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USA financing nuclear projects abroad – but what if Small Nuclear Reactors are a flop?

Daily on Energy, presented by API: Inside the new US policy on financing nuclear abroad, Washington Examiner, by Josh Siegel, Energy and Environment Reporter & Abby Smith, Energy and Environment Reporter | June 22, 2020 

INSIDE NEW POLICY ON FINANCING NUCLEAR ABROADThe U.S. International Development Finance Corporation mostly had small nuclear reactors in mind when it proposed this month lifting its ban on funding nuclear projects overseas. But a senior official from the DFC – a greatly expanded successor to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – says the agency also envisions select situations for funding traditional large reactors, despite recent projects being delayed or canceled by cost overruns……..

The official cited a move by Congress a year after lawmakers passed the BUILD Act in 2018, which authorized the DFC, that called on the U.S. government to support energy diversification projects in Europe as a counter to Russia’s “energy dominance.”

It’s worth noting that some European Union member states, like Germany, are strongly anti-nuclear. Nuclear plant construction is currently underway in only three EU member states — Finland, France and Slovakia — according to the World Nuclear Association).
Opening the door for SMRs: Small modular nuclear reactors, meanwhile, are still under development and a decade or so from becoming widely operational. This has critics of the DFC’s move questioning the timing of it. The DFC official countered the new policy puts the U.S. in the game with China and Russia, which are already aggressively promoting their advanced nuclear technologies in developing countries……..
the policy shift commits DFC to nothing if small reactors end up being a flop. The DFC met with small reactor developers such as NuScale, an Oregon-based company seeking to be the first to have its license approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that were pushing for the agency to change its policy……

The DFC offers direct equity financing, loans, and political risk insurance, while Ex-Im can only offer credit or lending. The DFC has a total investment limit of $60 billion, amounting to about a $1 billion maximum per project, the official said.

He acknowledged the DFC does not have in-house expertise on nuclear power at the moment, but he said it’s not uncommon for the young agency to work with independent engineers and experts from other agencies to assess financing opportunities.

“I am not aware we have anyone on staff who has built a nuclear power plant,” the official said. “What we do have is very strong policies and procedures and frameworks to look at big complicated projects.”

June 23, 2020 - Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA

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