Nuclear Politics

US / Finance Agency Lifts Ban On Funding Of Nuclear Energy Projects

By David Dalton
27 July 2020

DFC says move will help make US technology available to developing countries
Finance Agency Lifts Ban On Funding Of Nuclear Energy Projects
US energy secretary Dan Brouillette . Courtesy DOE.
The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) officially announced it will lift its legacy prohibition on funding nuclear energy projects, recognising the vast energy needs of developing countries and the potential of new and advanced technologies such as small modular reactors and microreactors in these markets.

The DFC, a federal agency, said in a statement that modernising DFC’s nuclear energy policy will help deliver a zero-emission, reliable, and secure power source to developing countries in order to promote economic growth and affordable energy access in underserved communities.

“This change will also offer an alternative to the financing of authoritarian regimes while advancing US nonproliferation safeguards and supporting U.S. nuclear competitiveness,” the statement said.

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

The policy change follows a 30-day consultation and discussions with stakeholders representing Congress, US government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector.

The DFC said it received more than 800 responses during the public comment period, with 98% in support of the proposed change.

Energy secretary Dan Brouillette said he applauded the DFC for moving forward with the implementation of a key recommendation of president Trump’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group strategy.

“Over the past three years, Department of Energy officials have met with government and private industry around the world who are eager to import American civil nuclear technology, yet funding challenges prevented them from doing so as a result of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s legacy ban on financing of nuclear projects,” he said.

“Reversing this ban is a common-sense action that will increase global energy security and help other countries meet their own emissions reduction goals while providing their citizens with reliable baseload generation.”

The Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute said the move will advance the DFC’s mission by boosting US national security, the economy, and global clean energy goals. NEI chief executive officer Maria Korsnck said: “Financing plays a decisive role in global nuclear energy procurement decisions – this milestone policy change will enable US nuclear exports to compete on a more level playing field against state-owned rivals from countries such as Russia and China.”

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