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US Government pledges billions to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050

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By Colin Hay - 
US Nuclear capacity spending ONE DOE

The US Office of Nuclear Energy (ONE) has confirmed the government is allocating billions in funding to support nuclear energy’s role in its future clean energy plans.

Nuclear power and technology received backing in the FY2024 spending bill recently signed by President Joe Biden, including more than $75 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The FY2024 spending bill allocates over $2.5b to ONE for research and development activities.

This funding will support studies related to the construction and deployment of new reactor technologies as the US aims to triple the nation’s nuclear capacity by 2050.

Secure domestic supply

An additional $410 million has been provided to establish an advanced nuclear fuel supply chain.

The funding is aimed at increasing the domestic enrichment capacity of the US to meet the needs of its operating fleet and those of its allies, as well as future reactor designs.

It will also make more high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) available for the DOE’s two demonstration projects with X-energy and TerraPower and will support other industry partners that require HALEU material to further test, develop or deploy their reactor designs.

‘Turning point’

“This is a historic turning point for investments in nuclear energy and it underpins our nation’s contribution to a multilateral commitment at COP28 to establish a resilient global uranium supply market that is free from Russian influence,” ONE stated.

“This is the strongest possible signal the US government can send to industry to give them the confidence they need to invest in increasing their uranium enrichment capacity.”

There are reports that the US government is preparing to seek bids on contracts for as much as $5b for domestically-produced nuclear reactor fuel.

Approximately $4b of the funding would be allocated under recent US government plans to reduce the nation’s use of nuclear fuel imported from Russia, with President Biden signing a ban on imports of enriched uranium from that country.

Bilateral task force

Nuclear supply chains are also a key component of the bilateral Canada-US Energy Transformation Task Force (ETTF), which the two governments have just renewed for an additional year.

The ETTF promotes the deployment of safe, zero-carbon nuclear energy and the enhancement of secure nuclear fuel supply chains.

The US and Canada were part of the multilateral pledge made at COP28 to mobilise $6.2b in government-led investment in enrichment and conversion capacity over the next three years aiming to catalyse private sector finance.

Complementary capacities

In renewing the ETTF, the US and Canada pledged to work jointly to support the development of complementary nuclear supply chain capacities and establish a resilient North American nuclear supply chain free from Russian influence.

In February, Canada issued a 10-year, $4.5b green bond, the world’s first sovereign green bond to include certain nuclear expenditures, affirming Canada’s commitment to serving as a global nuclear leader.

This year, President Biden has signed into law a series of actions that will secure energy resources and support US and allied leadership in the nuclear sector.

This included reauthorising up to $1.1b for two small modular reactor deployments this decade and up to $4.1b to jump-start uranium enrichment services in the US.