White House will support new nuclear power plants in the US

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, built by general contractor Westinghouse, a Toshiba business unit, near Waynesboro, Georgia, is seen in an aerial photo taken in February 2017.

Georgia power | Reuters

The White House on Wednesday plans to announce new measures to support the development of new U.S. nuclear power plants, a major potential source of carbon-free electricity that the administration says is needed to fight climate change.

The series of actions, which have not previously been reported, are aimed at helping the nuclear power industry combat rising security costs and competition from cheaper plants powered by natural gas, wind and solar energy.

Nuclear power advocates say the technology is critical to providing large, uninterrupted supplies of emissions-free energy to meet rising electricity demands from data centers and electric vehicles and still meet President Joe Biden's goal of decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050.

“In the defining decade for climate action, we must bring as many decarbonization tools as possible from the sidelines to the field,” said Ali Zaidi, Biden's national climate adviser.

Critics are concerned about the buildup of radioactive waste stored in factories across the country and warn of the potential risks to human health and wildlife, especially in the event of any accidents or malfunctions. Biden signed a law earlier this month banning the use of enriched uranium from Russia, the world's largest supplier.

At a White House event on Wednesday focused on nuclear energy deployment, the Biden administration will announce a new group that will try to find ways to limit costs and plan for schedule overruns in power plant construction.

The White House and Department of Energy group of climate, science and energy policy experts will work with real estate developers, engineering, procurement and construction firms, utilities, investors, labor organizations, academics and non-governmental organizations.

It also said the military will soon seek feedback on the deployment of advanced reactors to supply energy to certain facilities in the United States. Small modular reactors and microreactors can provide energy that can better withstand physical and cyber attacks, natural disasters and other challenges, the White House said.

The Department of Energy also released a document outlining the expected increased safety of advanced reactors. And a new tool will help developers figure out how to lower capital costs for new nuclear reactors.

The youngest U.S. nuclear reactors, at the Vogtle plant in Georgia, were years behind schedule and billions over budget when they entered commercial service in 2023 and 2024. No new U.S. nuclear power plants are currently being built.

Vogtle is now the largest U.S. source of clean energy, the White House said.

Nuclear power accounts for about 19% of U.S. energy generation, compared to 4% for solar and 10% for wind.

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