The US Senate has passed the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) after it was included as an amendment to the FY2021 National Defense Appropriation Act (NDAA). The NELA legislation seeks to restore US leadership in nuclear power with an emphasis on demonstrating advanced reactors. NELA directs the Department of Energy to create a strategic vision for developing next-generation nuclear and authorises demonstration of two designs by 2025 and two to five additional designs by 2035.

“For too long, the United States has lagged behind innovative technologies in the nuclear industry, which is costing our economy, our global leadership and the environment,” said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski. “The Department of Defense is the logical first customer for advanced reactors, especially micro-reactors currently under development that can be deployed in remote regions. Nuclear power can also provide safe, clean, and affordable electricity for homes, schools and businesses that traditionally rely on more expensive sources of electricity. "

NELA approval bills were introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate last year. This legislation will guide the efforts of the US Department of Energy to demonstrate advanced reactor concepts, provide nuclear fuel, and develop a nuclear power personnel programme. NELA-backed advanced reactors have significant potential to provide safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy to facilities such as military bases, remote communities in states like hers, Alaska, and major cities and towns, Murkowski said.