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Witness Panel 1
Dr. Douglas ChapinNuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee
Dr. Douglas M. Chapin
Principal Officer, MPR Associates, Inc., Alexandria, VA
Member, Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee Generation IV Sub-Committee
US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Concerning Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project (NGNP)
June 12, 2006
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am honored to be here to present the results of the NERAC Generation IV subcommittee review of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project.
In 2002, the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) completed a technology roadmap project that provided an overall plan supporting an enhanced future role for nuclear energy systems. The DOE-NE plan placed top priority on the successful development of a high-temperature fission reactor system, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). In August 2005, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT). One of the key provisions of the EPACT established the NGNP project, and designated an overall plan and timetable for it, with operation by the end of FY 2021. The EPACT also specifically required a prompt review of the NGNP project and its associated R&D plan by DOE’s Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC).
In September 2005, the NERAC chair and co-chair charged the Gen-IV subcommittee to conduct the EPACT-required review. The subcommittee has six members: four are members of NERAC (Mike Corradini of the University of Wisconsin and Chair of the Subcommittee, Neil Todreas of MIT, Harold Ray of SCE, and Joy Rempe of INL). There are two additional nuclear engineering experts from the industry, acting as unpaid consultants (Chuck Boardman, retired from GE, and Douglas M. Chapin of MPR).
At the time the review was conducted in the fall of 2005, DOE-NE was in the midst of a major review of the NGNP to reflect the guidance from EPACT. As a result the subcommittee focused on the first phase of the NGNP program; i.e., between 2005 and 2011. This first phase includes:
• Determining whether the NGNP should produce electricity, hydrogen, or both;
• Selecting and validating a hydrogen generation technology;
• Conducting R&D on associated technologies and components (energy conversion, nuclear fuel development, materials selection, reactor and plant systems development); and
• Initiating design activities for the prototype nuclear power plant.
The subcommittee completed its review and formally reported to the full NERAC in February 2006. The full NERAC approved the report and forwarded it to DOE for eventual submittal to the Congress.
The subcommittee had four major recommendations:
Recommendation (1): The original mission proposed for NGNP was a full-scale prototype of a commercially cost-effective machine producing both hydrogen and electricity. The subcommittee recommends that mission not be continued by default and that alternate missions be evaluated. The subcommittee’s other major recommendations address key aspects of those evaluations.
Recommendation (2): To support the mission redefinition, the DOE-NE staff should conduct, with the assistance of key industry representatives, economic and engineering trade studies that consider:
• The targets for hydrogen production for various scenarios over the next few decades;
• The DOE target for hydrogen production via nuclear power in this overall context;
• The likely hydrogen production and electricity production alternatives and how those alternatives would be factored into determining the proper mission for the NGNP.
Since the selection of the ultimate NGNP mission can drive the reactor design in different directions, the subcommittee recommends that these trade studies be completed as soon as funding becomes available.
Recommendation (3): EPACT requires the overall cost of the NGNP project be shared with U.S. industry as well as members of the international community. However, the subcommittee believes that a NGNP completion date of 2021 greatly decreases the chances of substantial industrial and international contributions. The subcommittee recommends that the DOE consider developing the NGNP as a reactor facility that can be built soon to gain experience and then upgraded as the technology advances. Conceptually, the reactor would be built as a “technology demonstrator” that is, a smaller machine, carefully choosing the scale to be the smallest machine that could be reasonably extrapolated to support full size commercial applications.
Recommendation (4): The DOE-NE staff should update its R&D plans and develop options that can support reactor deployment much before the 2017-2021 timeframe. Further, these plans should adopt and enhance the Independent Technical Review Group (ITRG) perspective that to achieve a successful project even in the later time period, less aggressive project objectives must be adopted; e.g., for reactor outlet temperatures, fuel selection and performance. The subcommittee notes that the DOE-NE has already begun to address the ITRG recommendations and urges continued refinements and revisions.
In summary, the subcommittee supports the construction of the NGNP as a closely coupled activity of the DOE-NE, INL, the industry and our international partners and considers that going ahead as soon as practical is preferred.
Thank you again for inviting me and I will be pleased to address any questions that you may have.
Asst. Secretary Dennis SpurgeonDepartment of Energy
STATEMENT OF DENNIS SPURGEON
OFFICE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
UNITED STATES SENATE
JUNE 12, 2006
Senator Craig, Chairman Domenici, Senator Bingaman, and Members of the Committee,
it is a pleasure for me to be here today to discuss the Administration’s progress in
implementing Subtitle C, Sections 641 through 645 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005
(EPACT 2005) pertaining to the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).
I would like to thank the committee for its leadership in encouraging the Department to
pursue the use of clean, abundant and affordable nuclear energy to meet not just demand
for electricity, but our future needs for clean, emissions-free, efficient process heat for
hydrogen production and other energy uses.
EPACT 2005 Sections 641 through 645 establish expectations for research, development,
design, construction, and operation of a prototype nuclear plant which will provide
electricity and/or hydrogen. This plant will include a nuclear reactor based on research
and development activities supported by the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems
These provisions establish two distinct phases for the project. In Phase I, to be completed
by 2011, DOE is directed to select the hydrogen production technology and develop
initial reactor design parameters for use in Phase II. Phase I is the research and planning
part of the initiative and it is the phase in which the Department is currently engaged. As
contemplated in Phase II, the Department would complete the design and construction of
a prototype plant at the Idaho National Laboratory by 2021. EPACT 2005 also
establishes expectations for NGNP program execution, including industry participation
and cost-share, international collaboration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
licensing, and review by the Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee.
As I indicated at my confirmation hearing, I recognize the NGNP is an important priority
for Senator Craig and this committee and Congress as a whole. Shortly after being sworn
in as Assistant Secretary, I traveled to the Idaho National Laboratory, the lead laboratory
for development of the NGNP, to meet with laboratory officials on the research program,
to better understand the work that has been accomplished to date and to better understand
the laboratory’s detailed plans to meet the expectations set by EPACT 2005.
Over the last four years, through the Generation IV initiative and the Nuclear Hydrogen
Initiative, which is part of the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, the Department has
conducted a research and development program for a very high temperature gas-cooled
nuclear system with the capability to produce hydrogen and/or electricity. The Nuclear
Hydrogen Initiative is broadly aimed at developing hydrogen production technologies
that can be coupled with nuclear systems, including a very high temperature reactor as
contemplated in EPACT 2005. The efforts pursuant to EPACT 2005 ongoing today
consist of research and development on a reactor and the coupling of the reactor to a
hydrogen production system. More than $120 million has been expended by DOE on the
NGNP and Nuclear Hydrogen initiatives since fiscal year 2003. The Department has
requested more than $42 million in fiscal year 2007 for NGNP research and development
and the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative.
