Association Webinars: Recent Developments in Commercial Nuclear Energy



In the current global energy and climate crisis, nuclear power can play an increasingly important role worldwide. The distinguished panel of speakers will discuss several recent, distinct but related topics in commercial nuclear energy and take questions from the audience. This will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the industry and shed some light on the challenges and opportunities going forward. Mr. Tanaka will present four additional conditions that were identified to make nuclear power more sustainable after the Fukushima accident. He will touch upon the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs), the management of toxic waste, proliferation resistance, and socio-political sustainability. Dr. Erica Bickford will focus on the U.S. Department of Energy’s current consent-based siting efforts for a federal consolidated interim storage capability. Prof. Dr. Georg Erdmann will explain why the interaction between the nuclear industry, research and development, as well as regulation in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s led to delays in the development of small modular reactor technology. Mr. Spencer will promote the building of a uniquely American nuclear industry that is independent of government support and that can supply the United States and the world with reliable, affordable, and clean energy. This implies the need to rethink how we regulate nuclear energy and require reforming nuclear waste management around market forces.

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Dr. Isabella Ruble is an economist at the U.S. Department of Energy where she worked in various offices. Isabella is passionate about data analytics, energy economics, and policy. Prior to her current appointment she spent 17 years in academia. Her research includes work on the Brent-WTI spread, the U.S. crude oil refining industry, the role of natural gas in the EU and the problem of final disposal of U.S. spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants. She is fluent in English, French and German.


Nobuo Tanaka is Chairman of the steering committee of the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF), which was established by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014. He was Chairman and President of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation for 2015-2020. As Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) from 2007 to 2011, he initiated a collective release of oil stocks in June 2011. He also played a crucial and personal role in the strengthening of ties with major non-Member energy players, including China and India. He began his career in 1973 in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and has served in a number of high-ranking positions, including Director-General of the Multilateral Trade System Department. He was deeply engaged in bilateral trade issues with the US as Minister for Industry, Trade and Energy at the Embassy of Japan, Washington DC. He has also served twice as Director for Science, Technology and Industry (DSTI) of the Paris-based international organization, OECD. As CEO of Tanaka Global Inc, he advises several Japanese and International companies. He graduated from University of Tokyo and have MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University and Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). He chairs Study Group on Next Generation Nuclear Energy Utilization at Canon Institute of Global Studies (CIGS).

Dr. Erica Bickford is the Director for the Office of Integrated Waste Management within the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy in addition to her role as acting Team Lead for the Office’s Cross-Cutting Initiatives Team. She is responsible for planning, policy, and implementation of Federal consolidated interim storage following a consent-based siting process and associated large-scale transportation of commercial spent nuclear fuel. For seven years she led the program’s work to assess operational considerations for future large-scale spent nuclear fuel transport alongside intergovernmental engagement with Tribal, State, and Federal entities on DOE’s transportation plans. Dr. Bickford has a PhD and MS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a BS from the University of Maine.

Between 1995 and his retirement in 2018, Prof. Dr. Georg Erdmann headed the Department Energy Systems at the Institute for Energy Technology, Berlin University of Technology ( Between 1982 and 1995 he was Post doc and Assistant Professor at the Center for Economic Research, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich. For two years during this period, he was also Delegate at the Paul Scherer Institute, Villigen (Switzerland). He is trained in Mathematics and Economics and received his PhD. in Economics at the University of Münster (Germany), in 1981.

He is founder of the consulting company Prognoseforum GmbH, Albstadt, which is active in energy market analysis and forecasting, and President of the Board, KSB Energie AG, Berlin which offers electricity and gas trading services for small and medium sized companies, renewable power generators, and others.

Jack Spencer is a Senior Research Fellow for Energy and Environmental Policy in the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment at The Heritage Foundation. He previously oversaw research on a wide range of domestic economic and trade issues as Vice President for the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity. Before his promotion to Vice President in January 2015, Spencer served as Director of the Roe Institute, where he spearheaded research initiatives on federal spending, taxes, regulation, energy and environment. Previously, he specialized in nuclear energy issues in both the domestic and global arenas as Heritage’s Senior Research Fellow in Nuclear Energy Policy. Spencer was Heritage’s go-to expert on nuclear waste management, technological advances, industry subsidies, and international approaches to nuclear energy.

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Event Date: December 4, 2023

Event Time: 10:00 - 11:00 AM Eastern Time

Topic: Recent Developments in Commercial Nuclear Energy

Moderator: Isabella Ruble

Speakers: Nobuo Tanaka, Erica Bickford, Georg Erdmann, and Jack Spencer

Price: FREE

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