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US agency plans to lift nuclear power plant financing ban: spokeswoman

Highlights

White House working group report recommends lifting ban

Nuclear reactor market valued $500 billion-$740 billion

Russia, China identified as main competitors

Washington — International Development Finance Corp., a US federal agency, will end its ban on financing nuclear power plant projects, a spokeswoman said June 10, a move that follows the Trump administration's support for US reactor exports.

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"This week, DFC plans to announce a 30-day public comment period on a proposed policy change to remove DFC's legacy prohibition on support of nuclear power projects in developing countries," the spokeswoman, Laura Allen, told S&P Global Platts.

"Access to affordable and reliable power is essential for developing countries to advance their economies," Allen said. "This change would bring advances in technology and offer a zero-emission power source to the developing world while serving as an alternative to the predatory financing of authoritarian regimes."

Allen declined to provide a timeline for when she expects DFC could begin financing exports of US nuclear technologies.

Industry sources said in May that DFC lacks the personnel and expertise to properly evaluate the financing of nuclear projects.

DFC was created in 2019 through the consolidation of Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the US Agency for International Development's Development Credit Authority. DFC has a total investment limit of $60 billion, more than double OPIC's $29 billion investment cap, according to DFC's website.

OPIC and USAID both had bans in place prohibiting them from supporting nuclear reactor projects.

To "empower U.S. export competitiveness," the federal government should "level the playing field versus foreign competitors, expand the arena of competition space, and challenge our rivals," the Nuclear Fuel Working Group said in an April report.

A White House working group report released April 23 by the Department of Energy recommended the removal of a financing ban on US nuclear energy technologies. The Nuclear Fuel Working Group was formed in July by President Donald Trump to provide recommendations to revive and expand the US nuclear energy sector.

The working group said the US has not sold reactors overseas recently and "is missing out on a nuclear reactor market" the Commerce Department estimates is valued at $500 billion-$740 billion over the next 10 years.

Six US senators wrote the DFC in October, saying the agency should overturn the "categorical prohibition" against supporting civil nuclear energy projects.

ClearPath, a "conservative, clean energy" group, supports lifting the US ban on financing nuclear projects, Rich Powell, executive director, said June 10.

"By lifting the previous restrictions on the U.S. nuclear energy industry to develop internationally, America is taking a huge step to truly offer a competitive product – similar to the incentives China and Russia provide when they approach other countries with offers to develop infrastructure and energy," Powell said in a statement.