Lightbridge Flirts with Areva

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week nuclear fuel developer Lightbridge Corporation (LTBR:  Nasdaq) announced an agreement with nuclear power plant builder Areva (AREVA:  Paris; ARVCF:  OTC/QB) to form a joint venture.  The present pact is a precursor to a formal joint venture agreement that would team up the two companies  -  one very large multinational nuclear power house and one still quite small fuel developer  -  in joint development of Lightbridge’s metallic nuclear fuel technology. Lightbridge has developed and patented a novel design that replaces conventional tubes filled with ceramic uranium pellets now used by pressurized...

Nuclear and Solar From Down Under

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week the Aussies invaded New York City, bivouacking at a popular hotel and parading a string of Australia-based companies in front of investors.  Of course, there were the usual mining and minerals companies for which resource-rich Australia is so famous.  However, the Australia Stock Exchange  -  one of the event sponsors  -   has diversified with listings in communications, biotechnology and alternative energy. One of the presenters, Silex Systems, Inc. (SLX:  ASX and SILXY:  OTCQX) is a talented little company with technologies for solar and nuclear power generation.  Silex has developed a laser...
uranium

Admin Reviews Fuel Production To Mixed Nuclear Reactions

by Debra Fiakas, CFA The U.S. Administration took a swing at the uranium ball, but it is not clear if it was a miss and strike out or just a walk.  Some in the uranium industry are applauding a decision by the Trump Administration on the January 2018 petition by U.S. uranium producers Energy Fuels (UUUU:  NYSE) and Ur-energy (URG:  NYSE), requesting protection from uranium imports. The U.S. Commerce Department had investigated the petition under Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act.  No new trade restrictions are being implemented at this time, but the Administration is establishing a working group to analyze U.S. nuclear fuel production.   A report...

Four Green Money Managers’ Top Stock Picks

Green money managers' stock picks after the Japanese nuclear crisis. Even as the nuclear disaster in Japan unfolds, it's clear that the world's energy industry will be forever changed. Russian reactors were never considered safe, but a Japanese to have a nuclear meltdown is an entirely different story. Market Reaction Since Monday, nuclear stocks and ETFs have been plummeting. As of Wednesday night, The Market Vectors Uranium + Nuclear Energy ETF (NYSE:NLR), the iShares S&P Global Nuclear Energy Index (NASD:NUCL), PowerShares Global Nuclear Energy Portfolio ETF (NYSE:PKN), and the Global X Uranium ETF (NYSE:URA) are down...

Smale Scale Nukes

by Debra Fiakas CFA The on-going crisis at one of Japan’s key nuclear power plants following earthquake and tsunami damage has everyone, even proponents of nuclear energy on edge. Previous nuclear accidents, such as the disasters at Russia’s Chernobyl reactor and the U.S.’s Three Mile Island, were traced back to human error. Now it appears regulators and operators of Japan’s Fukushima plant may have had some awareness that the plant design could not withstand the onslaught of a major tsunami. Again better human performance may have averted the situation that now threatens a breach of a reactor core. Designers...
NuScale SMR

NuScale’s Small Nuclear Reactors Land A Big Investor

by Debra Fiakas, CFA NuScale Power is in a new pact with South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. to support development of NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR).  In addition to direct investment of $40 million in NuScale, Doosan has agreed to provide parts and equipment for the innovative nuclear power reactor valued at a total of $1.2 billion. NuScale has been working on its power reactor for several years.  The new design is based on pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology that has been used to power nuclear submarines and naval vessels.  The design uses ordinary water as a coolant rather than ‘heavy’ water used by...

A Nuclear Waste Disposal Stock

Debra Fiakas CFA Many are firmly opposed and a few more are skeptical of the nuclear energy industry.  A big concern is the waste resulting from the uranium enrichment process that is part and parcel of the reactors we have chosen to use for nuclear power generation.  Some see recycling of the waste as an answer.  First a short primer on uranium and then the recycling story. Natural uranium consists of a mixture of three radioactive isotopes which are identified by the mass numbers U-238 (99.27% by mass), U-235 (0.72%) and U-234 (0.0054%).  Uranium is everywhere...

Exelon’s Dividend Siren Song

by Debra Fiakas CFA When the market gets volatile, many investors dive behind the protective shield of dividends.  Exelon Corporation (EXC:  NYSE) is an owner of nuclear power generation plants and is included in Crystal Equity Research’s Atomics Index of companies using the atom to create energy because more than half of its power output is generated at nuclear power plants.  The company offers a handsome dividend near $1.24 per year.  Granted it is not a small-cap company, which is the usual target for this column, but yield is beguiling.  At the current price the dividend yield is...

