US increases budget for nuclear energy security and research

Ilaria Grasso Macola 12 February 2020 (Last Updated February 12th, 2020 15:49)

US President Donald Trump has boosted the budget for nuclear energy and security for fiscal year 2021 in his request to Congress on Monday.

US increases budget for nuclear energy security and research
The White House. Credit: Matt Wade.

US President Donald Trump has boosted the budget for nuclear energy and security for fiscal year 2021 in his request to Congress on Monday.

Out of a total of $35.4bn for the whole Department of Energy, President Trump allocated $19.8bn for national nuclear security and $1.2bn for nuclear energy research and development programmes, compared with last year’s decision to allocate $16.5bn and $824m respectively.

In the document, Trump said: “Nuclear energy is also critical to the nation’s energy mix and the budget supports an array of programmes to advance nuclear energy technologies. This portfolio promotes revitalisation of the domestic industry and the ability of domestic technologies to compete abroad.”

Of the $1.2bn destined for the Office of Nuclear Energy, $259m will be assigned to funding for the Versatile Test Reactor – a fast-neutron test reactor to be developed by 2026 – while $150m will be used to build a uranium reserve.

“The budget provides nearly $300 million for the construction of the Versatile Test Reactor—a first of its kind fast reactor that would help the private sector develop and demonstrate new technologies,” the Trump administration wrote in the budget request.

“The budget establishes a uranium reserve for the United States to provide additional assurances of availability of uranium in the event of a market disruption.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) – the US agency responsible for nuclear security – will obtain $19.8bn of which $9.5bn will be used to modernise the country’s nuclear arsenal and 4.4bn will go into improving the existent infrastructures. The US government devoted $4.3bn to supporting stockpile sustainment, dismantlement and modernisation of the nuclear weapon programme and $2.0bn for nuclear non-proliferation.

Nuclear Energy Institute vice president of governmental affairs Beverly Marshall told Power Technology: “The administration’s fiscal year 2021 budget request includes programs aimed at reinvigorating America’s nuclear energy sector, such as funding for the Versatile Test Reactor and securing a domestic uranium supply, but more is required to meet our energy needs while controlling carbon emissions.”

“We are disappointed that the proposal nearly eliminates demonstration projects for advanced reactor technologies.”