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Good Energy Collective: Recommendation

Good Energy Collective recommendation summary

This report was last updated in November 2022.

As part of our 2022 investigation into nuclear power, we developed a longlist of 50 organizations, shortlisted seven organizations, conducted shallow dives, and ultimately added one organization to our list of recommendations. Our decision to recommend just one nuclear organization was difficult to make because we believe there are several divergent high-potential strategies to support nuclear power, and several organizations doing important work to implement these strategies. Please see our nuclear power organization shallow dives report and nuclear power deep dive for more information.

Giving Green classifies Good Energy Collective (GEC) as one of our top recommendations to reduce climate change. GEC is a policy research organization that supports “advanced” nuclear reactors, which are designed to be safer, cheaper, and more versatile than traditional reactors. Nuclear power can decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if it replaces or avoids dirtier energy sources. For example, it can reduce emissions by complementing renewables because, unlike wind and solar power, nuclear power can produce steady electricity regardless of seasonal or environmental factors. GEC researches and builds support for progressive US policies that support equitable advanced reactor deployment, and engages with local communities to ensure there’s broad support for advanced nuclear.

We believe GEC fills a neglected niche in increasing advanced reactor deployment, and that it can effectively absorb additional funding. Although GEC primarily focuses on the US, it also has an international diplomacy workstream. We believe its work could have global implications if scaled advanced nuclear power in the US gives other countries the policies, technology, and/or general confidence to also make advanced nuclear part of their clean energy portfolio. We believe GEC has substantial growth potential and that with increased funds, GEC could become more effective by adding staff and scaling its community engagement efforts.

For more information, see our deep dive research report on Good Energy Collective, a summary below, and our broader nuclear power deep dive overview.

  • What is Good Energy Collective? GEC is a nonprofit founded in 2020 that supports advanced nuclear reactors and an equitable clean energy transition. As of November 2022, it has six full-time employees, including leadership with years of experience in nuclear engineering and policy.

  • What does Good Energy Collective do? GEC’s primary activities are community engagement, policy research, and education of policymakers. Its engagement includes convening stakeholders and speaking with elected officials. It aims to build support in potential nuclear host communities by collaborating with environmental justice organizations, community-based organizations, and other nonprofits. In 2023, it plans to conduct focus groups to understand perceptions around siting nuclear projects. Its near-term policy priorities include supporting a coal-to-nuclear transition and equitable nuclear waste management. GEC’s policy research and education work includes writing memos, submitting public comments, conducting technical analyses, and legislative advocacy.

  • How could it reduce greenhouse gases? Nuclear power could reduce greenhouse gases by replacing or avoiding fossil fuels. Building demand for advanced reactors could mitigate financial risks for companies and expand deployment. Increased production could feed into a virtuous cycle by decreasing costs and amplifying political support, further expanding deployment.

  • What is evidence of its effectiveness? GEC played a role in advocating for West Virginia to lift its ban on nuclear energy and has had some wins related to its work on a coal-to-nuclear transition.

  • What is its cost-effectiveness? We developed a highly subjective rough guess cost-effectiveness analysis to assess GEC’s prior work advocating for a lifted ban on nuclear power in West Virginia. We believe GEC’s real effect on reduced emissions would be much higher than what we model in our analysis because this model focuses on the near-term effect of advanced reactors in West Virginia, and ignores the longer-term effects of market-building, scaling, and technological progress. Overall, we estimate GEC could plausibly be within the range of cost-effectiveness we would consider for a top recommendation. [1]

  • Is there room for more funding? GEC’s self-reported funding gap for 2023 is $100,000, but our impression is that its room for more funding most likely exceeds this. Its planned 2023 budget is short of $1M and according to GEC, if its funding doubled, it would use additional revenue to hire staff and substantially expand its community engagement work.

  • Are there co-benefits or adverse effects? GEC’s co-benefits and adverse effects are primarily the same as those related to advanced nuclear technologies. For more information, please see our deep dive report on nuclear power.

  • Key uncertainties / Open questions: Key uncertainties include whether GEC’s efforts are necessary to increase advanced reactor production and deployment, the marginal impact of focusing on the US, and its room for more funding.

  • Bottom line / Next steps: We classify GEC as one of our top recommendations to reduce climate change. We believe donations to GEC are within the range of the most cost-effective giving opportunities we have identified, and could additionally increase its organizational growth trajectory. We plan to continue to assess our key uncertainties, and believe that we will be able to substantially improve our understanding of the severity and importance of these uncertainties as GEC executes its strategies in 2023.

Donate to Good Energy Collective to advance a justice- and community-centered vision of nuclear energy. You can donate through Giving Green's donation platform, where we've made it easy to donate to all of our top nonprofits, or give to Good Energy Collective directly.

This is a non-partisan analysis (study or research) and is provided for educational purposes.

[1] As a heuristic to guide our research prioritization, we consider something to plausibly be within the range of cost-effectiveness we would consider for a top recommendation if its estimated cost-effectiveness is within an order of magnitude of $1/tCO2e (i.e., less than $10/tCO2e).

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