Nuclear Politics

US / Agency Begins Public Comment On Lifting Of Nuclear Financing Ban

By David Dalton
12 June 2020

Change could offer alternative to new-build projects being financed by ‘authoritarian regimes’
Agency Begins Public Comment On Lifting Of Nuclear Financing Ban
Maria Korsnick: US needs ‘significant investment and bold policy’.
International Development Finance Corporation, a US federal agency, has announced a 30-day public comment period on a proposed policy change to allow it to support nuclear power projects in developing countries.

The DFC said in a statement that a proposed change to the agency’s environmental and social policy and procedures would enable the consideration of support of nuclear power projects

“Modernising DFC’s policy to offer financing for nuclear projects supports the agency’s development mandate, bolsters U. foreign policy, and recognises advances in technology which could make nuclear energy particularly impactful in emerging markets,” the statement said.

For example, advanced nuclear technologies under development and deployment in the US, including small modular reactors (SMRs) and microreactors, will have significantly lower costs than traditional nuclear power plants, and may be well suited for developing countries.

The proposed change could help deliver a zero-emission, reliable, and secure power source to developing countries, promoting economic growth and affordable energy access in underserved communities, the statement added.

It said the change could also offer an alternative to the financing of “authoritarian regimes”.

In a list of official recommendations to president Donald Trump last month, the Nuclear Fuels Working Group argued the US needs to sell nuclear power technology abroad and fight the influence of countries like China and Russia whose state-backed corporatons have become dominant suppliers.

The DFC is restricted from nuclear power plant financing under its environment and social policy statement, which includes specific restrictions on nuclear power. It prohibits support for trade in radioactive materials, “including nuclear reactors and components thereof”.

The DFC’s definition of energy projects it can supports includes renewable sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower, but does not include nuclear power.

In March 2019 the president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute said the DFC must be allowed to support nuclear energy projects as the country fights to catch up and stay competitive in the sector.

Maria Korsnick said the US needs significant investment and bold policy to maintain its position as a world leader in nuclear safety, technology, and operations.

She noted that nearly two out of every three reactors being built around the world are built by China or Russia. “They are making massive investments, expanding their domestic fleet, and developing new technologies,” she said.

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