As the prospects for new nuclear power plant construction improve, the numerous small suppliers of components like heat exchanger tubes, valves, control rods, specialty materials, and fuel components are seeing strong improvements in their order books. One French supplier of nickel alloy tubes, which was laying people off five years ago, has recently received orders that have booked up its existing capacity for the next four years.
The industry, having suffered through an extended slump, is lean and apparently profitable with little excess capacity. With few prospects for growth during the past two decades, prospective new employees have found other paths, leaving an industry with a large portion of older workers. The component suppliers are partnering with large companies, government agencies and educational and training institutions to find ways to alleviate the shortfalls in both capital investment and personnel training.
I say again, it is an exciting time to be a nuke. Maybe it is time for me to brush up on that French I took in high school and college.