With the enactment of EPACT 2005, the efforts over the next several years will be
focused on the research, development, establishment of initial design parameters,
functional requirements, a licensing strategy, and other activities necessary to complete
the Phase I scope of work. Where possible, we are collaborating with our international
partners via the Generation IV International Forum to maximize the value of our R&D
investments and minimize duplication of efforts.
Much of the current reactor development effort is aimed at developing a high burn-up
particle fuel. The fuel development effort builds on the prior successful efforts by the
U.S. and international research community with gas-cooled reactors and coated particle
To support the completion of Phase I in 2011, work is progressing in developing design
data needs for key components of the reactor heat transport and other major systems. In
particular, we are working to qualify materials for use in the high temperature and high
radiation environment of the NGNP. Significant efforts are also underway to develop
and demonstrate at the laboratory scale, high temperature technologies capable of
converting process heat from a nuclear reactor to hydrogen.
This year, we will begin working in earnest with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) to develop a licensing strategy for the technology, which pursuant to EPACT
2005 must be submitted to Congress by August 8, 2008. Licensing a prototype reactor by
the NRC and obtaining certification of the nuclear system design will present a
significant challenge and may be very difficult to accomplish in the timeframe
contemplated. It is likely that, at the same time we are seeking a license for a first-of-akind
reactor, the NRC may receive twelve Construction and Operating License
applications to build approximately 21 new nuclear plants. This estimate may change
with time. While the focus of the Office of Nuclear Energy is on renewed deployment of
commercial reactors, it is important that we begin discussions with NRC as early as
possible on the licensing strategy and associated staffing resources.
My prior professional experience with commercial-scale gas-cooled reactors in the U.S.
suggests that to be successful in developing an economic and efficient reactor that can
produce higher temperature process heat (on the order of 850-950 degrees centigrade)
than current generation light water reactors, and successful in moving the technology to
the market, we need to bring the end users into the initiative at the earliest possible time
– the petrochemical industry, the chemical processing industry, the manufacturing
industry, and electric utilities. I firmly believe that those entities that will directly benefit
from the technologies must drive the technology requirements.
I also believe that we need to focus the NGNP effort on determining if there are more
near-term approaches that would lead to earlier commercialization, within the planning
horizon of industry. My objective would be to establish a public-private partnership with
end users to complete the development of technologies and do so early, allowing the
technology to be moved to the market sooner. The Nuclear Energy Research Advisory
Committee reached similar conclusions in its assessment of the NGNP Program Plan that
was required by EPACT 2005 and delivered on schedule to Congress in April 2006.
I applaud the efforts of Senator Craig and this committee in this regard, as expressed in
EPACT 2005 and I thank Senator Craig for holding this hearing. I intend to build on
current efforts to work with the Idaho National Laboratory to bring end users into this
initiative. As an initial step, this fall, my office and the Office of Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy, which leads the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, will sponsor a
workshop with end users to focus on the functional requirements for production of
process heat from nuclear reactor technology.
More information concerning the Department’s ongoing research and development effort
is summarized below in context of research elements that are identified in EPACT 2005:
high temperature hydrogen production technology, energy conversion technology
development and validation; nuclear fuel development, characterization and qualification;
materials selection, development, testing and qualification; reactor and balance-of-plant
design; and engineering, safety analysis and qualification. As discussed above, the
Department is making good progress. Completing the research and development is
critical to proceeding to the next phase of the initiative, detailed design and construction.
In 2001, the Department led an international effort to develop a roadmap for the next
generation of nuclear energy systems. This roadmap, published in December of 2002,
identified the six most promising Generation IV reactor systems for international
development. Of these six systems, the United States placed early emphasis on the very
high temperature gas-cooled reactor concept – also referred to as the Next Generation
Nuclear Plant -- because of its potential for enhanced safety and economical production
of process heat that could be used for various energy products, e.g., hydrogen, electricity,
and process heat for manufacturing.
For a hydrogen end use, the Department has for the last few years, pursued the
development of a range of high temperature hydrogen production technologies. We are
presently conducting or planning for integrated laboratory-scale demonstrations for two
such technologies – sulfur-iodine and high temperature electrolysis. While EPACT 2005
would require us to choose a single technology for hydrogen production by 2011, at this
time we believe both technologies merit development support and in fact require it to
prove economic and technical feasibility. We feel we can economically support multiple
technology success paths and meet our overall requirement for demonstrating nuclear
hydrogen production as part of NGNP.
Development of the very high temperature gas-cooled reactor is part of a broader
international effort to cooperate on the development of the next generation of reactor
technologies – technologies that are safer, more proliferation resistant, sustainable, and
less waste intensive than current generation technologies. Under the Generation IV
International Forum or GIF, ten nations and the European Union collaborate in the
development of the six promising technologies identified in the Generation IV Roadmap.
One of these six is the very high temperature gas-cooled reactor. Also of interest to the
U.S. is the sodium-cooled fast reactor for its ability to help close the fuel cycle.
International interest in the very high temperature gas-cooled reactor is high among the
GIF member nations. GIF member nations are currently establishing bi-lateral and multilateral agreements for cooperation on those technologies that each country is interested in
pursuing, including the very high temperature reactor. France, Japan, and South Africa
are among the GIF countries interested in the very high temperature reactor.
The very high temperature gas-cooled reactor concept that we are investigating through
the NGNP is a helium-cooled, graphite-moderated, thermal neutron spectrum reactor. Of
the six Generation IV technologies, the GIF judged it to be the most promising concept
for an economically competitive nuclear heat source. In order to produce process heat of
sufficiently high temperature needed for use in producing other energy products such as
hydrogen, the Department believes the reactor outlet temperature would need to be in the
range of 850 degrees centigrade to 950 degrees centigrade. This is a key consideration in
the design and performance of the reactor.
The reactor core would be either a prismatic block or pebble bed concept. The reactor
could produce both electricity and hydrogen using an indirect cycle with an intermediate
heat exchanger to transfer the heat to either a hydrogen production facility or a gas
turbine. The basic technology builds on the Fort St. Vrain and Peach Bottom Unit 1
reactor work. Presently, a pebble bed reactor with characteristics consistent with the very
high temperature gas-cooled reactor design goals is in commercial development in South
Africa with construction set to commence next year, as you will hear today in testimony
from Mr. Regis Matzie.
HIGH TEMPERATURE HYDROGEN PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY
The development of a portfolio of hydrogen production technologies, including nuclear
energy technologies, is an important component of strengthening the United States’
energy, economic, and national security. The Department has defined an aggressive path
to demonstrate hydrogen production from nuclear energy by the end of the next decade.
