Cameco and Brookfield Renewable Partners announced an agreement to acquire Westinghouse Electric for close to $7.9 billion, yet another sign of the increasing interest in nuclear.

The deal brings Westinghouse’s reactors under Cameco, one of the world’s largest suppliers of uranium fuel; and Brookfield Renewable, one of the world’s largest clean energy investors.

“Every credible net-zero pathway relies on significant growth in nuclear power,” said Mark Carney, Brookfield vice-chair and head of Transition Investing.

“We’re witnessing some of the best market fundamentals we’ve ever seen in the nuclear energy sector,” added Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco.

Westinghouse Electric emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy four years ago, and makes technology used in close to half of the world’s nuclear power plants.

The total enterprise value for Westinghouse is $7.875 billion. The company’s existing debt structure will remain in place, leaving an estimated $4.5 billion equity cost to the consortium, subject to closing adjustments.

Brookfield Renewable and its institutional partners will own a 51% interest in Westinghouse and Cameco will own 49%. The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2023 and is subject to closing conditions and approvals.

Nuclear power needs to play a significant role in helping meet net-zero goals globally, according to a June 2022 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

IEA says nuclear can reduce reliance on fossil fuels, cut carbon dioxide emissions and provide flexibility in energy systems that continue to integrate higher shares of renewables.

Push for a micro reactor

Westinghouse is currently developing the eVinci micro reactor and recently signed an agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission initiating a technical design assessment for the technology.

The eVinci micro reactor could serve in several applications: Electricity and heating for remote communities and islands, industrial sites, data centers, universities, defense facilities, marine propulsion, hydrogen generation and water purification.

Westinghouse touts the micro reactor’s solid core and advanced heat pipes, which enable passive core heat extraction and allow for autonomous operation and load following capabilities. The reactor is designed to provide up to 5 MWe of combined heat and power.

According to the company, other benefits of eVinci include an easily transportable generator; a 40-year design life with three-plus year refueling interval; and a target of less than 30 days of on-site installation.

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