ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – The development of nuclear technology promises to make major strides over the next decade. This work has implications for central and southwestern Virginia.
Many companies and research institutions are working on advanced nuclear reactor technology. This covers many different applications, but many represent a new class of nuclear reactors that are smaller, more versatile and less costly than conventional nuclear power plants.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin touted all of these approaches when he unveiled his energy plan during a visit to Lynchburg in October.
He said the federal government should go “all in” on nuclear power, build a world-leading nuclear energy center here and achieve what he called a moonshot in southwestern Virginia.
“Virginia will launch a commercial small modular reactor that will serve customers with baseload power needs in southwest Virginia over the next decade,” Youngkin said.
Earlier this month, an expert at the Nuclear Innovation Alliance explained some of the benefits to the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority.
“They essentially represent a smaller capital investment and also represent a smaller project where it may be easier for companies to help ensure ease of operation,” Patrick White told authority members.
White noted that universities including Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as companies such as Lynchburg-based Framatome and BWXT, are involved in the development of advanced nuclear technologies.
“And I think it’s really an interesting opportunity for us to think about what role Virginia could play, both in terms of deploying this technology to meet its energy needs, but also in terms of how it could be part of a supply chain or a larger manufacturing The entire U.S. ecosystem of advanced nuclear energy,” White said.
Discussion of nuclear energy raises questions about the potential impact on the environment and public safety.
According to White, these advanced technologies address these issues in a positive way. He said uranium supplies from friendly countries should be sufficient and no more domestic uranium production was needed.
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