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How to Fuel a Tripling of Nuclear Energy

Dr. Chris Keefer, Tim Gitzel, Dan Poneman, Boris Schucht, Clay Shell

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Dr. Chris Keefer  0:01  

All right. It's very exciting to be here. This is gonna be a great panel. And this is a very, very important question to answer today. Before I answer that question, I wanted to introduce myself. Briefly. My name is Chris Keefer. I'm the host of the decouple podcast and the president of Canadians for nuclear energy. In my spare time, I practice medicine as an emergency doctor in Toronto. It's Canada's Ontario's nuclear powered capital in Canada. And you may be asking what podcasting doctor is doing up here on stage with some of the titans of the nuclear fuel cycle. And to be honest, so mine. But it seems there are some diehard decouple fans in the UAE. And if anyone has their phone out right now, I guess you're either taking pictures, or you're subscribing on YouTube or your podcast platform of choice, I was gonna make that joke and get a few more subscribers. So I really am hoping to facilitate a fascinating conversation today about the challenges and opportunities we face in fueling the race. But first, again, I wanted to comment again, on the announcement to triple nuclear energy by 2050. This is my third cop, and it is truly or would have been truly unimaginable to think that we'd be here today. So a big shout outs to enact and the wn a, who have come together to work so hard for that outcome. And why don't we give a quick round of applause.

Now, as a passionate nuclear advocate, who's been on the front lines of this public relations battle, I never thought I would say that the easy part is over, you know, we have an unprecedented amount of social and political license. But the hard work, I think, is just beginning. Our hosts here have brought a lot of hope, particularly to the west with the on budget and on time completion of the baraka nuclear plant. But we have to be honest, the West has been struggling to put it diplomatically struggling to deploy nuclear reactors. And I think some of these struggles extend to the nuclear fuel cycle. We are in the moment of great promise when this is pledged to triple A great opportunity, but also have some risk. I don't want to use the F word in polite company. But failure is not an option. But it is a possibility. And if it happens, we will have no one to blame. But ourselves. There are three broad challenges that I'd like to address with our panelists today, in regards to our pledge to increase nuclear energy 3x by 2050. The first how do we scale up uranium mining? The second how do we scale up in Richmond? And the third? How do we scale up Halo and the advanced reactor fuel supply chain to deliver on the promises of advanced nuclear? In the words of today's brilliant opening speaker and the moderator of our last session, David Victor, that that comment this morning really struck me these challenges can be addressed, but not if we pretend that they don't exist. So with that in mind, let's dive in. I'm going to start by asking each of you a challenging opening question. And then I think we'll have a bit of a free for all. So Tim, we'll start with yourself. If I've got my numbers straight, and remember, I'm a doctor, not an engineer. And there's there's a reason for that. We mined 50,000 tons of uranium in 2022. For every gigawatt that we add, we need another 150 tons of uranium. And so by my back of the envelope calculations conservatively, we're going to need to have an additional 120,000 tonnes of uranium being produced by 2050. If we are indeed going to triple nuclear energy by then. Can you talk a little bit about what that heroic effort would look like? And what kind of actions are required by industry and government to achieve that? Yeah,

Tim Gitzel  4:11  

thanks, Chris. And thank you, everybody. And thanks to salmon. Just an outstanding conference in this tripling is I've been in the business for about four decades and dreamed about this time in life. And here we are. And so for those of you that are going to keep going with it, we got to we got a good road in front of us. And so and I'm a big fan of decouple the Chris's podcast, I learned more about nuclear from that than I that I knew before. So, uranium, let's talk uranium, you know, is there enough? Yes, yes, there is. I think if you look at the Red Book, IAEA and NDAA, put out together 9 million tonnes of of uranium out there. The problem is it's underground. It needs to be on the ground. That's where we come in. So 50,000 tonne as you say about the consumption today. And if we triple by 2050, and then we need 150,000 time we can do it. You have to look at where we were the last 10 years. You know, after Fukushima, the last panel talked about Fukushima, we shut down the largest high grade mine in the world MacArthur river, we put out about 18 million pounds a year, 7500 tonne a year. I mean, there was so much uranium around the price of uranium went to $18 a pound. Nobody can mind nobody can make money for that we're shutting down mines we shut down. Rabbit Lake, we shut down MacArthur river we shut down Wyoming we shut down Nebraska. So not many years ago, we were shutting down mines because we had way too much uranium now the talk is, you know, we're going we're tripling great, we can handle it. The good news about nuclear is that we don't sneak reactors on normally don't sneak reactors takes us 10 years to bring a reactor on and so we have good visibility on what the demand is going to be and how we're going to have to supply that and so we will be cautious as customers that are perhaps in the crowd here that come to us and say you know what? We'd like to sign the contract for 2030 to 2014. We have lots of those customers and we need uranium from 23 then we know okay, we need to have production coming on MacArthur River in Canada, maybe cigar Lake maybe Kazakhstan, maybe somewhere else. And so, yes, we we will be there to supply the uranium we need. The assurance that we have the contracts backing us will invest the money will mine the uranium.

