Adnani: nuclear power gaining interest, could benefit rural America
The president and CEO of Uranium Energy Corporation says there is renewed interest in using nuclear power to help alleviate energy concerns.
Amir Adnani tells Brownfield the reliable, low-cost energy source can benefit rural America.
“More than ever we’re seeing this growing acceptance for nuclear energy among nations from the United States to European Union to Japan for purposes of securing their energy destiny or being able to generate electricity around the clock without any emissions and with low costs, which is what nuclear power provides,” he says. “…we’re seeing interest that puts nuclear power clearly in the center of energy plans and policies moving forward. (Nuclear energy) supports decarbonization goals and supports net-zero goals, but more than anything it provides electricity around the clock, rain or shine, wind or no wind.”
One in every five homes in America is powered by nuclear energy, but Adnani says reliance on Russian nuclear fuel is a challenge.
“Why are we dependent on Russia for the nuclear fuel to run these reactors. As we speak, there is no uranium mining or production in the U.S. and 100 percent of the uranium requirements are being imported,” he says. “…there are significant uranium deposits here in the U.S. and for that reason there is hope this dependance on Russian uranium imports can be turned around.”
Uranium is the most widely used fuel by nuclear power plants. He says ramping up domestic production would also create job opportunities.
“Think about all the economic activity that it can create, especially in rural areas. Uranium mines are typically not in major cities and so this can become an exciting source of economic development,” he says. “At the same time, it can create some national security and remove this dependance we have on Russia for uranium imports. One thing we learned after many of the issues that came with COVID-related supply chain disruptions, is that we really need to have more domestic capabilities for everything. We can’t be reliant for China and Russia for critical elements, critical minerals.”
Adnani says its estimated that the U.S. has more than one billion pounds of uranium resources in places like Texas and Wyoming. He says they need to be tapped into by companies like Uranium Energy Corporation.
He says the company doesn’t produce uranium yet, but has acquired and developed assets that are production ready.
“Once we have the economic incentive to start production, we’re very capable of doing that,” he says. “About a year ago, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we were able to acquire a company called Uranium One, which for many years was owned by Russia with US uranium assets.”
Adnani also discussed some legislation that could reduce reliance on nuclear fuels from Russia.
“There’s a proposed bill in the U.S. Senate and a companion bill in the U.S. House that’s proposing to ban Russian uranium imports. There is legislation and some appropriation to establish a US uranium reserve, similar to the strategic petroleum reserve,” Adnani says. “…I think it makes a lot of sense to address this issue and say we should not continue to support Putin’s war and his objectives by buying Russian uranium. We should become self-sufficient and ban Russian-uranium imports into the US.”
He notes that there is room for multiple energy sources.
“I’m not someone who believes you can just eliminate oil and gas production, particularly gas, and go to 100 percent renewable and nuclear,” he says. “But, I think a very smart and balanced approach is we need all of the above. We need to continue to utilize the wonderful progress that I think we’ve made with natural gas in this country and harvest that potential, but at the same time we most likely need to increase our capabilities when it comes to nuclear energy and continue to maintain sources of renewable power. Why do we need all of this? We need all of this as we try to address this issue around decarbonization.”
Overall, he says it’s a timely issue that affects everyday life.
“If you live a life that requires electricity, this is an issue you need to think about. If you charge phones, turn on television, and turn on lights, you should care about where that electricity comes from,” he says. “You don’t want to end up in a situation like Europe finds itself, where power rationing is setting in and power prices are surging.”
Nuclear energy is produced by splitting atoms in a reactor to heat water into steam, turn a turbine, and generate electricity.
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Audio: Amir Adnani