Nuclear Energy: Status of DOE's Effort to Develop the Next Generation Nuclear Plant

GAO-06-1056 Published: Sep 20, 2006. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 2006.
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Highlights

Under the administration's National Energy Policy, the Department of Energy (DOE) is promoting nuclear energy to meet increased U.S. energy demand. In 2003, DOE began developing the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, an advanced nuclear reactor that seeks to improve upon the current generation of operating commercial nuclear power plants. DOE intends to demonstrate the plant's commercial application both for generating electricity and for using process heat from the reactor for the production of hydrogen, which then would be used in fuel cells for the transportation sector. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required plant design and construction to be completed by 2021. GAO was asked to examine (1) the progress DOE has made in meeting its schedule for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant and (2) DOE's approach to ensuring the commercial viability of the project. To meet these objectives, GAO reviewed DOE's research and development (R&D) plans for the project and the reports of two independent project reviews, observed R&D activities, and interviewed DOE, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and industry representatives.

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