DOE Floats $900M to Build Advanced Reactors

The Department of Energy announced plans to invest $900 million in the development of small nuclear reactors, providing significant support for the industry. This announcement comes as the Senate prepares to vote on a bill aimed at enhancing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s capacity to license this technology.

According to E&E News, other than Georgia Power and its parent Southern Co. — which just completed a $35 billion, 16-year-long nuclear expansion at its Plant Vogtle — utility companies and state regulators have avoided large-scale nuclear projects. In competitive electricity markets, nuclear power has fared less well than cheaper natural gas generation and renewable energy. Over the past decade, states that are home to the aging nuclear fleet have had to decide whether to subsidize some of that generation to keep it running.

But nuclear is a zero-carbon-emissions technology. It’s 24-hour energy. And the Biden administration has looked for ways to support smaller advanced reactors that can be built and deployed more easily.

DOE projects that the country will need anywhere from 700 to 900 gigawatts of additional clean, firm electricity capacity to reach net-zero emissions nationwide by 2050.

The administration is working to “reinvigorate the existing nuclear fleet, jumpstart new reactor technologies, and onshore critical fuel production,” White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi said in a statement. DOE said it aims to start accepting applications for the funding — which is supported by the bipartisan infrastructure law — by the end of the summer at the earliest or later in the fall.

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