Summary

Growing energy demands, emerging concerns about the emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, the increasing and volatile price for natural gas, and a sustained period of successful operation of the existing fleet of nuclear power plants have resulted in a renewal of interest in nuclear power in the United States. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the main agent of the government’s responsibility for advancing nuclear power. One consequence of the renewed interest in nuclear power for the NE mission has been rapid growth in the NE research budget: it grew by nearly 70 percent from the $193 million appropriated in FY 2003 to $320 million in FY 2006.

In light of this growth, the FY 2006 President’s Budget Request asked for funds to be set aside for the National Academy of Sciences to review the NE research programs and budget and to recommend priorities for those programs given the likelihood of constrained budget levels in the future (DOE, 2005). The programs to be evaluated were Nuclear Power 2010, the Generation IV reactor development program, the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)/Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI), and the Idaho National Laboratory facilities program. The committee’s evaluation of each is summarized below, along with its assessment of program priorities and oversight and its relevant recommendations.

All but two members of the committee concur in the assessments presented in this report, and their dissenting statement is presented in Appendix A. In particular, all committee members agree that the GNEP program should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program. The authors of Appendix A would “hold DOE R&D spending [on the less aggressive fuel cycle research program] to pre-2003 levels, before AFCI,” and they believe that “DOE is the wrong agent for developing commercial technologies beyond the early laboratory stage.”

Separately, three other committee members who do agree with all the recommendations in the report expressed their preference for an alternative to the technology preferred for GNEP. They describe this preference in Appendix B.

NUCLEAR POWER 2010

The Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010) program was established by DOE in 2002 to support the near-term deployment of new nuclear plants. NP 2010 is a joint government/industry 50/50 cost-shared effort with the following objectives:

  • Identify sites for new near-term nuclear power plants and obtain early site permits (ESPs).

  • Complete detailed, first-of-a-kind design engineering on two advanced light water reactor (ALWR) plants and confirm the safety of the designs by obtaining design certifications (DCs).

  • Obtain combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) in keeping with the Standardization Policy (10 CFR Part 52) of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).

  • Develop an effective inspection, testing, analyses, and acceptance criteria (ITAAC) process to assure licensing compliance during construction.

  • Implement the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05) standby support provisions for the construction of new nuclear plants.

  • Estimate the capital costs and operation and maintenance costs, construction time, and levelized cost of electricity for the two plants.

  • Evaluate the business case for building new nuclear power plants and pave the way for an industry decision to build new ALWR nuclear plants in the United States. Construction would begin early in the next decade.

Current Status

A good working relationship has been achieved between DOE and its contractors. The selection of the projects funded



