- A question from the UK
- What’s the discrepancy?
- New Plants from Asia
nothing better than a well articulated question to get the juices flowing on a
Monday morning. To that point, I was
glad to see a question from John B. of the UK in my inbox today.
main point: uranium production numbers can be confusing. I agree.
a few main issues that, for the most part, are largely unknown.
“Mining Weekly (RSA) has
just quoted NEA [Nuclear Energy Agency] DG Luis Echavarri, ‘By 2030, there will
not be a very significant change in the number of NPPs [Nuclear Power Plants]
in the world’.
You quote WNA [World Nuclear Association]
reckoning on 5 times more uranium demand than at present in 2030!
Have you researched the schedule of closures and new build openings? It is all
first off, thanks for writing in. I love getting and responding to reader
mail. I also read everything that’s sent
my way, although I can’t always respond. If you have a question about uranium, commodities or anything I mention
in my articles, please drop me a line at [email protected]
raises a good question that certainly merits further research. It is confusing when two authorities on nuclear power seem to be in disagreement
over how many plants will be built in the next 20+ years and how much that
might affect demand for uranium. But upon
closer inspection, I don’t think they are really disagreeing.
have the NEA (from this Mining
Weekly article) in one corner projecting between 170 and 900 new plants
will be built by 2050.
then in the other corner, we have the WNA projecting a 5-fold increase in
uranium demand by 2030 (from their website).
you look at it that way, it becomes clear that they’re not necessarily
disagreeing with each other. An addition
of another hundred-plus plants by 2030 could increase demand by 5-fold.
any event, the important thing is that both the WNA and NEA agree that demand
will grow. The point of confusion is just how much it will grow.
Why all the confusion?
of the problem of knowing exactly how much these new plants will affect uranium
demand, is that we don’t know for certain the size and scope of each new plant
built, or each old plant going offline. Both the WNA and the NEA are
giving us their best educated guess. That might sound like a cop-out, but no one can really be sure.
instance, I’ll reference Friday’s
issue of Resource Prospector where I mentioned the nuclear conundrum
present in Vermont,
where I currently live.
The problem in
our case is no one yet knows if Vermont Yankee will lose its lease and be torn
down. I ask every Vermonter I know if they think the plant will close,
and even the most environmentally opinionated can’t say for sure. Granted, it is a small plant, but there’s
similar uncertainty for other plants around the planet. The problem is
really two-fold in Vermont Yankee’s case. We get over 40% of our electricity generation from Vermont Yankee, and
I’ve yet to see a coherent plan to make up the difference in production if Vermont
Yankee goes offline. The other problem
is: what happens to the plant if it gets closed? Dismantling a nuclear power plant seems like it could be at
least as environmentally dangerous as keeping it running.
so to cut through all of this uncertainty, let’s take a look at some more
concrete factors to hang our hat on.
thing I don’t doubt is China’s
ability to put boots on the ground and build nuclear power plants at will.
They don’t have to contend with environmental groups or activists or other
problems from civil society gumming up the works. The central planners
there just point to a spot on the map and make it happen. They do it with
cities, they do it with power plants, and I don’t doubt that they’ll do it with
nuclear power plants.
to an article in Business
Week just a couple weeks ago, China plans to build at least 28
new nuclear power plants in the next 10 years. That’s not just hot air. They’ve
already begun construction on 20 of those plants.
there are similar plans to build up to another 20 plants. That news was revealed just one month ago in
an article from The
new plants will require more uranium. That
brings me to the biggest, and perhaps, most important factor: uranium
production. It’s at least as complicated
as the nuclear power plant projections so it will have to wait for tomorrow’s
issue. It’s a whole ‘nother ball of
I hope that answers your question, although it might have raised more than it
John or anyone else has an interest in investing in the likelihood that the
world will need more nuclear power and, indeed, more power in general, I
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