Uranium Market Activity Slow, But Nuclear Renaissance Strong

Uranium Market Activity Slow, but Nuclear Renaissance Strong

This past week, uranium spot prices gained 0.5 cents, to $42.50 per pound, even as market activity remained “extremely light,” reported TradeTech. The industry consultant also noted that “the gap between willing buyers and willing sellers widened , with neither side demonstrating a strong willingness to move in order to close transactions.”

AREVA (EPA: AREVA) and Toshiba (TSE:6502) are said to be eyeing the world's second-largest nuclear fuel producer, Urenco, in which Britain, Germany and Holland each hold a 33-percent interest. Both the Brits and the Germans are interested in offloading their stakes in the company, which is worth approximately $3.3 to $4.8 billion, according to a recent report from The Globe and Mail.

While Germany may be backing away from nuclear power domestically, local media reports indicate that its government will continue to fund nuclear power plant construction abroad. But its goal to phase out nuclear power at home is facing understandable criticism.

Nuclear power accounted for roughly a quarter of energy production in Germany prior to Fukushima. Now the country is attempting the herculean feat of deriving 35 percent of its energy from not-so-dependable renewable sources by 2020. Given the fact that Germany's industrialized economy is the largest in Europe, that goal — and the country's longer-term aim of acquiring 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050 — seems highly unrealistic.

The shift to renewables is proving costly for Germany's utilities, said Reuters reporters Christoph Steitz and Vera Eckert. “[W]holesale power margins have become unprofitable for gas to be burnt in power plants, because sporadic oversupplies of green energy weigh down wholesale prices, while gas is expensive," they noted. "In the meantime, Germany has opted for more coal-derived power, due to the need for basic round-the-clock supply. This is currently lowest in price, but, ironically, most polluting.”