Virginia poised to lead nuclear renaissance, study says

Surry Power Station, Unit 1
Surry Power Station, Unit 1 | U.S. National Regulatory Commission

Virginia is uniquely positioned to lead the United States into a nuclear future, according to the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

The Institute recently published a paper entitled, “Virginia Can Lead the Nation’s Nuclear Renaissance”, which makes the case for nuclear power as America’s future and why Virginia is the right place to start.

“It’s both a good place to do business, with the location of facilities and the federal government, and Virginia’s dependence on outside power sources that make us a perfect location for a nuclear renaissance,” said Robert Hartwell, one of the paper’s authors and president of Hartwell Capitol Consulting.

Virginia is a large net importer of power. With much of its electricity coming from out-of-state, the time is right to advance in-state solutions to energy generation, Hartwell argues. And that makes the time right to advocate for nuclear power.

Much of the power the state doesn’t import comes from existing nuclear plants, and the state has an ample supply of businesses, schools and non-profits associated with nuclear energy. This also makes Virginia a prime candidate to develop emerging nuclear technologies.

New nuclear plants would join Surry Nuclear Power Plant and North Anna Nuclear Generating Station providing atomic power to Virginia, both of which came online over thirty years ago. 

The Department of Commerce estimated that the global nuclear technology market was valued at $750 billion over the next decade, and capturing a quarter of that market would bring an estimated 185,000 high-paying jobs.

And that technology would not only help the enviroments, as nuclear energy is green energy, but could also potentially aid the work of government and even our national security.

Small, modular nuclear reactors can be built in pieces and later assembled on location and can provide dedicated power for Virginia’s government instillations. Rather than being on the grid, places like Langley Air Base or the naval shipyard could build a dedicated reactor under their facilities.

Other new reactor technologies used in these pre-fab reactors range from preventing meltdowns to air-cooling the reactor. These small, modular reactor designs are also less costly to build.

The Virginia Nuclear Commission is "... looking at ways to expand the current nuclear footprint in Virginia and to take Virginia into the next step to lead that renaissance,” said Hartwell.

And, Hartwell hopes, the road Virginia paves is one other states will want to follow.