The Academy’s work in its Global Nuclear Future project on the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle has focused on identifying and developing nuclear waste solutions that are feasible and adoptable by legacy countries as well as by nuclear newcomers. The project acknowledges the fact that nuclear waste is a national responsibility for all countries that have, or are in the process of building, nuclear power plants. However, for many of these countries, domestic nuclear waste solutions (such as interim storage facilities and final repositories) might be difficult to establish—obstacles can include challenging economics for nations with small nuclear fleets (nuclear power, like most other energy technologies, profits from scale), unsuitable geophysical conditions, and public opposition.
Furthermore, there is a lack of international consensus on the importance of spent nuclear fuel. Those who value spent nuclear fuel see it as a potential feedstock, as part of a closed nuclear fuel cycle; others view it as an unattractive nuisance or worse because it contains fissile plutonium, a potential source of material for weapons, and therefore they wish to dispose of it in a permanent, nonretrievable repository. As a result, attempts to fashion a multilateral nuclear waste repository that can respond to these needs have not been successful. The partners or customers of such a permanent facility would have to agree to the nature of this storage: would it allow for retrievable spent fuel or not, and would all agree to the conditions under which such fuel would be permanently stored? [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Large-scale corporate energy buyers are seeking renewable energy as a central element of their overall energy strategy. In a few states, these commercial and industrial (C&I) customers have collaborated with their utilities to create new opportunities to buy renewable energy in ways that deliver more value to the customer.
Building on that experimentation, this guide provides a synthesis of the ways utilities can meet the renewable energy demand of large-scale energy buyers.
The paper first describes some of the existing green tariff designs, addresses why some of the country’s largest shareholder utilities are offering green tariff options, and concludes by outlining the considerations necessary to build an attractive and pragmatic green tariff offering based on learnings to date. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Since the start of the 21st century, the U.S. energy system has seen tremendous changes. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a growing net importer of most forms of energy to a declining importer—and possibly a net exporter in the near future. The United States remains the second largest consumer of energy in the world, behind China.
The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives only available for the energy industry. As Congress evaluates the tax code and contemplates tax reform, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energyrelated tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?
In 2016, the value of federal tax-related support for the energy sector was estimated to be $18.2 billion. Of this, $5.2 billion (28.6%) can be attributed to tax incentives supporting fossil fuels. Tax-related support for renewables was an estimated $11.4 billion in 2016 (or 62.6% of total tax-related support for energy). The remaining tax-related support went toward nuclear energy, efficiency measures, and alternative technology vehicles.
The clean energy economy in the United States—including wind, solar, and efficiency industries—is putting more and more Americans to work. This fact sheet outlines the latest data on how many Americans are working in clean energy and where the jobs are located. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. The North American shale boom has unlocked vast quantities of natural gas, upending domestic electricity markets and enabling rapidly growing export volumes. American shale oil has sent global oil prices to their lowest sustained level in a decade and slashed U.S. imports in half. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable fuels like wind and solar electricity has plummeted, and they now account for the majority of new electric generating capacity.
Given this technological and economic context, the United States has perhaps never been better positioned to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Though it is often discussed as a future problem, climate change caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is happening now. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased from 317 parts per million in 1960 to more than 400 parts per million in 2016 (NOAA 2016), while the global average temperature has risen 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9° Celsius) above its 1960 level.
These changes are already impacting our everyday lives. Record-breaking temperatures, melting ice caps and more frequent coastal flooding, prolonged droughts, and damaging storms are just some of the intensifying risks we face as our planet continues to warm (IPCC 2007a). Despite these risks, the prices U.S. consumers pay for fossil fuels rarely reflect their costs, skewing consumption and investment choices away from cleaner fuels and discouraging the kinds of technological advancements that would allow the nation to make more efficient use of its energy resources. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Since the 1970s, oil and gas production has enriched many countries but also made them dangerously dependent on these resources for export revenue and government finance. As a result, development experts have counseled such countries to diversify their economies and export bases. Virtually all oil- and gas-rich countries are—and have been for decades—rhetorically committed to this goal and have allocated significant resources to infant industry development and infrastructure projects to boost their economies. However, some—such as Nigeria, Qatar, and Russia—have been more successful than others. This working paper examines the fortunes of 40 oil- and gas-dependent economies during the 21st century commodity boom and finds that in spite of oil and gas prices nearly trebling, a sizable majority (75 percent) of these countries saw oil and gas rents decrease as a share of GDP. Yet many oil- and gas-rich economies continue to rely very heavily on these resources for export revenue. Internal economic diversification in the 21st century has been less a matter of correct policy formation and implementation and more a matter of factors that shape the policymaking environment, with the findings suggesting a difficult road to economic diversification for the Gulf Cooperation Council economies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].