"With the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recent approval of the design of the AP-1000 reactor and the anticipated approval of specific projects in Georgia and South Carolina, much is being written about a 'nuclear revival.' This is an important moment to compare what is really likely to happen over the next 10 years with the industry's expectations when the 'nuclear renaissance' was first announced a decade ago.
"When that comparison is performed properly, it becomes clear that we are witnessing not a revival but a collapse in expectations for new reactor construction. The two forthcoming projects are all that remain of a thirty-one reactor fantasy fleet that was said to constitute the real nuclear renaissance as recently as early 2009.
"It is important to understand that this collapse was well underway before the accident at Fukushima. It was the result of nuclear power's high costs compared to other alternatives. Fukushima and the unseemly effort of four NRC commissioners to oust the chair do nothing to enhance the appeal of nuclear power, but even if these factors vanished tomorrow, the pace of new reactor construction in the U.S. would not increase at all."
Eoin Treacy's view We never expected the USA to be at the forefront of global reactor construction. There is little doubt that the Fukushima accident is likely to set back any plans for new reactors by at least a few years. China has already signalled that it is probably going to progress with its construction plans and India is likely to do the same.
The Fukushima accident dealt a heavy blow to uranium miners. In addition, there is no shortage of uranium at present. The bullish case rests on demand outstripping supply over the medium to long term. However, it remains to be seen how credible this is with an increasing number of countries announcing plans to decommission older plants. In addition, the continued development of unconventional oil and gas reserves may contribute to less demand for nuclear power.
The sector is in need of a catalyst to spur renewed investor interest.