Skip to main content

The West and the Wind

gregoire The Western Governors Association surprised a lot of people last year when it issued strong support for nuclear energy among its energy provisions. You can read Nuclear Notes’ coverage of that here.

As I wrote then, the interest isn’t that it was nuclear-friendly, it’s that it focused so intensely on energy issues. This year, they’ve gone further, sending a letter to some key Congressional chairmen:

The Western Governors' Association urged Congress to increase federal loan guarantee authority for new nuclear development by $36 billion, the amount included in President Obama's 2011 budget request. Doing so would enable the financing of six to nine additional new reactors beyond those previously authorized, the governors said.

And why do they want this?

Writing on behalf of their colleagues, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, WGA's chairman, and Washington Gov. Christine O. Gregoire, WGA vice chairman, said this increased loan guarantee volume "will encourage the kind of clean and reliable electric power that will ensure the long term economic and environmental sustainability of the West." 

The full letter is at the group’s site.

---

This feels a little ominous:

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today announced that with only 700 megawatts (MW) added in the second quarter of 2010, wind power installations to date this year have dropped by 57% and 71% from 2008 and 2009 levels, respectively.  Manufacturing investment also continues to lag below 2008 and 2009 levels.

Things have been tough all over, of course, and a chart at AWEA’s site shows that new build has surprisingly frequent rises and falls, meaning that this droop may be part of an established cycle. Might be both things in tandem. Still, ominous:

Beyond 2010: There is a dramatic drop in the project development pipeline after the 5,500 MW under construction—that is, there is no demand beyond the present “coasting momentum.”  Without stable policy, without demand and new power purchase agreements and without new turbine orders, the industry is sputtering out.

I looked around a bit to see if someone had a better notion as to the wherefores of this development. Candace Lombardi at Greentech takes a stab:

The U.S. has stalled on building wind turbine manufacturing facilities. Two manufacturing plants have opened so far in 2010, compared to seven plants opening in 2008 and five in 2009, according to the AWEA.

"In effect, the U.S. is losing the clean energy manufacturing race to Europe and China, which have firm, long-term renewable energy targets and policy commitments in place," AWEA said in a statement.

It really does seem a combination of a nascent technology stalling in the face of dreadful economic times and an uncertain legislative environment. No business has been immune to these factors, but wind really seems to have been caught square. It’ll be interesting to see if AWEA’s quarterly reports show improvement in the next year or two.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.

Comments

seth said…
On course Bonneville being a federal agency could just start building the nukes at a fraction of the cost of private utilities. No loan guarantees necessary.
Anonymous said…
Bonneville being a federal agency could just start building the nukes at a fraction of the cost of private utilities.

Why's that? they need to pay for money too.
gmax137 said…
try googling
"Bonneville WPPSS default"

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…