The technical challenges to achieving this goal are significant, but the development of
emission-free hydrogen production technologies is an important component of the longterm
viability of a hydrogen economy.
Nuclear energy has the potential to play a major role in assuring a secure and
environmentally sound source of transportation fuels. The fundamental challenge is to
focus finite research resources on those processes which have the highest probability of
producing hydrogen at costs that are competitive with gasoline. Both thermochemical
and high-temperature electrolysis methods have the potential to achieve this objective.
Small-scale experiments have operated successfully to date and show promise for
integrated laboratory and other larger-scale system demonstrations.
We are building a basis for making research and development funding decisions by
conducting a research effort involving laboratory-scale demonstrations and analytical
evaluations. This will be followed by integrated laboratory-scale experiments to confirm
technical viability and provide information needed to reach informed decisions on
whether to conduct larger scale demonstrations. Pilot plant demonstrations of the selected
processes would confirm engineering viability and establish a basis for process costs.
We would propose to perform independent analyses of performance and costs to support
the comparative assessments required for technology selection and scaling decisions, and
establish effective interfaces with industry and international partners.
In fiscal year 2006, components for the two baseline thermochemical cycles (sulfuriodine
and hybrid sulfur) are being constructed and tested individually. In fiscal year
2007, components for the sulfur-iodine cycle will be brought together for integrated
laboratory-scale experiments, and a laboratory-scale electrolyzer for the hybrid sulfur
cycle will be designed and constructed.
In the area of high-temperature electrolysis, a successful bench-scale test of a 25-cell
electrolyzer stack was completed in February 2006. This test produced over 100 liters
per hour of hydrogen for 1,000 hours. A module is currently being constructed to
examine multi-stack electrolysis operations, and in fiscal year 2007, the Department will
complete construction of an integrated laboratory-scale experiment utilizing a 60-cell
In parallel with these activities in fiscal years 2006 and 2007, the Department continues
to examine materials and components needed to interface the hydrogen production
processes under development with the nuclear heat source, and to ensure that these
materials and components withstand the nuclear heat and radiation environments.
By 2010, the Department anticipates completing integrated laboratory-scale experiments
of thermochemical cycles and high-temperature electrolysis technologies for producing
hydrogen to confirm technical feasibility of the closed loop processes. Results of these
experiments will inform the selection of the high-temperature hydrogen production
technology required by the EPACT 2005 by the end of fiscal year 2011. For the process
or processes selected for further development, design activities will be initiated by 2011
for pilot-scale experiments at higher power levels to evaluate scalability of the processes
for eventual commercial use.
NUCLEAR FUEL DEVELOPMENT, CHARACTERIZATION, AND
Advanced gas-cooled reactor fuel is being developed for use in the NGNP. This fuel
development program is aimed at re-establishing the core capability for producing coated
particle fuel in the United States. Fuel kernels are being manufactured by the BWXT
Corporation in Lynchburg, Virginia, and coated at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Testing of the particles is slated to begin at the end of fiscal year 2006 at the Advanced
Test Reactor (ATR) at the Idaho National Laboratory. This first test will shake-down the
test equipment and generate useful data on four different coated particle fuel variants.
There are eight in-reactor tests planned, with the final test to be completed in 2019.
General Atomics of San Diego, California, the last gas reactor and fuel vendor in the
United States (for the Fort St. Vrain reactor) is providing technical assistance. By 2011,
we expect to complete the second and third irradiation campaigns that will test the fission
product retention and performance of the fuel.
MATERIALS SELECTION, DEVELOPMENT, TESTING AND QUALIFICATION
This work involves the identification and qualification of suitable materials for use in the
high temperature and high radiation environment of the NGNP system and components.
Nuclear-grade graphite suitable for NGNP has been identified and specimen procurement
is underway. Experiment design for creep-irradiation testing using the ATR will be
completed in fiscal year 2006. ATR irradiations are anticipated to begin in late fiscal
year 2007. We will also begin the irradiation of South African graphite samples in the
ORNL High Flux Irradiation Reactor early next fiscal year.
Materials for use in the intermediate heat exchanger have been selected and are being
procured. The intermediate heat exchanger isolates the reactor coolant from the
secondary working fluid needed for process heat industrial applications or electricity
production. Aging and mechanical testing of material specimens is ongoing. Code
qualification work has been initiated with the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers. Research on suitability of ceramics and composites for use in safety and
control rods in the reactor core is ongoing. The development of codes and standards for
these ceramics is being explored.
REACTOR AND BALANCE-OF-PLANT DESIGN, ENGINEERING, SAFETY
ANALYSIS AND QUALIFICATION
Design studies are being performed to inform the direction of research and development
in materials, fuel development and codes and methods. Design studies have been
completed for both prismatic core and pebble bed gas-cooled reactors. Trade studies
specific to various components are underway, including the reactor vessel and the
intermediate heat exchanger. Prior to 2011, a detailed specification for the NGNP will be
developed for inclusion in the Request for Proposals for NGNP design.
For design, safety analysis and qualification, there is a need to modernize analytical
codes and methods to reduce uncertainty and enhance safety in the NGNP design. This
research focuses on defining the margin that exists between the limiting or design values
versus the calculated results for any operating scenario. Work is underway on the
modeling and codes associated with the reactor physics and thermal-hydraulics. A test
plan is being developed to use the Argonne National Laboratory Natural Convection
Shutdown Heat Removal Test Facility to obtain experimental data to analyze how to
provide cooling for the reactor vessel under postulated accident conditions. Testing is
also underway to validate computer models associated with computational fluid
dynamics. An international standard problem set for code verification and analysis is
expected to be assembled by 2011.
ENERGY CONVERSION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION
The current energy conversion research activity is a relatively small effort at this time and
is aimed at aligning reactor output with the most appropriate power conversion system to
optimize the electrical output at the highest efficiency and lowest cost. Presently, the
Department’s efforts are focused on conducting engineering and comparative studies to
ascertain the pros and cons of various designs. This area will receive greater attention
from the reactor vendors as the NGNP program moves forward with design activities in
The Department is making steady progress toward meeting the requirements established
by EPACT 2005, but there is clearly significant work to be done. The NGNP target dates
present some schedule risk for the Department, especially in light of the challenges
involved in certifying a new reactor technology.
If these or other hydrogen-producing technologies when coupled with the very high
temperature reactor or even more conventional reactors can be proven to produce
hydrogen at a cost of $3.00 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, delivered and untaxed, or
less, I believe we will have nuclear technologies that are economic and viable for
commercialization. The key to our success will be our ability to draw the end users into
the initiative and our ability to effectively address the regulatory process.
Again, I would like to thank Senator Craig for holding this hearing and in particular, for
bringing the perspective of end users to this important discussion. I would be pleased to
answer your questions.
