Third Way Advanced Nuclear Campaign
Third Way is running a comprehensive campaign to support the innovation, development, and commercialization of advanced nuclear power in the United States as a key tool to help combat climate change. Our goal is to leverage the resources of the federal government to support the more than 70 private sector and academic institution innovation projects developing next generation nuclear technology. This includes improving innovators’ access to the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Labs’ resources so that more research, development, and testing of materials and designs can occur using National Lab facilities, modernizing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and providing it sufficient resources to evaluate and license advanced nuclear reactors, and facilitating partnerships between the Department of Energy and nuclear innovators to commercialize advanced nuclear power that could, ultimately, provide affordable, safe, and secure zero-carbon power and heat to end-users. We have been advised in this work by, in alphabetical order, Bill Budinger, Ross Koningstein, Rachel Pritzker, and Ray Rothrock.
H.R.5376 Inflation Reduction Act: Signed into Law August 16, 2022
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) invested $700 million to support the development of a domestic supply chain for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). Strengthening the United States’ HALEU supply decreases our dependence on Russian fuels and loosens the country’s grip on the global nuclear fuel supply chain.
H.R.3684 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL): Signed into Law November 15, 2021
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) allocated $6 billion to prevent the premature retirement of existing nuclear plants as well as $21.5 billion for energy demonstrations, including the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) demonstrations. For instance, BIL provided more than $2.4B in forward funding to the ARDP Pathway 1 demonstrations, TerraPower’s Natrium and X-energy’s Xe-100.
H.R.133 Energy Act of 2020: Signed into Law December 27, 2020
The Energy Act of 2020 was passed as part of the FY2021 omnibus government funding bill and includes provisions from the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) and the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act (NERDA). This legislation re-authorized DOE’s Advanced Reactor Deployment Program (ARDP) to support the construction of advanced nuclear reactors through cost-shared partnerships with private industry stakeholders. The legislation also allocated $31.5 million in funding for the DOE to establish a temporary program to support the availability of domestic HALEU for research and development (R&D).
NEIMA requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to modernize how it evaluates and licenses innovative, new designs for nuclear power plant. This includes requiring the NRC to develop more efficient licensing pathways for advanced reactors, enhance its technical capacity to review new reactor designs, and provide additional transparency and predictability for reactor developers throughout the process.
NEICA was developed to remove roadblocks and increase opportunities for private sector advanced nuclear innovators to work with the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop next generation technologies. This law instructs DOE to prioritize private-sector partnerships to develop, test, and demonstrate advanced reactor concepts. It also authorizes new testing capabilities that can accelerate development of a number of advanced nuclear designs and the testing of new reactor components. It also encourages earlier and more frequent interactions between advanced reactor developers and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which could lead to a more efficient licensing process.
This small component of a much more comprehensive tax package extended the production tax credit (PTC) for advanced nuclear power plants, allowing plants that come into service after 2020 to qualify for the PTC. This is critically important for both the large light water reactors currently under construction in Georgia, and the NuScale small modular reactors being developed for construction at the Idaho National Laboratory.
Gateway for Acceleration of Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN): Established November 6, 2015
As private sector advanced nuclear innovation grew in the early years of the 2010s, it became clear that many innovators, particularly at startups, were struggling to figure out how to constructively engage with the Department of Energy or the National Labs. In response to this challenge, the Department, under President Obama and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, established GAIN. This project provides the nuclear community with a single point of access to the broad range of capabilities – people, facilities, materials, and data – across the DOE complex and its National Lab capabilities. It also provides grant funding for innovators to conduct research at National Lab facilities.