The U.S. Department of Energy declared it will allocate funds for cutting-edge nuclear energy research and development projects to advance the agency’s effort fight climate change and produce U.S.-based energy sources.

Under the department's Nuclear Energy University Program, 71 projects will receive approximately $44 million over three years to advance nuclear technologies.

As a zero-carbon energy source, nuclear power must be part of our energy mix as we work toward energy independence and meeting the challenge of global warming, said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement Wednesday. These research and development university awards will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in the nuclear field for years to come.

Nuclear energy generates 19.4 percent of the total U.S. annual electric power.