Dr. Chris Keefer  6:37  

Excellent, excellent. Okay, moving on to Boris said this would be challenging questions, so you have to bear with me here. On the enrichment front. both Europe and the USA remain critically dependent on Russia for almost a quarter of their enrichment services needed to refuel the fleets. More than one in 20 American homes and businesses depend on Russian enriched uranium to keep the lights on. I got a breaking news headline at 5am. When I was preparing for this talk this morning, the US House of Representatives is scheduled an expedited vote on a bill called prohibiting Russian uranium imports Act, which would bar not only the import of yellowcake but also Russian enrichment services. Constellation Energy CEO Joseph Dominguez has said, and I quote The US is on the verge of a crisis in conversion and enrichment. Since the trauma of the 1970s OPEC crisis, energy independence is seems to be constantly in the political discourse. What will it take for Europe and America to achieve fuel independence and deliver on that real promise of nuclear energy which is, which is energy security?

Boris Schucht  7:48  

Chris, thank you very much. First of all, I want to thank wn a INEC for organizing all of this fantastic event. Thank you. Now coming back to your question is a good question. But I must say, it's not really a problem I can I can sleep very well, I can tell you, because there is sufficient capacity in the market. How much dependent countries want to be from other countries, that is a political decision, we are very careful of that. That's not our cup of tea. We are in the moment in the luxury situation that you to Fukushima we have huge overcapacity in our in our sector. We use them in the last years actually, to produce rhenium, which was not always in favor of our colleagues from the mining side by underfeeding. So by depleting the uranium further down, and and we are just simply in the moment reducing that and by that we increasing the capacity. So the 20% share, I think that the Russians had in the US I would not call it as a dependency. I would say that is a minor problem in my point of view, and a solvable problem, but it's a political issue. We are prepared. As Tim already said it's at the end customer deciding what he wants. And it's an industry where we are normally ready before the customer is and that is no different on this geopolitical changes or customers want to switch from one supplier to another it's not about a new nuclear power plant which is erected there. So and but it follows the similar principles of long term contracts so that we have a reliable basis for our investments to keep a certain capacity alive or to actually increase our capacity to certain levels with the market needs. The good thing is we are normally especially when it comes to new build project much faster than the nuclear reactor so we can actually react before the We like to sell them.

Dr. Chris Keefer  10:00  

What kind of timeline are we looking at understand and again, on the medical doctor here, but the Sapporo five. Understand there's billions of dollars of investments I imagined because of some of the concerns I brought up which which you seem to be a little less concerned about. But it sounds like there's a lot of resources being mobilized to increase capacity. And if we are to reach our 2050 goal here, we're certainly going to be needing a lot of capacity. So tell us a little bit more about your ankles plans,

Speaker 1  10:28  

we have a capacity program in place. We are publishing step by step, the ones who have got the real final investment decision, the first project that we announced is in the US an increase of our site there by 15%. In Germany, we made a decision for capacity increase, and next ones will follow up very soon. So we have programs are in place, and we don't publish actually numbers around them. But the capacity will grow as the demand is growing.

