Monday, August 21, 2006

Who Would Benefit From a Resurgence In Nuclear Energy?

Over at Marketwatch, Marshall Loeb, former editor of Money, says that there is money to be made in the American nuclear industry:

Expect construction of the first plants to begin about 2009-2010. But don't expect them to begin producing juice any time soon. The complex process of designing, winning regulatory permissions and building a plant devours at least a dozen years. At best, the first of the new nukes will start coming on line in about 2015.

But even before that, large numbers of people stand to benefit. Among them are producers of many sophisticated goods (steam generators, turbines, pumps, specialty steel and alloys), skilled craftsmen and professionals (pipefitters, welders, engineers, architects), uranium miners, and, of course, shareholders in companies that make and build the plants.

Alas, there aren't many of the last mentioned in the U.S. Only General Electric remains. And its nuclear business -- designing and building reactors and providing services and nuclear fuel -- is about $1 billion a year. Westinghouse, long the other major U.S. manufacturer, sold out in 1999 to British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., which in turn sold the business early this year to Japan's Toshiba.

However, many of the new nuclear plants are planned to be in the U.S. South, and railways, trucking and barge lines in the region are likely to benefit from a broad pickup in traffic.

Says Richard Myers, executive director of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group: "All roads now lead to nuclear power. It's not the total solution to our energy challenges, but it is part of the solution."

The numbers are so big that being only part of the solution could be dramatically profitable.
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