International assembly: nuclear expansion expected to drive growth

29 June 2013

Global nuclear expansion will drive growth of the nuclear fuel assemblies market, with demand strong among emerging nuclear countries, as strategic business intelligence provider GlobalData reports.

The ever-growing worldwide demand for electricity will require the optimal use of existing nuclear reactors and the deployment of new ones over the forecast period, leading to increased nuclear fuel requirements.

Despite announcements of phase-outs of nuclear power by countries like Germany and Switzerland following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, nuclear power remains vital for many countries. Currently, there are 434 nuclear power reactors operating across the world, accounting for about 13% of the world's electricity generation. Moreover, around 198 nuclear reactors are scheduled to begin commercial operations by 2020, of which 63 are under construction and 106 are proposed. Many countries with existing nuclear power reactors are in the process of expanding installed nuclear power capacity by adding new reactors to their nuclear fleet. There are around 45 countries with no nuclear power sources that are looking to develop some as part of their energy portfolio, including Indonesia, Jordan, Nigeria, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE and Vietnam.

In 2006, the global demand for natural uranium and uranium fuel amounted to 112,020t and 12,296tU respectively, which reduced slightly in 2012 to 105,531t and 11,584tU. However, the demand for natural uranium and uranium fuel is expected to increase substantially by 2020, reaching 145,680t and 15,991tU respectively. Figure 1 shows the global demand for uranium ore and enriched nuclear fuel in 2006, 2013 and 2020.

Asia-Pacific to generate highest demand

Between 2013 and 2020, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to generate the highest aggregate demand for nuclear fuel assemblies, amounting to 641,927 units. This high demand for fuel assemblies can be attributed to the existing 117 nuclear reactors operating in the region and the 89 reactors scheduled to come online between 2013 and 2020. North America is the second-largest regional market for nuclear fuel assemblies, with demand amounting to 600,752 units, followed by Europe, with demand for 275,056 units. Between 2013 and 2020, Europe is expected to have the highest estimated nuclear fuel assembly market value of $82.48 billion, followed by North America with $62.468 billion and Asia-Pacific with $60.817 billion. Given the current political scenario and anti-nuclear public concern there, the future of nuclear power in Japan is uncertain. However, the analysis for the nuclear fuel assemblies market in the report adopts a moderate case scenario, assuming 20 operational nuclear reactors by 2020.

Major markets

During the 2013-20 period, the UAE is expected to be the leading nuclear fuel assembly market among the emerging nuclear countries in terms of demand and market value. The planned construction of four new reactors will spur the demand for nuclear fuel assemblies. Between 2013 and 2020, it is estimated that the aggregate demand for nuclear fuel assemblies and fuel in the UAE will amount to 1,582 units and 643tU.

After the UAE, Turkey is expected to be the largest national market for nuclear fuel assemblies among the emerging nuclear countries, with aggregate demand amounting to 979 units between 2013 and 2020, followed by Vietnam with 837 units.

Figure 2 shows the estimated demand for nuclear fuel and fuel assemblies for the leading three emerging nuclear countries throughout 2013-20.

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