Witness Panel 2
Mr. Tom ChristopherAreva, Inc.
Thomas A. Christopher
Chief Executive Officer
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
June 12, 2006
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am Tom Christopher, Chief Executive Officer of AREVA, Inc.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify before you today on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Next Generation Nuclear Plant program.
I am very pleased to join Assistant Secretary of Energy Dennis Spurgeon on this panel. Assistant Secretary Spurgeon comes from a distinguished industry background, and he has taken on many challenges implementing our nation’s nuclear energy policy. I look forward to working with him to achieve the objectives of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
AREVA, Inc. is an American company headquartered in Maryland with 5,000 employees in 40 locations across 20 U.S. states. We are part of a global family of AREVA companies with 58,000 employees worldwide offering proven energy solutions for emissions-free power generation and electrical transmission and distribution. We are proud to lead the nation and the world in nuclear power, and we are the only company to cover all the industrial activities in our field. Last year, our U.S. operations generated revenues of $1.8 billion—9 percent of which were from U.S. exports to foreign countries.
We provide nuclear power plant services, components and fuel to America’s electricity utilities. We offer our expertise to help meet the nation’s environmental management needs and have been a longtime partner with DOE. We jointly operate the successful Blended Low Enriched Uranium (BLEU) program in Erwin, Tennessee, for example, where we convert problem waste materials from Savannah River Site into safe and inexpensive fuel for Tennessee Valley Authority reactors. In Idaho, we recently invested $300,000 in new equipment to upgrade Idaho National Laboratory’s fuel testing capabilities and supported the INL study of next generation technologies for the production of heat for coal gasification processes.
With the hard work this Committee put into authoring and shepherding into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005, AREVA is poised to build the country’s newest fleet of commercial nuclear reactors using our advanced U.S. EPR (Evolutionary Power Reactor) design. Just weeks following the President’s signing of the energy bill, AREVA announced its new UniStar partnership with Constellation Energy to create the framework to build the country’s newest U.S. EPRs. We are investing $200 million here in the U.S. to obtain NRC design certification, and we are providing Constellation with the necessary Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) application support to begin work on their next nuclear plant. Clearly, America’s nuclear renaisance will be driven by this next fleet of light water reactors.
NGNP’s Commercial Possibilities
Our significant investment in the deployment of the U.S. EPR reactor design is based upon the belief that nuclear power is an essential element of America’s energy independence, energy security and clean electrical power generation. Nuclear energy supports global sustainable development and the reduction of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These objectives are important elements of the Energy Policy Act passed by Congress last year.
AREVA foresees market needs for nuclear power beyond electricity generation. Our ANTARES reactor design is envisioned to serve these future markets and is a High Temperature helium cooled graphite moderated Reactor, or HTR. Thanks to its indirect cycle, this HTR is able to produce process heat at temperatures well above those of the current fleet of light water reactors. This process heat may be able to offset heat currently produced by fossil fuels in a broad range of industrial applications.
For example, in the coming decades, we see a growing need for alternate liquid fuels. To augment traditional petroleum sources, alternate sources such as Alberta oil sands, Western oil shales and conversion of coal to liquids may become significant contributors to our transportation fuel mix. These all consume large quantities of process heat and hydrogen. Conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol also requires significant process heat. In place of fossil fuels presently used to provide the process heat for these applications, nuclear reactors may be able to provide the necessary energy. This would avoid significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions and further consumption of fossil fuel.
Ultimately, ANTARES may be able to procure the process heat necessary to deploy the technology developed at Idaho National Laboratory to produce hydrogen. Achieving these missions in process heat production would strongly support Congress’ and the Administration’s goal to further America’s energy security and sustainability.
NGNP and Industry Involvement
Nuclear programs such as NGNP require significant investment in research and development, first-of-a-kind engineering and manufacturing infrastructure. These costs of developing new technology can be prohibitive for individual commercial entities working alone. That is why international cooperation to develop new technology is needed.
But a government-industry partnership is also vital to addressing the goals of a major advance in nuclear technology. For the HTR, a demonstration reactor is necessary in order to overcome the technical, infrastructure and licensing hurdles of this first-of-a-kind power technology in the U.S. As a demonstrator for this key technology, the NGNP at Idaho National Laboratory will greatly accelerate the commercial deployment of this technology by reducing risks in these areas.
AREVA has participated whenever possible with the NGNP program throughout the last four years. We’ve contributed to the Generation IV Roadmap and provided direct input to the NGNP Independent Technology Review Group in 2003 and 2004. Our efforts have been aimed at helping guide the NGNP to become a commercially deployable nuclear technology for the future.
This type of technology development and demonstration complements AREVA’s core missions and capabilities. We invest in both near- and long-term nuclear technology
development and bring these technologies to market. We are also involved in the support of other Generation IV concepts.
As mentioned earlier, AREVA has been developing ANTARES as a practical and flexible future provider of process heat and electricity. During the past three years, AREVA and its affiliates have invested more than $70 million in research, development and engineering to advance the ANTARES design concept. However, achieving the vision of an HTR demonstrator such as NGNP will require resources that are beyond what can be provided by any one company.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains provisions supporting cost-sharing and industry participation. AREVA believes that the best way for achieving real progress towards NGNP realization is for the Department of Energy to have frank discussions with industrial partners who have a vested interest in HTR technology development. AREVA would be interested in leading an industrial consortium to achieve NGNP goals if such a strategy were selected. AREVA will invest in technology design and development that is forecast to have future marketability. NGNP could match this criterion.
Industry needs to be involved at the early stage of licensing and design strategy for the NGNP. This is when the highest leverage exists to ensure that a cost-effective and marketable technology is defined. We should, therefore, have industrial involvement now and not wait until 2011.
There are markets for this technology now, especially in hydrogen and process heat production. Given the long time needed to bring any nuclear technology to market, we must start now and make steady visible progress in order to create market confidence. NGNP could benefit from a government-industry partnership today. AREVA is ready to lead the formation and execution of such a partnership.
NGNP and DOE Leadership
A key element of a successful NGNP program is a demonstration plant that has a measured risk profile. The selected technology goals for this plant should be the result of a realistic assessment of its future usefulness in an industrial setting, with features that support ongoing research and development.
Whereas there may be a temptation to incorporate some “stretch goals,” we must remain mindful that such goals carry potentially significant technical challenges and cost burdens that could result in early project termination. The recent Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee report on NGNP identified some of these kinds of measured risks that should be considered for the NGNP demonstration plant.
Regarding specific needs for the NGNP, we believe DOE should define the technology concept that they will support for the NGNP. This selection process needs to address market-based requirements. Then industry needs to be a partner in providing a reference design that meets customer requirements. This reference design should be the means to focus all research and development.
