SMRs: uranium/nuke industry looks bleak . . . . .

SMRs: uranium/nuke industry looks bleak . . . . .

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:28 pm

Canada pushing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, but the outlook for uranium/nuclear industry is bleak

[ ... -is-bleak/ ]

Nuclear power, and Canada’s uranium industry, are struggling to find their place in a green energy future,

CIM Magazine, March 23, 2020

NuScale Power submitted its small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) design to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for a pre-licensing vendor design review. This came just over a month after the leaders of three Canadian provinces – Ontario premier Doug Ford, New Brunswick premier Blaine Higgs and Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe – signed a memorandum of understanding to develop SMRs in their respective provinces.

…….Canada entering into a collaboration with the United States to secure supply lines for several critical minerals, uranium included reinforces that idea.

That would be good news for the uranium industry, as Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of the fuel source for these powerplants. But Cameco, the country’s largest uranium company, suspended production indefinitely at its flagship MacArthur River/Key Lake mine in July 2018, and the spot price of uranium is one-third of what it was back in 2011. That was before the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan, when an earthquake and tsunami triggered the release of radioactive materials.

In 2018, supply and demand became more balanced, but only as a result of “substantial production cuts, cuts to some secondary supplies, reductions in inventories and an increase in demand for uranium,” said Rachelle Girard, vice-president of investor relations for Cameco. “Despite these improvements, it is no secret that today’s uranium market remains discretionary.”

Many nuclear reactors in Japan remain shut down following the Fukushima meltdown and countries such as Germany and South Korea are proceeding with nuclear phase-out programs in favour of alternative sources of energy, such as natural gas. The IEA agency projects that without a major turnaround in plant construction and refurbishments, nuclear power generation will continue to decline, making the share of energy required from renewable sources even larger than it would otherwise be……..

“The main problem with nuclear… is that it’s too slow and too costly,” said Gordon Edwards, co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “It takes too long to get new nuclear implanted. You’re looking at 10 to 20 years, even with one of these small modular reactors – and the cost is prohibitive. Other [options] are both much faster and much cheaper, the first and foremost of those being greater energy efficiency.”……..

shifting public sentiment might help lower resistance to nuclear projects, other trends are not as encouraging. The average age of the nuclear fleet in advanced economies is 35-years-old, according to the IEA, and 25 per cent of that existing nuclear capacity is expected to shut down by 2025.

Canada has invested in multiple programs aimed to promote the use of nuclear energy domestically and internationally. “… Canada is also a participant in “Mission Innovation,” a global initiative to accelerate public and private clean energy innovation, and unveiled its “SMR Roadmap,” a 10-month engagement process with the industry and end-users, in December 2018. …..
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