Advanced nuclear energy primed for private investment

Rod Adams’ Atomic Insights blog published a piece in 2018 that asked an important question: “How do we match the ingenuity and enthusiasm of atomic innovators with the large magnitude financing sources needed to advance the field so it can become a major success story?”

This post reflected Mr. Adams’ ruminations following the conclusion of the 5th annual Advanced Reactor Technical Summit, hosted by the Nuclear Infrastructure Council.  It seemed that difficulty obtaining financing had been identified as a hindrance to those groups working to develop new nuclear technologies, causing some aspiring entrants to slow down efforts and others to drop out entirely.

Although there were no clear successes yet, the field nontheless was maturing and Mr. Adams opined that it was “ripe for investors willing to side-step conventional wisdom so that they can be in at the ground floor.” Taking the metaphor even further, Adams wrote, “In my opinion, the foundation and basement level investors have completed enough of their tasks to declare that the remainder of the structure is ready for construction.”

Recognizing that investing in nuclear remained too risky for “widows, orphans or near term retirement funds,” there were some “Impressive opportunities available for those with a greater appetite for risk or who understand the importance of long term, patient investing.” 

On the plus side, the addressable energy markets where advanced nuclear could sell into are enormous, leaving plenty of opportunity for numerous contenders within a universe of potential suppliers of new technologies that was limited in size.

On the other hand, a problem was seen in the fact that virtually all of the then participating companies were either small, not-yet-public start-ups only accessible to investors of a certain sophistication or wealth, or they were very large public companies with just modest levels of involvement in advanced nuclear compared to their overall size.

These two features made it “difficult for people with modest resources but significant professional understanding of the opportunities to make strategic, long term, focused investments in the field.”

At the end of this article, Mr. Adams exhorted anyone in his audience to reach out to him “with thoughts about developing mechanisms for investors with moderate resources and long time horizons to focus part of the portfolio in this potentially high payoff field.”  This is what initially motivated Valerie to reach out in the spring of 2018 to discuss her thoughts about launching a fund to invest in advanced nuclear.

Read Rod Adams’ Advanced nuclear energy systems are ready for investors who seek ground floor opportunities, the 2018 Atomic Insights post that caused Valerie to reach out to Rod and inspired the formation of Nucleation Capital.