US president Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill on 9 July aimed at bolstering the nation’s nuclear power in what supporters describe as a historic win for the sector.

The nuclear legislation, known as the Advance Act, is expected to speed up the timeline for licensing new nuclear reactors and cut fees that companies have to pay to do so.

It covers a range of areas seen as critical to new build and energy security, including reducing regulatory costs for companies seeking to licence advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

It requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to produce a report that considers ways to simplify and shorten the environmental review process for such reactors.

The legislation also calls for the NRC to develop plans for the licensing of microreactors and nuclear facilities at brownfield and retired fossil-fuel energy generation sites.

Another key area addressed by the legislation is strengthening the US’s nuclear energy fuel cycle and supply chain infrastructure.

The legislation calls on the NRC to improve its ability to qualify and licence accident-tolerant fuels and advanced nuclear fuels that can increase safety and economic competitiveness for existing reactors and the next generation of advanced reactors.

It tasks the NRC with evaluating advanced manufacturing techniques to build nuclear reactors better, faster, cheaper and smarter.

‘Clean Power And Good Union Jobs’

Supporters say the legislation is significant for the nuclear power sector and will help bring more commercial reactors online.

Biden, in a social media post, announced he signed the legislation, saying it would help provide “clean nuclear power and good union jobs”.

“Today is a momentous day for our climate and America’s clean energy future,” said Delaware Democrat senator Tom Carper, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in a written statement.

“This bipartisan law will strengthen our energy and national security, lower greenhouse gas emissions and create thousands of new jobs, while ensuring the continued safety of this zero-emissions energy source.”

The Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute, a lobby group, said: “The passage of the Advance Act allows us to bolster US international competitiveness at this crucial junction, accelerate the domestic deployments of innovative advanced nuclear technologies, and modernize the oversight and licensing of the operating fleet of reactors.”