North America may be host to large uranium deposits, but the region risks falling behind when it comes to nuclear power development.
Nuclear power expansion is occurring right now at a rapid rate, but this growth is focused in emerging markets, leaving North America largely out of the loop. Overseas, countries are forming partnerships and pushing forward with expansion plans to boost nuclear power. But, in North America, cost overruns and environmental regulations have left the industry stalled. While, right now, when other energy sources are plentiful and affordable this doesn’t seem to be too big of a problem – over the long run it could end up backfiring.
If North America takes a backseat to the nuclear power expansion and doesn’t develop its technology it could fall behind, jeopardizing its position if it ever wants to increase its nuclear power use. If the region lacks the technology itself it will have to buy this technology from other countries and companies, and in that process could miss out on some major, value added local business.
Right now, natural gas is seen as the enemy of nuclear power in North America. It is cheap and widely available. The problem is, while this natural gas offers immediate gratification, there is still reason to have some nuclear power. Nuclear power remains one of the most environmentally friendly sources of power. In addition, over the long run, it is extremely cost effective. It may be expensive to build a nuclear power plant, but when the plant is paid for the cost is negligible.
Another major consideration is the amount of uranium available in North America. While uranium miners in the region still stand to benefit from overseas demand, these struggling companies would have an even better outlook if there was a positive forecast for domestic demand. Unfortunately, right now, North America is quickly becoming the laggard when it comes to the nuclear power renaissance.