Virginia's Nuclear Energy Consortium (NEC), signed into law this week by Gov. McDonnell, intends to make the state a hub for research and development of safe and available nuclear power. The Consortium will build on Virginia's already substantial nuclear facilities in higher education, nuclear reactor manufacturing, and nuclear engineering.
In accord with the Federal government's "all of the above" strategies for energy production, Virginia's law-makers recognized the sense of growing the current infrastructure into a nationally recognized center of nuclear technology and competence. The dual goals of national energy security and reducing our carbon emissions are both furthered by nuclear energy. New reactor designs offer safe and reliable energy production without producing greenhouse gases.
One thrust of current research within Virginia aims at reducing the size of reactors. Small Modular Reactors (SMR) can better meet the nation's electric needs. They will be faster to construct and more suitable for supplying electricity to smaller communities. Local placement also reduces energy waste in long transmission lines and makes the grid more resilient to disruption. Babcock & Wilcox mPower project in Lynchburg, VA is well advanced in designing such a reactor.
The NEC's purpose is not to decide the "right" mix of nuclear, coal, gas, and renewable energy sources -- it is not a policy-setting body. Its purpose is to foster expansion of the nuclear energy industry in-state, making a new generation of nuclear energy options available to the nation. Virginia benefits economically and educationally by attracting and assisting research organizations. In the process it will contribute to our national energy future and prosperity.
In supporting the Commonwealth of Virginia initiative, Nuclear Street, a nuclear industry web portal for nuclear professionals, created a group to share and explore nuclear energy opportunities in the state. The Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Group is free to join through Nuclear Street. Virginia businesses that provide services and products to the nuclear industry are welcome to post information about their company in the group and join the discussion.