The global economy is facing its biggest test amid an energy crunch that refuses to fizzle away. Oil prices powering to seven-year highs above the $80 a barrel level have once again affirmed the need for alternative energy sources. With the fight against climate change intensifying, it’s becoming increasingly clear that nuclear energy could play a key role in powering a carbon-free society.

Consequently, it does not come as a surprise that the long-term demand for uranium, a key component in the generation of nuclear energy, is on the rise. Economies worldwide are increasingly turning to nuclear fuel to solve their energy problems, given that solar and wind can at times be unreliable sources for powering critical electrical grids.

Amid the increased focus on Nuclear energy, a number of stocks continue to elicit strong interest as investors look to gain exposure into the burgeoning sector. Below are some of the top 10 nuclear power linked stocks

Cameco Corp (NYSE: CCJ)

Billed as the world’s largest publicly traded uranium company, Cameco Corp offers ideal exposure to investors eyeing opportunities around nuclear energy stocks. The stock is up by more than 80% for the year, affirming strengthened investors’ confidence about its long-term prospects.

Chart showing Cameco Corp strong price gain

Cameco stands out partly because it produces over 534 million pounds of uranium and has over 455 million pounds of probable mineral reserves. Consequently, it is a leading supplier of uranium, a key component in generating nuclear power.

Growing demand for alternative energy sources amid the race to combat carbon emissions and reliance on oil continues to drive uranium prices higher. Cameco remains well-positioned to generate significant sales from its uranium deposits and reserves and generate significant long-term shareholder value.

Ur-Energy Inc. (NYSE: URG)

Ur-Energy Inc. has been one of the best-performing stocks in the nuclear energy space this year. The penny stock has been up by more than 100% over the past 12 months outperforming the overall market. It accrues its edge on being one of the biggest uranium mining, recovery, and processing companies.

Chart showing UR-Energy 100% plus gain

The Colorado-based company owns 12 uranium-related mining interests across the United States. It is also the owner of 1,800 unpatented mining claims.

Uranium Royalty Corp. (NASDAQ: UROY)

There are various ways of gaining exposure to the burgeoning nuclear energy sector. One of the smart plays is Uranium Royalty Corp, which accords investors opportunities to bet on uranium-related royalties streams, debt, and equity.

Chart showing UROY 200% plus gain

The vast exposure in the sector explains why the stock has returned more than 230% to investors over the past 12 months. The company currently holds royalty interests in many projects, including Church Rock, Dewey-Burdock, Lance, Roca Honda, and Reno Creek.

Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ: LTBR)

Lightbridge Corporation would be a smart play for any investor eyeing exposure to nuclear fuel technology. Additionally, the company provides nuclear energy consulting services. Its core business revolves around trying to reduce the environmental impact of nuclear technology, which has derailed its adoption in many countries.

Chart showing Lightbridge  price action

The incorporation and adoption of nuclear energy will depend greatly on whether it is safe and manageable, following Japan’s nuclear meltdown a few years back. The company’s technology and services continue to elicit strong demand, which explains why the stock has continued to outperform the overall market. Lightbridge Corporation is up by more than 70% for the year.

Nexgen Energy Ltd (NYSE: NXE)

Nexgen Energy is home to the largest deposits of high-grade uranium. Likewise, it would be an ideal pick for any investor looking for exposure in the sector amid rising uranium prices. The company owns a big portfolio of uranium exploration assets in Canada.

Chart showing Nexgen Energy at record highs

The company is well-positioned to become the largest Uranium producer as it owns the largest uranium deposits in the world. The stock has continued to outperform the overall market, hitting an all-time high amid the spike in uranium prices.

Global X Uranium ETF (NYSE: URA)

Global X Uranium would be a safe bet to investors who do not wish to own individual stocks in the nuclear energy space. The ETF offers one of the best exposure to uranium with tons of different companies that are involved in the commodity mining and products of nuclear components.

Chart showing impressive run to record highs

Some of the big picks in the ETF include Cameco Corp, Nexgen Energy LTD, and Denison Mines Corp. Given the impressive portfolio, it does not come as a surprise that the ETF is up by more than 60% for the year.

In addition, to share price appreciation, Global X Uranium also offers a 0.62% dividend yield, perfect for anyone looking to generate some passive income on the side.

North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF

North Shore Global Uranium Mining ETF is another worthy play for any investor looking to gain exposure to companies involved in uranium mining. The ETF also invests in companies that hold the actual component.

Some of the ETF’s biggest stock holdings include Cameco and Kazatomprom. The ETF has assets under management worth more than $500 million. It also boasts of a 1.8% dividend yield.

Energy Fuels (NYSE: UUUU)

Energy Fuels was at one time one of the biggest companies in the uranium mining business in the US. It has remained a steady competitor in recent years with massive mining operations in Utah and through the southwestern US.

Chart showing UUUU at record highs

The company has many uranium mines on standby and a significant supply of US-produced uranium. That said, the company remains well-positioned to meet the ever-growing demand for uranium needed to power energy plants. Additionally, it has been expanding its footprint into rare earth metals.

Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE: UEC)

While a penny stock, Uranium Energy Corp is a smart play for investors eyeing long-term exposure around nuclear energy stocks. The company boasts of one of the largest catalogs of uranium exploration in the US. Its main properties are located in Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Chart showing UEC near all-time highs

While trading at about $3 a share, Uranium Energy Corp would be a safe bet for investors looking to gain exposure as demand and price for uranium continue to rise. The company continues to show a good investment thesis, given its impressive presence in the US.

Denison Mines Corp. (NYSE: DNN)

Denison Mines Corp is another must-watch nuclear energy stock engaged in uranium exploration development and production. The company was founded in 1997, with its stock generating over 150% over the past 12 months, making it an ideal pick for value investors.

Chart showing DNN near all-time highs

In the recent past, it has discovered new high-grade uranium mineralization at McClean Lake. While the company has made a name for it in Uranium mining, it has also expanded its footprint into other areas.

Bottom line

A wave of nuclear energy operations has been gaining momentum in recent years outside the US. China, India, Egypt, and Turkey are some of the countries investing big in nuclear reactors. Consequently, demand for uranium is expected to continue rising and drive more interest in the above-mentioned uranium play stocks.