Outlook for the world nuclear industry

Around 14% of the world's electricity is currently generated from nuclear power, with a total installed nuclear capacity of 370,000 Megawatts. More than 60 nuclear power plants are now under construction in China, India, Russia, Korea, France, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. 50 countries are already operating, building, or simply considering nuclear power as a viable solution for electricity generation. Half of them are “newcomers”, aiming to develop nuclear power production in order to cope better with the challenges of affordable, domestic, CO2 free energy production. Despite the challenging economic climate, global demand for uranium is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade.

2011 was a difficult year for the nuclear industry following the incident at the Fukushima Daichi power plant in Japan however, the uranium supply market trend remains unchanged with most countries reaffirming their commitment to nuclear power. The direct impact of the incident was relatively modest with only German, Swiss and Italian Governments announcing that they would phase out nuclear power. Other countries have introduced new safety measures, which have resulted in delays to projected growth in nuclear capacity. The outcome has been for nuclear power to remain an option for many countries but with a renewed and welcome emphasis on safety and public education.

According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA) report, Global Nuclear Fuel Market: Supply and Demand 2011-2030, developments in USA, China, India and Russia will continue to be important in determining the overall contribution of nuclear power to global electricity supply. Prospects for new nuclear power stations remain strong in China, India, South Korea and the UK. China, which currently accounts for 7% of current global demand in uranium, has reaffirmed its intention to reach a target of 50GWe of nuclear power by 2015-2016 (compared to 10.8GWe installed nuclear capacity at the end of 2010.) With around 30GWe under construction, accounting for 46% of all nuclear reactors under construction in the world, China will remain a key driver of the uranium demand market.