Uranium Prices: Will Europe Warm Up to Nuclear Power?

Demand for nuclear power will grow over the coming years with dozens of nuclear plants currently under development. Most of the planned and under construction plants are in emerging markets, particularly China. Even though there are concerns about nuclear power, it remains one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity.

While China has been moving forward with nuclear power plant builds in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Europe had been reluctant to expand its nuclear power use. But, a report published this week by Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, on the European Commission’s ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package of measures for a clean energy transition, said that the EU’s aim to decarbonise the economy by more than 80% by 2050 cannot be achieved without nuclear power.

Europeans started to resist nuclear power since Chernobyl, and just when countries started to warm up to the option of a nuclear future there was another nuclear disaster in Japan. In the aftermath, nuclear plans were abandoned. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, in 2015 there were 128 reactors still functioning in the EU – most of them in France. There are a few reactors currently under construction, but the magnitude of expansion is far below what is being planned in China. While China alone can power significant growth in the nuclear power market, if Europe decides to join in, the outlook for uranium will improve even further. Foratom calls for “cost-efficient decarbonisation, an effective power market leading to competitive and affordable electricity prices for end-consumers and the promotion of investments in low-carbon technologies”.

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Leia Toovey has a B.Sc. in geology from Simon Fraser University, and her degree had a focus on resource economics. Out of school, she started working in the booming mining industry of Vancouver, Canada, covering junior mining stocks and commodities including potash, copper, nickel, oil and gold. Then she moved to New York and worked as a commodities analyst covering a breadth of commodities, from the Baltic Dry Index through the softs. As a geologist she has a greater understanding of the exploration and extraction side of commodities, and how changes in technology and the depletion of resources impact pricing. At Economic Calendar she covers a variety of commodities, providing daily technical and fundamental analysis and assessing major market developments.