Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

DOE Issues Nuclear Guarantee

It promises to back loans for the first new nuclear reactors in decades.

  • February 16, 2010

The government has been promising to guarantee loans for nuclear power plants for years–as a way of bringing down the cost of financing these fantastically expensive projects. Now the Department of Energy has actually issued its first one, an $8.33 billion guarantee to support the construction of two nuclear reactors to be built at the site of an existing nuclear power plant in Burke, GA.

It’s been decades since new nuclear reactors have been built in the United States. In 2005 Congress passed a law allowing the DOE to issue loan guarantees for nuclear power plants to get construction going again. But it’s taken until now for the department to issue one. (Read the TR article “Obama Goes Nuclear” to see why the guarantees are needed.) The $8.33 billion is part of the $18.5 billion provided for such loan guarantees in the 2005 bill. President Obama’s proposed budget would increase the total by $36 billion, enough for about seven new plants.

The loan guarantee for the Burke reactors comes with a catch, however. The design for the nuclear reactors to be used there–the Westinghouse AP1000–hasn’t yet passed muster with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Last October the commission informed Westinghouse that it had to fix problems with the “shield building” which is supposed to protect the reactor from “severe weather and other events.”

Technology is changing. Are you keeping up?
Discover the latest in emerging tech at EmTech MIT.

Learn more and register
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.