Keeping Up with the Advanced Nuclear Industry

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Back in 2013, we realized just how powerful advanced nuclear could be in the fight against both climate change and energy poverty. But most of the policymakers and energy experts we spoke with saw advanced reactors as little more than an interesting pipe dream. That began to change in 2015, after Third Way released an initial map showing the 48 advanced nuclear projects being pursued by companies, universities, and national labs across North America with the help of an astonishing $1.3 billion in private capital. This sent a clear signal that advanced nuclear was more than just a neat idea—it was an industry with momentum that should be taken seriously by policymakers, investors, and technologists.

click to explore the interactive map

Flash forward. As of January 2018, the advanced nuclear industry had climbed up to 75 projects in North America. And it’s not just growing in size. This industry is maturing. Since our initial map, advanced reactor developers have honed their business models and brought-in new investors. They’ve signed agreements with suppliers and potential customers. At least five companies are already working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to prepare for licensing, and major new milestones have been reached with regulators in both the U.S. and Canada. At this rate, we could see the first advanced reactors sending power to the grid as soon as 2026.

The industry has been picking-up its pace with some help from Washington. Soon after our original map was released, the Obama Administration ratcheted-up its support for advanced nuclear and worked with Third Way to develop the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear initiative (GAIN). This effort to promote partnerships between private sector innovators and national labs has successfully moved U.S. technologies closer to commercialization and continues to have strong support at the Department of Energy. At the end of 2017, Secretary Perry announced $30 million in funding to support GAIN and other advanced nuclear development activities. Congress also took note of advanced nuclear’s potential, and a number of bills to increase technical, regulatory, and financing support for advanced reactors have attracted unexpectedly strong support from both sides of the aisle. Further engagement from Washington will be vital to commercializing U.S. technologies and keeping up with competitors for the global market, particularly China and Russia.

This industry is moving rapidly. With our new interactive map, you can browse through all of the advanced nuclear projects in North America, access their websites to learn more about each of them, and keep up with the sector as it evolves. You can also get all of this info in a handy online spreadsheet. We’ll be updating both throughout the year, so stay tuned.