Commercial nuclear power plants currently provide nearly 75 percent of the country’s emission-free power, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Of the energy sources with the lowest life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions, only nuclear can currently provide the baseload power that utilities require.
As the nation considers its future use of nuclear energy, many are turning to Idaho National Laboratory. Much of what the world knows today about safe nuclear energy generation was discerned at INL, which began as the National Reactor Testing Station.
Today, INL continues its 60-year tradition as the nation’s center of nuclear science and technology expertise. It is the nation’s lead laboratory for nuclear energy research, reporting directly to the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. And INL provides technical integration for most of the office’s large national programs.
INL leads research, development and demonstration projects to help the nation maintain and expand its use of nuclear energy. INL experts are developing and testing new materials and fuels, efficiency and waste management systems, reactor plant designs and upgrades, and hybrid energy systems.
The U.S. gets nearly one-fifth of its electricity from 104 commercial nuclear reactors in 31 states. They have been operating safely for decades. INL coordinates the Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program, which is finding ways to continue safely running these reactors for another 20 to 40 years in order to maximize the benefit of carbon-free electricity.