US to further support nuclear energy projects to meet its clean energy targets

8 November 2015 (Last Updated November 8th, 2015 18:30)

US Department of Energy (DOE) will be supplementing its $12.5bn loan guarantee solicitation in order to drive innovation and growth across the nuclear power sector.

US Department of Energy (DOE) will be supplementing its $12.5bn loan guarantee solicitation in order to drive innovation and growth across the nuclear power sector.

The solicitation will take those projects into consideration, which will involve the development of advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, uprates and upgrades at existing facilities, and front-end nuclear facilities.

Obama administration has agreed to supplement the additional costs for eligible projects, which will be incurred during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) licensing process, including those for design certification, construction permits, and combined construction and operating licenses (COL).

Financing for the processes might be supported with a loan guaranteed by the DOE.

"In 2014, nuclear power had comprised 60% of the carbon-free power generated in the country."

The FY 2016 Budget in the country has allocated more than $900m for the DOE to support the civilian nuclear energy sector, as the US tries to lead the global transition towards a low carbon economy.

The funds are intended to be invested for federal research, development, and demonstration efforts in nuclear energy technologies, ranging from power generation, safety, hybrid energy systems, and security technologies, among other things.

In 2014, nuclear power had comprised 60% of the carbon-free power generated in the country.

Announcement about the additional financing comes in the wake of a series of closures in the nuclear power industry.

Low-energy prices and increased operational costs have driven Entergy to announce closure for its 680MW Pilgrim and 850MW James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power stations.

Nuclear Matters is an industry collaboration aimed at promoting nuclear energy in the US who had termed the closures to be ‘unfortunate’.

Following the White House’s announcement to supplement eligible nuclear power projects, Nuclear Matters leadership council member and former EPA administrator Carol M. Browner said: "Today’s recognition by the Obama administration that nuclear energy must be a component of the United States’ clean energy strategy, is the latest among a groundswell of voices that agree that if you are concerned about climate change, you must support nuclear power.

"We need a whole menu of clean energy sources including existing nuclear power, which provides 64% of our country’s carbon-free energy, and renewables like wind and solar to ensure a cleaner energy future for our country.

"Unfortunately, the existing nuclear fleet is currently undervalued for its environmental benefits. This is contributing to the premature closure of some nuclear plants and jeopardises our ability to meet our carbon-cutting goals.

"Today’s announcement should send a signal to the public, policymakers, and all energy stakeholders that we need a serious approach to preserving these plants to help us obtain the cleaner, greener energy mix that is so critical to America’s economic and energy security."