Texas Advanced Nuclear Reactor Working Group
What is the Texas Advanced Nuclear Reactor Working Group?
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) announced the membership of the Texas Advanced Nuclear Reactor Working Group as directed by Governor Greg Abbott in September. The Working Group, led by PUCT Commissioner Jimmy Glotfelty, will study and plan for the use of advanced nuclear reactors in Texas and evaluate how they can provide safe, reliable, and affordable power for Texas.
What aspects of nuclear power will the working group research and evaluate?
The Working Group will evaluate the state's role in deploying advanced nuclear reactors, potential financial incentives available, nuclear-specific changes needed in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market, federal and state regulatory environments, and permitting for the construction of advanced nuclear reactors. The Working Group must also study advances in nuclear reactor safety and engage supply chain manufacturers to foster in-state development of the technology and local economic development.
What are the working Group's goals?
Leveraging the expertise of a diverse set of stakeholders, the Working Group must submit a plan and recommendations to Governor Abbott by December 1, 2024, outlining a roadmap for how Texas will become the national leader in using advanced nuclear technology.
Who are the members of the working group?
The Working Group members include:
Dillon Allen, Senior Manager of Advanced Nuclear Development, Entergy
Chrissy Borskey, Senior Executive Director, Government Affairs and Policy, GE Vernova/GE Hitachi
Bret Colby, Principal, Nuclear Oversight, CPS Energy
Ryan Duncan, Director of Government Relations, Last Energy
Derek Haas, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
Maynard Holt, CEO, Veriten
Mike Kotara, President, Zachry Sustainability Solutions
Stephanie Matthews, Executive Vice President, Texas Association of Business
Sean McDeavitt, Associate Vice Chancellor, National Laboratories Office, Texas A&M University
Andy Meyers, Ft. Bend County Commissioner
Andy Nguyen, Director of Wholesale Market Development, Constellation
Preeti Patel, Associate Commercial Director, Dow
Benjamin Reinke, Vice President of Global Business Development, X-Energy
Doug Robison, CEO, Natura
Clayton Scott, Chief Commercial Officer, NuScale
Jim Stanway, Senior Strategist, Samsung
Pablo Vegas, CEO, Electric Reliability Council of Texas
How can the public participate in the working Group's process?
There are many ways the public can participate in the Working Group's process, including:
Is there currently nuclear power generation in Texas?
Yes. In 2022, nuclear generation produced approximately 10 percent of the electricity available in the ERCOT power region. Texas has two nuclear power plants: the South Texas Project near Bay City, Texas and Comanche Peak near Glen Rose, Texas.
What is nuclear energy? How is it created?
Nuclear energy is produced through nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms. Nuclear fission releases heat, which is then used to create steam that spins a turbine to generate carbon-free electricity. A nuclear reactor contains and controls this process.
What is an advanced nuclear reactor?
Advanced nuclear reactors include Light Water Reactor (LWR) designs that are far smaller than existing reactors, as well as concepts that would use different moderators, coolants, and types of fuel. Many of these advanced designs are considered small modular reactors (SMRs), defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as reactors with electric generating capacity of 300 megawatts (MW) and below. IAEA classifies reactors with 10 megawatts or less as microreactors.
Advanced reactors are often referred to as "Generation IV" nuclear technologies, with existing commercial reactors constituting "Generation III" or, for the most recently constructed reactors, "Generation III+." Major categories of advanced reactors include advanced water-cooled reactors, which would make safety, efficiency, and other improvements over existing commercial reactors; gas-cooled reactors, which could use graphite as a neutron moderator or have no moderator; liquidmetal-cooled reactors, which would be cooled by liquid sodium or other metals and have no moderator; molten salt reactors, which would use liquid fuel; and fusion reactors, which would release energy through the combination of light atomic nuclei rather than the splitting (fission) of heavy nuclei such as uranium.
What are the benefits of nuclear energy?
Nuclear energy has many advantages:
- Nuclear energy is reliable. Nuclear power plants in the United States operated at full capacity more than 92% of the time in 2022, making it the most reliable energy source in the country. Nuclear power plants also require less maintenance than other sources of generation and can operate for longer stretches of time before refueling is needed.
- Nuclear energy is a clean, carbon-free energy source. It produces more than half of the nation's emissions-free electricity, avoiding more than 470 million metric tons of carbon each year.
- The nuclear energy industry supports nearly half a million jobs in the United States. Nuclear plants can employ hundreds of workers and contribute significantly to local economies.
- Advanced nuclear reactors can produce a new clean water source.
- Advanced nuclear reactors could be a cost-effective key to salt water desalination.