Could Floating Nuclear Power Stations Bring New Opportunities for Offshore Mooring Systems Market?

The centuries-long drilling of onshore oil and gas fields has had several far reaching impacts on not just the environment but also on hydrocarbon reserves. This has now prompted companies to turn toward offshore reserves, which lie hundreds of feet under water. That has, in turn, created attractive economic prospects for companies in the global offshore mooring systems market. A recent market research report by Transparency Market Research reckons that the global market for offshore mooring systems will account for US$1.16 bn by 2021. The firm says that the market was worth US$928.3 mn in 2014 and will show a CAGR of 3.6% between 2015 and 2021.

An offshore mooring system enables oil and gas companies to seamlessly conduct operations in the middle of an ocean – almost as if they were on ground. This is done by mooring large floating platforms or ships in deep waters. Where subsea exploration, drilling, or production is required, the role of offshore mooring systems becomes essential.

While the oil and gas sector is the key consumer in the offshore mooring systems market, there’s another sector where new opportunities are emerging on the horizon: nuclear energy generation.

What’s Prompting the Nuclear Energy Industry to go Offshore?

Nuclear power stations built on the ground have been the convention but not without their share of controversies. There are numerous instances across the world where new nuclear projects have been met with fierce opposition. Simply put, most people wouldn’t want a nuclear power station in their backyard. Moreover, nuclear power stations located around a populated area could spell doom in the event of a disaster – be it natural or manmade.

That, and many other drawbacks of on-ground nuclear reactors, has prompted the nuclear engineering community to consider offshore nuclear reactors. That essentially means nuclear reactors that are moored offshore where the waters are thousands of feet deep.

The offshore mooring systems market could use this idea to develop new systems and solutions meant specifically for nuclear reactors. The concept will likely catch on steadily in the years to come because of the following advantages of floating nuclear reactors:
  • Nuclear reactors need an uninterrupted supply of water to keep temperatures under the specified level. That’s much easier and practical when offshore mooring of nuclear power stations enters the picture.
  • With the rapid development of subsea transmission systems in recent years, the power generated by the nuclear reactors can easily be transmitted onshore using a network of undersea cables.
  • What happens when it’s time to decommission the floating nuclear power station? It can simply be towed away to the desired location or decommissioned at sea in compliance with the prevailing safety and environmental mandates.
At a time when finding new onshore sites for nuclear reactors is becoming a process mired in opposition from local communities, environmental activists, and even political parties, offshore mooring systems for nuclear reactors could hold a ready solution. The time has indeed come for companies in the offshore mooring systems market to look beyond the oil and gas industry and capitalize on opportunities elsewhere too. 

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