The US has declared a new energy war against Russia
The US has declared a new energy war against Russia Translated by Eugenia for The Saker
The US acknowledged that it is far behind Russia, and even China, in nuclear energy. But America wishes to restore its leadership in this area. This means that the fight between Russia and the US in energy won’t be limited to North Stream. Where is Russia ahead of the US and why the Americans are so scared of the Chinese nuclear industry?
“The US has lost its competitive advantage as the global leader in nuclear energy among the world state companies. Russia and China, as well as other countries, are actively trying to get ahead of us”. This is from the report of the US Department of Energy published last Thursday. Thus, the US officially recognizes its defeat in the field of nuclear energy. The loss of leadership endangers national interests and the security of the country.
DOE suggests a strategy for restoring the American leadership in this area. It includes a number of measures to improve the situation. Russia and China named as the countries that must be watched closely, as Russia has been way ahead of the US for a long time, whereas China has the ability to advance very so quickly that it couldn’t be overtaken.
The US dropped behind Russia in nuclear energy some time ago. Two and a half years ago, two American companies that mine uranium, Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy, warned that the share of the American-produced uranium on the US market dropped from 49% to 5%. They demanded that Trump introduce a quota of 25% for the American-produced uranium and impose tariffs on imported uranium. Trump then refused to introduce these limitations, but created a working group on nuclear fuel. This group was tasked with preparing a report on the US leadership in nuclear energy. The report cited above is the result of this group’s work. The previous report was submitted to Trump in 2019, but he sent it back for improvements.
“The US was not just a world leader – the US created nuclear energy as such. Even today, the US has more reactors in operation than anyone else (96 out of 442 operating in the world). However, after mid-1990s the US stopped building nuclear power plants. From 1996 to 2020, only one generating unit was built, and it was not built from scratch, but previously started construction was completed” – says Alexander Uvarov, director of Atominfo Center, editor-in-chief of Atominfo portal.
The US has lost many of its capabilities a long time ago.
The only thing that the US can still do is to produce nuclear fuel. However, the US have serious problems with uranium mining, and (which is even more important) with uranium enrichment and construction of nuclear power plants.
“Today, the US does not have commercial technologies of uranium enrichment. Old plants are closed, new ones have not been not built” – says Alexander Uvarov.
By official statistics for 2018 (stats for 2019 will be published in May), 52% of uranium enrichment for the US was done by other countries, whereas the remaining 48% were done by an American company. However, this is just a statistical trick, says Uvarov. American company in question is actually a plant of the European company URENCO built in the US. This plant belongs to URENCO USA, so it can be counted in statistics as American. But the Americans have no access to the technology used in this plant. At some point, the Russian Rosatom wanted to build an enrichment plant in the US. If it had, this plant would have also been counted as “American” in stats.