The US State Department has announced it is launching the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme, which will provide “capacity-building support to partner countries”. As an initial investment, the department has committed USD5.3 million to support FIRST projects.
The programme was unveiled during the Leaders Summit on Climate that the Joe Biden-Camala Harris Administration hosted last week.
“FIRST is a capacity-building programme designed to deepen strategic ties, support energy innovation, and advance technical collaboration with partner nations on secure and safe nuclear energy infrastructure,” the State Department said. “Such cooperation includes supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors (SMRs), in a manner consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Milestones Approach for implementing a responsible nuclear power programme.”
The benefits of SMRs it highlighted include: “lower costs, scalability, flexibility, and the ability to partner with other clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power”; water desalination; replacing coal to power energy-intensive industrial processes; and, producing hydrogen to help decarbonise transportation and other sectors.
FIRST strengthens the USA’s relationships with international partners, including through government, industry, national laboratory, and academic institution engagements, the State Department said.