US Senate passes infrastructure bill

13 August 2021

A bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the US Senate this week includes, amongst other things, provisions for investment in advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects. The bill would also include investment in research hubs for next generation technologies such as carbon capture and clean hydrogen.

Vice Presiden Kamala Harris and President Biden watch the Senate vote (Image: @POTUS)

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework - which has been described by the White House as the largest long-term investment in US infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century and an important first investment to ensure the US can tackle the climate crisis - was announced last month by the President. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which the Senate passed on 10 August by 69 votes to 30, now heads to the House of Representatives.

"Yesterday, the Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill … in a significant milestone in the road toward making what we all know are long-overdue and much-needed investments," President Joe Biden said on 11 August.

Judi Greenwald, executive director of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) - a non-profit think-tank working to enable nuclear power as a global solution to mitigate climate change - said the bipartisan legislation "builds on years of hard work to provide the foundation for reaching the nation's long-term climate, economic, and justice goals." It contains many provisions that will strengthen the resiliency and performance of energy systems while creating jobs and economic growth, and enhancing international competitiveness, she said.

"The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework rightly recognises the important role of advanced nuclear energy in achieving national decarbonisation. By providing full funding for two commercial-scale demonstration projects under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, the Framework catalyses private sector innovation and cements US leadership in advanced nuclear technologies," Greenwald said.

The Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, launched by the Department of Energy in 2020, aims to speed the demonstration of advanced reactors through cost-shared partnerships with US industry. TerraPower and X-energy were later that year announced as recipients of USD80 million each to build a demonstration plant that can be operational within seven years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News