Dr. Chris Keefer  11:04  

Wonderful, wonderful. Okay, challenging question number three, and I

Speaker 1  11:08  

can tell you, maybe one one is your doctor. One thing to add, we have a small niche business, we also producing stable and medical isotopes. And I can tell you there the dependency on certain suppliers in the world is much, much higher than in our rhenium. Side and our investment there and the moment compared to the existing business much, much bigger, we are building really, one plant after another, to also create a certain independence. It's good not only saving the world, but also saving lives. A 2 million people are treated by that. And I think it's a nice story around nuclear side story. And but very important for our day to day life. So it's

Dr. Chris Keefer  11:54  

a story I'm very familiar with up in Canada. We produce a lot of medical isotopes, obviously in our CANDU reactors. Okay, so moving on to challenging question number three, for Dan. On the Advanced fuels front, it seems like we are in a halo crunch TerraPower announced a two year delay in the deployment of its reactors in Wyoming due to a halo shortage. I understand the halo cascade that came on line this year will produce 900 kilograms of Halo I'm told that this total yearly output would be sufficient to fuel a single five megawatt electric Westinghouse eventually micro reactor. We're of course hoping to deploy hundreds of eventually ease of ex energies, oh close Terra powers and many other reactor companies reactors over the next 27 years. Tell us about the some of the challenges of Halo and how you intend to solve those. Sure.

Don Poneman  12:50  

Thank you, Chris, for the great question. Before I start, I want to thank and acknowledge the leadership of W na and sama who is vision of tripling the nuclear fleet has now become a global consensus and Enoch Mohammadi, whose project management and execution of the best program in the world would not, would not sustain even a doubling, much less a tripling of the success of Mohammed and his team are extraordinary. I'll get to here with just one thing of this to stir things up a little bit. I have a little bit less sanguine view on the Elliot market than my good friend and colleague, Boris. If you look at a couple of facts, these are wn a numbers. Global demand for enrichment. Right without Russia is 48 million separate work units per year. And global supply without Russia is 33 million separate work units per year. 15 million separative work units per year is 100% of us demand. And add to that 10 or 11 million sworn in Europe, US allies for more than 20% On Russia, Europe 30%. So as Tim says, reactors Don't sneak up on you but neither do enrichment plans. So we do need in our view, more supply but more also more suppliers. I just came from the other Atlantic Council session almost Hochstein, the President's energy adviser says we can't afford to get into a situation where a single point of failure can be threatening to our energy security. Over half our supply globally comes from Russia and China. So we love what your Renko does believe it or no does. We need more supply we need more supply errs and that's why the US Congress and the US president are asking for a lot more money to support the problem extends and I'll get to your question out to Haley very specifically we can make with his demonstration cascade 900 kilograms per year. That's a tiny fraction of what my good friend clay cell crystal avec etc need and therefore we need what was called for on the last panel a public private partnership. These plans cost billions of dollars to invest. The United States is the only country in the world that privatize the activity of uranium enrichment, because after all, it can be used to make nuclear weapons. So we have to be thoughtful about it. It's not going to be renationalized, but how to solve the problem requires two things. Number one, we need the kind of government investment at the scale that's now being talked about in the billions of dollars, which every other enrichment plant has benefited from with their government investments at that scale. But we also need what Boris did refer to, which is that long term demand signal, if we have those two things, a combination of a public private partnership, the significant government investment will encourage private capital from the sidelines, your hitter from John Wagner on the last panel. And then if you get the great success, we will see from our new reaction developers such as clay, I'm setting him up for his comments, then we're going to have the demand signal combined with the investment. And then the market will indeed produce the high assay Leu that we need.

Dr. Chris Keefer  16:02  

Quite I guess two questions three here. Do we have a chicken and an egg problem in terms of needing the Hey, Lou in order to build the reactors but needing to build the reactors? And in order to have the demand for the halo? Do you think that's a chicken and egg problem? Or how do you approach that?

Clay Shell  16:22  

Thank you, Chris, for the question. Let me quickly add my thanks to Mohammed and Simon for this. Wonderful with that. Yeah, I think it's fair to call it a chicken and egg problem. You know, Moore's How long will it take you to build a halo cascading

Unknown Speaker  16:38  

dependence from where we start?

Clay Shell  16:41  

Let's call it four years. And, and, and, and he doesn't want to build a plant. Until he has a firm offtake agreement. For my customer doubt. My customer doubt will not make its final investment decision. They're strongly committed to the project, but they won't make their final investment decision until 2026 2026 plus four years is 2030. The reactor has to be in operation before 2030, which means I need halen fuel before that. And so there is a timing difference. There's there's no technology problem here. There's no uranium supply problem. No one can spend centrifuges better than the new Renko. They have the technology to do it. But there is not sufficient commercial demand for them to make the final investment decision to expand that facility. And so what the US government came up with is a program called the halo availability program, to for the US government to step in and provide that long term optics certainty. So centrists can make its investments. So your Renko can make its investment in enrichment. This problem is going to get solved. Even as we speak. There's a $2 billion request from the administration going through the defense supplemental in the Senate, I think it's very likely that that will be enacted in the near term. And so I think the program and the resources are there to crack this commercial conundrum, which will allow us to see Halo supplies come on to support the advanced reactor developments.

