December 2022
2022 has been an eventful year for both the nuclear industry and uranium market. Global sentiment towards nuclear power started a shift in 2021 and continued to improve over 2022.

The uranium spot market, which was illiquid and relatively inactive until 2020, became much more active and volatile this year as interest in the nuclear sector returned. The uranium spot price started trading at US$43/lb in January 2022, up 45% from January 2021.


Shifting Nuclear Policies

As governments announced ambitious decarbonisation goals, it became clear that nuclear power would play an important role in achieving a net-zero future. A major catalyst was the US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) providing US$6bn to prevent existing nuclear power plants from shutting down. About 50% of the US’s carbon-free electricity is generated from nuclear power.

The Diablo Canyon power plant, California’s only nuclear plant, is the latest recipient of the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) program. US$1.1bn will support Diablo Canyon to operate until 2030 instead of its planned retirement in 2025. US nuclear plants will also benefit from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Existing plants will receive a production credit of up to US$15/MWh for zero-emission electricity.

Through the recently signed BIL, CNC, and IRA, nuclear power plants will be able to remain competitive in the US. According to the chief nuclear officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, “the Inflation Reduction Act puts nuclear on the same playing field as renewables”.


Renewed Public Support

Other countries are similarly turning back to nuclear power amid growing public support. Japan, for the first time since the Fukushima disaster, is preparing to restart over a dozen nuclear power plants. The mothballed reactors were kept idled since the 2011 accident.

Japan, the world’s biggest LNG importer, does not share its electrical grid with neighbouring countries. The nuclear plants restart will decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports.

Japan approved the extension of reactors’ operating life beyond the current 60-year limit. After the Fukushima accident, Japan set the maximum operating period to 40 years, with a possible 20-year extension.



The Japanese government announced it will consider building next-generation nuclear reactors to replace the existing reactors set for retirement.

Korea is also doing a U-turn on its nuclear policy. South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol, whose term began in May, has vowed to revive the country’s nuclear plans. The previous government planned to phase out nuclear plants after the Fukushima disaster. Korea will resume construction of reactors Shin-Hanul 3 & 4, which were halted in 2017 under the previous administration. In June, the new 1.3GW Shin-Hanul-1 reactor was connected to the grid.


Inaugural Nuclear Plants

Multiple countries have turned to nuclear for the first time with their first reactors being developed. Egypt started construction of El Dabaa, its first nuclear power plant, this year. El Dabaa-2 started construction in November, only months after El Dabaa-1 began construction earlier in July. Applications for El Dabaa 3 and 4 have already been submitted.



Poland has chosen US-based Westinghouse to build its first nuclear power plant. Construction of the first reactor is expected to start in 2026, with commissioning planned by 2033. Subsequent reactors will be built every 2-3 years.

Kazakhstan, the world’s leading uranium miner, is exploring a new nuclear power development in collaboration with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power. The proposed power plant will be the country’s first nuclear plant since it closed its last reactor in 1999.

Turkey began construction of the Akkuyu-4 in July, the last reactor of its first nuclear power plant. Akkuyu-1 will come online mid-2023, with the remaining three reactors all operational by 2026 in one-year intervals. Akkuyu will provide up to 10% of Turkey’s annual power consumption.

In the UAE, the third reactor of the Barakah plant, the country’s first nuclear power plant, was connected to the grid in October. Barakah will be fully operational in 2023 once fuel loading of the fourth reactor is complete next year.


Energy Security

Another catalyst in the sentiment change towards nuclear power has been the increasingly important topic of energy security. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 disrupted energy and commodity markets, leading to volatile energy prices. Europe’s reliance on Russian gas was thrown in the spotlight, with countries scrambling to stockpile enough fuel to last them over the winter. The issue was further exacerbated by an unusually warm summer, driving energy prices to record levels.

This unforeseen energy crisis helped to showcase nuclear power as a reliable and affordable source of energy. According to the RePowerEU plan published in May, nuclear power will help reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels. The increased interest in nuclear resulted in uranium reaching a multi-year-high spot price of around US$60/lb in March.

The German federal cabinet approved an executive decision to extend the operation of Germany’s three remaining nuclear plants. Initially supposed to be phased out by the end of 2022, the nuclear plants will stay operational until April 2023 to help the country get past its winter energy needs.



