The U.S. Department of State is launching the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program keeping its commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Building on more than 60 years of U.S. innovation and expertise in nuclear energy, FIRST provides capacity-building support to partner countries as they develop their nuclear energy programs to support clean energy goals under the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation. As an initial investment, the U.S. Department of State has committed $5.3 million to support FIRST projects. In the Leader’s Summit on Climate, the Biden-Harris administration highlighted the FIRST program as one of the United States’ key efforts to promote innovation in bringing clean technologies to scale and build unprecedented global cooperation to confront the climate crisis.
FIRST is a capacity-building program designed to deepen strategic ties, support energy innovation, and advance technical collaboration with partner nations on secure and safe nuclear energy infrastructure. Such cooperation includes supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors (SMRs), in a manner consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Milestones Approach for implementing a responsible nuclear power program. SMRs offer significant benefits, including lower costs, scalability, flexibility, and the ability to partner with other clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power. In addition to reliable electricity generation, SMRs can be used to desalinate water to support rising clean water needs, replace coal to power energy-intensive industrial processes, and produce hydrogen to help decarbonize transportation and other sectors. FIRST strengthens U.S. relationships with international partners, including through government, industry, national laboratory, and academic institution engagements.
Through efforts like FIRST, the United States is leading the way with a range of bold new commitments to address the climate crisis, spur innovation, conserve our environment, build resilience, and drive growth for communities in a safe and secure manner. The U.S. Department of State is proud that FIRST is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s approach to achieve these goals.