“Microsoft’s leadership on nuclear energy shows courage and integrity. We look forward to other companies following their lead,” remarked Eric Ingersoll, Founding Director and Co-CEO of Terra Praxis. “Our collaboration with Microsoft shows what’s possible when motivated and creative individuals are empowered to tackle our biggest challenges.”
Melanie Nakagawa, Microsoft Chief Sustainability Officer, announced the policy brief at the COP event, “Jump Starting the Global Deployment of Nuclear Energy,” hosted by the United States Government and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. As reported in the policy brief, “Microsoft is one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy in the world (totaling 19 gigawatts of contracted renewables capacity to date)… Renewable energy alone, however, will not get us all the way there. Firm carbon-free technologies will be pivotal, as a complement to renewables, both to provide reliable electricity access across the globe and to progress decarbonization to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Facilitating the pace and scale of the deployment of carbon-free technologies is critical.”
“At COP we have seen a new narrative emerging – from Net Zero ideals to pathways that address the realities of the transition and are designed by large industrial users and those responsible for implementation,” said Kirsty Gogan, Founding Director and Co-CEO of Terra Praxis. “We know from our engagements with global tech, oil and gas, and shipping industries that these companies are planning or making investment decisions to achieve very near-term emissions targets. It’s clear to these entities that they will not be able to obtain the business-critical, reliable, predictable, and large-scale, emissions-free energy services that they need with just wind and solar. This is driving management teams to look at nuclear energy.”
“The designs for advanced nuclear reactor technologies provide new options for power generation with a broad suite of reactor types that have the potential to provide firm power in a variety of sizes,” the policy brief states. “Advanced nuclear technologies can offer a range of generation volume options (megawatts), smaller land and transmission requirements, closed loop systems, and enhanced safety and nonproliferation systems to complement renewables.”
The Microsoft policy brief outlines how digital tools play an important role in accelerating the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in an effective, responsible, and equitable transition to a carbon-free grid. As a key initiative in Terra Praxis’ REPOWER Consortium, Terra Praxis and Microsoft are working with nonprofits, government, and the nuclear energy industry to streamline the permitting process using digital platforms and AI to reduce the cost and time for completing licensing and permitting activities. Such activities are crucial to unlocking the full potential of the industry for carbon abatement and economic benefit. The initiative is the evolution of the agreement that Terra Praxis and Microsoft signed on September 15, 2022 to deliver a digital solution to tackle a significant decarbonization challenge – repurposing over 2,400 coal-fired powerplants worldwide to run on emissions-free energy.
The strategic collaboration with Terra Praxis and our work on REPOWER is cited as an example of how Microsoft is working with the nuclear industry and partners to leverage digital technology to support an inclusive decarbonized energy system.
Other “Jump Starting” speakers included David Livingston, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; Bill Gates, Chairman of TerraPower (virtual); Reta Jo Lewis, Chair of the US XM Bank; Bonnie Jenkins, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs; Deputy Minister of Energy Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, Ghana; and Frederic Beauregard Tellier, Director General for Nuclear Energy, Natural Resources Canada.
Microsoft Policy Brief: Key Points:
1. Development: Advance research, development, and demonstration (RD&D):
- a. Support programs, funding, and investment opportunities that support research development and demonstration.
- b. Advocate for programs that enable testing, grid analysis, and modeling of new carbon-free energy technologies that integrate local considerations, needs, and opportunities and optimize grid performance (including the integration of digital services to enhance tracking, reporting, and desired outcomes).
- c. In countries that support advanced nuclear and fusion as part of the growing mix, support the inclusion of advanced nuclear and fusion as a low-carbon or carbon-free generation option.
2. Deployment: Enable safe deployment of advanced nuclear and fusion energy technologies (in geographies where those are permissible):
- a. Accelerate programs to assist first-of-a-kind (FOAK) projects through each stage of the deployment process.
- b. Modernize the permitting and licensing processes for new energy technologies.
- c. Facilitate the use of digital technology to manage and optimize new energy technologies and the overall grid.
3. Regulatory oversight: Encourage the oversight of advanced nuclear and fusion energy technologies to enable reliable, cost-effective, safe, and grid-optimized outcomes that consider the local context including:
- a. Advance regulatory pathways that ensure safe, cost-effective, and grid-optimized deployment and operation.
- b. Ensure robust community engagement.
- c. Support the oversight and management of costs associated with the development, deployment, and operation of new carbon-free energy technologies.
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