White House announces $450M funding for U.S. small modular nuclear reactors

The White House on March 22 announced a total of $450 million in new funding to advance the development of American-made small modular reactors (SMRs).

The funding will be made available to support first-of-its-kind engineering, design certification and licensing for up to two SMR designs over five years, subject to congressional appropriations.

Manufacturing the reactors domestically will offer the U.S. important export opportunities and will advance the U.S. competitive edge in the global clean energy race. Small modular reactors, which are about one-third the size of current nuclear plants, have compact, scalable designs that are expected to offer a host of safety, construction and economic benefits, White House said in a statement.

Through cost-share agreements with private industry, the U.S. Department of Energy will solicit proposals for promising SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and achieve commercial operation by 2022.

The cost-share agreements will span a five-year period and, subject to congressional appropriations, will provide a total investment of about $900 million, with at least 50 percent provided by private industry.

“The Obama Administration and the Energy Department are committed to an all-of-the-above energy strategy that develops every source of American energy, including nuclear power, and strengthens our competitive edge in the global clean energy race,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “Through the funding for small modular nuclear reactors announced today, the Energy Department and private industry are working to position America as the leader in advanced nuclear energy technology and manufacturing.”