Uranium Week: The Nuclear Challenge

Weekly Reports | Feb 13 2018

As the spot uranium price fell again last week, Morgan Stanley questioned the role of nuclear power in the future global energy mix.

-Nuclear power being decommissioned globally
-Carbon reduction targets still require a nuclear contribution
-Uranium spot price falls as markets suffer a risk-off episode

By Greg Peel

As the world’s legacy nuclear plants age and the economics of renewable energy sources improve, the role of nuclear power in the future global energy mix is under question. New nuclear plant construction is highly expensive while the cost of renewables continues to fall. In key nuclear power countries, public policy has turned against nuclear energy.

Morgan Stanley assumes that by 2030, -23% of existing nuclear power will be decommissioned in key nuclear power countries.

Natural gas and renewables are already posing an issue for nuclear power. In the US, the abundance of natural gas made available through modern fracking technology means gas-fired power generation is an increasingly cheap option. As renewable technology improves and economies of scale are achieved, renewables offer another cheaper source.

In the case of renewables, carbon reduction targets have led to government subsidies. Renewables are zero carbon (once up and running). Gas-fired generation emits carbon, but far less than traditional coal-fired. Nuclear energy is also zero carbon (once up and running, but a significant emitter in the construction phase and in the mining of uranium).

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