Support a safe and publicly acceptable domestic waste management system, including options for long-term disposal of the related waste forms. (The principal DOE responsibility for this function lies with its Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.)
Provide for effective proliferation resistance and physical protection of nuclear energy systems, both at home and in support of international nonproliferation and nuclear security regimes.
Create economical and environmentally acceptable nuclear power options for assuring long-term nonelectric energy supplies while displacing insecure and polluting energy sources; such options include electricity production, hydrogen production, process heat, and water desalinization.
Each chapter in this report contains findings on program design and budget implications. In summary, the committee’s programmatic recommendations that have budget consequences are these:
Nuclear Power 2010. DOE should augment this program to ensure the timely and cost effective deployment of the first new reactor plants. Of particular importance is the need to address industrial and human resource infrastructure issues. The NP 2010 program will end upon completion of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) certification and finalization of the AP1000 and ESBWR designs, issuance of the first combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) to the lead companies in the Nustart and Dominion consortia, and implementation of the standby support and loan guarantee financial incentives of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05).
Research in support of the commercial fleet. The committee does not suggest a large federal research program, because most of this research should be industry-supported. However, some specific projects have sufficient public benefit to warrant federal funding.
University infrastructure support. A major buildup in nuclear energy production, research, and development requires expanding university capabilities to educate a growing number of young professionals and scientists in the relevant areas. DOE should maintain programs specifically designed to support university research reactors and educational infrastructure. The American Nuclear Society has recommended that NE should retain a separate funding line for university programs in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for FY 2007 and future years. The committee agrees with that conclusion and urges that NE fund a separate program as outlined in EPAct05.
Generation IV. This is principally the Next Generation Nuclear Power (NGNP) program aimed at electricity and process heat applications, such as hydrogen production (as in the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative program) and desalinization. It is designed so that by 2012 NGNP can be evaluated against other technologies directed toward similar outcomes. As a second priority, a focus on fast reactors is appropriate. The committee would like to see NE sustain a balanced R&D portfolio in these advanced reactor development areas.
AFCI. This is the AFCI program with some modifications as called for by the committee in Chapter 4 but not including construction of large demonstration facilities or commercial-scale facilities.
Major fuel cycle facilities. The committee recognizes that major engineering and/or commercial-scale facilities will ultimately be required to test and deploy fuel cycle technology. However, it concludes that the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) has not made a persuasive case for the early deployment of such facilities.
Idaho National Laboratory. NE has PSO responsibility for INL, and this responsibility has a large impact on the NE budget.
Based on its understanding of NE’s mission and the criteria for management of NE research programs, the committee views the relative priority of these programs as presented in Table 6-1.
The committee has evaluated the overall balance among these programs within the scope of available resources. The committee cannot, of course, predict what budgetary resources will be available in future years. However, the budgets for NP 2010, Generation IV, NHI, and Idaho Facilities Management totaled between $220 million and $240 million from FY 2005 to FY 2007. The GNEP/AFCI budget has been rising, and the university infrastructure budget—while not in the FY 2008 NE budget request—received appropriations of $16 million to $26 million (Box 6-1). If these trends persist, they suggest an overall NE research budget of about $700 million annually. The committee has used these parameters as a basis for evaluating program balance in a constrained budget environment. The committee’s judgments are presented in Table 6-2.
Recommendation 6.1. As a counterbalance to the short-term nature of the federal budget process, NE should adopt an oversight process for evaluating the adequacy of program plans, assessing progress against these plans, and adjusting resource allocations as planned decision points are reached.
The oversight process should have the following attributes:
Strategic. The focus of the process should be overall program progress in the light of NE’s overarching goals and balancing resources across programs. It does not take the place of detailed technical and peer review, nor should it.