Germany’s nuclear exit came into focus as the nation’s utilities announced plans to build and modernize 84 power plants delivering 43 gigawatts of electricity over the next decade. The move is a challenge to the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to provide the regulatory framework for the $79 billion undertaking. Included on the menu will be 17 coal plants, 29 gas burners, we offshore wind farms and 10 pumped storage plants to service unreliable renewable sources. At the same time, Siemens, the country’s largest energy provider, announced it was cutting its profit forecast for the next quarter because of regulatory delays in going forward with offshore wind projects. Some commentators are already noting that the turn away from nuclear essentially means going back to coal.
Wind investment has picked up, hitting $240 million last quarter as opposed to only $12 million in the previous quarter. The US and the UK announced a joint project to develop a floating wind turbine that will cut costs by eliminating the need to anchor windmills to the ocean floor. A wind farm has been proposed for the Everglades but NV Energy has pulled out of a similar project in Nevada because of problems with the sage grouse.
,Dr. Mohammad Al-Sada, Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry (above) has told the world that natural gas will be the key to progress for developing countries and has offered his country’s resources for the task. Qatar has the world’s largest gas reserves. India immediately took up the offer by announcing it will buy more Qatari gas. Conflict between Egypt and Israel has soured a deal, however, as the new Islamist government announced it will end the supply arrangement that has been in place since the Egypt-Israeli rapprochement of 1979.
Solar energy continues to enter the new era of uncertainty as the effort to cover Los Angeles rooftops with PV panels stalls over costs and bureaucratic delays. NPR also reports that neighborhood objections are becoming a major impediment to rooftop installations. A supply glut has hit the polysilicon wafer industry and Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp. has closed a manufacturing plant. But Trevor Curwin of CNBC reports that small-scale solar is doing better than the giant utility-scale installations.
Finally, Missouri’s plans to construct the nation’s first small modular reactor (SMR) at the Callaway Nuclear Station is drawing attention to the possibility that small nukes may be the way to go. Ameren, a Missouri utility, and Westinghouse, which has its own SMR design, are partnering on the project. The Department of Energy’s recent announcement of $452 million to aid two SMR projects has stirred interest in South Carolina, where NuHub and NuScale, an Oregon company, will collaborate to try to win one of the grants. The flurry of activity prompts OilPrice.com to ask whether SMRs will once again make nuclear attractive to investors.