Source: Nuclear Street News Team

The Nuclear Energy Institute this week commended the U.S. Department of Energy for its efforts to revamp nuclear technology exporting laws for the first first time in 25 years. But, as the DOE has issued the final changes to the regulations that have gone through substantial agency and public review, the NEI said more work remains to be done to keep U.S. companies as competitive as possible in the nuclear power industry.

The final revisions to the regulations were a necessary step “to improve the overall efficiency and transparency of its export license approval process,” said NEI Vice President for Supplier and International Programs Daniel Lipman.

The rule changes have been under review since late 2013, when the efforts to reduce export license processing timelines began to solidify with DOE recommendations.

As the process began, the NEI noted, the export process in the United States was sluggish compared to other countries. The regulations defined in 10 CFR Part 810, which covers exports of proprietary commercial-reactor technology, put U.S. companies at a disadvantage. In Japan, South Korea and Russia, export authorizations took from 15 to 90 days to process. In the United States, the same procedures took as long as a year or more.

Even then, the playing field was changing. With 70 nuclear energy facilities under construction and 160 in the planning stages, it was clear that the epicenter of the industry’s growth was in Asia, with growth also expected in India.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimated the international market, including equipment and servicing contracts, to be worth about $740 billion over a 10 year span with every $1 billion in exports supporting up to 10,000 U.S. jobs.

Headlines continue to underscore the trend. The New Indian Express reported this week that electricity generated by nuclear power doubled in the past six years, while capacity utilization jumped from abut 50 percent to 83 percent.

The Department of Atomic Energy noted that “nuclear power generation has grown from 14,927 million units of electricity in 2008-2009 to 35,333 million units in 2013-204.”

The statistic was couched in the phrase, painfully ironic to U.S. companies, that the jump in nuclear power was attributed to “the fruition of international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.”

While reiterating its bullet points this week on the rule changes, “NEI urges DOE to complete these improvements promptly to facilitate improved U.S. export competitiveness in the rapidly growing global market for peaceful nuclear energy technology,” Lipman said in a statement.