The Seeds of the Next Power Boom were Sown in the Last Bust

The electric power industry is driven by boom and bust cycles as market fundamentals and volatility sends signals to market participants to speed up or slow down their efforts.   One of the lessons of that boom and bust experience is that seeds of the next boom are sown in the bust of the last business cycle.  By that I mean the enthusiasm of the boom stage of the market always attracts new entrants and leads to excess which volatility increases before the fundamentals of supply and demand swing …Continue Reading »

Mergers and Market Competition Separate Energy Princes from Regulatory Frogs

If you wonder why there are not more mergers of utility companies in the United States, the lessons from the experience of Exelon and Constellation will open your eyes. It appears that these two companies will finally get regulatory permission to get married, but both have had to kiss a lot of frogs before they found the prince or princess emerging from this deal. We need more mergers of good performing utilities like these two if we are to live into the potential of smart grid and a clean …Continue Reading »

Is the Government's War against Baseload Power going Nuclear?

In the aftermath of the August 23rd 5.8 magnitude earthquake on the East coast of the US the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) dispatched teams of experts to several of the nuclear plants most affected by the quake to assess any damage to the plants or nuclear safety issues.  The plants performed as designed during the quake and powered down or were routinely removed from service for inspection, as of today we know of no material damage to any nuclear plant from the quake. This action was in …Continue Reading »

Germany's Nuclear Spring

Is Germany’s decision to retire its nuclear power plants and turn to renewable energy the result of real concerns over the safety of the German nuclear plants---or is it just politics?  And if it is the latter will German voters hold Angela Merkel’s hand and jump off the cliff---or just push her? In 2010, Chancellor Merkel used some of her political chits to force approval of an unpopular life extension plan for Germany’s nuclear power plant operators pushing the retirement dates out to 2036. …Continue Reading »

Is there a Small Modular Nuke in our Distributed Energy Future?

WANTED: A Small Modular Reactor for our Nuclear Army’s Energy Future If necessity is the mother of invention, the US Department of Defense is one of the world’s best R&D operations because the success of its missions and the safety of our military personnel depend upon it.  Projecting American military power around the world is a logistics challenge unlike any other.  Recently I stumbled across a presentation made by Colonel Paul E. Roege of the Army Capabilities Integration Center.  He was …Continue Reading »

Totally Big SunPower!

As if we needed any more evidence that solar energy has arrived as a mainstream resource, the announcement that French oil and gas giant Total (TOTF.PA) was acquiring a majority interest in solar giant SunPower (SPWRA) left little doubt. "The world future energy balance will be the result of a long-term transition in which renewable energies will take their place alongside conventional resources," Phillippe Boisseau, Total Gas and Power Division President. Total will pay up to US$1.37 billion …Continue Reading »

Big Nuke!

The announced combination of Exelon and Constellation is good news for the electric power industry and good news for nuclear power.  Both companies separately have struggled with false starts in the ‘dating game’ of industry consolidation and kissed a few frogs before they found their prince charming but this deal looks like a winner for all sides. You can read their version and spin on the merger at the merger website: www.exelonconstellationmerger.com. My take is this: The Merger is Good …Continue Reading »

Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future

Energy Secretary Chu announced his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future summarizing the Administration’s strategy on energy issues.  That it was announced on the White House blog in advance of several campaign fundraising President Obama was making was probably no coincidence. The Blueprint is more a resuscitation of what the Administration has been saying and doing rather than an ambitious new plan.  It is an optimistic, ‘feel good’ piece that celebratea America’s bright energy future.  As a …Continue Reading »

Wind and the Cooling Water Wars

I have chided the wind industry for being constant ‘whiners’ because virtually every press release from AWEA and every wind story is complaining about the lack of a renewable energy standard, the uncertainty of subsidies and tax grants and other factors that remind us how ‘on the dole’ the wind business continues to be. It does not have to be that way.  In 2005, I was part of a great research team that produced what turned out to be a pioneering report Renewable Energy: The Bottom Line that was …Continue Reading »

To Nuke or Not to Nuke: That is the EU Debate

The nuclear problems in Japan caused by the earthquake and tsunami are creating their own tsunami in Europe by raising anew the long simmering debate over the future of nuclear power in the EU.  While the Germans and the French see eye to eye on many things having to do with how the EU should be run, nuclear energy is not one of them. In a March 15-16, 2011 survey sponsored by EDF after the Japan earthquake of March 11th, 55 percent of French surveyed said they opposed shutting down nuclear …Continue Reading »