04 April 2007

Nuclear power, whether you like it or not

Nuclear power will become huge again, take my word for it. (I have to declare an interest here: I own some shares in a uranium mine.)

There is no other real Mister-Right-Now solution to the climate/CO2 problem. Governments know this. Probably even Dodgy Dave, and others of his ilk parading their wind-powered bicycles in order to seduce voters, know this. But since all politics these days is about image/presentation/style, spokesmen have to fudge the issue. They're waiting for the ideological climate change which will permit them to be upfront about it.

Meanwhile, they're doing what needs to be done, surreptitiously. Yes, it's the new style of government. But, hey, don't blame the politicians when you discover they've been up to something behind your back. Blame mediocracy. They're just going with the flow.

According to an article at StockInterview.com (who, mind you, probably have some sort of axe to grind, though I'm not sure what it is — they may be sponsored by the nuclear fuel industry),

the Nuclear Renaissance is alive and well in the United States — but not through the construction of new reactors. The power uprate process has increased capacity at many U.S. reactors and could add the equivalent of FIVE new nuclear reactors since the uranium bull market began. Just the ‘added’ U.S. nuclear capacity is more than the nuclear capacity of most countries using nuclear-generated electricity.
So, nuclear power is coming, ladies and gentlemen, get used to it. One problem is going to be that there isn't enough uranium oxide to go around. In fact, stocks of nuclear fuel are kinda zero, except for ex-military stockpiles. And current annual production is well below current annual consumption. And although there are dozens of new companies (mostly Canadian) supposedly prospecting for it, chances are half of them will never find any, and the other half will take five years to produce their first ounce. Hence the chart below. But, you see, the cost of the fuel is a fairly small proportion of the cost per kilowatt hour. Draw your own inferences.



The one thing that could put the kibosh on the rehabilitation of nuclear power is a nuclear disaster, not necessarily linked to a power station, but (more probably) associated with some sort of geopolitical dodginess. According to John Large of Large & Associates, the Iranian situation has boosted the likelihood of this happening.

Update 10 April
Since writing this, the uranium price has (I understand) taken another leap up, by 19 per cent to $113. In the space of a week.