The US State Department said on 27 April that, “consistent with the Administration’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis” it was launching the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme, “building on more than 60 years of US innovation and expertise in nuclear energy”. FIRST provides capacity-building support to partner countries developing nuclear energy programmes to support clean energy goals “under the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation”. As an initial investment, the Department has committed $5.3 million to support FIRST projects.
“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.” This 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 responsible nuclear power development.
“SMRs offer significant benefits, including lower costs, scalability, flexibility, and the ability to partner with other clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power,” the State Department said. In addition to reliable electricity generation, SMRs can be used to desalinate water to support rising clean water needs, replace coal to power energy-intensive industrial processes, and produce hydrogen to help decarbonize transportation and other sectors. “FIRST strengthens US relationships with international partners, including through government, industry, national laboratory, and academic institution engagements.”