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summary Growing energy demands, emerging concerns about the preference for an alternative to the technology preferred for emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, GNEP. They describe this preference in Appendix B. the increasing and volatile price for natural gas, and a sus- tained period of successful operation of the existing fleet of NUclear PoWer 2010 nuclear power plants have resulted in a renewal of interest in nuclear power in the United States. The Office of Nuclear The Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010) program was estab- Energy (NE) in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the lished by DOE in 2002 to support the near-term deployment main agent of the government’s responsibility for advancing of new nuclear plants. NP 2010 is a joint government/indus- nuclear power. One consequence of the renewed interest in try 50/50 cost-shared effort with the following objectives: nuclear power for the NE mission has been rapid growth in the NE research budget: it grew by nearly 70 percent from • Identify sites for new near-term nuclear power plants the $193 million appropriated in FY 2003 to $320 million in and obtain early site permits (ESPs). FY 2006. • Complete detailed, first-of-a-kind design engineering In light of this growth, the FY 2006 President’s Budget on two advanced light water reactor (ALWR) plants and Request asked for funds to be set aside for the National confirm the safety of the designs by obtaining design certi- Academy of Sciences to review the NE research programs fications (DCs). and budget and to recommend priorities for those programs • Obtain combined construction and operating licenses given the likelihood of constrained budget levels in the future (COLs) in keeping with the Standardization Policy (10 (DOE, 2005). The programs to be evaluated were Nuclear CFR Part 52) of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Power 2010, the Generation IV reactor development pro- (USNRC). gram, the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, the Global Nuclear • Develop an effective inspection, testing, analyses, and Energy Partnership (GNEP)/Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative acceptance criteria (ITAAC) process to assure licensing (AFCI), and the Idaho National Laboratory facilities pro- compliance during construction. gram. The committee’s evaluation of each is summarized • Implement the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05) below, along with its assessment of program priorities and standby support provisions for the construction of new oversight and its relevant recommendations. nuclear plants. All but two members of the committee concur in the • Estimate the capital costs and operation and mainte- assessments presented in this report, and their dissenting nance costs, construction time, and levelized cost of electric- statement is presented in Appendix A. In particular, all com- ity for the two plants. mittee members agree that the GNEP program should not go • Evaluate the business case for building new nuclear forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive power plants and pave the way for an industry decision to research program. The authors of Appendix A would “hold build new ALWR nuclear plants in the United States. Con- DOE R&D spending [on the less aggressive fuel cycle re- struction would begin early in the next decade. search program] to pre-2003 levels, before AFCI,” and they believe that “DOE is the wrong agent for developing com- current status mercial technologies beyond the early laboratory stage.” Separately, three other committee members who do agree A good working relationship has been achieved between with all the recommendations in the report expressed their DOE and its contractors. The selection of the projects funded 

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 REVIEW OF DOE’S NUCLEAR ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM is appropriately market driven. There is a strong focus on • Common safety and licensing issues among the families demonstrating the regulatory processes, finalizing and stan- of reactor designs are fully standardized. dardizing the designs, and implementing the EPAct05 stand- by support provisions, all of which are essential front-end standardized design completion activities. Yet, other activities essential to ultimate success do not seem to have achieved that same focus in planning, While it is expected that a COL application could be stan- let alone implementation. dardized for each reactor design, it is not clear that common safety and licensing issues would allow the COL applications to be standardized among the families of designs. Schedules overall Progress for completion of the full designs need to be accelerated to be Although progress has been made on the licensing of dem- consistent with the goal of estimating costs and construction onstration projects, the pace is far slower than that proposed times, and completing design before the start of construction. in the near-term roadmap, and there has been further slippage Design standardization efforts also need to be expanded to against the original NP 2010 schedules. This slippage does cover not suggest the high priority DOE has given to NP 2010. • Construction, operational, and maintenance efficiencies, Recommendation. NE should make the successful comple- • Protocols, such as form-fit-function, to permit competi- tion of the NP 2010 program its highest priority. It should tive bidding on the great variety of smaller plant components, take all necessary steps to ensure that guidance for the loan and guarantee program authorized by the EPAct05 is finalized. • Change processes and operational standards for the plant life. licensing demonstration Recommendation. DOE should work with the industry con- USNRC and industry need to improve the presently sortia to increase efforts to standardize safety and licensing planned pace of COL reviews, avoiding review of already- issues across all families of reactor designs. DOE should settled issues and setting a more challenging schedule. In also provide additional cost-shared funds to accelerate the spite of the substantial effort that USNRC and the industry schedules in the NP 2010 Five-Year Plan. are devoting to preparing for the COL reviews, the planned schedules are still too long. Detailed milestones and sched- deployment and infrastructure issues ules need to be established at the outset of the COL hearings and reflected in a binding order issued by the USNRC at DOE and the consortia have not devoted sufficient effort the time each application is formally docketed. The ITAAC to critical deployment issues such as preoperational testing, process needs to be defined fully and demonstrated to avoid advanced construction technology or processes, and opera- construction delays caused by questions about licensing tional training. compliance or by litigation. Recommendation. NE should immediately initiate a coop- Recommendation. DOE should propose and support a joint erative project with industry to identify problems that have DOE/industry/USNRC high-level working group to ensure arisen in the construction and start-up of new plants and that the following transpire: define best practices for use by the industry. The 25-year-long suspension of new plant construction • High-quality, complete applications are submitted and in the United States has badly weakened the infrastructure response times to requests for additional information are met needed to support a robust and growing nuclear power in- as stipulated in USNRC’s design-centered licensing review dustry. So far, little effort in NP 2010 has been devoted to approach. this issue. • The schedules for review of DC, ESP, and COL applica- tions, including the legal review by the Atomic Safety and Recommendation. DOE should include within the NP 2010 Licensing Board, are clearly established, complete, contain program a DOE/industry workshop to identify activities that mechanisms for monitoring progress, show 3 years or less would revitalize infrastructure for the construction of new for review and approval of the initial COL applications, nuclear plants, including the nuclear qualification of vendors and show shorter durations for subsequent same-design and constructors; manufacturing capacity; and the availabil- applications. ity of professional staff, skilled craftspeople and construction • The ITAAC is being developed so that its implementa- personnel. Additional tasks that merit further DOE support tion will minimize interruptions in construction and preop- should be identified at this workshop. erational litigation delays.

