Is Chesapeake Energy the new sub-prime crisis? That’s the suggestion of Forbes’ Tim Mullaney. In any case, the news continues to be bad as Chessie upped its bridge loan to $4 billion and got a downgrade from Standard & Poor’s. The company discovered another $1 oil asset lying around but the stock still took a 5 percent hit. Carl Icahn is on the scene but can he rescue this mess? Stay tuned.
Gas exports may be moving ahead sooner than expected as Excelerate Energy revealed plans to build the country’s first floating LNG export terminal. To date export facilities have been perceived as huge, $5 billion land-based projects. Cheniere just announced it will sell $2 billion in stock to fund the project it just got permission to build in Sabine Pass, Louisiana. But Excelerate could accelerate the whole process by putting the liquefaction device on a boat. The capacity may be smaller but construction will be faster and ultimately the facility could move around the world, as oil drilling platforms now do.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was in Arizona touting the undertaking of a $25 million solar facility in Phoenix. Saudi Arabia announced ambitious plans to add an incredible 54,000 megawatts of renewables in the next two decades. Mike Holmes, a Canadian entrepreneur, is finding a good business in leasing solar panels on residential rooftops and California will get the world’s first all-solar cattle feedlot. Christopher Miles, on the Sustainable Business Forum, says fuel cells are finding a market as “renewables to go.”
The Department of Energy has reached an agreement to keep the Paducah (KY) Gaseous Diffusion Plant in operation for at least another year. The plant, which employs 1,200, will be recycling depleted uranium from the Tennessee Valley Authority and Washington State utility Energy Northwest. The DOE also announced it will distribute $47 million among several universities to train the next generation of nuclear scientists – if they’re going to be needed. Poland has tendered an offer to buy nuclear technology for its first reactor but Britain has slowed its nuclear rebuilding program and is now wondering if French Prime Minister Francois Hollande will cross them up even further by abandoning France’s nuclear program.
Finally, energy storage continues to make promising progress. Danielle Fong, (above)a 24-year-old prodigy who began college at age 12, has founded her own technology company to explore storing electricity with compressed air. EEStor continues to pursue its legendary ultracapacitor –although there is still skepticism abroad about the whole undertaking. Young startups in California pursuing storage technology find themselves frustrated by low natural gas prices but are looking to Asia and Europe to market their technology. And Scientific American points out that energy storage doesn’t just work for renewables. It could store power from base load generators as well.