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U.S. Nuclear Energy Industry Asks Washington For Help In International Expansion

Executives from major U.S. nuclear energy companies met with President Trump yesterday to ask for the administration’s help in expanding abroad, Bloomberg reports, citing sources in the know.

It seems U.S. nuclear plant builders feel left out of an international race that could be very profitable.

“There is competition around the globe, and we want to be part of it,” Bloomberg quoted the chief executive of Exelon Corp., Chris Crane, as saying.

The help that the industry is seeking from the government involves “financial assistance” to make their products more competitive with other companies that are already receiving financial support from the governments, notably Russian and Chinese companies, but also French reactor builders. All these are also on an international expansion drive.

“The United States needs to maintain a leadership position,” Exelon’s Crane told media after the meeting. “There’s a huge economic upside for jobs -- manufacturing jobs, operating jobs, engineering jobs -- that can be created in us playing a more stronger role in the international economy.”

The U.S. nuclear industry is hard pressed to find new markets as local power plants age and become uncompetitive with renewable energy installations, following the path of coal-powered plants. Since the domestic market seems to be saturated with nuclear plants, the only viable option is expanding abroad.

Also, approval for new reactor technology would come in handy. The industry is working on next-generation reactors as well as smaller, modular nuclear reactor technology--but these need to be approved at the highest level before joining the competition.

The International Energy Agency forecasts the world will need 554 GW of new nuclear power generation capacity by 2030. That’s 42 percent more than the world’s current capacity. As in many other respects, China and India will spearhead this demand increase, with the IEA expecting nuclear power generation globally to rise by 46 percent between now and 2040, with the two Asian economies accounting for 90 percent of this rise.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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