Today’s guest is Jessica Lovering, Director of Energy at The Breakthrough Institute.
Jessica is the director of Breakthough’s Energy program and has worked on nuclear energy policy there since 2012. Jessica’s research has focused on how innovation in nuclear energy can bring down costs and accelerate deployment to help mitigate climate change, as laid out in the reports How to Make Nuclear Cheap and How to Make Nuclear Innovative.
Jessica was the lead author on the peer-reviewed paper, Historical construction costs of global nuclear power reactors, which was the top-rated paper in Energy Policy for over a year. She co-authored the report Atoms for Africa: Is There a Future for Civil Nuclear Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa?, with several Breakthrough Generation Fellows. She worked with experts from R Street Institute and ClearPath to publish a set of policy recommendation around micronuclear in Planting the Seeds of a Distributed Nuclear Revolution. And she has published more broadly on energy innovation and clean energy standards. You can find her full list of publications here.
Jessica has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Vox, Forbes, Wired, and The Australian. You can hear her interviewed on The Interchange podcast and on Titans of Nuclear. Jessica is a frequent public speaker and has given talks across the US as well as in Japan, Australia, China, France, and Argentina. She is featured along with Ted Nordhaus in the documentary The New Fire, and you can see more videos of her below:
White House Summit on Nuclear Energy (Jessica speaks at 3:01)
DOE’s Nuclear Summit
UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Colloquium
An interview with the Minerals Council of Australia
University of Houston’s Going Nuclear
For Nuclear Science Week 2014
Jessica holds a B.A. in Astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an M.S. in Astrophysics and Planetary Science and an M.S. in Environmental Policy, both from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also worked for two years on NASA's New Horizons mission, which flew by Pluto in July 2015.
Jessica grew up mostly in northern California, but has also lived in Texas, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. In her spare time she enjoys doing ballet, reading post-apocalyptic fiction, and pursuing a PhD. She is married to Linus Blomqvist.
In this episode we cover:
Jessica’s history and what led her down path to focus on climate change
What led Jessica to BTI and to working on nuclear specifically
What Jessica feels is the biggest thing holding nuclear back domestically, what led her to that conclusion and what we can do about it.
The role, advantages, and stage of advanced nuclear development
The role of the federal government versus the states
The pros/cons of public utilities and deregulation
The ecomodernist movement, and different flavors such as “hard ecomodernists” vs pragmatists
The most impactful things that, if changed, would help accelerate rapid decarbonization
What you and I can do to help
Links to topics discussed in this episode:
The Breakthrough Institute website: https://thebreakthrough.org/
The Breakthrough Institute funders: https://thebreakthrough.org/about/who-we-are/funders
Jessica Lovering Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicalovering/
Jessica Lovering twitter: https://twitter.com/J_Lovering
Fukushima nuclear accident: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster
Ecomodernist Manifesto: http://www.ecomodernism.org/
Roger Pielke, Jr.: https://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/about_us/meet_us/roger_pielke/
Vogtle Power Plant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Plant
Climate Bathtub Model: https://scied.ucar.edu/climate-bathtub-model-animations
Nuclear Energy Leadership Act: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/3/murkowski-booker-and-13-colleagues-reintroduce
Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA): https://www.energy.gov/articles/president-trump-signs-bill-boost-advanced-nuclear-america
Advanced nuclear: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_nuclear
Highly enriched uranium: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enriched_uranium#Highly_enriched_uranium_(HEU)
You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at firstname.lastname@example.org, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.
Enjoy the show!
(show addendum: Jessica moved on from the Breakthrough Institute in September 2019)