Dr. Chris Keefer  18:19  

Let's talk for a quick second about trace so Leu fuel assemblies currently using light water reactors costs around $300 per kilogram. How do we drop the trace of tracer which F Street rumors are they believed is clocking in at around $10,000 per kilogram. Street rooms by the way.

Clay Shell  18:41  

For the manufacturer price, so yeah, try so considering that is that with the price Hey, Lulu loaded down or not? Say again, sorry, you're quoting a price for Halo retry. So, so fuel with including the cost of of the inputs?

Dr. Chris Keefer  18:59  

I think so. Yes. Yeah. Well,

Clay Shell  19:00  

I mean, the biggest driver on the cost of Halo is on the cost of try. So fuel is the cost of the inputs. And and so it's why we need a diversified and well supplied set of hay Lu enrichers. To help bring the cost down. There, the cost of trisul fuel is more expensive than than traditional whitewater fuel, we ask a lot more of it. This is a fuel that cannot melt down. It's made of ceramic material and graphite that cannot melt at any temperature that it would see in the reactor life. That changes the nature of nuclear power dramatically. It allows us to have a much smaller footprint. It allows us to take our fuel temperatures to a much higher level and teamed with helium as heat transfer fluid. We can produce high temperature steam, that small footprint and high temperature steam is the very basis that Dow Chemical used to choose us for an industrial decarbonisation effort As they will take carbon emissions and an ethylene plant in Calhoun County, Texas to zero. And so try so fuel is more expensive. But in an overall system analysis, or fuel is more expensive, we ask more of it. But that results in much lower capex in terms of concrete in terms of steel, in terms of time to build in terms of the number of safety related systems that have to come from a nuclear regulated supply chain. All of those benefits from the fuel help reduce the overall system costs. And we believe our high temperature gas cooled reactors will be very competitive, very competitive against firm, clean solutions that you have to choose from in the 2030 timeframe. And I'm not just talking about nuclear clean, firm solutions, I'm talking about any clean, firm solution, we think our XC 100 reactors with try so fuel with its safety case, will be exceedingly competitive. And quite frankly, we've got the customer interest to support

Dr. Chris Keefer  21:04  

that. Yeah. Given that Leu is the critical feedstock for Hey, Lou, are we putting the cart in front of the horse by focusing on on Halo at this moment.

Speaker 1  21:17  

So as as already were set by then there is a chicken and egg problem to be solved for for healing. But I'm very optimistic that we're very close to the point where this chicken and egg problem is solved. Because there are three things ongoing. First, we see the US government strongly pushing for solution with their RFP around a few bank approach, but I think helps to create an initial market on which investments can be taken. Secondly, we see that the UK Government is also very, very strongly seeking for solutions in allowing investments into this sector. And thirdly, because customers are coming much closer to the point of ordering fewer. So we are now in negotiations with customers. And that is a different situation than three or four years ago, historically, all of our investments have been market based. Yeah. So we normally don't need necessarily governments to step in, that's a very unique situation for us in the fuel cycle. So I still believe the more we can do on the customer side, the better it is. And all three elements together should offer us a solution in the in the in the in the coming in the coming years. Or in the coming months, I would say. And there's one element, there's one element on the SMR RS, which is a little bit more difficult. We know very well how the generation three reactors, how that works, how the market the electricity market works. So that when when when there is an investment decision on going around sizable, it takes them 12 years until this power plant becomes reality. And we can we have time enough to react on that. For the first of the kind of investments in SMRs and armors. I also believe we will have sufficient time because it follows in the beginning same principles. But when when the concept of SMR arms of mass production and much faster. licensing procedures should really work out, then it follows a different business logic and then we have to adapt to also a different decision making way in the fuel industry. So we will then not see the projects necessarily all of them with sufficient time before we're realisation we have to make up our decision than on other informations. And that is something which is new for the industry or might be new for the industry. We don't know that yet. So that is really a challenge for the future that I see.

