Global Nuclear Waste Recycling Market: Introduction
- The most extensively used method for disposal of nuclear waste is to bury it deep under the ground. High level of radioactive wastes require deeper grounds, as they are extremely toxic and dangerous.
- Nuclear waste is recyclable. Once the reactor fuel i.e. uranium or thorium is used in the reactor, it can be treated and put into another reactor as a fuel.
- Recycling of used fuel to recover uranium and plutonium (Pu) avoids wastage of a valuable resource. Most of the used fuel i.e. about 96% is uranium, less than 1% is U-235, and up to 1% is plutonium.
- According to the World Nuclear Association, from 2010 to 2030, around 400,000 tons of used fuel is expected to be generated worldwide. Out of this, 60,000 tons is expected to be generated in North America and 69,000 tons in Europe.
Key Drivers of Global Nuclear Waste Recycling Market
- Nuclear power plant decommissioning activities generate a lot of radioactive waste, which requires several years for total cleanup. Decommissioning would become an increasingly important part of the nuclear sector activity, as several reactors are expected to reach their technical lifespan very soon. This would boost the demand for nuclear waste recycling services. To date, over 110 commercial power reactors, over 250 research reactors, 48 prototype reactors, and a large number of fuel cycle facilities have been retired from operation.
- Government regulations to minimize harmful emissions are increasing in number continuously. Various environmental agencies are focusing on the usage of efficient energy. This has led to adoption of eco- friendly alternatives. Worldwide use of nuclear power reduces emissions of CO2 by 2% annually. Hence, a majority of countries are investing significantly in nuclear power plants. This would provide lucrative opportunities to the global nuclear waste recycling market in the near future.
- Handling nuclear waste and maintenance materials is highly difficult. Lack of awareness regarding proper collection and segregation of recycled waste and that of skilled labor are major factors restraining the global nuclear waste recycling market. Furthermore, high initial investments also restrain the market.
Chemical Waste and Thermal Treatment Segments to Witness Attractive Opportunities
- The global nuclear waste recycling market can be segmented based on waste source, reactor type, and region
- In terms of waste source, the global nuclear waste recycling market can be divided into nuclear power reactors, nuclear fuel cycle facilities, and others. The nuclear power reactors segment dominated the global nuclear waste recycling market in 2018.
- Based on reactor type, the global nuclear waste recycling market can be classified into light water reactor (LWR) and heavy water reactor (HWR)
Europe to Hold a Major Share of Global Nuclear Waste Recycling Market
- In terms of region, the global nuclear waste recycling market can be classified into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa
- Europe dominated the global nuclear waste recycling market in 2018. France leads the Europe as well as global nuclear waste recycling market. Recycling spent nuclear fuel is a major challenge for nuclear plant operators, as it contains highly toxic radioactive material. The La Hague nuclear reprocessing facility in France has been built to recycle spent nuclear fuel.
- The U.K is also another significant market for nuclear waste recycling in Europe. The Thorp facility in the U.K., which was opened in 1994, has processed 9,331 tons of used nuclear fuel from 30 customers in nine countries worldwide since then.
- The market in Asia Pacific is expected to expand at the maximum CAGR during the forecast period. Increasing number of nuclear power plants as well as nuclear fuel recycling facilities is driving the market in the region. In January 2011, India opened a new nuclear fuel recycling facility in Tarapur, Maharashtra. This facility would be breaking down highly radioactive, used nuclear fuel to extract uranium and plutonium for reuse in fast neutron reactors.
- In terms of revenue, India and Japan are key contributors to the Asia Pacific nuclear waste recycling market
- The nuclear waste recycling market in North America is expected to expand at a sluggish pace during the forecast period. According to the World Nuclear Association, the number of operable reactors in the U.S. was 99 in 2017.
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Key Players Operating in Global Nuclear Waste Recycling Market
The global nuclear waste recycling market is highly concentrated, with major manufacturers accounting for approximately 40%–45% of the market share. Some of the key players operating in the global nuclear waste recycling market are:
- Orano Group
- JGC Holdings Corporation
- Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.