Joe Biden

Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Steps to Bolster Domestic Nuclear Industry and Advance America's Clean Energy Future

May 29, 2024

For decades, nuclear power has been the largest source of clean energy in the United States, accounting for 19% of total energy produced last year. The industry directly employs nearly 60,000 workers in good paying jobs, maintains these jobs for decades, and supports hundreds of thousands of other workers. In the midst of transformational changes taking place throughout the U.S. energy system, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing to build on President Biden's unprecedented goal of a carbon free electricity sector by 2035 while also ensuring that consumers across the country have access to affordable, reliable electric power, and creating good-paying clean energy jobs. Alongside renewable power sources like wind and solar, a new generation of nuclear reactors is now capturing the attention of a wide range of stakeholders for nuclear energy's ability to produce clean, reliable energy and meet the needs of a fast-growing economy, driven by President Biden's Investing in America agenda and manufacturing boom. The Administration recognizes that decarbonizing our power system, which accounts for a quarter of all the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, represents a pivotal challenge requiring all the expertise and ingenuity our nation can deliver.

The Biden-Harris Administration is today hosting a White House Summit on Domestic Nuclear Deployment, highlighting the collective progress being made from across the public and private sectors. Under President Biden's leadership, the Administration has taken a number of actions to strengthen our nation's energy and economic security by reducing – and putting us on the path to eliminating – our reliance on Russian uranium for civil nuclear power and building a new supply chain for nuclear fuel, including: signing on to last year's multi-country declaration at COP28 to triple nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050; developing new reactor designs; extending the service lives of existing nuclear reactors; and growing the momentum behind new deployments. Recognizing the importance of both the existing U.S. nuclear fleet and continued build out of large nuclear power plants, the U.S. is also taking steps to mitigate project risks associated with large nuclear builds and position U.S. industry to support an aggressive deployment target.

To help drive reactor deployment while ensuring ratepayers and project stakeholders are better protected, the Administration is announcing today the creation of a Nuclear Power Project Management and Delivery working group that will draw on leading experts from across the nuclear and megaproject construction industry to help identify opportunities to proactively mitigate sources of cost and schedule overrun risk. Working group members will be made up of federal government entities, including the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, the White House Office of Clean Energy Innovation & Implementation, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Department of Energy. The working group will engage a range of stakeholders, including project developers, engineering, procurement and construction firms, utilities, investors, labor organizations, academics, and NGOs, which will each offer individual views on how to help further the Administration's goal of delivering an efficient and cost-effective deployment of clean, reliable nuclear energy and ensuring that learnings translate to cost savings for future construction and deployment.

The United States Army is also announcing that it will soon release a Request for Information to inform a deployment program for advanced reactors to power multiple Army sites in the United States. Small modular nuclear reactors and microreactors can provide defense installations resilient energy for several years amid the threat of physical or cyberattacks, extreme weather, pandemic biothreats, and other emerging challenges that can all disrupt commercial energy networks. Alongside the current defense programs through the Department of the Air Force microreactor pathfinder at Eielson AFB and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) Project Pele prototype transportable microreactor protype, the Army is taking a key role in exploring the deployment of advanced reactors that help meet their energy needs. These efforts will help inform the regulatory and supply chain pathways that will pave the path for additional deployments of advanced nuclear technology to provide clean, reliable energy for federal installations and other critical infrastructure.

Additionally, the Department of Energy released today a new primer highlighting the expected enhanced safety of advanced nuclear reactors including passive core cooling capabilities and advanced fuel designs. Idaho National Laboratory is also releasing a new advanced nuclear reactor capital cost reduction pathway tool that will help developers and stakeholders to assess cost drivers for new projects.

The Administration notes the completion of units 3 and 4 of the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, the first new reactors built in the United States in over 30 years, and a result of the efforts and collaboration between utilities, developers, and end users to finance new nuclear projects, as well as the over 9,000 workers, many of whom were union, and the residents of Georgia to help the project reach a successful outcome. The Vogtle site is now the largest source of clean power in America, with four operating nuclear reactors. DOE financing and support made this project possible. The DOE Loan Programs Office (LPO) has committed $12 billion in loan guarantees for the construction as well as technical expertise, project monitoring, and issue mitigation support that would have been otherwise unavailable in the private sector. LPO's low rates also means hundreds of millions of dollars in annual cost savings for Georgians.

The U.S. government will continue to take action to enable first movers to deploy advanced and innovative technologies. These announcements build upon a wide range of actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken, which include:

Reviving and revitalizing existing nuclear, while preserving jobs

  • The Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan would be the first U.S. nuclear plant to restart after shutting down. It is supported by a $1.5 billion conditional loan commitment from the DOE Loan Programs Office to Holtec Palisades, LLC, to finance the restoration and resumption of service for an 800 MW nuclear generation station in Covert Township, Michigan. The project aims to bring back online the Palisades Nuclear Plant and upgrade it to produce clean, baseload power through at least 2050.
  • Diablo Canyon in California is leveraging DOE's Civil Nuclear Credit program to fund the plant's life extension.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act created a production tax credit (Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 45U) for existing nuclear plants, giving them more economic security to keep operating.

