The Top 4 Uranium ETFs: Invest in Nuclear Power

Nuclear power has a bad rap. In fact, most environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds screen out nuclear energy stocks. Yet many scientists and environmentalists, including Bill Gates, argue that we can’t get to net zero carbon without nuclear power. Many countries, notably China, are planning new nuclear reactors. Here is how you can invest in nuclear energy today.

Anna Ng   Updated March 25th, 2022

Some of our posts may contain links from our affiliate partners. However, this does not influence our opinions or ratings. Please read our Terms and Conditions for more information.

Is nuclear power a solution to climate change?

Nuclear power has a lot of problems. Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build, nobody wants a nuclear reactor in their backyard, and nuclear waste is hard to store. Human error can cause accidents, notably the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, and everyone has heard of Chernobyl.

Besides, uranium, the mineral used by nuclear reactors, can be converted for use in weapons. Unlike wind or solar, uranium is a finite resource, so nuclear energy is not 100% renewable.

And yet, many environmentalists, including Bill Gates, argue that we can and must resolve these problems because nuclear power is essential in solving climate change. Gates has suggested that cars kill people too (in fact, many more than nuclear power), and we have made cars much safer through innovation.

In addition, millions of people die from pollution caused by fossil fuels each year. (One study shows that pollution from fossil fuels killed 8.7 million people in 2018 alone.)

Russia’s war in Ukraine has also shifted the thinking about nuclear power. Europe and especially Germany, which has prematurely retired its nuclear reactors, is looking for energy supplies that can replace the reliance on Russian oil and gas. For example, Belgium may no longer be retiring its nuclear reactors by 2025, as originally planned.

Why nuclear power is valuable

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), nuclear power is the second largest source of low-carbon electricity today. 10% of the world’s electricity was generated from nuclear energy in 2019. Nuclear power also represents about 20% of the U.S. energy supply and 70% of the energy generation in France.

Nuclear power is valuable because it doesn’t emit carbon, doesn’t require much land, and is always there. Other sources of clean energy, like wind and solar, are intermittent, seasonal, and require expensive infrastructure to transport them from places where they are abundant to those where they are not. Solar and wind farms also take up a lot of space, and permits for offshore wind in the U.S. are hard to come by.

Unlike wind and solar, nuclear doesn’t rely on breakthrough innovation in energy storage that would enable us to store wind and solar power when they are plentiful.

Why nuclear power should grow

Despite the setback to nuclear energy following the Fukushima disaster, the world is waking up to the importance of nuclear power in reducing emissions. Although the U.S. has retired 40 nuclear reactors since 1960, with retirements hitting a record in 2021, the tide is starting to shift.

In the U.S., the Biden administration has included nuclear power in its clean energy plan. The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act, reintroduced in June 2021, seeks to expand America’s nuclear energy sector. In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy invested $61 million in nuclear R&D projects across America.

Founded by Bill Gates, the nuclear innovation company TerraPower is building its first nuclear power plant in Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Energy announced a $160 million investment in TerraPower and X-Energy, a nuclear reactor and fuel design engineering company. Nuclear fusion startups that are trying to reinvent how nuclear power is generated are also raising billions in funding.

Countries outside the U.S. are also waking up to the nuclear promise. There are 445 nuclear reactors globally. According to the World Nuclear Association, 54 more are under construction. More are being planned. China has 51 reactors, generating less than 5% of its electricity needs from nuclear. 18 more are under construction.

If you want to participate in the nuclear power revival, you have several options.

Make an impact with your money

Best robo-advisor for green investing

Fees

0.25%

Minimum

$10


Get a green credit card

Fees

$60/year

Minimum

$0

Build custom portfolios for free

Fees

$0

$125 for M1 Plus

Minimum

$100

Save and invest spare change

Fees

$3-$5 / month

Minimum

$5

Work with human advisors

Fees

0.49%-0.89%

Minimum

$100,000

Funds that invest in nuclear energy

There are three U.S.-based ETFs that invest in nuclear energy, generally through stocks in uranium miners or utilities. One closed-end fund also buys physical uranium.

Used as a nuclear fuel, uranium is a radioactive metal extracted from the ground. The largest deposits of uranium are in Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada.

Uranium prices have climbed from $25 per pound in January 2020 to nearly $50 in March 2022.

Source: Cameco

The top four uranium and nuclear funds

FundTickerFund TypeExpense RatioAssets ($m)YTD Performance
Global X Uranium ETF URAETF0.69%1,93017%
North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF URNMETF0.85%1,02018%
VanEck Uranium+Nuclear Energy ETF NLRETF0.61%433%
Sprott Physical Uranium Trust SRUUFClosed-end fund0.35%3,13033%

Data as of 3/25/2022

Global X Uranium ETF (URA)

  • Assets under management: $1.9 billion
  • Holdings: 51
  • Expense ratio: 0.69%

Launched in 2010, the Global X Uranium ETF (URA) is up 66% in 2021 and 17% in 2022 through mid-March. It is the largest uranium stock ETF available today. The fund tracks a basket of 40-50 companies involved in uranium mining and the production of nuclear components.

