The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001817) to support development of advanced nuclear energy technology. DOE expects to make up to approximately $30 million to $60 million—contingent upon the availability of funds appropriated by Congress—available in FY 2018 awards, subject to the availability of funding.
The FOA will be open for a five-year period accepting applications on a year-round basis, with a quarterly selection process. Additional funding will be available in future years, as allocated by Congress. Total estimated program funding over the five years is $400 million, again contingent upon Congress.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is soliciting proposals for cost-shared projects to develop innovative, industry-driven reactor designs and accompanying technologies with high potential to advance nuclear power in the United States. The investment is intended to accelerate development of these designs and technologies so that the existing domestic fleet of nuclear power plants remains viable and the most mature new, advanced US designs can be deployed as early as mid-to-late 2020s, and be globally competitive.
Funding will be provided from the Department of Energy (DOE) through multiple existing nuclear energy programs currently conducting innovative research and development (R&D) activities supporting the existing fleet and the development of new and next-generation reactor designs and technologies.
Work supported by the funding may include:
Development of technologies that improve the capability of the existing fleet;
Methods to improve the timelines for advanced reactor deployments;
The cost and schedule for delivery of nuclear products, services, and capabilities supporting these nuclear technologies;
Design and engineering processes; and
Resolution of regulatory/certification issues potentially impeding the introduction of these technologies into the marketplace.
Technical topical areas may include, but not limited to, innovations and improvements in:
Advanced nuclear reactor designs, including small modular reactors of various technology types;
Engineering, analyses and experimentation that would address first-of-a-kind reactor design, certification, and licensing issues;
Advanced manufacturing, fabrication and construction techniques for nuclear parts, components, and full-scale plants, or integrated efforts that could positively impact the domestic nuclear manufacturing enterprise;
Sensors, instrumentation and control systems;
Plant auxiliary and support systems;
Operational inspection and monitoring capabilities;
Modeling and simulation of various elements of plant life cycle;
Procedures, processes, and methodologies that can impact operational efficiencies;
Integration of nuclear energy into micro-grid, non-electric, and/or hybrid applications;
Other components, systems, processes, or capabilities, including dynamic convection technologies, that could result in performance and economic improvements in advanced nuclear reactor designs; and
Efforts to address regulatory and licensing issues with the NRC.
The FOA defines three separate funding opportunity pathways: First of a Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Projects; Advanced Reactor Development Projects; and Regulatory Assistance Grant and Technology Development Opportunities.
First of a Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Projects. This pathway provides opportunities for the development of a broad range of nuclear projects that are expected to result in operational improvements of the existing fleet, or the deployment of new, innovative designs. The Department defines “deployment” for the purposes of new plant designs as a state where a plant has been constructed and is operational.
The pathway will provide support for one or more advanced reactor projects that have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s. The pathway is open to any advanced reactor design or technology that has a rational and achievable plan to meet these goals.
Advanced Reactor Development Projects. This application pathway is expected to lead directly to advances in the innovation and competitiveness of a broad set of domestic nuclear reactor designs and technologies. The scope of the FOA is purposely very broad to allow US industry stakeholders to request Government support for applications involving concepts and ideas that they believe are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.
Awards for these projects will be made in the form of cost-shared cooperative agreements with a nuclear industry partner, with provisions for appropriately selected team members as subrecipients.
Regulatory Assistance Grant and Technology Development Opportunities. A new opportunity for regulatory support to US industry is available through this FOA. Cost-shared grants will be awarded for applicants seeking funds in support of work with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to resolve design regulatory issues, to review topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals.
One element of this grant pathway will be to help US industry to bring capabilities and expertise together to address the challenges and opportunities associated with the regulatory environment.