During a virtual panel discussion sponsored by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, Arshad Mansoor, president and CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), highlighted the importance of nuclear generation to the resilience of the U.S. electric power system.
He cited the performance of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) nuclear power plants during the recent Texas winter storm that led to massive power outages. Mansoor also expressed confidence in the potential for new and emerging nuclear energy technologies to support continued grid decarbonization. Mansoor said “The resiliency of nuclear power plants, the diversity that nuclear power plants bring is something we cannot lose in the near-term as we transition to this low- to no carbon grid,” “We need to value reliability. We need to value resiliency; we need to value inertia and not just value kilowatt-hour. Our largest source of carbon-free energy today comes from the U.S. nuclear fleet. We at EPRI are looking into digitalization, modernization of existing and future nuclear plants. We’ve got to bring it to a place where it’s more affordable.”
The panelists explored the challenges to grid resilience, including the increasing frequency of severe weather events, cybersecurity threats, a growing number of distributed energy resources (DER), and a rapidly changing energy supply mix that advancements in nuclear generation can help to resolve.
The DOEʻs Kevin Lynn said the department is working with EPRI on “building a better understanding of what independent system operators (ISOs) see as some of their challenges over the next five to 10 years from a technical perspective, and how can we work with EPRI and other partners to inform our research and help address those challenges.”
Duke Energy’s Roberts said utilities and other power providers are prioritizing resilience and emphasized the importance of “integrating everything from fuel planning to customer behavior.”