After many years of stagnation, the nuclear power industry is showing signs of life due to higher prices for competing forms of energy, increased concern over the impact that fossil fuels have on the environment and new safer design technologies. These new designs might assuage concern that many have over the safety of this power source.
Nuclear power has many advantages over other forms of energy. It produces zero carbon emissions, and despite well-publicized accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, it is relatively safe.

IN PICTURES: Eight Ways To Survive A Market Downturn

New Nuclear Developments
Several utilities have filed Combined Construction and Operating Licenses (COL) applications to construct new nuclear power generation facilities. Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), a large utility headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., filed for one for a greenfield facility in Florida.

Safer Design
Shaw Group
(NYSE:SHAW) is heavily involved in the nuclear power industry. The company is working with a new safer design called the AP1000. The AP1000 uses 50% less valves, and 80% less pipe than competing designs. The design also uses only one-fifth the amount of concrete and rebar as competing designs. This reduces both capital costs and maintenance costs for the owners.

Shaw also does maintenance work on existing reactors that are already built. The company recently signed a contract with Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) to provide maintenance services at its nuclear plant in Fulton, MO. Shaw is a leader and provides some type of maintenance services to 40 of the 102 plants in the U.S.

Pure Plays
Investors might one day have a pure play nuclear power company to trade. Entergy (NYSE:ETR) is the second largest producer of nuclear power in the U.S., and is planning on spinning off its non-utility nuclear assets into an entity called Enexus. These assets include six units generating 5000 megawatts of power, and one managed plant generating 800 megawatts. The spinoff process is now bogged down in obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals from the states where the plants are located.

China is ahead of many of the other emerging economies on using this power source to reduce its insatiable demand for oil and other fossil fuels. China has four new nuclear plants under construction with the first coming on line in 2013.

Bottom Line
Nuclear power holds the hope of reducing the world's dependence on dirty fossil fuels for providing energy. Although popular culture is haunted by the supposed danger of this power source, the country must come to the realization that we must choose between the lesser of many evils when providing power for the future. (For more, read Top 10 Green Industries.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Options & Futures

    Cyclical Versus Non-Cyclical Stocks

    Investing during an economic downturn simply means changing your focus. Discover the benefits of defensive stocks.
  2. Investing Basics

    How to Deduct Your Stock Losses

    Held onto a stock for too long? Selling at a loss is never ideal, but it is possible to minimize the damage. Here's how.
  3. Economics

    Is Wall Street Living in Denial?

    Will remaining calm and staying long present significant risks to your investment health?
  4. Stock Analysis

    When Will Dick's Sporting Goods Bounce Back? (DKS)

    Is DKS a bargain here?
  5. Investing News

    How AT&T Evolved into a Mobile Phone Giant

    A third of Americans use an AT&T mobile phone. How did it evolve from a state-sponsored monopoly, though antitrust and a technological revolution?
  6. Stock Analysis

    Home Depot: Can its Shares Continue Climbing?

    Home Depot has outperformed the market by a wide margin in the last 12 months. Is this sustainable?
  7. Stock Analysis

    Yelp: Can it Regain its Losses in 2016? (YELP)

    Yelp investors have had reason to be happy recently. Will the good spirits last?
  8. Stock Analysis

    Is Walmart's Rally Sustainable? (WMT)

    Walmart is enjoying a short-term rally. Is it sustainable? Is Amazon still a better bet?
  9. Stock Analysis

    GoPro's Stock: Can it Fall Much Further? (GPRO)

    As a company that primarily sells discretionary products, GoPro and its potential falls right in line with consumer trends. Is that good or bad?
  10. Stock Analysis

    Are the Brands Millennials Love a Good Buy?

    Millennials make up a very big — and thus important —c onsumer generation. So if they love a brand, its stock is likely to outperform, right?
  1. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center