Demand for HALEU is set to grow significantly in the coming years if numerous companies follow through on plans to build advanced nuclear reactors, according to data compiled by the industry’s trade group.
This amount is a small fraction of how much fuel current reactors use, which is around 2,000 metric tons of enriched uranium a year, Nuclear Energy Institute CEO and President Maria Korsnick said in a letter to the department in December.
The imminent problem is finding an alternative supplier for initial batches of the fuel, as we lay out in the main article today.
The longer-term outlook reflects a classic chicken and egg dilemma: Advanced reactor companies need assurances they can procure HALEU, but efforts to establish HALEU facilities in the U.S. need to know demand will come for their product.
“The most important question when we talk with customers is: Where will I get a reliable supply of HALEU for the 60-year life of the asset?” said Reinke of X-energy. “If that is not available, what is my investment proposition?”