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 SUMMARY Recommendation. DOE should fund a taskforce to work programs; phasing out of the SCWR, GFR, MSR, and LFR with industry groups on construction technology and plan- R&D programs, and refocusing of the SFR concept to near- ning to ensure that consortia construction time goals of 4 term demonstration. With these changes, NGNP’s VHTR years or less will be met. remains the only major reactor concept that is not integrated into the GNEP program. r&d relevant to the NP 2010 Program Next-Generation Nuclear Plant Neither DOE nor industry has proposed any R&D for the NP 2010 program. Economic benefits of early commercialization of high- temperature reactors (HTRs) and VHTRs based on NGNP Recommendation. DOE should evaluate the need for a technology could be realized in four market segments where reinvigorated R&D program to improve the performance of HTRs could make products at a lower cost than compet- existing nuclear plants in a DOE–industry cost-shared effort ing technologies: base-load electricity, combined heat and separate from NP 2010. The estimated benefits to society power, high-temperature process heat, and hydrogen. A should substantially exceed the government investment. In long-term goal for the NGNP is to demonstrate hydrogen the event of funding constraints, NP 2010 funding for new production as an energy carrier for a hydrogen economy. plant deployment should have priority over this R&D for However, in each of those four segments, there are specific LWRs. applications where HTRs will have near-term advantages. By directing NGNP and the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI) R&D toward those specific applications, stronger near-term The GeNeraTioN iV aNd NUclear hYdroGeN industry interest and investment is more likely, which in turn iNiTiaTiVe ProGrams will support continued R&D investments for subsequent ex- DOE has engaged other governments in a wide-ranging pansion of HTR technology into additional market segments effort to develop advanced next-generation nuclear energy and, in the longer term, support the transition to a hydrogen systems, known as Generation IV, with the goal of widening economy. the applications and enhancing the economics, safety, and The NGNP program has well-established goals, decision physical protection of the reactors and improving fuel cycle points, and technical alternatives. A key decision point is the waste management and proliferation resistance in the com- nuclear licensing approach. However, little planning has been ing decades. Six nuclear reactor technology concepts were done on how the fuel for the NGNP would be supplied. There identified in the DOE-initiated, international Generation IV is a particle fuel R&D program, but it will take up to two Technology Roadmap completed in 2002. Each of the six decades to complete the development and testing of this new technologies, as well as several areas of crosscutting re- fuel. To keep to the apparently preferred schedule, which has search, is now being pursued by a consortium of countries as a FY 2017 plant start-up date, some of the technical decisions part of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF). Three must be made quickly, so that detailed design, component and concepts are thermal neutron spectrum systems—very-high- system testing, and licensing can be initiated. However, it is temperature reactors (VHTRs), molten salt reactors (MSRs), unlikely that the plant can begin operation by 2017 owing to and supercritical-water-cooled reactors (SCWRs)—with the significant funding gaps that developed in FY 2006 and coolants and temperatures that enable hydrogen or electricity FY 2007 and affected the scope and schedule for testing fuel production with high efficiency. In addition, three are fast and structural materials as well as the heat transport equip- neutron spectrum systems—gas-cooled fast reactors (GFRs), ment. A schedule that coordinates the elements required for lead-cooled fast reactors (LFRs), and sodium-cooled fast public-private partnership, design evolution, defined regula- reactors (SFRs)—that will enable better fuel use and more tory approach, and R&D results should be articulated to effective management of actinides by recycling most com- enhance the potential for program success. ponents in the discharged fuel. The main risk associated with NGNP is that the current From 2002 to 2005, the primary goal of the U.S. Genera- business plan calls for the private sector to match the gov- tion IV program was to develop the Next Generation Nuclear ernment (DOE) funding. So far, however, not a single pro- Plant (NGNP), focusing on high-temperature process heat gram has been articulated that coordinates all the elements (850ºC-1000ºC) and innovative approaches to making energy required to successfully commission the NGNP. The current products, such as hydrogen, that might benefit the transporta- disconnect between the base NGNP program plan and the tion industry or the chemical industry. At the end of 2005, complementary public/private partnership initiative must be DOE shifted the fundamental emphasis of the overall Gen- resolved. DOE should decide whether to pursue a different eration IV program, making spent fuel management using demonstration with a smaller contribution from industry a closed fuel cycle the main goal of the NE program. This or, alternatively, a more basic technology approach for the new GNEP priority led to reduced funding for the NGNP VHTR.

