The New Energy Technology Demonstration Act

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Act XII of Energize America

Contents

Objectives

To provide a venue for US government support for exploring major technology options for developing new, large-scale energy programs to support energy independence and reduce GHG emissions.

Two technologies fall within the New Energy Technology Demonstration Act:

1) New Nuclear Power Technology Demonstration: Intent is to build a single, privately-financed nuclear plant to determine the cost-effectiveness, safety and reliability of nuclear power based on modern designs and current technologies. In addition, the program will fairly and openly evaluate nuclear power’s costs and benefits versus modern renewable energy sources.

2) Coal Liquefaction Demonstration: Intent is to test the commercial viability of cleanly converting some of America’s vast coal reserves into synthetic oil. In addition, the program will help the US military meet its future fuel requirements.

1. Nuclear Power Technology Demonstration

Description

Nuclear power has served an important role in American society over the past 50 years, from powering our nuclear stockpile, to generating roughly 20% of US electricity capacity, to fueling military ships, submarines and deep-space exploration vehicles. No new nuclear plants have been built in the US in more than 30 years, largely due to public fears of nuclear accidents, the growing but unresolved problem of nuclear waste disposal, extremely complicated review processes and questionable economics despite federal subsidies for liability insurance. Nuclear proponents and opponents alike have argued their cases for decades, often using incomplete, inaccurate or misleading data. Proponents claim that nuclear power is the best solution to deal with decreasing oil supplies and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Opponents claim that the operating risk, disposal dangers and true costs of nuclear power – and its byproduct nuclear weapons, make nuclear power inherently unsafe, environmentally unsound, fiscally unsound and politically dangerous.

The New Nuclear Power Demonstration Project will provide for fast-track construction and operation of a single, privately-financed, ‘next-generation’ nuclear reactor – assuming private financing can be secured. The Department of Energy, working with the Department of Defense, the nuclear power industry, and the various municipalities interested, will determine the size, location and technology to be used, with groundbreaking to be scheduled no later than 1 January 2009.

The federal government’s role in this regard will be to ensure that the siting and technology selection process are fair and based solely on meeting the needs of the American public for clean and safe energy, and that all costs and benefits are transparent and fully articulated to the public. While the Price-Anderson Act will remain in effect regarding insurance, an analysis will be done and published as to the potential fiscal impact of not having this Federal liability insurance on the fiscal viability of nuclear power plant operations – even with new technologies. In addition, the New Nuclear Power Demonstration Project will task the Department of Energy to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency to create new standards for the regulation and inspection of nuclear plants and to investigate and standardize methods of nuclear waste disposal. By the end of 2012 the Department of Energy will provide to Congress its findings and recommendations on nuclear power’s role in American society.

Project Benefits

The New Nuclear Power Demonstration Project aims to replace much of the ‘noise’ and emotion in the nuclear power debate with objectivity and facts.

Project Investment

The New Nuclear Power Demonstration Project will cost $250 million in incremental program management within the Department of Energy through 2012.

2. Coal Liquefaction Demonstration Project

Description

The US has the world’s largest coal reserves – which can be tapped to generate electricity and to ease the transition to a synthetic fuel-based transportation future. However, great care must be taken to ensure that the mining and processing of coal does not create vast environmental wastelands and increased greenhouse gas emissions. One promising approach to create synthetic fuels from coal is referred to as ‘coal liquefaction.’

Coal liquefaction is the conversion of coal into a synthetic oil to supplement natural sources of petroleum, and has been practiced by South Africa and other countries for years. Coal liquefaction is seen by many as a necessary technology to replace oil before production of biofuels or fuel cells can be ramped up to meet the gap left by declining supplies of oil. Estimates of the cost of producing liquid fuels from coal suggest that domestic U.S. production of fuel from coal becomes competitive with oil priced at $35/bbl, well above historical averages - but a point which is now viable with today’s oil prices above $70/bbl.

The Coal Liquefaction Demonstration Project will establish parameters for a public-private partnership to build and operate two full-scale, coal-to-liquid plants using state-of-art "scrubbers," carbon dioxide sequestration and other strict environmental controls. This act will be managed within the Department of Energy, which will coordinate with the Departments of Defense and Transportation. This act will provide $100 million in federal matching grants and low interest loans for the two selected fast-track projects.

Project Benefits

The Coal Liquefaction Demonstration Act will establish two full-scale plants that can produce up to 25,000 barrels of synthetic fuel per day, reducing our need for imported oil on a gallon-for-gallon basis. The US military – the world’s largest user of oil products, can both benefit strategically from cheaper and more reliable fuel supplies, as well as leading by example in its transition to energy security.

Project Investment

The Coal Liquefaction Demonstration Project will cost $250 million by 2020.

Act Investment

These two demonstration projects will cost an estimated $500 million through 2012.

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