President Biden signs ADVANCE Act into law

10 July 2024

The bipartisan Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act aims to incentivise and support the development and deployment of new advanced nuclear technologies, including measures to streamline the regulatory approvals process.

(Image: @POTUS on X)

The ADVANCE Act at a glance

The ADVANCE Act, among other things, directs the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to look for ways to speed up its licensing process for new nuclear technology. It will reduce regulatory costs for companies seeking to license advanced nuclear reactor technologies, as well as creating a "prize" to incentivise the successful deployment of next-generation reactor technologies. It will also direct the NRC to enhance its ability to qualify and license accident-tolerant fuels and advanced nuclear fuels.

The act will also support the development of advanced nuclear reactors in other countries, empowering the NRC to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors, and directing the US Department of Energy to improve its process for approving the export of US technology to international markets, while maintaining strong standards for nuclear non-proliferation.

Streamlining the regulatory process, with international cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders, is widely seen as a key factor to the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors and advanced nuclear fuels at the scale required to tackle climate change and energy security concerns.

The legislation's progress

The act was introduced in the Senate in March 2023 by Senators Shelley Moore Capito, Tom Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse, with co-sponsors including John Barrasso, Cory Booker, Mike Crapo, Lindsey Graham, Martin Heinrich, Mark Kelly and Jim Risch. It was passed by the Senate on 18 June as part of the Fire Grants and Safety Act (S. 870), by 88 votes to 2. The act was passed by the House earlier in May this year, by 393 votes to 13.

Carper, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, described the passage of the act - with overwhelming bipartisan support - as a "major victory" for the climate and US energy security.

The last stage of the process was the US President signing the act into law, with President Joe Biden doing so on Tuesday, posting a photo on social media outlet X with the message: "Earlier, I signed the ADVANCE Act, a bipartisan win for American energy security, innovation, and achieving economy-wide, net-zero emissions by 2050. Clean nuclear power and good union jobs. That's what the ADVANCE Act will help deliver."

Carper called it a "momentous day for our climate and America's clean energy future ...  this bipartisan law will strengthen our energy and national security, lower greenhouse gas emissions and create thousands of new jobs, while ensuring the continued safety of this zero-emissions energy source. I’m thankful to each of my colleagues who helped write and pass this bill and to President Biden for signing it into law”.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News