New and Upgraded Nuclear Power Plants to Fuel the Uranium Price Recovery

Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with over 60 reactors under construction in 15 countries. Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Russia. Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading and plant life extension programs are maintaining capacity, in USA particularly, as reported by the World Nuclear Association (WNA) in February 2017.

Today there are some 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of over 385 GWe. In 2014 these provided 2411 billion kWh, over 11% of the world's electricity.

The recommencement of the 54 Japanese reactors shutdown in 2011 has been the promised saviour for uranium but after nearly 6 years, only 3 of these plants are now in operation. It’s apparent that the significance of the new plants coming online and numerous upgrades and extensions has been largely ignored by the market. The market has failed to appreciate the immediacy of when these large nuclear reactors will be commissioned as detailed by the WNA in the following list:

Even the sceptics should agree that nuclear power is part of the mix to supply global power needs for many decades to come. The investments being made are substantial and the reasons for the resurgence and long-term commitments is best summarised by the OECD’s International Energy Agency, "Despite the challenges it currently faces, nuclear power has specific characteristics that underpin the commitment of some countries to maintain it as a future option," it said. "Nuclear plants can contribute to the reliability of the power system where they increase the diversity of power generation technologies in the system. For countries that import energy, it can reduce their dependence on foreign supplies and limit their exposure to fuel price movements in international markets."

Countering some of the growth will be old plants that will retire during this period as licence renewals are now uncommon but new and upgraded plants should more than account for the reduction in capacity.

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