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 REVIEW OF DOE’S NUCLEAR ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM Recommendation. In assessing NGNP conceptual designs, able technologies, but the schedules and budgets need to be NE should favor design approaches that can achieve a variety adjusted to assure appropriate coupling to the larger NGNP of objectives at an acceptable technical risk. program. Recommendation. NE should size the NGNP reactor system Recommendation. DOE should expand NHI program inter- to facilitate technology demonstration for future commercial actions with industrial and international research organiza- units, including safety. tions experienced in chemical processes and operating tem- peratures similar to those in thermochemical water splitting. Recommendation. Because of the very high temperatures NE should also broaden the hydrogen production system and severe material performance requirements for thermo- performance metrics beyond economics—for example, it chemical water splitting, NE should maintain the flexibility could use the Generation IV performance metric of econom- to first operate the NGNP using high-temperature steam ics, safety, and sustainability. electrolysis. other Generation iV Nuclear energy system Programs Recommendation. DOE should focus on developing ad- vanced materials for in-reactor operation at temperatures The second concept for development in the Generation IV above 900ºC and fuel particles that can withstand high burn- program, the SFR, seems vague at this time and appears to up and adverse transients. NE needs to ensure that sufficient involve selected studies of technology issues that are benefi- funds are available to advance these technologies whether or cial principally for commercialization rather than explicitly not industry matching funds are available. linked to the long-term technology needs of nuclear energy. The committee is concerned that the Generation IV concept Recommendation. To ensure the good performance of hy- evaluation criteria for reactor development adopted by the drogen produced in an NGNP, NE should put more emphasis Generation IV Technology Roadmap were not applied in the on the following: selection of the VHTR and SFR. The Generation IV R&D priorities have been shifting despite minimal discussion of • Conceptual integrated process development and op- the criteria and the alternatives. timizing plan flow sheets, before moving to engineering The program resources are barely adequate for basic designs. studies related to NGNP and the VHTR design and entirely • Selecting the interface between the reactor and the inadequate for exploring the SFR at a research level (un- hydrogen plant. less the new GNEP program also includes basic research • Developing system performance tools to address components), for investigating other reactor concepts, and unsteady conditions, such as plant start-up, plant trip, and for developing crosscutting reactor technology systems. The maintenance needs. current program does not appear to be using the Generation • Assessment of total system economics. IV program metrics to compare the high-temperature reac- tors and fast-reactor systems for dual missions—a process heat mission and a fuel cycle flexibility mission. Nuclear hydrogen initiative Recommendation. Within the Generation IV program, NE NHI is DOE’s research program for developing tech- nologies to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water should modestly and reasonably support long-term base feedstock using nuclear energy. The program includes a technology options other than the VHTR and the SFR, par- small effort supporting advanced low-temperature elec- ticularly for actinide management, using thermal and fast trolysis, but its primary focus is three methods that use high- reactors and appropriate fuels. temperature process heat to achieve greater efficiency. The Recommendation. Though NE currently focuses on the high-temperature methods could realize 60-80 percent greater efficiency than conventional electrolysis. These methods VHTR for process heat and the SFR for advanced fuel cycles, involve challenging high-temperature materials problems, it should assess the cost-benefit of a single reactor system which are being addressed with laboratory-scale research at to meet both needs. this time. Key technology downselections to allow testing at the pilot and engineering scales are scheduled for 2011 and The adVaNced FUel cYcle iNiTiaTiVe aNd 2015. The NHI program is tightly tied to the NGNP program GloBal NUclear eNerGY ParTNershiP to develop a reactor capable of producing high-temperature ProGrams process heat. NHI activities are coordinated with the larger DOE hydrogen program, led by the Office of Energy Effi- Since 2002, the United States has been conducting a ciency and Renewable Energy, as well as with NGNP. program for reprocessing spent fuel under the Advanced NHI is well formulated to identify and develop work- Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI). Then, in February 2006, it an-

