Nuclear power accounts for 19% of US electricity consumption. But did you know that 10% of all electricity generated in the US comes from a Russian source?
Thanks to the Megatons to Megawatts program, decommissioned Russian nuclear warheads have been providing uranium since 1995 to American nuclear plants as fuel. Now, 20 years later 475.2 metric tons of highly enriched uranium has been converted to 13,723 metric tons of low-enriched uranium. That’s about 20,000 bombs recycled into clean energy.
While Russia is around $13 billion richer, the US has a problem on its hands. With the Megatons to Megawatts program coming to an end in 2013, where does it get its supply of uranium for its 104 nuclear reactors in the future?
In order to alleviate concerns on uranium shortages the two entities involved in the Megatons to Megawatts program, American USEC and Russian Tenex, signed an agreement in 2011 which would provide low-enriched uranium from commercial Russian providers to US nuclear plants until 2022 – but that is only a temporary solution.
Apart from the Russia connection, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Namibia are the major sources for imported uranium—it is estimated that the annual commercial demand of the US is currently in excess of 50 million pounds. With China—which has tripled imports— and India also rapidly increasing their consumption of uranium, prices of uranium look to be heading north.
Ironically, a new race may be on the horizon, this time not involving nuclear weapons, but nuclear fuel.
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Ted O’Connor, Azincourt Uranium CEO