Industrial involvement is also needed in developing licensing strategy and assessing design tradeoffs throughout the project. The NGNP should be defined to focus the effort where the benefit is the highest. This will minimize risk for the NGNP and the first commercial versions of this new technology.
In conclusion, we believe that high temperature reactor technology can be a part of the mix of energy technologies we should be working on now to achieve energy independence. HTR technology offers the potential to replace fossil fuel heat delivery in a broad range of applications, offsetting oil and gas imports. We look forward to working with DOE to make the NGNP program a successful partnership—and to support America’s goal of energy independence.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate having this opportunity to join you today. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have at this time.
Dr. Lawrence BurnsGeneral Motors Corporation
Lawrence D. Burns, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research & Development and Strategic Planning
General Motors Corporation
Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Hearing – Next-Generation Nuclear Plant Project
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
June 12, 2006
Mr. Chairman and Committee Members, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of General Motors. I am Larry Burns, GM’s Vice President of Research & Development and Strategic Planning, and I am leading GM’s effort to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.
GM has placed very high priority on fuel cells and hydrogen as the long-term power source and energy carrier for automobiles. We see this combination as the best way to simultaneously increase energy independence, remove the automobile from the environmental debate, and allow automakers to create better vehicles that customers will want to buy in high volumes.
High volume is critical. It is the only way to meet the growing global demand for automobiles while realizing the large-scale energy and environmental benefits we are seeking. By 2020, there will be more than one billion vehicles on the planet, up from over 800 million today. Clearly, with the increased demand for energy and automobiles, a greater effort to make automotive transportation truly sustainable is required.
GM’s fuel cell program is focused on three areas:
• Developing a fuel cell propulsion system that can compete head-to-head with internal combustion engine systems.
• Demonstrating our progress publicly to let key stakeholders experience firsthand the promise of this technology.
• Collaborating with energy companies and governments to ensure that safe, convenient, and affordable hydrogen is available to our customers, enabling rapid transformation to fuel cell vehicles.
We are targeting to design and validate an automotive-competitive fuel cell propulsion system by 2010. By automotive competitive, we mean a system that has the performance, durability, and cost (assuming scale volumes) of today’s internal combustion engine systems.
This aggressive timetable is a clear indication that fuel cell technology for automotive application is industry driven (rather than government driven) and that this technology has matured to a point where such timing is indeed possible.
We have made significant progress on the technology:
• In the last seven years, we have improved fuel cell power density by a factor of fourteen, while enhancing the efficiency and reducing the size of our fuel cell stack.
• We have significantly improved fuel cell durability, reliability, and cold start capability.
• We have developed safe hydrogen storage systems that approach the range of today’s vehicles, and we have begun to explore very promising concepts for the next generation of storage technology.
• We have made significant progress on cost reduction through technology improvement and system simplification.
Our progress has convinced us that fuel cell vehicles have the potential to be fundamentally better automobiles on nearly all attributes important to our customers, a key to enabling high-volume sales. And, with just 1/10th as many moving propulsion parts as conventional systems, our vision design has the potential to meet our cost and durability targets.
Today, we are demonstrating our vehicles around the world:
• We have had a six-vehicle fleet here in Washington, D.C. for four years, and 4,300 people have participated in a ride or drive. We also have demonstrations under way in California, Japan, Germany, China, and Korea.
• We collaborated with the U.S. Army on the development of the world’s first fuel cell-powered military truck, which has been evaluated and maintained by military personnel at both Ft. Belvoir and Camp Pendleton.
• We will field 32 of our next-generation fuel cell vehicles as part of the Department of Energy’s Learning Demo, beginning in 2007.
• And we created the AUTOnomy, Hy-wire, and Sequel concepts, which show how new automotive DNA can reinvent the automobile. Sequel is the first fuel cell vehicle capable of driving 300 miles between fill ups. Later this year, we will be holding test drives to demonstrate the capabilities of this truly impressive vehicle.
With respect to collaboration, we are working with key partners on virtually every aspect of fuel cell and infrastructure technology. Among our partners are Shell Hydrogen, Sandia National Lab, Dow Chemical, Hydrogenics, and QUANTUM Technologies, as well as the Department of Energy and the FreedomCar and Fuel Partnership involving Ford, DaimlerChrysler, and five energy companies.
One challenge to fast industry transformation is the fueling infrastructure. A major advantage of hydrogen is that it can be obtained from many pathways, including nuclear and renewable resources. As such, it promises to relieve our 98-percent dependence on petroleum as an energy source for our cars and trucks.
GM is not in the energy business, so we are not experts on the energy industry. But, as we work to commercialize fuel cell vehicles, we have a keen interest in hydrogen pathways, and the technologies and economics involved in the various methods.
The best way to think about hydrogen is like we think of electricity. Most of us don’t know which energy source is being used to power our homes; we do know that there are a variety of sources supplying power to the grid. For example, most of Vermont’s electricity is generated from nuclear power; in Idaho, most is generated from hydropower; a major source in Texas is natural gas, and in many states much of the electricity is produced using coal.
Similarly, there is no single, best answer with respect to hydrogen; there are various options from which to choose. Each region will evaluate the resources that it has available. And, as technology progresses, and the economics change, and societal pressures emerge relative to environmental concerns and energy use, different options will become preferable in different locations.
GM believes an important hydrogen pathway is generation of inexpensive electricity produced by means of nuclear power, or creation of hydrogen directly from nuclear energy.
Currently, 441 nuclear power plants operating in 30 countries – including 103 in the United States – produce about 16 percent of the world’s electricity. What if we could use this generating capacity at off-peak hours and harness it for transportation power?
In the U.S. alone, nuclear power production today is a 60-billion-dollar industry, and transportation energy is a 300-billion-dollar market. If nuclear energy were to be employed to produce hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles, that opens up an exciting new option for the energy industry.
The key questions are: How fast will the fuel cell vehicle market ramp up? And can the nuclear industry compete at a hydrogen price equivalent to two-to-three dollars per gallon of gasoline?
To summarize GM’s position: We see hydrogen as the long-term automotive fuel and the fuel cell as the long-term power source. Our fuel cell program seeks to create clean, affordable, full-performance fuel cell vehicles that will excite and delight our customers. We believe customers will buy these vehicles in large numbers and that society will reap the economic, energy, and environmental benefits.
Similarly, we believe that building clean, renewable energy pathways will enable America to reduce its dependence on imported oil, increase our energy security, promote the creation of new industries, stimulate jobs creation and sustainable economic growth, and ensure our country’s ability to compete on a global basis.
GM applauds the enactment of the Next Generation Nuclear Plan Project as part of last year’s Energy Bill. We view nuclear power as having an important role in developing the Hydrogen Economy. And we are ready and eager to work collaboratively with government, energy companies, and suppliers on energy pathways that will drive the Hydrogen Economy to reality.
