Uranium Week: 2019 Nuclear Generation Near Record Highs

Weekly Reports | Sep 08 2020

The uranium price slide continues, despite nuclear power programs advancing in America and China.

-Nuclear generation reached a near-record high in 2019
-Weekly spot prices fall just under one percent
-Nuclear power plants advanced in America and China


By Mark Woodruff.

Nuclear generation reached a near-record high in 2019, enough to meet more than 10% of the world’s electricity demand, according to the World Nuclear Association's Performance Report 2020 released on August 25.

Growth was particularly strong in Asia, where nuclear generation rose by 17% last year . China has more than tripled nuclear generation in six years and is now responsible for more than one-half of nuclear generation in Asia.

The report notes that six reactors started up in 2019, four large pressurised water reactors (PWRs) commenced operation, one in South Korea, one in Russia, and two in China. In addition industry consultant TradeTech reports, two small reactors started up on the world’s first purpose-built floating nuclear plants, harbored at Pevek on the northeast Russian coast. Nuclear generation fell fractionally in North America and in West & Central Europe, but rose in Africa, Asia, South America, and East Europe and Russia

Nuclear power plants advanced in America and China

In a turnaround from last weeks commentary on economically driven shutdowns of nuclear power plants, TradeTech highlights this week saw two US utilities focus on their zero-carbon emissions goals by advancing their nuclear power programs, while China made notable advances in its nuclear power plant construction program.

Dominion Energy filed an application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the operating licenses for the two units at its North Anna Nuclear Station for an additional 20 year term.

In addition, Duke Energy's Integrated Resource Plans filed this week by Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress demonstrate the valuable role nuclear and natural gas can play as part of a balanced portfolio, the two companies said. The plans outline options to achieve varying levels of carbon reduction, including, for the first time, potential pathways to achieve an emissions reduction of up to -70%. TradeTech notes the two companies' portfolios include eleven reactors at six nuclear power facilities in North and South Carolina.

The Chinese government this week granted approval for two new nuclear power projects, the first such activity in more than a year notes TradeTech, as the Asian nation seeks an economic boost and remains focused on goals to curb pollution derived from fossil fuel use.

The State Council, China’s cabinet chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, also stressed at a September 2 meeting that it would maintain a flexible monetary policy stance to support the weakened economy due to the pandemic. The cabinet approved the two projects in the coastal provinces of Zhejaing and Hainan, at an expected cost of around US$10.2b.

Uranium Pricing

TradeTech’s Weekly Spot Price Indicator fell to US$30.50/lb U3O8 last week. This was a decrease of -US$0.25 or -0.8% from last week’s value.

The weekly spot price has trended downward in recent months, losing an average of -0.6% per week since early May. The average weekly uranium spot price for 2020 is US$29.64/lb, US$3.81/lb above the 2019 average.

Twelve transactions were completed this week, which involved approximately 3.5mlbs U3O8 equivalent.


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