Don Poneman  23:57  

I might just add, I think it's important to remember the geo strategic and the geopolitical aspects of this Tim talked about uranium prices. I remember when they were six bucks, I'm sure you do too. They're now over 80. And since the Ukraine war, even there's no formal sanctions in place yet, either from Europe or the United States. Enrichment prices are up from the 50s to 150. Conversion prices are from 10 to 40. And therefore, to your initial question, the United States Congress and the inflation Reduction Act invested 100 and a big present $700 million in Halo of which 500 million went for the product. The feedstock alone for the amount of Halo that the Department of Energy wanted 25 metric tons time six years is $1.8 billion. So it becomes just as Clay was talking about in a slightly different setting. The Leu feedstock price becomes a critical and dominant factor, a million SWU. A value feedstock is required to make the amount of Halo that doe wants so we have to I think really think about this thing holistically and I do think it councils for a continued role. That's why I welcome what happened on the stage a few minutes ago of the government's I think it's extremely meaningful that the Sapporo five came in and talked about a meaningful, significant contribution. Because without that kind of government ballast, I think you're going to have continued volatility. And not only the Energy and Security, but the political insecurity and the geostrategic leverage in the hands of our adversaries that we really don't want to encourage. Chris,

Tim Gitzel  25:27  

maybe just add to the conversation by Kim on, we all said chemical were looked at, oh, you're the uranium people, you supply the uranium. So I was

Dr. Chris Keefer  25:37  

just going to ask a question. Well,

Tim Gitzel  25:38  

I know it's true. And so we see this this tripling doubling, we've been crossing our fingers for that for a long time. And so we've been setting up for that actually, for the last 2030 years. And, and here it is now. And so you know, if you go through the component parts, you've been jumping around to a loo and Leu, if you start at the front end, you have to explore for your age. So we explore for your age, and we have about a billion pounds in our portfolio that is in the ground and to be mined. So we've got some supply conversion, we said that's that's been a poor cousin for the last 25 years, you've never made money on conversion. Now we're tight. And so we've increased our conversion capacity up we have a port of facility in Port Hope, Ontario, that we're increasing the production. We're not out of the we're not advanced like these, these folks on the on the enrichment side, but we've invested about half a billion dollars into global laser enrichment in Wilmington, North Carolina. And we think that's got hope for the future. And hopefully, we'll be alongside these folks. At some point, we have a deal with the DOE, Dr. Huff and folks to re enrich some of the tails depleted tails that are sitting in Portsmouth and Paducah. And then two weeks ago, we decided we should even go further down the line. And we put all of our chips that we had in the middle of the poker table and bought a company called Westinghouse with a partner named Brookfield. And so we're all in we're all in nuclear, we believe in this we believe in in what clays doing down there. And, and Boris and Dan, and these are all friends for a long time. We're all getting ready for it. And we'll be there, it's going to be tricky. Because in our business, you're either through the roof or at the bottom, it seems and so it's hard to adjust to that. I can tell you in the 2000s from 2000 to 2011, we were scrambling like crazy that, you know, somebody mentioned how many reactors were going to be built. And so we're trying to get through all of a sudden, 2011 to 2021 off the table shutting everything down. Now here we go, Whoa, let's go again. So it's not like McDonald's where you try and grow your revenue line by 2%. Every year, we're either up here or down here. Now we have to get going. But I am completely convinced and confident that we can do it.

Don Poneman  27:48  

I like to just add a very quick point on that. This tripling it's, it's no small thing, right? And yes, we are competitors. But you know what, that's a good thing. What that means is diversity of supply. I want your rank to succeed. I want Orinoco to succeed. I hope they want us to succeed, because we need that diversified sources of Halo and Leu to provide not just stability of supply, not just security supply, but the price competition so that clay and Crystal avec when they go out to put fuel out to bid. They've got a number of suppliers who can step up to the plate and guarantee a robust, resilient, multiple supply competitively priced market.

Dr. Chris Keefer  28:36  

So Tim, just just back to you for a second. You kind of stole my thunder chemicals, I think, undergone a pretty remarkable transformation into this really vertically oriented entity as you're mentioning all of the different services that you now supply. Well, can you imagine that 10 or 15 years ago? And also what role do you see moving forward in terms of you already manufacture CANDU fuel through Westinghouse to be manufacturing Leu fuel? What is the future hold in that regard in terms of being the full package as a company?

