The US Department of Energy has issued a draft solicitation that would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for advanced nuclear energy projects. A 30-day comment period ends on 30 October.

The DOE said that the guarantees will provide ‘critical financing’ to help commercialize advanced nuclear energy technologies, ‘supporting projects that are often unable to secure full commercial financing due to their scale and use of innovative technology.’

“For the first time in more than 30 years, new nuclear power plants are under construction in the United States," said Secretary Ernest Moniz. "This solicitation would build on that investment and help support the construction of the next generation of safe and secure nuclear energy projects. Expanding on the Administration’s commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy, these projects will provide clean energy to American families and businesses."

The Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects Solicitation would provide loan guarantees to support construction of innovative nuclear energy and front-end nuclear projects in the United States that reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.

It said that these technologies could include any nuclear generation or front-end technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is new or significantly improved, as compared to more established technologies in service in the United States. Eligibility will ultimately be evaluated on a project-by-project basis.

The Department has identified four key technology areas of interest in the draft solicitation.

  • Advanced nuclear reactors: " nuclear energy projects with evolutionary, state-of-the-art design improvements in the areas of fuel technology, thermal efficiency, modularized construction, safety systems (especially the use of passive rather than active systems), and standardized design."
  • Small modular reactors: for projects with the above, but under 300 MWe in generation capacity
  • Uprates and upgrades for reactors that will a. increase capacity or efficiency of operating plants, b. be essential to allow the reactor to start to operate or c. continue to operate.
  • $2 billion exclusive for front-end projects that could include: conversion, enrichment by gas or laser technology, and fuel and other nuclear fabrication.

The DOE is now offering loan guarantees in three other areas also: $8 billion for advanced fossil energy projects, $4 billion for renewable energy and efficient energy projects and $16 billion for advanced technology vehicle manufacturing.

Currently, LPO supports a diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 projects nationwide.

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