French president Emmanuel Macron wants a “nuclear renaissance” in France. In February, he announced an ambitious plan to build at least six next generation reactors at a cost of EUR52bn (US$57bn), with an option for a further eight reactors.

Construction would start in 2028, with commissioning starting in 2035. France has struggled with its nuclear power output this year. State-owned EDF has been plagued with reactor maintenance and corrosion issues, which resulted in outages across half its plants.

The UK announced eight new nuclear reactors as part of its energy strategy. The UK aims for 95% of its electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2030. In October, France’s Macron and former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss jointly announced their full support for a new nuclear power station in Suffolk, England.

The Sizewell C plant will feature two 1.6GW EPRs. EDF Energy, the project’s developer, will make a final investment decision for Sizewell C by 2023. Both head of states have reaffirmed their commitment to advance the “UK-France civil-nuclear cooperation”.


Russia’s Hold on U

Letting go of Russia is not a simple task as it controls 30% of global uranium conversion capacity and 40% of enrichment capacity. In 2021, the US received 28% of its enriched uranium from Russia. Until now, no sanctions have been put on Russian-sourced nuclear fuel. The absence of restrictions on Rosatom, the Russian state-run nuclear conglomerate, have eased supply fears. However, calls for bans on Russian nuclear fuel are growing.

Ukraine signed a nuclear fuel supply deal with US-based Westinghouse in a bid to cut ties with Russia’s state-run Rosatom. Czech state-utility CEZ will switch to Westinghouse and France-based Framatome for its uranium needs. Finland ended its contract with Rosatom for the construction of a new reactor supposed to start in 2023. Bulgaria will stop using Russian-sourced nuclear fuel once its contract ends in 2024.

The Biden Administration requested US$1.5bn in funding to stockpile enriched uranium, with the goal of reducing the country’s imports of Russian nuclear fuel. The latest nuclear-related funding request is part of a larger US$4.3bn plan for the US to source its enriched uranium from domestic producers. The funds would be used to develop and secure a domestic uranium supply chain from mining to enrichment.


Betting on SMRs

Small Modular Reactors will likely play an important role among the next generation of nuclear reactors. SMR projects received a lot of interest and investment this year due to their smaller physical size, lower capital cost, and modular designs.

TerraPower, a next-generation SMR developer founded by Bill Gates, raised US$750m in funding in August. Korean group SK became a large shareholder of TerraPower after investing US$250m. The investment will help TerraPower advance its nuclear reactor commercialisation projects in Korea and Southeast Asia.

Romania-based RoPower and Italian steel maker Donalam will explore the development of Romania’s first SMR. The SMR, expected to be operational in 2030, will be based at an old coal plant. US-based NuScale will supply the power modules with a net capacity of 462MW. Romania’s state controlled nuclear company Nuclearelectrica aims to produce clean energy to support Romania’s first green steel facility.

NuScale is advancing its US SMR project which will be located in Idaho. Six 77MW modules will make up the 462MW project. Preliminary cost estimates of the project are currently being assessed.

In the UK, Rolls-Royce is planning a SMR project that will come online by 2029. The company is currently assessing potential locations where the 470MW SMR could be built.

Vattenfall, the Swedish state-owned energy company, started a pilot study to develop two SMRs next to the Ringhals nuclear power plant. The feasibility study will be completed by early 2024.

China’s SMR demonstration project at the Changjiang nuclear power plant is under construction on the island province of Hainan. The foundation of the 125MW SMR was completed in May. Commercial operation of the SMR is expected to start by 2026.


Uranium Mine Restarts

High uranium prices are finally incentivising miners to restart their uranium mines after a multi-year bear market that lasted until 2020. Australia-based Paladin Energy will restart its mine in Namibia, with commercial production expected in 2024. The mine was placed into care and maintenance in 2018 due to low uranium spot prices.

Exploration company Deep Yellow completed a DFS of its Tumas project in Namibia. Namibia, which mines 12% of global uranium supply, has several uranium projects in the pipeline. A price of around US$65/lb would incentivise other Namibian mines to expand exploration and production.

Peninsula Energy will restart and resume production at its mine in Wyoming after taking a final investment decision. Production is expected to start in early 2023 at Lance, one of the largest uranium development projects in the US.

Australia-based Boss Energy will similarly restart its mine located in South Australia. The mine, which was placed into care and maintenance in 2013, will start production in late 2023.