On September 30, 2014, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released a draft solicitation that would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for innovative nuclear energy and “front end” nuclear projects.  In its announcement, DOE stated that the loan guarantees are to assist with the financial burdens of deploying next generation technology to diversify the United States’ clean energy portfolio.

DOE’s draft solicitation highlighted that it would provide $2 billion exclusively for nuclear facilities that convert or enrich uranium or fabricate nuclear fuel, while the remaining $10.6 billion would be available for the development of nuclear power facilities.  In the draft solicitation, the DOE notes that while any project that meets certain eligibility requirements may apply for the loan guarantee, DOE has identified four key technological project areas it is interested in, which include:

  • Advanced Nuclear Reactors – an area that focuses on nuclear facilities that use state-of-the-art design advancements with regard to fuel technology, thermal efficiency, modularized construction, safety systems (especially the use of passive, rather than active safety systems), and standardized design;
  • Small Modular Reactors – an area that focuses on innovative technologies for nuclear energy projects that are nominally 300 megawatt electrical (MWe) or smaller in size;
  • Upgrades and Uprates at Existing Facilities – an area that focuses on projects consisting of improvements to an existing reactor to increase efficiency and/or capacity, or to make critical improvements that are requisite to current or future facility operations; and
  • Front-End Nuclear Facilities – an area that focuses on advanced nuclear facilities for the preparation of uranium for the “front-end” of the nuclear fuel cycle.

In order to apply for a loan guarantee, DOE stated that a two-part application is required.  Part I requires an applicant to provide DOE with a detailed description of the project, including technical information, background information on management, and critical path schedules.  DOE also clarified that Part I submissions will be evaluated against all other submissions during an initial review phase.  If an applicant advances past the initial review, DOE will invite the applicant to file a Part II application.  A Part II application requires an applicant to disclose any deviations from its Part I application, engineering and construction plans, a more detailed project description, and any additional information that DOE requires to complete its review, among other items.  With regard to both parts, DOE did not include in its solicitation dates or timing for submitting these applications.

DOE will accept comments on its draft solicitation during a 30-day comment period.  A copy of the draft loan guarantee solicitation is available here.