New Brief: Nuclear Energy Uniquely Suited to Decarbonize Industry in the U.S.

Press Release

NEW REPORT: Nuclear Energy Uniquely Suited to Decarbonize Industry in the U.S.

While nuclear generation already accounts for a majority of zero-carbon power generation across the United States, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) today released a new report highlighting the unique benefits of advanced nuclear energy technology in decarbonizing the U.S. industrial sector as well.

The C2ES brief, Advanced Nuclear Process Heat for Industrial Decarbonization, examines the potential of existing and advanced nuclear energy to help decarbonize the industrial sector, specifically with heat generation.

Industry is responsible for about 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and much of these emissions come from the heat needed for industrial processes in sub-sectors such as steel, concrete, and chemicals. The report found that both advanced and existing nuclear technology, when combined with other clean energy technologies, can play a key role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels that industry normally relies on.

Advanced reactors use technological advancements including relying on different fuel or coolant, smaller scale reactors, and improved efficiency. These technologies offer myriad characteristics ideal for scaling at a variety of industrial locations, including uninterrupted thermal energy and electricity, flexible siting, modularity, and a small land footprint, as well as inherent safety and resilience features.

The nuclear industry has strong support at the federal level: the Senate recently passed the ADVANCE Act, which seeks to accelerate the deployment of nuclear capacity, and the White House has also taken steps to support the industry.

“On both sides of the aisle, Congress recognizes the unique benefits of deploying more clean and reliable nuclear power,” said Doug Vine, Director of Energy Analysis for C2ES. “Continued government support for nuclear technology, workforce, regulatory reform, expanding supply chains, fuel production and a streamlined permitting process will be key factors to reaping those benefits.”

Growing electricity demand from end uses like electric vehicles and heat pumps and the arrival of new technologies like artificial intelligence-capable data centers create an increasing need for clean power. Highly-scalable, zero-emission technologies like nuclear power will be necessary to effectively decarbonize the electric grid while also providing a dependable source of process heat for many industries.

Over the past several years, C2ES has engaged closely with leading companies across sectors to examine challenges and solutions to decarbonizing the U.S. economy by 2050. To inform policymakers considering these near- and long-term questions, C2ES launched a series of “Closer Look” briefs to investigate important facets of the decarbonization challenge, focusing on key technologies, critical policy instruments, and cross-sectoral challenges. These briefs explore policy implications and outline key steps needed to reach net zero by mid-century.

Read the full Advanced Nuclear Process Heat for Industrial Decarbonization brief here.