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 SUMMARY nounced a change in its nuclear energy programs. Recycling required for achieving the goals of GNEP is still at an early would be developed under a new effort, GNEP, which would stage, at best a stage where one can justify beginning to work incorporate AFCI as one of its activities. If the recycling at an engineering scale. However, it seems to the committee R&D program is successful and leads to deployment, GNEP that DOE has given more weight to schedule than to conser- would eventually require the United States to be an active vative economics and technology. The committee concludes participant in the community of nations that recycle fuel, that the case presented by the promoters of GNEP for an because one aspect of the partnership is that some nations accelerated schedule for commercial construction is unwise. recycle nuclear fuel for other user nations. In general, it believes that the schedule should be guided by GNEP has two key stated technical objectives: technical progress in the R&D program. • The cost of the GNEP program is acknowledged by • Develop, demonstrate, and deploy advanced tech- DOE not to be commercially competitive under present nologies for recycling spent nuclear fuel that do not separate circumstances. There is no economic justification for going plutonium, with the goal over time of ceasing separation of forward with this program at anything approaching a com- plutonium and eventually eliminating excess stocks of civil- mercial scale. DOE claims that the GNEP is being imple- ian plutonium and drawing down existing stocks of civilian mented to save the United States nearly a decade in time spent fuel. Such advanced fuel cycle technologies would and a substantial amount of money. In view of the technical substantially reduce nuclear waste, simplify its disposition, challenges involved, the committee believes that just the op- and help to ensure the need for only one geologic repository posite is likely to be true. in the United States through the end of this century. • Several fuel cycles could meet the eventual goal of • Develop, demonstrate, and deploy advanced reactors creating a justifiable recycling system. However none of that consume transuranic elements from recycled spent the cycles proposed, including UREX+ and the sodium fast fuel. reactor, is at a stage of reliability and understanding that would justify commercial-scale construction at this time. Three facilities are key components of the GNEP program Significant technical problems remain to be solved. as currently planned: (1) a nuclear fuel recycling center, or • The qualification of multiply-recycled transuranic fuel centralized fuel treatment center (CFTC); (2) an advanced is far from reaching a stage of demonstrated reliability. Be- sodium-cooled burner reactor (ABR); a fast-neutron reac- cause of the time required to test the fuel through repeated tor; and (3) an advanced fuel cycle facility (AFCF). At the refabrication cycles, achieving a qualified fuel will take many time of the writing of this report, the latest information the years. committee had was that the baseline separation process was UREX+1a, although some other comparable separation The committee believes that a research program similar to the original AFCI is worth pursuing.1 Such a program should technology, most notably pyroprocessing, may be adopted at a later stage. be paced by national needs, taking into account economics, All committee members agree that the GNEP program technological readiness, national security, energy security, should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a and other considerations. As noted in Chapter 1, however, less aggressive research program. A majority of the commit- considerable uncertainty surrounds the technology and pol- tee favors fuel cycle and fast reactor research, as was being icy options that will ultimately satisfy these needs. For this conducted under AFCI; however, two committee members reason, the committee believes that the program described recommend against such research, as described in Appendix below should be sufficiently robust to provide useful technol- A. The GNEP program is premised on an accelerated de- ogy options for a wide range of possible outcomes. On the ployment strategy that will create significant technical and other hand, the program should not commit to the construc- financial risks by prematurely narrowing technical options. tion of a major demonstration or facility unless there is a Moreover, there has not been sufficient external input—in clear economic, national security, or environmental policy particular, no independent, thorough peer review of the reason for doing so. program. Recommendation. DOE should develop and publish de- • The domestic need for waste management, security, and tailed technical and economic analyses to explain and fuel supply is not great enough to justify early deployment describe UREX+1a and fast reactor recycle as well as a of commercial-scale reprocessing and fast reactor facilities. range of alternatives. An independent peer review group, as In particular, the near-term need for deployment of advanced recommended in Chapter 6, should review these analyses. fuel cycle infrastructure to avoid a second repository for DOE should pursue the development of other separation spent fuel is far from clear. Even if a second repository processes until a fully fact-based comparison can be made were to be required in the near term, the committee does not believe that GNEP would provide short-term answers. 1 Thedissenting view of two committee members is presented in • The state of knowledge surrounding the technologies Appendix A.

