Is This Controversial Mineral the Only Sustainable Solution To the Future Global Power Supply?

Uranium 101

Uranium has a really bad reputation with some people, and understandably so. On the surface it looks like an extremely dangerous mineral, but there have only been a handful of disasters as the result of nuclear power, and they have been plastered across the news for decades. These events are extremely rare and are constantly being mitigated by newer technology, uranium has been proven to be far less of a risk to the planet than coal or oil which destroys the environment in a more silent and subtle way.

What are atomic power’s advantages? First of all, as it generates energy through nuclear fission as opposed to chemical burning off, it creates baseload power free of output signal of carbon, the villainous part of global warming. Switching from coal to natural gas is a measure toward decarbonizing, because burning natural gas produces about half of the carbon dioxide of burning coal.

But switching from coal to nuclear energy is radically decarbonizing, because nuclear power plants discharge greenhouse gases just from the ancillary use of fossil fuels throughout their building, mining, fuel processing, maintenance, and decommissioning — roughly up to solar energy does, which will be roughly 4 to 5% up to a normal gas-fired power plant.

According to Yale University:

In the United States in 2016, nuclear power plants, which generated almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity, had an average capacity factor of 92.3 percent, meaning they operated at full power on 336 out of 365 days per year. (The other 29 days they were taken off the grid for maintenance.) In contrast, U.S. hydroelectric systems delivered power 38.2 percent of the time (138 days per year), wind turbines 34.5 percent of the time (127 days per year) and solar electricity arrays only 25.1 percent of the time (92 days per year). Even plants powered with coal or natural gas only generate electricity about half the timefor reasons such as fuel costs and seasonal and nocturnal variations in demand. Nuclear is a clear winner on reliability.

China, India & Russia

Uranium is also efficient in providing large amounts of populations with power, that is why countries like China, India and Russia are upping their nuclear power programs in a massive way.

Chinese demand for uranium is expected to nearly double to 9,800 tonnes per year by 2020 from the end of 2015, although a near-term supply glut will keep prices depressed, said the head of a unit of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

China is in the middle of a nuclear reactor building programme and aims to have 58 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in full commercial operation by the end of 2020, up from 30.7 GW at the end of July.

But Wang Ying, chief executive of CNNC International, told the IMARC mining conference in Melbourne, that only around 53 GW of capacity would likely be online by the turn of the decade as not enough construction of nuclear plants had already begun.

Evaluation by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has found that whatever the role nuclear energy will play in meeting future electricity demand and global climate objectives, global supplies of Uranium are estimated to meet world demand for the near future.

The bi-annual record is jointly prepared by the NEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Also known as the Red Book, additionally identified the planet’s Uranium resources as standing in 6.14 million tonnes of insitu ethanol, including nitric oxide recoverable at price below $130 per kg.

Japan Is Controlling Price…For Now

The report stated:”Despite recent declines in electricity demand in certain developed countries, global uranium demand is anticipated to continue to rise in the upcoming few decades to fulfill large population wants, especially in developing nations. Since nuclear energy plants create competitively priced, low-carbon baseload power, and the installation of nuclear power enhances the security of energy supply, it’s projected to remain a significant part of energy supply.

“However, the Fukushima Daiichi accident has eroded public confidence in nuclear power in a few nations, and prospects of expansion in nuclear manufacturing capacity are thus being reduced and therefore are subject to even greater doubt than usual. In addition, the prosperity of low-cost all-natural gas in North America and the risk-averse investment climate have significantly reduced the competitiveness of nuclear energy plants at liberalised electricity markets. Government and economy policies that recognise the advantages of low-carbon power production and the security of electricity supply offered by nuclear energy plants could help alleviate these pressures that are competitive. Nuclear power yet is projected to grow in controlled energy markets with increasing electricity demand and a rising need for fresh air electricity production.”

The NEA found that, the wake of recent significant reductions in agriculture production, the coming challenges will probably be those connected with limited investment capabilities, as a result of depressed market conditions which will induce the business to reevaluate its actions still further.

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