CB&I: The Energy Beyond Bridges & Iron

by Debra Fiakas CFA The business interests of Chicago Bridge and Iron (CBI:  NYSE) have varied far and wide from its bridge building start in the late 1800s.  These days the company is no longer headquartered in Chicago, builds a lot more than bridges and works with so many more materials than iron.  It may seem even more questionable to include Chicago Bridge and Iron among alternative energy companies.  However, since February 2013 when CB&I bought out The Shaw Group with its nuclear power plant construction services, CB&I has jumped directly into the alternative energy...

Watch This Nuclear Player Boil

by Debra Fiakas CFA The last post on Chicago Bridge and Iron (CBI: NYSE) noted the entrance of CBI into the nuclear field with the acquisition of The Shaw Group, which has an exclusive relationship with Toshiba Corporation related to the Toshiba Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR).  More evolutionary than revolutionary the ABWR is supposed to be superior other designs in its light water reactor class.  ABWR produces power by superheating water to the boiling point. The resulting steam is then used to drive a turbine attached to a generator.  Other light water reactors also heat...

Junior Uranium Miner ’In Position’ to Grow

by Debra Fiakas CFA To understand UR Energy, Inc. (URG:  NYSE AMEX, URE:  TSX) investors need to polish up on their Latin phrases.  UR Energy is planning to mine uranium for the nuclear power industry using a mining practice called in situ or literally in position.  In conventional mining operations large amounts of uranium-laced rock are cut out of the earth and sent to a milling center where the rock is crushed as the first step in separating uranium from the other minerals.  In situ miners like UR Energy leave the earth and rock undisturbed, instead injecting oxygenated...
uranium spot price

Spotting A Uranium Rebound: Inventories Are Key

The chart of spot uranium prices presents a dismal picture for this key energy commodity. After a brief spike in early 2006, the spot price has been in a long-term slide down hill. In the last year and a half it appears the price as found a level of support at the $20.00 price level as the shares have bounced around between that support level and up to the high 20s. With each bound higher shareholders of uranium producers cheer the end of what has been a long ‘down’ cycle. A click up to US$27.50 in recent days has...

Nuclear Stocks: Too Hot for an Eco Portfolio?

Guest Author Nuclear energy is not the “bad boy” it once was For many years, nuclear energy was labelled as a potential threat to the environment as well as the global population.  Interestingly enough, the memories of the disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are now distant and the perspective of nuclear energy is changing in positive fashion.  The growing worries created by the ballooning demands on the world’s energy sources, an increase in the competition for energy supplies, rising concerns regarding global warming, and the volatility of the gas and oil prices are reasons that...

Clean Energy Stocks to Fill the Nuclear Gap

Tom Konrad, CFA If the Japanese use less nuclear power, what will take its place? I'm astounded by the resilience and discipline of the Japanese people in response to the three-pronged earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, perhaps in large part by my cultural roots in the egocentric United States, where we seem to have forgotten the virtue of self-sacrifice for the greater good.  Yet while Japanese society has shown itself to be particularly resilient, the Japanese electric grid is much less resilient.  According to International Energy Agency statistics, Japan produced 258 TWh of electricity from...

Yankee Graphite

Several graphite developers have made plans to integrate forward into the hottest segment of the market  -  battery-grade graphite.  According to Industrial Minerals, spherical graphite suitable for lithium ion battery anodes is priced in a range of $2,700 to $2,800 per metric ton in China where many battery manufacturers are located.  This compares quite well to the range of about $655 to $790 per metric ton for flake graphite concentrate. The integration strategy has sent the sector into a frenzy of activity to prove their graphite meets expectations of battery manufacturers.  The only graphite deposit in the U.S. mainland is under development by Westwater Resources...

Book Review: Public Meltdown

Ben Plotzker The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. The focus on the public’s view of nuclear plant operator Entergy (NYSE:ETR) sets Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, by Richard Watts apart from other nuclear energy books.  The book avoids pro or anti-nuclear positions, and focus on scientific aspects of the plant, and instead tells the story of one nuclear plant’s journey through history.  That plant is Vermont Yankee, a General Electric (GE) boiling water reactor type, the same...