With as many as 250 nuclear projects in the global pipeline, component and equipment manufacturers are collaborating to meet the increased global demand; whereas different Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors and utilities are working closely to share investment costs as well as minimise any potential delays. Given the heightened interest in the nuclear industry, alliance building opportunities along the nuclear value chain are increasing.
"The current economic climate has made financing more complicated for everyone, but large entities, such as top utilities, have a much better prospect than most for receiving financing for their projects. Nuclear power, which is considered one of the ultimate long-term investments with the substantial government backing, is particularly well positioned in the current economic downturn. Reportedly, so far only one nuclear project has been cancelled on a global level due to the financial crisis", states Frost & Sullivan analyst Maciej Jeziorski.
Consequently, all upcoming partnerships are being formed due to the high upfront capital cost that has to be injected for each and every plant. Moreover, there are not many companies with appropriate skills and experience. The most representative examples of this trend include partnerships between Siemens and Rosatom, EdF and Enel, Ensa and GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, BHEL and Sheffield Forgemasters, Kazatomprom and the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group as well as GdF-Suez's collaboration with Iberdrola and Scottish and Southern Energy.
What's more, to meet the needs of the booming market, many equipment manufacturers have already started investing in new production capacity by building new factories, increasing capacity at existing facilities or buying new machinery. For instance, in December 2008 Japan Steel Works - a global leader in heavy forging - announced that it would triple its manufacturing capacity by mid-2012.
Since the beginning of 2009, the nuclear industry was shaken up by news coming from Germany's engineering giant, Siemens. In January 2009 the Munich-based company quit its 34% stake in Areva NP, and then signed an agreement to establish a joint venture with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom. Regardless of how the public war of words between the two sides plays out, this will cause serious long-term implications for the global nuclear market with new players moving into top positions in the nuclear business.
Nevertheless, the most current partnerships formed in the UK will make the way for the nuclear industry. In the country the ongoing nuclear programme is considering the new generation III or III+ nuclear reactors from various foreign vendors with the first new generation plant expected to come online between 2017-2020, and with more to follow in relatively quick succession. Most importantly, different companies are signing industrial partnerships while preparing for new projects deliveries. So far, all the big energy groups, such as EdF, E.ON, RWE, Iberdrola and Electrabel have stated their intention to proceed with the nuclear plan in the UK by working in various partnerships. If the existing and upcoming ventures perform successfully in the UK, it is expected that similar nuclear groups will be created by the same parties in other countries.
"The main downside of such an increase in nuclear projects concerns the availability of heavy equipment and long lead times. The majority of equipment for new generation plants come from international suppliers and nuclear-related entities which have been working at full capacity", concludes Jeziorski.
For more information about the Nuclear Power Generation Market please contact Chiara Carella, Corporate Communications, at chiara.carella[.]frost.com.
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