The fund’s top investments are uranium miners in Canada and Kazakhstan. Its top three holdings are Canadian uranium miners Cameco (CCJ) and NexGen Energy (NXE) and Kazakh miner KazAtomProm. Cameco alone is 25% of the fund. Around 50% of the fund’s assets are in Canada, followed by Australia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan.

North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF (URNM)

  • Assets under management: $1 billion
  • Holdings: 36
  • Expense ratio: 0.85%

Launched in 2019, the North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF (URNM) is the second-largest uranium ETF. The fund was up 92% in 2021 and 18% year-to-date.

Like URA, the fund invests in uranium miners in Canada, Kazakhstan, and Australia. URNM also invests in physical uranium. Potential investments are identified through industry publications review, sell-side research, and fundamental research, as well as meetings with management.

The top three holdings are Canadian uranium miner Cameco (CCJ), Kazakh miner KazAtomProm, and the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (more on that below). 90% of URNM’s holdings are also in URA, though URA has more holdings (51 to URNM’s 36.)

VanEck Uranium+Nuclear Energy ETF (NLR)

  • Assets under management: $43 million
  • Holdings: 27
  • Expense ratio: 0.61%

Launched in 2007, the VanEck Uranium+Nuclear Energy ETF (NLR) is very different from the two above-mentioned uranium ETFs, URA and URNM. URA and URNM mostly invest in uranium miners, but NLR is focused on utilities that produce nuclear energy. (Utilities are 83% of the fund’s assets.) The fund was up 13% in 2021 and 3% year-to-date.

In fact, URA and NLR have three overlapping holdings out of NLR’s 27. NLR mostly invests in U.S. and Japanese companies, and its top three holdings are Duke Energy (DUK), Dominion Energy (D), and Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG). Because of its overexposure to utilities, NLR underperformed the miner-investing peers.

Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (SRUUF)

  • Assets under management: $3.1 billion
  • Expense ratio: 0.35%

If you don’t want to invest in miners, the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (SRUUF) offers a way to invest in uranium the commodity directly. Listed in July 2021 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, The Sprott Physical Uranium Trust is the world’s largest physical uranium fund. This is a closed-end fund you can buy through major brokers. It may also be responsible for a lot of the 2021 rally in uranium prices. The fund is up another 33% in 2022 through the end of March.

Make an impact with your money

Best robo-advisor for green investing

Fees

0.25%

Minimum

$10


Get a green credit card

Fees

$60/year

Minimum

$0

Build custom portfolios for free

Fees

$0

$125 for M1 Plus

Minimum

$100

Save and invest spare change

Fees

$3-$5 / month

Minimum

$5

Work with human advisors

Fees

0.49%-0.89%

Minimum

$100,000

Nuclear energy stocks

Individual uranium and nuclear power stocks are riskier than ETFs because you can be subject to idiosyncratic risks. But if you like stocks, here are some uranium mining ideas:

Cameco (CCJ)

  • Market capitalization: $11.6 billion
  • Year-to-date return: 29%

Based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Cameco is the largest publicly traded uranium company. It owns uranium mines worldwide, including in Canada, Kazakhstan, and Australia. In 2020, Cameco accounted for 7% of global uranium production. It holds about 461 million pounds of proven and probable reserves on three continents. The stock returned 66% in 2021 and another 29% year-to-date.

NexGen Energy (NXE)

  • Market capitalization: 3.5 billion CAD
  • Year-to-date return: 24%

NexGen Energy is another Canadian uranium miner. It owns a portfolio of uranium exploration assets in the Athabasca Basin in Canada.

Denison Mines Corp (DNN)

  • Market capitalization: $1.4 billion
  • Year-to-date return: 12%

Denison Mines Corp. is a Canadian uranium miner best known for its uranium mining in the Athabasca Basin region of northern Saskatchewan, Canada.

🔔 Looking for more nuclear stocks? See the list of the top uranium stocks or learn to invest in nuclear fusion.


Nuclear energy will likely remain controversial, but it is moving back into the spotlight. If you believe in its promise, there are multiple ways you can invest.

NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. The content is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as investment advice.

Read more

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a nuclear ETF?

There are four funds that let you invest in nuclear energy or uranium, an element that powers nuclear reactors. They are the Global X Uranium ETF (URA), the North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF (URNM), the VanEck Uranium+Nuclear Energy ETF (NLR), and the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (SRUUF).

How can I invest in the nuclear sector?

You can invest in the nuclear sector through nuclear/uranium stocks, ETFs like URA that buy uranium miners or uranium utilities, or funds that buy physical uranium like SRUUF. If you are an accredited investor, you may also be able to access nuclear fusion stocks.

Which is the best ETF for uranium?

If you want to invest in physical uranium, the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (SRUUF) is the best and only way of investing if you are a U.S.-based investor. If you want to buy uranium miner stocks, the best options are ETFs like URA and URNM. If you want to invest in utilities that rely on nuclear energy, consider NLR, another ETF.