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5 reasons Texas energy leaders are excited about sustainable nuclear energy

Texas leaders discussed the opportunity for nuclear energy. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering hosted an event on August 16th called Advanced Nuclear Technology in Texas, where Dow and X-Energy CEOs joined Texas Governor Greg Abbott for a discussion about why the Texas Gulf Coast is quickly becoming the epicenter for nuclear with the recent announcement about Dow and X-Energy. Dow and X-energy are combining efforts to deploy the first advanced small modular nuclear reactor at industrial site under DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

“Texas is the energy capital of the world, but more important is what we are doing with that energy and what it means for our future in the state of Texas,” said Abbott. “Very important to our state is how we use energy to generate power for our grid. For a state that continues to grow massively, we are at the height of our production during the day, and we generate more power than California and New York combined. But we need more dispatchable power generation. One thing we are looking at with a keen eye is the ability to expand our capabilities with regard to nuclear generated power.”

The Governor announced a directive to the Public Utilities Commission of Texas to formulate a workgroup that will make recommendations that aim to propel Texas as a national leader in advanced nuclear energy.

According to the directive, to maximize power grid reliability, the group will work to understand Texas’s role in deploying and using advanced reactors, consider potential financial incentives available, determine nuclear-specific changes needed in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market, identify any federal or state regulatory hurdles to development, and analyze how Texas can streamline and speed up advanced reactor construction permitting.

Below are five key takeaways about the project and why energy experts are excited about advanced nuclear energy:

  • Advanced SMR Nuclear Project for Carbon-Free Energy: Dow, a global materials science leader, has partnered with X-energy to establish an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear project at its Seadrift Operations site in Texas. The project aims to provide safe, reliable, and zero carbon emissions power and steam to replace aging energy assets.
  • Decarbonization and Emission Reduction: This collaboration is set to significantly reduce the Seadrift site’s emissions by approximately 440,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year. By adopting advanced nuclear technology, Dow is making a notable contribution to decarbonizing its manufacturing processes and improving environmental sustainability.
  • Grid Stability and Reliability: The advanced nuclear technology offers enhanced power and steam reliability, ensuring a stable energy supply for Dow’s Seadrift site. This is crucial for maintaining uninterrupted manufacturing operations and contributing to overall electric grid stability.
  • Texas Gulf Coast Energy Hub: Texas, as the energy capital of the world, has been chosen as the location for this groundbreaking project. This selection underscores Texas’ exceptional business climate, innovation history, and commitment to leading the energy transition. The project builds upon Texas’ position as a global energy leader.
  • Economic Growth and Job Opportunities: The SMR nuclear project promises to bring economic growth to the Texas Gulf Coast. It is expected to create new jobs, provide economic opportunities, and strengthen the local economy. By embracing innovative and sustainable energy solutions, Dow and X-energy are driving both industrial advancement and community prosperity.
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This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.

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A View From HETI

The combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology. Photo via Getty Images

SLB announced its plans to combine its carbon capture business with Norway company, Aker Carbon Capture.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of this year, SLB will own 80 percent of the combined business and ACC will own 20 percent.

According to a SLB news release, the combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of SLB, says in the release. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project.

The International Energy Agency estimates that over one gigaton of CO2 every year year will need to be captured by 2030 — a figure that scales up to over six gigatons by 2050.

"We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors,” Le Peuch continues.

SLB is slated to pay NOK 4.12 billion — around $379.4 million — to own 80 percent of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS, which owns ACC, per the news release, and SLB may also pay up to NOK 1.36 billion over the next three years, depending on business performance.

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