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 REVIEW OF DOE’S NUCLEAR ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM and a decision taken on which process or processes could be the ratio stood at 11.8 percent for INL’s nonprogrammatic carried to engineering scale. assets; the DOE target for this ratio is 2 to 4 percent. The committee considers that INL is an important facility Recommendation. DOE should devote more effort to the and provides important capabilities to support NE’s mission, qualification of recycled fuel because it poses a major tech- which is to use nuclear technology to provide the United nical challenge. States with safe, secure, environmentally responsible and affordable energy. INL has developed a strategic vision and a Recommendation. DOE should compare the technical and long-term (10-year) plan on this basis. However, the funding financial risks of such a program with the potential benefits. being provided to INL by NE is substantially less than what Such an analysis should undergo an independent, intensive is needed to fulfill that vision. peer review. Recommendation. NE should set up and document a pro- Recommendation. DOE should bring together other ap- cess for evaluating alternative approaches for accomplishing propriate divisions of DOE and other federal agencies, rep- NE-sponsored activities, assigning these tasks appropriately, resentatives from industry and academia, and representatives and avoiding duplication. from other nations well before any decisions are made on Recommendation. NE should set up a formal, high-level the technology. working group jointly with the Idaho Operation Office (ID) Recommendation. DOE should defer the Secretarial deci- and INL (Battelle Energy Alliance [BEA]). Consideration sion, now scheduled for 2008, which the committee believes should be given to also having one or more knowledgeable is not credible. Moreover, if it makes this decision in the outsiders participate on an ongoing basis to provide a wider future, DOE should target construction of new technologies perspective. at most at an engineering scale. DOE should commission Recommendation. For INL to accomplish its expected an independent peer review of the state of knowledge as a prerequisite to any Secretarial decision on future research mission, a number of large, sophisticated and unique facili- programs. ties will be needed. These could include large hot cells and associated laboratories for postirradiation examination of materials and test reactors such as the Advanced Test Reac- idaho NaTioNal laBoraTorY tor (ATR). The intent is for INL to have magnet facilities NE is the lead program secretarial office (PSO) for the attracting researchers and industrial users. For these facilities Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and, as such, a significant to attract users, the full costs cannot be charged, and the user part of NE’s management responsibility and budget is de- would pay only the justified incremental costs associated voted to INL. This responsibility will continue to be a major with use. This arrangement is typical of user facilities in the one for NE, since the management of INL’s physical facilities Office of Science laboratories. presents two challenges. First, new or rejuvenated facilities are required to support The NE/INL budgeting system and the budget documents the new mission and vision for the laboratory. The laboratory themselves are opaque and hard to understand. It is difficult envisions that within 10 years, INL will be the preeminent to trace budget amounts to particular projects and programs national and international nuclear energy center with syner- or to specific activities within the INL subbudget. The com- gistic, world-class, multiprogram capabilities and partner- mittee concludes that a much more transparent, structured ships. To achieve its ambitious goals, INL must attract and planning and budgeting process is needed. retain world-class scientists and engineers in a multiplicity Recommendation. NE, ID, and INL (BEA) should agree of engineering and scientific disciplines. INL must have a budget allowing it to acquire and maintain the state-of-the- on a multiyear, resource-loaded, high-level schedule and art facilities and equipment that will be used by researchers plan for the INL facilities, such as the Primavera Project of superior technical competence to lead the development Planner (P3). of nuclear power as a valued energy option nationally and Recommendation. NE, ID, and INL (BEA) should improve internationally. The second challenge is to maintain the remaining in- the form and content of the INL facilities budget documenta- frastructure in good condition. NE/INL is the landlord for a tion. They should support a much more transparent, struc- large, multitenant site in deteriorating condition. DOE em- tured planning and budget process. Budget items should be ploys several metrics to assess the condition of infrastructure. readily traceable to specific items in the overall plan and Overall, the INL facilities are rated adequate and the overall schedule. utilization, good. However, the backlog of deferred mainte- nance is high in relation to the value of the assets. In FY 2004

