The U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office announced in December of 2014 that it opened a $12.6 billion loan guarantee for advanced nuclear technologies. This includes small modular reactors, molten salt reactors, and breeder reactors.
It also looks as if the agency is putting that money towards uranium as well. In a recent announcement, the Department of Energy has agreed to sell depleted uranium to GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, LLC (GLE) over a 40 year period. The facility would then use this depleted uranium to produce natural uranium, the element that is used in the production of fuel for civil nuclear reactors.
The $1 billion facility would be built near the Department of Energy’s DOE’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky and is slated to bring between 800 and 1,200 jobs to the area.
GLE will construct, finance, and operate the existing Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility, which is adjacent to the Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Under a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the facility will serve as a commercial uranium enrichment production plant. As of right now, the uranium in question is safely stored in 65,000 specialized storage units at the Department’s Paducah location and Portsmouth, Ohio site.
“This agreement furthers the Energy Department’s environmental cleanup mission while reducing cleanup costs, creating good local jobs, and supporting an economical enrichment enterprise for our energy needs,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The sale contributes to two key Energy Department mission areas – to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to manage the safe storage and disposal of nuclear materials and to enable nuclear power, America’s largest source of zero-carbon energy and an important enabler for reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Paducah plant was built in the 1950s in order to enrich uranium for national security applications and was later used to enrich uranium for nuclear power generation. The Department of Energy took over the plant enrichment facilities in 2014.
This trade deal is especially beneficial for those interested in nuclear investment. Considering the fact that the government planned a deal that’s set to last 40 years means that they only envision nuclear energy to grow. This means investing in nuclear energy stocks, power plant investment, and nuclear investment as a whole will only reap many benefits in the future.