Jan 7 -- Comment deadline extended to February 14, 2022 https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/01/07/2021-28543/request-for-information-rfi-regarding-planning-for-establishment-of-a-program-to-support-the
Dec 14 -- The Energy Act of 2020 authorized the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) to establish and carry out, through the Office of Nuclear Energy, a program to support the availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. DOE is issuing this RFI to invite input on the planning for establishment of a DOE HALEU Availability Program and to gather information to consider in preparing the required report to Congress describing actions proposed to be carried out by DOE under the program. Comments should be submitted by January 13, 2022.
The Department is working to enable the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors as part of meeting the Administration's job creation, energy security and climate goals. DOE's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program was established to partner with domestic private industry to help accelerate the development and demonstration of advanced nuclear reactors in the United States. Most advanced reactors, including several designs selected for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, are designed to be fueled by HALEU.
The Secretary of Energy was authorized in Sec. 2001 of the Energy Act of 2020 to establish and carry out, through the Office of Nuclear Energy, a program to support the availability of HALEU for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use (HALEU Availability Program). A HALEU Availability Program, leading to the deployment and commercialization of clean energy technologies and infrastructure, could secure a critical domestic supply chain for meeting the Administration's climate, economic, and energy security goals. This program would include substantive engagement by stakeholders, including State, local, and Tribal governments. The program would prioritize addressing long-standing and persistent energy justice issues and be responsive to President Biden's Justice40 Initiative by targeting 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities, considering rural communities and communities impacted by the market-based transition to clean energy, and include substantive stakeholder engagement.
Currently, there is very limited domestic capacity to provide HALEU from either DOE or commercial sources. This lack of capacity is a significant obstacle to the development and deployment of advanced reactors for commercial applications.
Specifically, DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) provides highly enriched uranium (HEU), HALEU, and Low Enriched Uranium for its defense and nonproliferation missions. Most of NNSA's HEU is reserved for the Naval Reactors program and for use in the nuclear weapons stockpile, and is therefore unavailable for down-blending to use in advanced reactors used for commercial applications. Other HEU in the inventory is allocated to supply research reactors and medical isotope production facilities worldwide, and to meet critical defense and space requirements. After accounting for these requirements on the inventory, the remaining amount of HEU to be down-blended to HALEU for advanced commercial reactors is very limited. If these supplies were redirected to fuel advanced commercial reactors, they would not be sufficient to meet the projected near-term demands for advanced reactor demonstration and deployment. Furthermore, diverting these resources to support advanced reactor demonstration and deployment would compromise vital nuclear security and nonproliferation missions.
Likewise, on the commercial side, there is no domestic assured source of HALEU to be used to produce fuel for advanced reactors in sufficient quantities to meet anticipated demand. In turn, uncertainty regarding the commercial deployment of advanced reactors and future demand for HALEU undermines private investment to develop an assured HALEU supply capability and related infrastructure.
The HALEU Availability Program envisioned in the Energy Act of 2020 is intended to address this problem by temporarily securing a supply of HALEU to support research, development, demonstration, and equitable deployment of advanced reactors for commercial applications. This action, in turn, could spur demand for additional HALEU production and private investment in nuclear fuel supply infrastructure and ultimately remove the government from any role as a supplier of HALEU for industry. The development of a viable domestic commercial supply of HALEU for advanced commercial power reactors could also supply the needs of medical isotope producers and civilian research reactors. The program outlined in Sec. 2001 of the Energy Act of 2020 would sunset on September 30th, 2034, or 90 days after adequate supply is established.
Public input is requested on information the Department should consider as it plans a program to support HALEU availability for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. The information gathered in response to this RFI will be considered by DOE in planning for the HALEU Availability Program and other relevant planning and reporting purposes as needed. Question topics:
Establishment of a HALEU Consortium & Market Development (7 questions)
HALEU Supply Chain Development (7)
Regulatory Issues (4)
Financial Barriers (1)
Human Resources (1)
FR notice requesting information: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/12/14/2021-26984/request-for-information-rfi-regarding-planning-for-establishment-of-a-program-to-support-the