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Tickers in this Article: NLR, CCJ, DNN, SO, SHAW, NRG, CEG, SCG, NUCL
With energy demand in the United States and the world skyrocketing and worries about climate change moving to the forefront of policy, new solutions for energy independence will need to be addressed. The U.S. recently began a return to "new" old technology, in the way of nuclear power. Atomic energy offers a relatively cheap and carbon-clean power source, and can be used as a bridge until other renewables, such as solar and wind, become cost effective. Nuclear power around the world is gaining steam and in America it is coming with a presidential guarantee.

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The U.S. Goes Nuclear
This past week, President Obama announced an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the first new nuclear power plant to be constructed in 27 years. These loan guarantees would cover 70% of Southern Company's (NYSE: SO) share of the project with Shaw Group (NASDAQ: SHAW) providing construction to the two Westinghouse-designed A1000 reactors. Obama hopes the $14 billion project will create thousands of construction jobs while meeting the nation's growing energy needs with regards to climate change. The U.S. is certainly behind in the nuclear renaissance that has swept the world since the 1970s. Both Japan and France have long used the technology to fund their energy needs and the power source is gaining traction in emerging markets. Of the 56 reactors currently being built around the globe, 21 are in China and five are in India.

Grabbing at Grants
The case for nuclear energy is gaining steam in the U.S. as the president wants to triple the previous loan guarantee program to nearly $54 billion dollars and develop a plan for dealing with the generated waste. While Southern was the first, it still leaves $46 billion up for grabs as
NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) and Scana (NYSE: SCG) remain frontrunners for these previous grants.

Adding a Healthy Glow to Portfolio
Investors can place their bets with any of the three possible grant winners, but there are other ways to play America's and, for that matter, the world's growing nuclear population. Investors wanting an all-in-one approach have two exchanged-traded funds (ETFs) to choose from. However, the Market Vectors Nuclear Energy ETF (NYSE: NLR) has outperformed its rival iShares S&P Global Nuclear Energy Index (NYSE: NUCL) due to its increased weighting in uranium miners, which will continue to profit well after the reactors are built. Investors wanting to play the nuclear world resurgence should focus on the companies that produce the materials needed to fuel these power plants.

Cameco (NYSE: CCJ) controls 15% of the world's uranium market, operating four major mines in North America. The company is currently developing two mines, one in Canada, the other in Kazakhstan. While the stock has been punished for mistakes made over the past few years, the shares could gain as the worldwide supply of uranium tightens. As a bonus for investors, Cameco also mines gold from several of its projects, which helps cushion profits when uranium prices are low and provide additional profits when the price of gold is up.

Denison Mines (NYSE: DNN) operates three mines in the U.S. and has interest in two uranium mills needed to convert the mineral for use in power plants. The company is heavily engaged in exploration projects throughout Canada, the United States, Mongolia and Zambia. Currently fetching less than $2, shares of the miner are trading below book value at a price/book of 0.55.

Bottom Line
The U.S. and the world are experiencing a nuclear renaissance as the problems of power consumption and climate change are ever increasing. Investors would be wise to take notice and add shares of nuclear-sector companies to their portfolios for the long haul. A great place to start would be with the miners of uranium. (Innovations in energy and consumption grow as companies adopt them to reduce costs. To learn more, read Clean Or Green Technology Investing.)

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