentives to de-risk first of a kind deployment, and provide access to financing capabilities.
This also includes incentivizing these U.S. organizations to collaborate with their Canadian counterparts including Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
- The U.S. Department of Energy and National Labs have the research, development, and demonstration capabilities required to support new nuclear technologies
- Companies have access to the U.S. Department of Energy and National Lab’s capabilities, including potential cost shares for the Versatile Test Reactor
- There is a reasonable and predictable licensing framework for new nuclear technologies
- Companies have access to financing capabilities to deploy domestically and internationally
- Deployment incentives, such as tax credits, to de-risk first of a kind deployment are available to companies
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT & PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Engagement on SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 53
ClearPath will participate in future Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) initiatives, including the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future), and will disseminate the findings as appropriate.
- The Clean Energy Ministerial incorporates nuclear energy as a way to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.