Tim Gitzel  29:10  

Yeah, so you know, I've been around long enough I've seen the movie I started. My first job was in 1979, just after Dan started probably, but that you'll remember that was Three Mile Island. So we go and then off the cliff. We went 86 was another one. I know we hate talking about them, but they had an effect on our business. I can tell you, we went through 10 tough years in the in the 2000 10s. But then I'd say about two or three years ago, we could feel the winds of change blowing you know, all this talk about climate change and decarbonisation electrification, race to net zero climate change climate crisis, climate catastrophe. And we said wow, this and you could feel nuclear was getting some steam behind it again. So we started looking saying how are we how do we want to position ourselves with this? And then, you know, that all got surpassed by I energy security for a lot of different reasons people became worried about energy security. And then you know, this phrase, we I've heard it five times today, you know, there's there is no net zero. I mean, there's no net zero without nuclear. And so we said we're nuclear, we're only nuclear, what are we going to do? And so we started looking back at our minds again, we restarted some of our minds as our customers wanted, you're in, we increased our production. And then Westinghouse came available. And we, we looked at it, and we said, it's now or never, we're gonna go now we're never because a lot of our business 80% Is government owned, and government controlled, we're not we're on the Toronto Stock Exchange, or a New York Stock Exchange, that's an independent asset that came available. And we said, Are we all in and we kind of put our hands in and said, Let's go. And we took that. And so you know, our goal is to be a full service company, with an alternate supplier to the others that are out there. I think our timing, we made that deal a year ago, it took us a year to close it. But I think the the environment looks even better today than when we made the deal. And we just want to be there for our customers. You know, we've been through the uranium and conversion we have, I don't think there's a utility in the world that we haven't supplied uranium at one point or another. And so this brings us some added some added activities that we can we can add to our customer base. So yeah, we just want to be out there we want to be part of, we're proud to be nuclear, we're a pure nuclear company. And, and we're really proud. And today, we can walk around with our heads really high, because, you know, we're doing a good thing for the world. So

Dr. Chris Keefer  31:36  

not to shine too much of a spotlight on you. But just this has been such a geopolitical conversation, for obvious reasons. But could you just take a very brief moment to discuss the deal with Ukraine to supply fuel to the Ukrainian fleet?

Tim Gitzel  31:50  

Yeah. So obviously, we're aware of what happened last year, February 24. And, you know, we've been working with the Ukraine a bit before they were looking to diversify their fuel supply, I think after 2014. And so they started looking at who could fabricate the fuel for VV ours. And so that was Westinghouse. So that was before us, of course. But then they came to us about six or seven months ago, the Ministry of Health Shenko and, and petrol coat, and some of you will know them and said, we'd like to diversify your fuel supply. And could you supply all of it? And honestly, we had to think about it, because there are some of our shareholders that Are you sure you want to do that? That's, there's a risk. And, and we, you know, we talked about it? And we said, yeah, they have. So they have 15 reactors, nine of them. They're operating today, and six of the Zapper Asia that aren't operating. But we said, we will supply all your fuel for the next 2035. That's uranium and conversion. Boris can speak about it, because he's partners with us in the piece. And so you know what, sometimes you just have to kind of do the right thing, too. And so there's some risk to us. And if it goes the wrong way, then I guess that's on us. But we're very proud to be part of that. And I can tell you, where I live that Saskatchewan, there's about 30% of the population is in Ukrainian descent, as you'll know, Dr. Eva, and so you know, our employees, we're proud to step up. And we've helped not only with the fuel, but we've sent other supplies to help help them out in their time of need. So,

Dr. Chris Keefer  33:25  

Claire, I want to I want to bring it back to you. Your company is well known, obviously for the reactor side, but also I believe there's a try. So X facility that's in the works at Oak Ridge is getting that right, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA, you want to take a moment to sort of explain progress there and what the what the vision is? Well,

Clay Shell  33:50  

certainly our vision is to bring the XC 100 reactor pebble bed reactor to the marketplace in a very large way. And when we designed that vision, there was not a commercial supplier of trisul fuel, because quite frankly, there was not commercial demand for for trisul fuel. We saw an opportunity to grow a new and different parts of our business. We were extraordinarily fortunate to win a major government grant from the US government in 2015 to redesign how to make trestle fuel to do it in a way that produce higher quality, less waste streams more efficient ways to recycle uranium. We prove that out in a pilot facility. And and so we're really proud of the role that that that we're playing to bring the advanced fuel manufacturing business to fruition. We are in construction on an advanced fuel facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It will be the first new fuel manufacturing facility in the US and approximately 40 years. It's We can make all types of encapsulated fuels, not just for X and 8x X energy reactors, but for any other reactor that uses encapsulated fuels. And you know, USMC uses encapsulated fuels. Kairos uses encapsulated fuels, the Department of Defense, and NASA in their space and Micro Mobile reactors use trisul fuel because of its robust safety characteristics. So we really see a growing market opportunity. When we ceased it, we went to the department, and we hired really one of their leading fuel guys, Pete Capano, to help build the try. So x Fuel Company and we're, we're really proud of the progress that we've made. It's a it's an important part of our business on a go forward basis.

