5 Key Takeaways from the Nuclear Energy FY 2021 Budget Request
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Congressional Budget Request of $35.4 billion.
That includes a record $1.36 billion for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) with an added emphasis on developing advanced reactors and setting up a new reserve for domestically produced uranium.
Here are five key takeaways from NE’s latest budget request.
1. THE BUDGET REQUEST FOR R&D IS UP 43% FROM THE FY20 REQUEST
NE’s research and development (R&D) request of $1.18 billion is up 43% over the FY20 request ($824 million). It’s the largest ask ever by the office and recognizes the need to bring new reactors to market.
More than 20 U.S. companies are currently developing advanced reactors that have the potential to offer greater flexibility in power, size and operation—ultimately making them more affordable to build and operate.
Since 2017, DOE has invested more than $359 million to fund new reactor designs, licensing support, risk reduction and advanced fuel development.
2. THE BUDGET REQUEST EMPHASIZES ADVANCED NUCLEAR
The FY21 request includes nearly $400 million to support the development of new reactors and fuels. It builds on the momentum of the FY20 spending bill, which directs DOE to start a new demonstration program for advanced reactors.
The FY20 spending bill included $160 million to develop two reactor demonstrations that can be operational within the next 5 to 7 years. The FY21 request builds on that by asking for $20 million to fuel the additional research needed to continue the development of future demos.
3. BUILDING A VERSATILE TEST REACTOR
The biggest line item in the FY21 request is $295 million to support the construction of DOE’s proposed Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) to help modernize the nation’s nuclear research infrastructure.
The new research reactor will be capable of performing irradiation testing at higher neutron fluxes than what is currently available today and is needed to accelerate the testing of advanced nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation and sensors required by new designs and the existing fleet.