The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $160 million (£124m) in initial funding for the demonstration of advanced nuclear reactors in the US.
It is providing $80 million (£62m) each to US-based TerraPower and X-energy to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.
TerraPower will demonstrate the Natrium reactor, a sodium-cooled fast reactor with a high operating temperature, coupled with thermal energy storage, allowing the plant to provide flexible electricity output that complements variable renewable generation such as solar and wind.
In addition, it will establish a new metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of the demonstration programme.
X-energy will deliver a commercial four-unit nuclear power plant based on its Xe-100 reactor design, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor that is ideally suited to provide flexible electricity as well as process heat for a wide range of industrial applications, such as desalination and hydrogen production.
It will also deliver a commercial-scale TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) particle fuel fabrication facility.
A total of $3.2 billion (£2.47m) will be invested by the DOE over seven years, with industry partners providing matching funds.
US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said: “The awards are the first step of a new programme that will strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies. These partnerships will help maximise DOE’s investment in advanced reactors, which play a vital role in our clean energy strategy.”