Mr. Dan KeuterEntergy Nuclear
Dan R. Keuter, Vice President, Nuclear Business Development
Before the U. S. Senate
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
June 12, 2006
My name is Dan Keuter and I am Vice President of Business Development for Entergy Nuclear, the second largest operator of nuclear energy plants in the United States.
We are very pleased to see you are looking at the Next Generation Nuclear Plant. The nuclear energy industry supports the integration of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant into a nuclear development strategy. The next generation of nuclear energy plants holds great promise for our nation, our economy, our environment and, truly, maintaining our American quality of life.
This high temperature gas cooled reactor can be an important part of:
? Reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases
? Preserving our finite resources of oil and natural gas
? Reducing the volume of our used nuclear fuel, and
? Reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources.
The Next Generation Nuclear Plant would be super-safe, virtually meltdown-proof, and a reactor that could be built mostly underground, and therefore be more resistant to terrorist attack.
One of the greatest advantages of these high temperature gas-cooled reactors is that they would be much more efficient than today’s nuclear or coal-fired power plants, converting the reactor’s heat to electricity at an efficiency rate of 48 percent, a 50% improvement over today’s power plants, nuclear or coal. That means this new reactor could get 50% more power from the same amount of heat and fuel. This means lower power costs for our customers.
The fact that nuclear energy does not emit the greenhouse gases means they can help us reduce the threat of global climate change. They also avoid air pollutants that adversely affect the air we breathe, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
Let me explain how we believe we can get there.
The U.S. nuclear energy industry’s highest priority now is to design, license and construct the advanced, passive light water reactors that are a clear refinement of the designs currently being operated at 103 nuclear sites today. They will be lower in cost, and even safer to operate.
The nuclear industry agrees with the Administration that the United States needs to show strong leadership in the development and deployment of nuclear energy technology in order to meet our non-proliferation goals, improve our balance of trade, and achieve our energy and environmental goals as a nation. Without energy security our national security is threatened.
To this end, we need the Congress to fully fund the Nuclear Power 2010 program and the Yucca Mountain project. Without the construction and operation of a national fleet of Generation III advanced, passive light water reactors, there won’t be a Generation IV high temperature gas-cooled reactor, despite all its promise.
Nuclear energy technology can play a significant role in helping our nation switch to a hydrogen economy. In fact the high temperature gas-cooled reactor is needed today to help meet today’s growing needs for hydrogen alone. There is a strong market for non-polluting hydrogen now.
A fundamental problem is we do not have a low cost source of hydrogen that doesn’t pollute the air. We produce most of our hydrogen today from breaking down natural gas, putting increased pressure on its volatile prices and ever shorter supply. But worse, for every ton of hydrogen we produce in today’s steam reformation process, at least 10 tons of carbon dioxide are produced and released to the atmosphere, worsening the risk of climate change.
Hydrogen is a basic raw material in America’s economy today. Hydrogen is the feedstock for anhydrous ammonia, the fertilizer almost all farmers in the U.S. depend on to increase their crop yields every year – whether they are growing corn, cotton, rice, soybeans or any other crop, amounting to 38 percent of the hydrogen produced today. Ethanol production from corn would also increase demand for fertilizer and its hydrogen feedstock even more.
Very large amounts of hydrogen are also used today to raise the energy level of imported sour crude oil to make gasoline, truck diesel fuel and aircraft jet fuel. Gasoline production requires 37 percent of all hydrogen we make today and is growing 10 percent a year, doubling every seven years. Due to environmental concerns and America’s growing imports of foreign heavy crude oil, hydrogen demand by refineries alone is expected to double by 2010 and quadruple by 2017.
Fertilizer and oil refining represent 75 percent of today’s use of hydrogen and both will grow as environmental concerns increase. Hydrogen is also a raw material in the production of a variety of chemicals and plastics.
We understand the Department of Energy and the automobile industry are close to developing the fuel cell to power our large transportation sector of cars and trucks in the future. But a hydrogen economy only makes sense if the hydrogen is produced from non-emitting sources. That is not the case today.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, one of the most far-sighted energy measures ever passed by this Congress, under the strong leadership of this Committee and its far-sighted Chairman, charted a better way. The Act included $1.25 billion for the design and construction of a commercial prototype of a high temperature gas-cooled reactor. The Act provided the high temperature gas-cooled reactor should be built at the Idaho National Laboratory no later than 2021.
Only the government can undertake such long-term, capital intensive research and development efforts. There is simply too muck financial risk for the private sector.
The governments of other countries of the world are already building or operating such prototype high temperature reactors. Japan has been operating a demonstration 30-megawatt HTGR plant since 1998. China was so encouraged by its 10-megawatt high temperature laboratory reactor, which began operating in 2000, that it announced in 2004 that it will build a 200-megawatt demonstration reactor.
The U.S. nuclear industry agrees with the need to close the nuclear fuel cycle by recycling used nuclear fuel. The government needs to implement the necessary research and development programs that would provide the facts you need in order to make the decisions on how best to recycle. In our present once-through nuclear fuel cycle, only about four percent of the uranium is actually burned. About 96 percent of the uranium in our used fuel of today is actually unburned and can be reclaimed.
America should be doing that. Other nuclear energy countries – the UK, France, and Japan already are recycling. High temperature gas cooled reactor technology, like fast reactors, can play an important role in developing recycling as a safe, reliable technology.
We believe America’s need for hydrogen from non-emitting sources can be integrated with our research and development needs of a recycling program that would close the nuclear fuel cycle in a safe, reliable and low cost manner that would be acceptable to the American people.
In summary, our priorities are (1) the licensing and construction of advanced light water reactors as soon as possible, (2) completion of the Yucca Mountain project, (3) designing and building a Next Generation Nuclear Plant and (4) closing the nuclear fuel cycle, in that order.
We must harness the promising potential of nuclear energy in this country, not leave it to other countries of the world.
We must also move toward a hydrogen economy – and that requires that we develop a way to produce large volumes of hydrogen at a stable, low cost. A new generation of nuclear energy plants can provide that source of hydrogen.
Our country’s economy and quality of life depend on it. Our children and our grandchildren depend on it.
Thank you for listening today. I will be pleased to respond to your questions.
Dr. Regis MatzieWestinghouse Electric Company
Dr. Regis A. Matzie
Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Westinghouse Electric Company
U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Concerning Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project
June 12, 2006
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, it is an honor to present the views of Westinghouse Electric Company on the state of U.S. nuclear energy development. I have been working in the commercial nuclear energy industry for over 30 years and this is the most exciting time of my career. Current nuclear plants are performing at unparalleled levels with excellent economics and safety. A large group of power companies have announced plans to apply for combined construction and operating licenses, which is a key step in the construction of new nuclear plants. Many other countries also planning to expand their nuclear fleets, and others are looking to the United States for direction, for the signal that the time has come to rely more on clean, environmental friendly nuclear power, and less on fossil fuels.
