time , making it the most reliable energy source by far .
Governments start to embrace nuclear power in multiple forms
In the quest for clean energy , recent government-led nuclear power initiatives focus on three principal areas : 1 ) developing more or less advanced reactors tailored to need , 2 ) extending the lives of existing plants , and 3 ) building traditional reactors . A primary benefit of the latest reactor technology is that they can be designed to meet specific end-user requirements , such as reducing water and waste usage . In addition , their upfront capital requirements are lower than traditional reactors in absolute terms , they can be compatible with other energy sources , and they come with enhanced safety features . 3
Small module reactors ( SMRs ) are the most prominent example of these new reactor types . SMRs have all the benefits of
traditional nuclear power plants , but they require less planning and capital needs than their traditional counterparts , making them particularly suitable for smaller energy projects .
The world ’ s first active SMR is a floating barge located in the arctic that powers the Russian town of Pevek . It offers a
CAPACITY FACTOR BY ENERGY SOURCE , 2019
Solar 24.5 %
Wind 34.8 %
Hydropower 39.1 %
Natural Gas 56.8 %
glimpse of how SMR technology can be used , particularly in rural areas that rely on fossil fuels . Currently , there are more than 70 SMR designs at various stages of development in 17 countries .
Extending the life cycle of an existing nuclear plant is another option for governments , as it is significantly less capitalintensive than building a new one . Importantly , plants with lifetime extensions are also much more cost-competitive with low carbon-generating technologies .
percent of the world ’ s population lives in
55 % dense urban areas
The US has some of the oldest nuclear reactors in the world , with an average age of 39 years . An estimated 90 % of US nuclear plants have received extensions to increase their operating life from 20 to 40 years over the last few decades . Recently , the Nuclear Regulatory Committee ( NRC ) started extending licenses and giving
Chapter 3 : Themes in focus
Nuclear 93.5 %
Source : EIA . plants a potential life cycle of 80 years . Over 20 % of the US ’ nuclear reactors now plan to operate for up to 80 years . In December 2019 , two nuclear reactor units in Florida were the first to be cleared by the NRC to operate for the 80-year life cycle . 4
The pro-nuclear energy sentiment is even stronger in developing countries . Asia is a leading hub for new reactor construction . China has 18 traditional reactors under construction , India has six and South Korea has four . Globally , over 50 reactors are under construction in 19 different countries . With 445 reactors in operation around the world today , these new builds represent meaningful growth for nuclear power . 5
Supply deficit could support higher uranium prices for longer
Uranium provides the fuel to nuclear power plants . But many of the world ’ s largest uranium miners , including Cameco and Kazatomprom , tapered production or shuttered mines completely as the global economy came to a standstill at the start of the pandemic . These decisions flipped a