Could uranium mines like this one in Australia's Kakadu National Park be facing a shortage? Photo by Alberto OG via Flickr.com.
Can a nuclear weary TreeHugger really believe what she's hearing? Could uranium mines be facing shortages? Earlier this week, New Scientist reported that nuclear power may be faced with a double blow: Uranium mine owners are talking shortages, and estimates for the amount of uranium that can be economically mined may be lower than once thought.
It's bad news for all those nuclear power plants being built around the world (at great expense to tax-payers, I might add), but it may be good news for green energy.The Cost of Uranium Shortages
At its current $45 per pound of uranium oxide, uranium is trading far lower than in 2007, when one pound of the ore peaked at $130, according to New Scientist. As such, many uranium mining projects just aren't economically viable.
As the availability of uranium starts to drop, the market value will increase (supply and demand 101), which will in turn allow a little more uranium to be mined because higher mining costs will be recouped by the higher value. But because nuclear power is expanding rapidly around the world, supply still may not meet demand, so the costs will, in all likelihood, continue to rise.
The bottom line is the consumer will have to spend more on nuclear energy. Bad news? Maybe not.
Nuclear Power's Loss is Green Power's Gain?
The increased cost (and decreased availability) of uranium may be a blessing in disguise. With nuclear power costs increasing, consumers may not have to choose between their wallets and their conscience -- nuclear power may end up costing just as much as green renewable energy.
What's more, with the economical future of nuclear energy in question, governments and corporations may start to invest more resources in developing economical clean energy -- which could mean better clean energy technologies that avoid the problems we're currently dealing with (like water wars and the impact of wind turbines on human health).
Who knows -- maybe governments will stupidly throw money at an industry that generates vast amounts of toxic waste, and nuclear energy will continue to thrive. But maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity for renewable energy to really take off.
More on Uranium
Uranium - "Yellow Monster" - Threatens Grand Canyon
The Uranium Paradox: Reason To Favor Coal-Fired Electricity? Or Not?
Coal Plant-Emitted Uranium Linked To Birth Defects In Punjab India Cities