Westinghouse has a long history of technology leadership in commercial nuclear energy. We build the first U.S. commercial nuclear plant at Shippingport, PA, in 1957. We are proud that we have been making the investments in new reactor technology over the past decades that have prepared us for the current nuclear Renaissance. Our AP1000 advanced passive plant received Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission this past December. This has given many power companies the confidence that they can move forward with their planning on new plant construction based on our already approved AP1000 design. It is imperative that the U.S. Department of Energy continue to show the leadership it initiated with its Nuclear Power 2010 program and help launch this Renaissance as quickly as possible while the momentum is strong. This should be the highest priority of the Department, because without the renewal of new plant build based on advanced light water reactors such as AP1000, there will not be a nuclear Renaissance.
Congress showed tremendous foresight in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 when it authorized the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program, whereby a high temperature gas-cooled reactor was to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory with the duel mission of demonstrating co-generation of hydrogen and electricity. The reason that I characterize this provision of the Act as such is that it opens up the use of nuclear energy beyond its current mission of electricity production to other sectors of the energy market. High temperature reactors can be used to provide environmentally friendly process heat for a broad range of applications, including syngas production, coal-to-liquid petroleum conversion, and hydrogen production. By developing and demonstrating these process heat applications, we can move toward a hydrogen economy in the near term. We do not have to wait for the development of hydrogen distribution and storage systems. We do not have to develop an economical hydrogen-fuelled car. Instead, we can use the existing industrial infrastructure of the chemical and transportation sectors. This will help stabilize fossil fuel prices. This would help our nation become less dependent on foreign imported fossil fuels at a time when energy security is prominent in our minds and would make a significant additional contribution to greenhouse gas reduction.
I strongly encourage Congress to press forward with the development of gas-cooled reactors – to provide for and press the Department of Energy to fully launch the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program. This should be done as a public-private partnership program with the strong involvement of both the commercial nuclear industry and the fossil fuels industry. This will help ensure that the program is commercially relevant and that it is accomplished in the most economical and timely way possible. The program should also build on key developments in other countries, like the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, being demonstrated in the Republic of South Africa. This electric plant demonstration program is progressing well with both strong government and investor commitment to completion. A part of this program includes large-scale testing facilities that will be of use by a U.S.-based program for high temperature gas reactors, at a significant savings to the U.S. taxpayer. This program should also be used to leverage design development, materials selection, and component specification to accelerate the program here in the U.S., so that the mission of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program can be demonstrated within a 10 year period.
As evident today with the Nuclear Power 2010 program, the “long pole” in commercializing new nuclear reactor technologies is the regulatory process. Again, the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor program can be of help to the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program because this design is already being reviewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Generic high temperature gas-cooled reactor licensing issues are being addressed by the Commission as a precursor to formal Design Certification application. These issues are germane to both electricity and process heat applications. By helping to accelerate the review of these generic issues and driving for a timely completion of the review, a robust Next Generation Nuclear Plant licensing program can be completed to support plant operations by 2016.
In summary, I strongly encourage Congress to “stay the course” that it has directed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. To drive for early deployment of advanced light water reactors by fully funding the Nuclear Power 2010 program. To fully launch the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program to demonstrate nuclear co-generation with the objective of completion of the demonstration reactor within 10 years through the establishment of a public private partnership, including strong international cooperation.
I thank you for your time and attention.
Mr. Jeff SerfassNational Hydrogen Association
U. S. Senate ommittee on Energy and Natural Resources
Sections 641 through 645, Energy Policy Act of 2005
Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project within the Department of Energy
Statement of Jeffrey Serfass
National Hydrogen Association
June 12, 2006
Chairman Domenici, Senator Craig and other Honorable Members of the Committee: On behalf of the members of the National Hydrogen Association (NHA), I would like to speak to you today regarding the implementation of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Project within the Department of Energy, as this effort may affect our country’s transition to a hydrogen economy. For over 17 years, the National Hydrogen Association has been dedicated to research, development and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, leading to a firm basis for establishing and growing a commercial hydrogen economy. Our extensive work in safety, codes and standards, education and outreach, and policy advocacy have gotten us to the edge, indeed the beginning, of the transition to hydrogen.
Our 103 members represent the considerable diversity of the community interested in the future hydrogen economy: large energy and automobile firms, utilities, fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturers, small businesses, transportation agencies, national laboratories, universities and the many other researchers, developers and manufacturers of hydrogen energy products. In partnership with the U.S government and each other, we are the wave front of technical and economic action on hydrogen in the U.S. and abroad — these are the people and organizations that are making great progress along a broad technical front, and will have a key role in implementing these technologies (please see the attached list of members and our Board of Directors.)
Summary My testimony will make the following points that reflect the NHA’s policy positions:
• Hydrogen is critical for our energy future to achieve energy security, environmental health and economic growth objectives.
• The transition to hydrogen has already begun, with early products on the market, and it is accelerating.
• The introduction of hydrogen vehicles into early markets is just around the corner.
• A hydrogen economy capable of fueling our transportation needs will require a large amount of hydrogen with new production capacity.
• Nuclear power can provide a significant portion of the new hydrogen required, with no greenhouse gases or other pollution, providing that waste management and safety issues are addressed.
• The Generation IV Modular Helium Reactor (MHR) planned for NGNP solves the waste management and safety issues.
• The NGNP high efficiency electric generation is well suited for hydrogen production with today’s low temperature electrolysis, and NGNP high temperatures allow it to produce hydrogen with new high temperature electrolysis and/or direct thermochemical water splitting.
• The future hydrogen economy needs the nuclear option and this program is the best way to get there in the required time frame.
Hydrogen is our Nation’s Premier Energy Destination
The President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, expanded and permanently authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, provide the framework for a significant transformation of our energy and transportation systems. The U.S and countries around the world are embarked on this transition to hydrogen as a fuel because it provides benefits to energy security, the environment and economic growth:
1. Hydrogen can help energy security because it can be produced by a variety of resources, contributing to the development of alternatives to imported oil for transportation, and fueling distributed fuel cell power generation;
2. Hydrogen can benefit the environment because it can be produced and used in ways that have minimal impact on health-related air quality and on greenhouse gas emissions; and
3. Hydrogen can benefit economic growth through more efficient energy systems, new businesses and in-country production of transportation fuels resulting in new jobs.