Demonstrating and deploying new nuclear technologies

  • DOE's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) provides significant funding for nuclear demonstration and risk reduction projects. Awardees include Gen IV reactor vendors and developers TerraPower, X-energy, Kairos Power, Westinghouse, BWX Technologies, and Southern Company.
  • The President signed a Congressional appropriations package providing $800 million to fund up to two Gen III+ SMR demonstration projects. The implementation of this will be announced later this year. This package also appropriated $100 Million for Gen III+ SMR design, licensing, supplier development, and site preparation.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act enacted the Clean Electricity Production tax credit (IRC section 45Y) and Clean Electricity Investment tax credit (IRC section 48E) to support the deployment of all zero-greenhouse gas-emitting electricity generation, including from new nuclear electric generators.
  • DOE released a coal-to-nuclear technical study and information guide, highlighting the potential for more than 300 plant conversions and their ability to transition jobs and can be an economic boom for the communities they support
  • The Department of Defense (DOD) is funding Project Pele to develop a prototype microreactor (Gen IV) design for future use at defense installations.
  • The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and U.S. Department of State announced the "EXIM SMR Financing Toolkit," a suite of financial tools to support SMR deployments and help U.S. exporters compete in the global SMR market.
  • DOE, with support from our multidisciplinary national labs is working with, and providing resources for, industry partners to evaluate how international safeguards obligations and security can be integrated better early into the design process of new nuclear facilities from initial planning through deployment.

Streamlining licensing processes for building new reactors, extending the life of existing reactors, and expanding capacity of existing reactors

In anticipation of the growing interest in reactor deployment, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) continues to make strides in reforming its licensing and permitting processes to ensure that its reviews and analyses can be performed efficiently without compromising safety.

  • Demonstrating efficient licensing: NRC issued a construction permit to Kairos for the Hermes test reactor this past December; the first non-light water reactor (non-LWR) construction permit issued in the United States in 56 years. NRC completed its safety and environmental reviews of the Kairos Hermes test reactor construction permit application ahead of schedule and on-budget.
  • New technology-neutral licensing pathway: The NRC Commission took important steps to improve the proposed draft rule for the new 10 CFR Part 53 technology-neutral licensing pathway in response to stakeholder feedback and to make it more useful to applicants.
  • Reducing regulatory uncertainty: NRC issued licensing guidance for applicants seeking to use the existing Part 50 and 52 licensing pathways before the new optional Part 53 is completed. This guidance reduces the regulatory uncertainty for new reactor concepts that do not fit the mold of conventional reactor technologies.
  • Streamlining environmental reviews: NRC staff approved a proposed rule for Commission approval which would utilize an advanced reactor generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) to streamline environmental reviews for licensing new reactors. NRC staff also expects to soon issue a GEIS for license renewal to streamline environmental reviews for extending the operating license for existing reactors.
  • Preparing for factory-built microreactors: NRC staff identified potential regulatory solutions to enable licensing of microreactors that would be factory-built and then transported to a deployment site.
  • Leveraging cooperation with international partners: NRC recently signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation to increase collaboration on the technical reviews of advanced reactor and SMR technologies.
  • Modernizing safety and security reviews: NRC has initiated several process improvements for new reactor licensing such as the proposed rule for alternative physical security and new rule for emergency preparedness requirements for SMRs and non-LWRs that would provide regulatory stability, predictability, and clarity and minimize or eliminate uncertainty for applicants.
  • Increasing transparency and accountability: NRC launched its licensing status dashboards to better enable stakeholders to track licensing review progress.

Advancing the supply chain and workforce

  • The Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on its promise to ensure a supply chain for reliable energy security and to reduce dependencies on Russian energy. On May 13, President Biden signed into law the "Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act" which imposes a ban on imported enriched uranium from Russia unless importers receive a waiver granted by the Secretary of Energy. It also unlocks up to $2.72 billion made available at the President's request by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 to jumpstart new enrichment capacity in the United States for LEU and HALEU.
  • Centrus Energy Corporation produced the nation's first 100 kilograms of high-assay low-enriched uranium, a crucial material required by many advanced reactor designs. The production was the first of its kind in the United States in more than 70 years and completed a key milestone in DOE's HALEU Demonstration project in Piketon, Ohio. Centrus is expected to ramp up its production rate of HALEU material to 900 kilograms per year starting in 2024. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 also provided $700 million to help establish a reliable domestic supply of fuels for advanced reactors using HALEU.
  • X-Energy was allocated $148 million in tax credits under the Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit program (IRC section 48C) for an advanced nuclear fuel fabrication facility, which will make TRISO particle fuel.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 made available $100 million for nuclear workforce training programs at universities, 2-year colleges, trade schools.
  • The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Program Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is also hosting several earlier stage R&D programs for advanced nuclear, including $87 million of funding to 30 projects with the aims of lower capital costs, lower O&M costs, and reducing spent fuel.

Taken together, these actions represent the largest sustained push to accelerate civil nuclear deployment in the United States in nearly five decades. President Biden will continue to take steps to reestablish U.S. leadership in the industry, including continuing to keep existing nuclear plants operational, supporting the demonstration and deployment of advanced reactor technologies, making permitting processes more efficient and effective, securing and expanding the nuclear fuel supply, strengthening nuclear safety, security, and safeguards, and supporting an ambitious strategy to ensure the nation's nuclear leadership.

Joseph R. Biden, Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Steps to Bolster Domestic Nuclear Industry and Advance America's Clean Energy Future Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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