The Nuclear Industry
The nuclear industry is global, and comprises many diverse participants from individuals to companies, industry associations to UN and other inter-governmental bodies, and also appointed bodies responsible to national governments.
Nuclear reactor builders and operators
Central to it are the companies and government corporations or utilities set up to generate electricity. These are usually also responsible for building the nuclear power plants, and draw upon reactor and other vendor companies and a wide range of contractors to achieve this.
Mines, Nuclear Fuel, Storage and Waste
Servicing the electricity generation are companies providing fuel. These range from mining companies through companies providing services to prepare the fuel for use in reactors – conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication are the three main categories.
After the fuel is used in a reactor it is initially stored there, but another range of service companies then play roles in management, possibly reprocessing, and disposal of final wastes.
Most of these companies have a technology or engineering base, but there are also trading companies involved with fuel supply, connecting these.
Any major industry in any country is subject to regulation by governments, and for nuclear power the national regulators appointed by them play an important role in approving the technology used, where it is sited, and how it is operated.
Research and Development
Behind all the above front-line roles are organisations responsible for research and development (R&D), for setting engineering standards, and for design of equipment.
Nuclear plants need a lot of investment to build, and the financial services sector has a vital role in providing finance for capital works. Related to this are insurance of plants and third party liability insurance, without which plants cannot operate.
The industry as a whole receives income through the sales of electricity generated in its nuclear power plants.
National and International Organisations
Beyond the role of national governments is that of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is responsible for implementing international agreements specific to nuclear power, notably the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which enables international collaboration on the peaceful uses of atomic energy while providing mutual assurance that civil programs remain so.
At a less formal level there is a lot of international collaboration through the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) which plays a major role in improving the safety and reliability of reactor operation and keeping it at a high standard. In some countries there are corresponding national organisations linking different operators.
The World Nuclear Association (WNA) is the international trade association linking companies and organisations worldwide to address matters of common concern collaboratively. In each country and for Europe collectively there are corresponding industry associations which have a mutual support and lobbying function to interface with governments.
All this adds up to a major and diverse collections of corporate and government players who together make the industry function efficiently.