Federal energy officials on Tuesday announced $82 million in funding for 93 nuclear energy research and development projects across 28 states.
Energy Department officials said that the awards would help move innovative nuclear technologies toward commercialization. Although nuclear power remains controversial, the Obama administration views it as a crucial component to reducing carbon emissions from power generation.
“Nuclear power is our nation’s largest source of low-carbon electricity and is a vital component in our efforts to both provide affordable and reliable electricity and to combat climate change,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.
More half of the overall funding is marked for university-led efforts, including $36 million for 49 projects through the Nuclear Energy University Program and another $6 million to 15 universities for reactor and infrastructure research.
Additional funding will come from the Nuclear Science User Facilities and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology programs. Some projects will also receive technical and regulatory assistance through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear initiative, which was announced late last year.
Clean energy advocates in Idaho, where Moniz made the announcement, nonetheless expressed skepticism about the safety of nuclear energy and radioactive waste.
"If they put that much money into renewables that are here today, we could have really safe and clean energy," Wendy Wilson of the Snake River Alliance told the Associated Press.