As more and more people become concerned about fossil fuels and carbon emissions, nuclear energy and its exchange traded fund (ETF) are becoming an ever more popular option, if not solution, to our energy quandary.

President-elect Barack Obama has proposed using $150 billion to create a “clean-energy” future and cut carbon emissions in the United States by 80% by 2050, reports Robin Goldwyn Blumenthal for Barron’s. Nuclear plants are important producers of energy with the added benefit of no carbon emissions.

With the advent of better technologies, nuclear energy has become safer and safety concerns from the previous nascent era of the nuclear age have eased.

Around 17 applicants are pending on governmental approval for 26 new nuclear plants. Current companies operating 104 existing nuclear plants have lower costs compared to rivals such as coal-fire plants, which have given them an advantage in recessionary times. Nuclear power plants will also be better off in the long-term if a carbon tax is imposed.

But there are some concerns over costs of building new plants. Estimates put new nuclear plants at five times the cost of natural-gas plants. It is the nuclear plants’ lower operating costs versus other energy producers that allows them to maintain competitiveness in regards to capital costs. The nuclear energy industry and its ETF had been showing strong numbers in recent weeks, inching above its 50-day moving average. However, it’s been down for the last couple days.

  • Market Vectors Nuclear Energy ETF (NLR): up 6.7% in the last month

ETF NLR performance

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.