Exploring new frontiers in global economic development and competition

Economies around the world are increasingly putting a price on the emissions from their products and activities. Whether through policy and tax actions, business response to consumer demand, or strategic decisions made by capital markets, the cost of carbon emissions tied to products and services will change the global competitive landscape for all industries.

Geopolitical competition is amplifying this competitive shift; and national security implications and interplays based on supply chain security are quickly coming into focus.

Entities that develop and deploy technologies that lower the emissions of their products and services will succeed. These same technologies will have national security applications and implications through common supply chains. Advanced nuclear energy technologies – and novel partnership, business, and regulatory innovation to embed those technologies in commerce – may well be a key to unlock the door to competitiveness that will shift the balance of economic and security competitiveness globally.

The Frontiers Initiative is dedicated to advancing the U.S. position in this new frontier of regional and national security.


News & Resources

Featured Videos

SXSW 2024 DOD Panel discusses critical resources, food, water, minerals and energy

Dr. Steven Aumeier, senior advisor of strategic programs for Idaho National Laboratory, joined an expert lineup led by the U.S. Department of Defense at the SXSW 2024 Conference in Austin, Texas. Steve represented INL’s Frontiers Initiative, dedicated to advancing U.S. economic competitiveness and leadership in energy innovation.

The Future of Wyoming Industrial and Economic Development

Courtesy of the Atlantic Council, this panel from the Frontiers Project in October, 2022 features business, university and economic development leaders across Wyoming as well as TerraPower leadership.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Frontiers?

Frontiers is about developing regional-to-global strategies that use nuclear energy to compete globally –simultaneously addressing regional energy transitions, energy-driven economic development and environmental justice needs.

What is the focus of Frontiers?

The U.S. is tackling a new frontier of global economic development and competition driven by low-emission energy and industrial reality. Frontiers is focused on how an industry competes in global markets that value (monetize) the emissions associated with products. INL’s role within Frontiers, and other initiatives, is to work with states, regional organizations and communities to help make the transition to low-emissions manufacturing and expand markets for nuclear energy.

What is EMA's role in Frontiers?

The role of EMA is to help entities transition to low-emission based products and services to increase US competitiveness in regional and global markets.

Why are Wyoming, Alaska and Idaho key critical for regional and global transitions?

Wyoming and Alaska are at the forefront of the global economic frontier of low-emission and energy-driven manufacturing by leveraging advanced nuclear energy technology and state leadership. These states will emerge as leaders in the U.S. to help shape policies that enable the domestic energy transition.

How does nuclear energy align with these efforts?

Advanced nuclear is the key that opens the door to global industrial markets that are monetizing low-emissions manufacturing and broader economic activity. New designs are being developed to meet the emerging needs of industry for resilient sources of electricity and heat products, while generating no greenhouse emissions.

What benefits are expected from Frontiers?

Frontiers is a key component of the global transition to low-emission manufacturing driven by climate change and need for domestic, clean energy manufacturing capacity. As the U.S. grid evolves, some regions will adopt low emission energy sources faster than others. Industries choosing to operate in these service territories may improve their domestic and international competitive positions.

How are advanced reactor designs different from traditional / legacy nuclear energy?

Here are the critical differences between traditional nuclear and advanced reactors: 

  • Safety: Advanced reactors use designs at the cutting edge in nuclear technology that inherently reduce risks and minimize the need for safety-related systems.
  • Lower costs: Incorporate factory construction and modularization to lower overall construction and operating costs to be more competitive with other forms of energy generation.
  • Industrial decarbonization: Produce not only electricity for the grid, but can also produce clean drinking water, and hydrogen or heat, to decarbonize the industrial and transportation sectors.
  • Versatility and flexibility: Have small facility footprints to allow siting near end users, go years between refueling, and easily add units to meet increasing energy needs.
  • Increased fuel efficiency: Use fuels that contain more usable energy and result in less long-lived radioactive waste.
What is the state of Micro Reactor Technology?

The visual below captures several of the near-term plans for micro reactor projects in the coming years.