US president Barack Obama has announced $8.3bn in loan guarantees for the construction of the first nuclear reactors in almost 30 years. Obama said the loan guarantees to the energy giant, Southern Company, would help launch the first wave of construction of new reactors in nearly 30 years as well as advance his energy and climate agenda. "Even though we have not broken ground on a new nuclear plant in nearly 30 years, nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions," he said. "To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need to increase our supply of nuclear power. It's that simple." The loans would commit the US government to repaying Southern's loans if the company defaults. The guarantees cover some 70% of the estimated $8.8bn cost of building the two new reactors at the company's Vogtle plant, which is east of Atlanta. The Southern projects must still win licensing approval. White House officials said the new reactors could come on line by 2016 or 2017, and would generate 2.2GW. Construction alone would create 3,500 jobs, and the plant itself would create 800 operations jobs.