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 SUMMARY Program Balance NE has limited experience of being the PSO for a national laboratory. As such, its procedures and processes for this Based on these priorities, the committee’s programmatic responsibility are not yet well defined or developed. recommendations that have budget consequences are as follows: Recommendation. NE should meet with DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration organizations that are PSOs • Nuclear Power 00 (NP 00). DOE should augment for other laboratories to review and discuss their practices this program to ensure timely and cost-effective deployment and processes. Based on the lessons they learned, it should of the first new reactor plants. Of particular importance is the develop and document its own internal processes and pro- need to address industrial and human resource infrastructure cedures for discharging its responsibilities as the lead PSO issues. Although increases in the NP 2010 budget are likely, for INL. they do not account for a large fraction of the total NE fund- ing. The NP 2010 requirements should be fully supported. ProGram PrioriTies, BalaNce, aNd oVersiGhT • Research in support of the commercial fleet. The com- mittee does not recommend a large federal research program, The NE budget has experienced wide swings in both size because most of this research should be industry-supported. and content over the past 10 years. The committee has re- However, some specific projects have sufficient public ben- viewed the current NE budget process for annually allocating efit to warrant federal funding, for which DOE should share limited resources among programs. Like the federal budget about 20 percent of the costs and support user facilities at process in general, the NE process tends to subordinate long- incremental cost. These elements of the program should be term commitments to more immediate needs. The result of fully funded when the NP 2010 licensing and design comple- this conflict between the annual budget process and the long- tion efforts come to an end. term nature of much of NE’s research has resulted in program • Uniersity infrastructure support. A sizeable buildup goals, schedules, and budgets that are inconsistent. For that in nuclear energy production, research, and development very reason, the committee is convinced that NE should set necessitates strengthening university capabilities to educate a up an internal system to allocate resources consistently over growing number of young professionals and scientists in the time and among programs. relevant areas. DOE should include this program in its budget at the levels authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Program Priorities • Generation IV. NE should sustain a balanced R&D portfolio in advanced reactor development. The program To prioritize NE programs, the committee examined their requires predictable and steady funding, but its goals can be relevance to NE’s mission. The committee’s judgment about more modest and its timetables stretched. A revised program priorities is summarized in Table S-1. can be conducted within levels recently appropriated for Generation IV and for SFR-related R&D under GNEP. TABLE S-1 Relative Priorities of NE R&D Programs and INL Priority Program Comment High NP 2010 and research in support of the Unless the commercial fleet of LWRs grows, nuclear power will be a diminishing energy commercial fleet resource for the United States and there will be little need for all of NE’s longer term research programs. NP 2010 and selected commercial research projects should be fully funded as a matter of highest priority. High University infrastructure support University support is largely a government responsibility in the committee’s view. Medium Generation IV, NGNP, NHI, and AFCI These are all longer term research programs with defined downselect decisions that could change the course of research as more is learned. These programs will perform best with research budgets consistent with steady progress toward these decision points. Medium INL programs to reduce deferred These activities require steady progress but can evolve over a reasonable time. maintenance and to build a capacity that Construction of user facilities and program facilities should be carefully evaluated on a will sustain a useful scientific capability case-by-case basis to validate the need and to avoid duplication with facilities at other national laboratories. Low Major facility deployment (large U.S. industry does not urgently require the construction of such facilities. demonstration or initial commercial plants) in GNEP

