Nuclear power rapidly gaining credence

Landgraf, Perryman say the demand for energy is growing exponentially

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf and Waco economist Ray Perryman say nuclear power should be at the forefront of the innovations that’ll be necessary to give Texas and the nation the energy they need to meet the fast-approaching future successfully.

Not that wind farms, solar panels and nuclear plants will replace oil and natural gas, but it’ll take all sources running flat out to handle the demand, they say.

Texas currently has two nuclear plants with two reactors each, the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant near Glen Rose in North Texas and the South Texas Project near Bay City on the Gulf Coast near Louisiana.

“As we stand at the cusp of a transformative era in energy it’s clear that nuclear power holds immense promise for both Texas and our nation as a whole,” said Landgraf, an Odessa Republican who chairs the Texas House Committee on Environmental Regulation in Austin. “And our state, blessed with abundant uranium resources, is primed to lead the way in nuclear energy innovation.

“The deployment of nuclear reactors in our oil fields, spearheaded by companies like Diamondback, is heralding a new era of energy synergy where nuclear and traditional energy sectors can complement one another. Rather than viewing nuclear as a competitor to traditional energy sources like oil and gas, we should recognize its potential for collaboration and mutual benefit.”

Landgraf said projects like Abilene Christian University’s work on molten salt reactors and a collaboration between X-Energy and Dow to build a small modular reactor on site at Dow’s Seadrift plant on the Texas coast show Texas’ commitment to embracing diverse solutions.

“As a member of the House Nuclear Caucus I am dedicated to fostering an all-of-the-above approach that not only meets our growing energy needs but also enhances our national security,” he said. “While nations like Russia and China leverage nuclear energy as a tool for diplomatic influence, the United States cannot afford to remain stagnant.

“We must seize the opportunity to lead in nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment, where Russia currently holds a dominant position. It is crucial to note that those nuclear projects being pursued in the U.S. not only represent cutting edge innovation but also prioritize unparalleled safety standards, distinguishing them from the technology being used in China and Russia.”

Landgraf said it’s clear that nuclear power should emerge as a fundamental component of Texas’ energy portfolio as the state grapples with mounting energy needs due to a growing population.

“Offering a sustainable and efficient pathway forward, the benefits of nuclear technology extend beyond electricity generation and hold promise in areas like cancer treatment and water desalination,” he said.

Perryman said it has long been ironic that nuclear energy, one of the most sustainable sources of power generation, has been vilified by many who purport to be seeking long-term solutions.

“Although there is always the potential for accidents as well as other issues to consider such as waste disposal, nuclear power is one of the few options that will provide electricity day and night irrespective of the weather with zero carbon emissions,” Perryman said. “Europe has fewer options for power generation than the United States with less land area for wind and solar farms and little in the way of natural gas in many areas.

“Thus it is not too surprising that nuclear power has been more fully deployed there in the past. However, there is major resistance regarding its use going forward with some countries like Germany completely shutting down all such generation facilities.”

Because wind and solar options are still not capable of meeting the needs in Germany, he said, shuttering the nuclear plants there will lead to higher emissions as conventional fuels including coal are used to fill the gap.

“High profile problems contribute to the mindset and there are certainly some valid concerns,” Perryman said. “Nonetheless, safety technologies are improving as are construction methods.

“There are proposals for different approaches such as a more distributed system with smaller generators. The bottom line is that there are safe and effective ways that nuclear can be part of meeting critical future needs.

“Growing demand from population and economic expansion are increasing the need for electric power. When added to the surge in high power usage industries like data centers, crypto mining, artificial intelligence and certain types of manufacturing including some sectors important to dealing with climate issues, the answer is clear.

“It will take an all-of-the-above approach to meet ongoing requirements and that should include nuclear.”

Perryman said nuclear facilities are expensive and slow to permit and construct and they are thereby not an overnight answer.

“My firm has worked on numerous efforts for decades that made economic sense, but accidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima inevitably seem to drive capital investments in other directions,” he said. “With enhanced safety protocols and exploding demand, development should gain momentum in the coming years.”