Dr. Chris Keefer  35:55  

I guess on the, on the topic, again, getting back to the geopolitics, which are again, messy. There is this legislation in front of Congress. The Europeans, maybe were caught with their pants down when it came to, to the gas cut off in Europe. It seems like there's nothing to preempt Mr. Putin potentially saying, I'm gonna beat you to the punch line, or I'm not gonna let you decide when when you ban, you know, imported slew from from Russia. It seems like this could come like as quite a shock, or quite suddenly, our enrichers in the US and the relationships with enrichers in Europe ready to deal with that?

Unknown Speaker  36:38  

Question to me,

Dr. Chris Keefer  36:39  

I guess. Yeah.

Speaker 1  36:42  

Yeah. Once again, it's a political decision. Of course, there are discussions maybe to correct one number. When you have a nameplate capacity on an enrichment plant, in our case, it's 18 million spool. That's the nameplate capacity, but we can produce much more screw in it when it's needed. But then we need more feet. So called overfeeding, but changing the operation. So we have roughly an n plus minus even more than 5%, it can be 10%, sorry, 20% 20% range around that point. So plus minus 5 million small. So that's the flexibility that we haven't an existing fleet. So that's why I'm a little bit relaxed. On the enrichment side, I think in the in the industry of political debate, the conversion side is in the moment in the Western world, the more tight area. I'm very happy that Canada and the US is back online and producing and that is something where we need to prepare for. But on the enrichment side, I would say I would not worry too much. But once again, I think the industry should not have a very strong position on this, this our pull political decisions that are societies who need to decide what they want, as an industry leader, I can only say, well, we need guidance, political guidance, we need clarity, what does what do societies want from us? And that needs to be translated, and then long term contract. So we are not an insurance, they're short term insurance for customers, we can't be we can't not double our capacity on short term, and then we have huge over capacities that will not work. So what what what actually, the expectation is that we have on politics and the US is working on that I know, to give guidance to the market, what is the expectation of the government, what is the expectation of the society, what the industry should deliver. And I would also expect the same from other parts of the world. That is what we are needing at least from the bigger markets, otherwise, it will be difficult for us to make our investment decisions. But I must say, at least in certain parts of the world, I have seen also a reaction by the customers itself without any political guidance. Customers who have decided to terminate existing contracts and to move over, we have just talked about Ukraine, for sure. But there are other ones in Scandinavian countries who have taken similar decisions. And so our observation at least I can't talk about individual customers. But our observation is that customers make up their own mind what they think is right or what is wrong and what they want from us. And as long as we get these signals, we're able to react on them.

Dr. Chris Keefer  39:44  

And with overfeeding. Can you react quickly? Quickly enough, do you feel

Speaker 1  39:49  

Yeah, we can react very quickly and I can promise you when when it's needed. We are very fast and we will send and very fast, clear signals to the markets. But I must Same we all remember very well, in 2014, when we had huge over capacities, and we should not forget that we were all in a situation, we had a new site, a brand new site in the US, we had to impair and write it off 1.51 point 4 billion impairments. Show shortly after the investment, that's not something that you like, as a business. So I would like to avoid that become back into such a situation. So that's why we are careful we make these decisions where we have clear indication that we make of course, sure all customers who want to buy fuel from us will be will get offers from us and will get fuel. So that is for sure we are there. And I think we have a name of 53 years never missed a delivery at Aramco. So that is a long history, we are normally not normally we are. We are always fulfilling what we are promising. That's where we are coming from. So that's

Dr. Chris Keefer  41:02  

in terms of the volatility of the market. And this is maybe a humorous aside or not humorous, but I do hear there's a lot of centrifuges buried in the desert somewhere. But Dan, did you want to jump in,

