23 March 2015
Clean energy sources, including small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), must make up at least 25% of the energy consumed by US federal agencies by 2025 under an executive order on federal sustainability issued by President Barack Obama.
The order - Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade - aims to promote federal leadership in the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while fostering innovation and reducing spending. Federal agencies are instructed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% over the decade. Initial priority will be given to reducing energy use and cost, followed by "finding renewable or alternative energy solutions".
The order sets out a stepwise timescale for federal agencies to achieve the 25% target for renewables and alternative energy starting from fiscal 2016, when they must ensure that not less than 10% of their building energy requirements, including thermal and electric, are met from such sources.
The order defines energy from new SMR technologies as an alternative energy source, alongside biomass, solar thermal, geothermal, waste heat, and renewable combined heat and power processes; fuel cell energy systems; other combined heat and power; and energy generation with capture and storage of associated carbon dioxide emissions.
As well as energy supply choices and usage, the wide-reaching order also calls on federal agencies to improve water use efficiency and management; improve the efficiency of motor vehicle fleets, including incorporating the use of zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicles; improve building efficiency, performance and management; promote sustainable acquisition and procurement policies; and work to cut waste and pollution.
The executive order follows on from Obama's November 2014 joint announcement with China, in which he set the goal of reducing the USA's carbon dioxide emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 levels in 2025.
Leaders of three of the country's key federal agencies - the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) - issued a joint statement in support of the presidential order, detailing the steps their agencies are already taking towards the goal. All three agencies have already exceeded their self-imposed goals of 28% cuts in greenhouse emissions by 2020: the DOE had achieved 34% by 2013, with the EPA and GSA achieving cuts of over 50%.
As the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the USA, secretaries Ernest Moniz, Gina McCarthy and Denise Turner Roth pointed to the leadership role of the federal sector. "Our actions can set a clear example for other sectors of the economy, demonstrating how cutting emissions can also support their bottom lines," they said.
The US Department of Energy is supporting the accelerated development and deployment of NuScale's 45 MWe self-contained pressurized water reactor, with a five-year funding package of $217 million signed in May 2014.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News