The United States posted some BIG wins in nuclear energy in 2023 and this year could be even bigger as the Biden Administration continues to implement its Investing in America agenda.  

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is investing billions into the nation’s clean energy infrastructure to help grow the economy, create new jobs, and curb the climate crisis. 

Nuclear power will be a key piece to that puzzle and is poised to hit some major milestones in the new year.  

Here are 4 important nuclear energy storylines to watch in 2024.  

1. Vogtle 4 To Enter Commercial Operation  

Vogtle Unit 4
Vogtle Unit 4 is expected to enter commercial operation in 2024.
Georgia Power

For the second year in a row, the United States will be adding a new AP1000 reactor to its fleet.  

Plant Vogtle is expected to bring Unit 4 online in Waynesboro, Georgia in the first quarter of year.  

Unit 4 is currently undergoing startup testing and will provide more than 1,100 megawatts of clean power to the grid once in operation.  

Unit 3 entered commercial service last summer and uses the same AP1000 technology developed by Westinghouse. 

The expansion project received approximately $12 billion in loan guarantees from DOE and supported 9,000 jobs at peak construction.  

Plant Vogtle will be the single largest source of clean power in the United States once all four reactors are operating.  

2. Delivering a Domestic Supply of HALEU 

Photo of high-assay low-enriched reguli
HALEU reguli made from EBR-II spent nuclear fuel at Idaho National Laboratory.
Idaho National Laboratory

DOE is working to build a reliable supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) by incentivizing the commercial industry to build new production capacity. It is also making limited quantities of HALEU material available to reactor developers for use in research and demonstration projects. 

The Department is currently finalizing a formal process to distribute HALEU to developers through its consortium as early as this summer using limited quantities of government-owned material.  

DOE also plans to award contracts for enrichment and deconversion services before the end of the year. 

The activities are being funded through Inflation Reduction Act to help ensure there is access to HALEU to help research, develop, and deploy new reactor technologies in the U.S.  

3. Construction Approvals 

Rendering of TerraPower’s Natrium power plant
Rendering of TerraPower’s Natrium power plant

Three advanced reactor developers are working with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to potentially submit their construction permit applications before the end of the year.  

TerraPower plans to build its sodium-cooled fast reactor and molten salt energy storage system near a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming.  

X-energy plans to build a four-unit, high-temperature gas reactor plant at Dow’s Seadrift manufacturing site in Texas.  

Both projects are managed by the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations and are receiving approximately $2.5 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the licensing construction, and demonstration of their first-of-a-kind reactor technologies.  

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) also plans to submit a construction permit application by late summer 2024. 

TVA is considering the potential deployment of GE-Hitachi's BWRX-300 advanced light water small modular reactor at the Clinch River nuclear site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 

4.Demonstrating Clean Hydrogen Production  

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station

Energy Harbor

Finally, two nuclear powered hydrogen demonstration projects could start clean hydrogen production this year.  

Energy Harbor is working to demonstrate an electrolysis system before the end of the year at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Ohio.  

The hydrogen could be sold in the area for local manufacturing and transportation services, including fuel for a local bus fleet.  

Xcel Energy plans to demonstrate clean hydrogen production through a first-of-a-kind project using high-temperature electrolysis at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant.  

Both projects are being supported by DOE to help lower the cost and scale up the production of clean hydrogen using existing reactors and could open-up new markets for the nuclear sector.

Stay tuned!