Sunday, April 08, 2007

Peak Uranium--As Overblown as Peak Oil?

Recent concerns over CAGW have led many planners--and even environmentalists--to suggest that increased use of nuclear power may reduce CO2 dumping into the atmosphere. But many anti-nuclear activists are claiming that there is a shortage of uranium which prevents any large scale nuclear energy alternatives. What is the reality?

Uranium is a common mineral--as plentiful as tin.
Uranium prices reached an all-time low in 2001, costing US$7/lb, but have since rebounded strongly. As of January 2007, uranium sells at US$72/lb and the price is rising fast. This is the highest price (adjusted for inflation et cetera) in 25 years [2]. The higher price has spurred new prospecting and reopening of old mines. Cameco and Rio Tinto Group are the top two producing companies (with 20% of the production each), followed by Areva (12%), BHP Billiton (9%) and Kazatomprom (9%).
Deposits of uranium lie primarily in Canada, Australia, the US, South Africa, and countries of the former USSR. There is tremendous flexibility in the production of uranium, depending on pricing and political/regulatory conditions. Currently Canada and Australia are the world's major producers, but producers in the third world are gearing up for higher production with Chinese and Russian backing.

Realistically, "Peak Uranium", like "Peak Oil", is an almost meaningless term. Better terminology would refer to pricing of these commodities--which reflects supply, demand, and political/regulatory factors. Although some people have seized upon this report that suggests an impending bottleneck of uranium supplies for the US, more informed individuals with a broader perspective of commodities markets will understand that markets find a way--even when ivory tower academics can only see government action as a solution.

The important thing is to assure that government regulatory agencies do not make it impossible for the market to function.

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Blogger Kevembuangga said...

Hi Al,

As you said : But rest assured that you are welcome to visit and comment anytime you want. And do not be concerned that your comments are causing me the slightest distress or anxiety. On the contrary, I find them very entertaining and humorous.

And there : The important thing is to assure that government regulatory agencies do not make it impossible for the market to function.

Let's go for some humor and entertainement...

No need for the "government", nor "peak uranium" nor "anti-nuclear activists" to impede the use of nuclear power :

Nukes provide less than 4% of our energy in the US.
[that's the equivalent of 100+ nuke plants for the US.]

And that's not just building only 100+ nukes.

That's putting into operation 100+ nukes each and every year at a 2% growth

This is only to make up for oil loss at the Plateau. This is only to continue 2% energy growth.

If we want to make up for depletion then we need even more.

So if oil production is flat now, then:

1. in 2008, 100+ brand new nukes have to go online.
2. in 2009, 100+ brand new nukes have to go online.
3. in 2010, 100+ brand new nukes have to go online.
4. Continue.

This isn't about adding them one. We have complete over 100 projects every year.

A 1% loss in oil imports in the US equals the capacity of over 50 nuclear power plants.

Consumption table in nuke units:

1. Oil = 2020 nukes

2. Natural Gas = 1130

3. Coal = 1140

4290 nukes in all are needed to replace fossil fuels today. Next year it'll be 4390...

Just economic nonsense...

If you disagree please provide alternative numbers for the above and back them with credible sources.

10:25 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

Nuclear provides 20% of US electrical energy supply.

You need to get better sources. There is no need to use nuclear as a substitute for transportation petroleum, since biofuels will likely perform better, at least for the next 30 years.

Your comments are entertaining because they reflect thinking that is not your own. You may consider some real world experience.

Are you familiar with the term psychological neoteny? It describes the phenomenon of widespread shielding from responsibility of most western adolescents. It has many fascinating repercussions.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Konrad Roeder said...

The US already imports 84% of its uranium. As soon as the uranium from nuclear weapons they are dismantling is burned up (2010 or so), the demand won't be able to met here in the US.

Check out the Wikipedia article about it:

8:53 AM  

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