We will need an army of dedicated and talented people to solve all the technical and market-building challenges along the way. We will need a robust set of options for producing, storing and using the hydrogen, just as we currently have multiple paths to the production and use of electric energy. The stakes are high and we have a lot of work to do to get to the future we believe is achievable.
The Transition Has Begun and Is Accelerating
Products to produce and use hydrogen are in use today, and the pace of growth in hydrogen’s use will accelerate over the next 10 to 20 years as the technologies and the infrastructure evolve. There are emerging products in three key areas:
• Stationary power generation for power at remote sites and for grid-isolated applications
• Portable electronics using micro-fuel cells in computers, cameras, surveillance equipment, military personnel power and cell phones
• Transportation, including fork lifts, personal mobility vehicles and soon, buses, cars and possibly trains.
These early products, today’s development of niche markets, and the DOE-sited progress in meeting key system goals suggest that we are already on the technology and market growth curve toward the hydrogen economy.
The Introduction of Hydrogen Vehicles is Just Around the Corner
DOE’s hydrogen program in EERE is focused on technology readiness by 2015 for hydrogen-fueled transportation. Congress has funded and DOE has implemented an impressive program to address the technology challenges, in addition to the Fossil Energy and Nuclear Energy programs funded separately.
As early as 2015 is, National Hydrogen Association members are moving even more aggressively. The manufacture and introduction of competitive technologies, market creation and development, and customer positioning by industry are indicating that commitments to early production vehicles is happening now. We will have early commercial vehicles on the road in the next few years from several manufacturers. The pace is faster than one could have expected even a few years ago. Industry is driven to the creation of world market vehicles that address environmental issues and petroleum constraints.
The supporting infrastructure is developing, too. The NHA’s new website which provides a database of operating and planned hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S. and Canada shows a total of 37 operating hydrogen fueling stations already and another 22 planned. The infrastructure development is out ahead of the market and will be ready for early fleets in urban areas, and increasingly to connect hydrogen highways planned in a number of states and border nations.
A Hydrogen Economy Will Require Large Amounts of Hydrogen
No single hydrogen production strategy will be sufficient for the U.S. Although 95% of hydrogen today is produced by the steam reforming of fossil fuels, the hydrogen economy of the future will require hydrogen produced by a variety of resources, including renewable energy, nuclear and coal. Large amounts of hydrogen will be required and, just as in electricity production, different resources will be used in different regions, in different markets, and for different applications. It is through resource diversity that hydrogen will be one of two clean and secure energy carriers of the future. Electricity is the other energy carrier.
A hydrogen economy will require significant new hydrogen production, even with the increased efficiency of the automobile fleet through fuel cells and lighter weight vehicles. While it is expected that coal, with carbon capture and management, and renewable energy will be significant contributors, nuclear is expected to be required, in the U.S, and even more so in countries that lack the coal resources that the U.S. has.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. annual gasoline usage in 2000 was 129 billion gallons, which is comparable to 129 billion kg of hydrogen if hydrogen were the replacement fuel. To provide an accurate comparison, it is important to note that hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles are more than twice as efficient as today’s internal combustion engine vehicles. So let’s say the annual hydrogen need is 65 billion kg for a fully hydrogen light weight vehicle fleet. The NHA reports that a manufacturer can produce hydrogen and compress it for vehicle storage with 60 kWh per kg of hydrogen, so the electric energy required with today’s electrolysis technology is nearly 4,000 billion kWh, requiring about 2 million MW of electric generation capacity. With the higher hydrogen-producing efficiency of the NGNP plant, this volume of hydrogen would require only 1 million MW of new capacity. If 20 to 50% of the new hydrogen mix is nuclear, we would need approximately 60 to 150 new 3,000 MW plants in this country alone, and this new U.S. technology will be exportable to countries with far fewer domestic energy resources than the U.S. has.
Nuclear energy can produce high quality hydrogen in large quantities at a relatively low cost without any air emissions. Most importantly, large volumes of hydrogen can be produced by nuclear with investments by government and industry to develop the technology, and investments by industry to build the plants.
Nuclear Power Can Provide a Significant Portion of the Hydrogen Required, with Waste Management and Safety Issues Addressed
The National Hydrogen Association’s position is that nuclear is an important component of the hydrogen production resource mix because, as with coal, hydrogen can be produced in great volumes to support a worldwide growing hydrogen energy market. However, nuclear waste management issues must be solved, with acceptable strategies for disposal of current and projected wastes to minimize the problem. Further, safety issues must be addressed, not because the safety record is poor today (the record is exceptional), but because the public will expect that future nuclear plants need to be designed to even higher safety standards, and be passively safe.
It is important to keep in mind that there are risks and issues with all energy production and use and there will be risks with hydrogen production and use, just as there is with gasoline and electricity. The beauty of the hydrogen future is that it is clean and secure. Our hydrogen production methods must meet those objectives, too. Nuclear is clean, and it must be safe.
The Next Generation Nuclear Plant Solves the Waste Management and Safety Issues
The most promising nuclear hydrogen production technologies will likely use the high temperature gas reactor (HTGR) that is the fundamental technology behind the NGNP project. Its high temperature hydrogen production processes are more efficient (overall efficiency of ~50% or twice that of today’s nuclear Light Water Reactors with low temperature electrolysis) and will be able to provide more economical, large-scale hydrogen production with greatly reduced waste and significantly increased safety.
The NGNP is Well Suited for Hydrogen Production in the Time Frame Needed
The NGNP project will lead to high temperature processes that can produce hydrogen in three different ways:
1. Conventional Electrolysis -- Currently, the best way to produce hydrogen from nuclear energy is with conventional electrolysis. This can be done by today’s Light Water Reactors and tomorrow’s higher temperature reactors by electrically splitting water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. The high efficiency of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant will produce hydrogen from conventional electrolysis more efficiently than today.
2. High Temperature Electrolysis -- The high NGNP temperatures can be used in high temperature electrolyzers under development, capable of producing hydrogen at even greater efficiency than conventional electrolysis. High temperature electrolysis uses heat from the reactor to replace some of the premium electricity required in conventional electrolysis.
3. Thermochemical -- High temperature steam can be used to produce hydrogen directly, thermochemically, bypassing electrolysis with even greater efficiency. The necessary chemical reactions take place at high temperatures (450-1000° C), temperatures that are available in NGNP processes.
EPAct 20o5 Section 645 lays out timelines which are consistent with the growing need for hydrogen in 2020 to 2050. The prototype construction operation by 2021 is needed to allow investments later in the decade and beyond for full scale hydrogen production.
The Future Hydrogen Economy Needs the Nuclear Option and NGNP Is the Best Way to Get There.
We thank you for the opportunity to provide this testimony. We look forward to continuing a fruitful working relationship with the Committee, its staff, and all our stakeholders in building a successful Hydrogen Economy.