Applications open for US nuclear credit programme

20 April 2022

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has opened the applications process for the first award cycle of the USD6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) programme to support the continued operation of US nuclear reactors under threat of premature closure.

The USA's existing fleet of nuclear reactors is a vital resource to achieve net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050, but shifting energy markets and other economic factors have resulted in the early closure of 12 commercial reactors across the United States since 2013, DOE said.

The CNC programme - part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021 - aims to address those challenges by allocating credits to "certified" reactors which can show that they are projected to close for economic reasons and that closure will lead to a rise in air pollutants and carbon emissions, and for which the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has "reasonable assurance" that the reactor will continue operating safely.

US nuclear power plants contribute more than half of the nation's carbon-free electricity, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. "We're using every tool available to get this country powered by clean energy by 2035, and that includes prioritising our existing nuclear fleet to allow for continued emissions-free electricity generation and economic stability for the communities leading this important work."

Following on from a Request for Information period earlier this year, the first CNC award cycle will prioritise reactors that have already announced their intention to cease operations, DOE said. The DOE has now issued guidance for the owners or operators of such plants on how to formulate and submit their sealed bids for allocation of credits. For this first CNC award period, DOE is accepting certification applications and bid as a single submission to implement the programme on a more rapid timeline, it said. Future award cycles will not be limited to nuclear reactors that have publicly announced their intentions to retire. 

Applications for certification and sealed bids for credits under the first award cycle must be submitted no later 19 May. The second award cycle is due to begin in the first quarter of fiscal 2023.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News