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 REVIEW OF DOE’S NUCLEAR ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM ing resource allocations as planned decision points are • AFCI. NE should pursue the AFCI program with some reached. modifications, as recommended in Chapter 4, but not includ- ing construction of large demonstration or commercial-scale The senior advisory body for NE has been the Nuclear En- facilities. The committee recommends a more modest and ergy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC). A modified longer term program of applied research and engineering, NERAC seems the obvious starting point for reestablishing including new research-scale experimental capabilities as oversight of the NE programs. In the committee’s opinion, envisioned for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Facility, although the key will be to ensure its independence, transparency, and the program would differ somewhat from the AFCI program focus on the most important strategic issues. The committee before GNEP. has not attempted to design a specific oversight capability, • Major fuel cycle facilities. The committee recognizes but the following characteristics would be appropriate for the that major engineering and commercial-scale facilities will body it has in mind: ultimately be required to test and deploy fuel cycle technol- ogy. However, it concludes that DOE should not go forward • Encourage objectivity by recognizing that knowledge- with early deployment of such facilities. These facilities able persons have different points of view and that balance should be funded only when clearly needed, and then as is therefore best achieved by diversifying the membership of increases to the NE base budget. the oversight body. • INL. It is essential to provide reasonable and predictable • Avoid conflicts of interest by requiring public disclo- funding to support the PSO responsibility for site condition sure of members’ connections with study sponsors or organi- and capacity building. DOE should create a strategic plan zations likely to be affected by study results. Persons directly based on concepts laid out in Chapter 6 (see Table 6-2) to funded by sponsors are rarely appointed to such bodies. establish the target funding level for the Idaho Facilities • Ensure transparency by requiring that both the state- Management account. ment of task and the final report for each project are routinely made public in a timely fashion. Program oversight Recommendation. As a counterbalance to the short-term reFereNce nature of the federal budget process, NE should adopt an Department of Energy (DOE). 2005. Department of Energy FY2006 oversight process for evaluating the adequacy of program Congressional Budget Request. Available at http://www.cfo.doe.gov/ plans, evaluating progress against these plans and adjust- budget/.