Don Poneman  41:13  

you offered an invitation for an American and a European perspective, American perspective, again, is a little less sanguine. These parts of the market all interact, it's like squeezing a balloon. So if you go more into overfitting, it's going to put more pressure on conversion, which is already $45. That goes north. And it runs through the system. We need more supply, we meet North more suppliers. That's why the 405 did what they did, right. And I've said publicly many times it takes us 42 months to build a cascade to your original question. If Mr. Putin decides to do something like on next Wednesday, instead of on a different timeline, it's going to be challenging, I'm not I'm not saying or feeding, can't do some of the work. But I think, I think the prudent long term policy perspective, market perspective security perspective says, we need more supply, and we need more suppliers. And I think we'll be more robust and will be less vulnerable. It's just like natural gas is just like semiconductors is just like COVID, we learned bitter lessons when we have a non resilient non diversified supply chain, people end up suffering.

Dr. Chris Keefer  42:27  

So we've been talking probably a little bit too much about the President's and the nasty situation of this new world order that we're in Let's spend the last two minutes and 26 seconds, I just like to go through the panel. And again, talking aspirationally about what we're trying to achieve by 2050. What each of you feels is a challenge and an opportunity moving forward. We'll start with you claim.

Clay Shell  42:51  

Well, I think the opportunity is to go well beyond 3x Today's installed capacity for nuclear. And I think that opportunity is going to be driven by an absolute change in the nature of the electricity market in the west and particularly in the United States. Whereas before we look for leadership from the utilities in the future, I think leadership is going to come from industrials and and other large users like data centers, which will transform the nature of project development in the US, when you add the industrial piece into what is already being assumed will come from electrification, I think you're going to see a much larger increase in nuclear. And you know what we can do it. The US did it in the 70s. France did it in the 80s. We've seen patterns of dramatic expansion, multiple gigawatts coming on a year. And we're going to have we're going to be called upon to do that yet again, at even a greater rate, but I'm confident we can do it. eautiful

Dr. Chris Keefer  43:55  

Go ahead, Boris. tripling

Speaker 1  43:56  

nuclear capacity is a huge challenge. And it's a fantastic story. I think it's an ambition, which is really, really good. How realistic is it? When you look at the history of France, I would say it's realistic when you just take the 30 years when they took their decision for nuclear in the 70s or end of the 60s beginning of the 70s 65 gigawatt, 27 years later were installed. So when we replicate that in the western world that would easily lead to the tripling. So it's possible. We have already a benchmark. It's an exciting story. For us as an industry. I think it needs certain things. One of the things that I have in mind is collaboration, cooperation, collaboration, cooperation between nations. And we see that just as an example, the UK, US partnership on nuclear as a very strong one where things are done together. We have seen the five leaders here, the g7 leaders, five of the g7 leaders here together on the fuel cycle signing this declaration, strong signals, but also cooperation within the industry. And Tim has mentioned the, as an example, after the Ukraine where we were chemical, Westinghouse and us, within days able to actually offer an alternative and a solution for for for them. And that is, that was, for me, a very strong and good example of collaboration in the industry. This whole challenge is too big that we can all try to make everything alone, we have to collaborate, we have to do things together. And we are used to that. And I believe it's an it's a, it's a challenge, but it's achievable. And that's why it's it is exciting to be in this area. And to support this development.

Dr. Chris Keefer  45:49  

Gentlemen, we're on budget, but slightly over time, I do want to hear your perspectives, but we'll have to do it quick. In 30 seconds or less. I'll

Don Poneman  45:57  

begin on a point of agreement with my good friend Boris on the need for collaboration, which is kind of a setup for Tim to talk about his North American solution to the front end of the fuel cycle. In terms of aspirations to support the tripling by 2050. I would like to see the world move from four to five enrichers of uranium, the fifth one being in the United States of America, which had in 1985 27 million separative work units of production capacity. I think that's a good number to shoot for. Go ahead,

Tim Gitzel  46:26  

Chris. I agree with everything they said. So I won't repeat that two things. One, I hope in 2050. The panel doesn't look like this. It's a little bit more diverse than this going forward. We need. We need to diversify and include a lot more people we are going to need mountains of workers and I hope we can diversify and really attract a lot of people. Last thing and I know we're way out of time. Can I recognize Dan Kahneman. Dan Kahneman has put about four and a half decades into this business and I think Dan's retiring. So is that public or he's been a good friend.

Dr. Chris Keefer  47:10  

All right, everybody. That's a wrap. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for your attention. Thank you, gentlemen.

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