Nuclear Energy: An Untapped Manufacturing Opportunity

If you’re not sure how your shop’s capabilities fit into this industry, be proactive and reach out to learn more. It can open the doors to new business for your shop.


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The current economic climate dictates that today’s mold manufacturers are actively seeking out new business rather than passively waiting for the telephone to ring. Energy and power generation are hot markets as the country continues to go green. Another emerging market is nuclear energy.

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process. Its objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the United States and around the world.

With member participation, the NEI develops policy on key legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry. NEI then serves as a unified industry voice before the U.S. Congress, executive branch agencies and federal regulators, as well as international organizations and venues. NEI also provides a forum to resolve technical and business issues for the industry. Finally, NEI provides accurate and timely information on the nuclear industry to members, policymakers, the news media and the public.

NEI has nearly 350 members in 19 countries. They include companies that operate nuclear power plants, design and engineering firms, fuel suppliers and service companies, companies involved in nuclear medicine and nuclear industrial applications, radionuclide and radiopharmaceutical companies, universities and research laboratories, and labor unions.

According to the NEI, this industry is set for resurgence across the country—and around the world. Currently there are 104 nuclear reactors operating in the United States. Furthermore, 12 license applications are under active review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 22 new reactors, with the others pending. The industry has spent more than $2 billion on new nuclear plant activities, including the ordering of long-lead components like steam generators and reactor vessels. Preconstruction activities have started on four reactors (two each in Georgia and South Carolina) that are expected to come into service in 2016-17.

Globally, there are 442 nuclear plants in operation, with 65 additional reactors under construction in 16 countries. Opportunities await those mold manufacturers engaged in securing new business and serving this growing market. According to Steve Kerekes, Senior Director of Media Relations for NEI, the industry’s scope is far-reaching, and includes:
•    Commercial electricity generation
•    Nuclear medicine including diagnostics and therapy
•    Food processing and agricultural applications
•    Industrial and manufacturing applications
•    Uranium mining and processing
•    Nuclear fuel and radioactive materials manufacturing
•    Transportation of radioactive materials
•    Nuclear waste management

Nuclear energy provides 70 percent of the nation’s carbon-free electricity supply. “If the U.S. is supposed to develop 1 million electric cars by 2015 as President Obama proposed in his latest State of the Union Address, we’re going to need to develop every possible form of low-carbon technology,” says Alex Flint, NEI’s Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs.

NEI also is encouraging Congress to support an initiative to integrate government agencies into a “Team USA” to promote U.S. export activities associated with commercial nuclear generation. Over the next 20 years, the growth in the commercial nuclear market is estimated to be in excess of $400 billion. Other countries are aggressively pursuing this market, which will provide thousands of jobs for successful companies, Flint notes.

Because the nuclear energy industry operates with long-time horizons—nuclear power plants generate electricity for 40 to 60 years—the recent recession has not diminished its belief that the sector’s long-term fundamentals are solid. New demand for power must be met, and more stringent environmental requirements are expected to have significant impact on the nation’s fossil-fueled electric generating capacity, particularly the older capacity that already has operated for decades, as it is relatively inefficient and lacks state-of-the-art environmental controls. If you’re not sure how your shop’s capabilities fit into this industry, be proactive and reach out to learn more (see Additional Resources sidebar). It can open the doors to new business for your shop.