Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap

To achieve energy security and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction objectives, the United States must develop and deploy clean, affordable, domestic energy sources as quickly as possible. Nuclear power will continue to be a key component of a portfolio of technologies that meets our energy goals. This document provides a roadmap for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) research, development, and demonstration activities that will ensure nuclear energy remains viable energy option for the United States.

Today, the key challenges to the increased use of nuclear energy, both domestically and internationally, include: 1) The capital cost of new large plants is high; 2) Exemplary safety performance must be maintained by an expanding reactor fleet; 3) There is no integrated and permanent solution to high-level nuclear waste; and 4) International expansion of nuclear energy raises concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

There is a necessary and appropriate federal role in overcoming these challenges, consistent with the primary mission of NE to advance nuclear power as a resource capable of making major contributions to meeting the nation’s energy supply, environmental, and energy security needs. This is accomplished by resolving technical, cost, safety, security and proliferation resistance barriers, through research, development, and demonstration, as appropriate. NE’s research and development (R&D) activities will help address challenges and thereby enable the deployment of new reactor technologies that will support the current fleet of reactors and facilitate the construction of new ones.

Read more in “Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap: Report to Congress” from April 2010.