Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) requested information for its plans to establish commercial quantities of high-assay, low-enriched uranium. Currently, the National Nuclear Security Administration under this department makes uranium for its nonproliferation and defense missions only. The information gathered will be used in a report the Department of Energy has to present to Congress in the near future.
Sen. Joe Manchin, who is also the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, voiced his support for the move, stating that he was pleased that the department was progressing with this announcement, which would facilitate the domestic supply of HALEU in the country. He explained that he was committed to financing the Advanced Nuclear Fuel program as permitted in the 2020 Energy Act to hinder reliance on foreign suppliers such as Russia and supported advanced nuclear technology commercialization as a zero-emission source of energy.
The senator has been the primary holdout hindering the trillion-dollar domestic social welfare and green energy bill introduced by President Joe Biden from being approved in the Senate.
The United States government is encouraging the use of HALEU in the country in an attempt to pave the way for new-generation nuclear reactors that could be more efficient and safer than traditional reactors. Traditional reactor designs run on uranium fuel that is enriched up to 5%. On the other hand, high-assay, low-enriched uranium or HALEU, as it is popularly known, is enriched between 5%–20%.
After Wyoming, the state of West Virginia is the second largest producer of coal in the country, with a long history of coal mining. Burning coal to produce energy emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.
Nuclear power is considered to be a clean energy because power generation in nuclear plants doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. The Nuclear Energy Institute believes that highly enriched uranium will be needed for new-generation nuclear reactors, which are expected to be safer and cheaper to build as well as better at moderating their output at a faster pace in order to meet demand. The use of HALEU will allow new designs to get more power per unit of volume, among other advantages, including better fuel utilization.
Principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff stated that advanced reactors were a good asset to have in the fight against climate change. She noted that if proactive steps weren’t taken to ensure a diverse and adequate supply of HALEU, then deployment projects wouldn’t be completed in time to help slow the effects of climate change.
As these advanced nuclear reactors are commissioned, there is likely to be higher demand upon uranium extraction companies such as Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) to keep all those new reactors in operation.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UUUU
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