Irrational Pro-Renewable Policies, Nuclear Energy Tax Hikes Harm Spain’s Economic Recovery
Dec19

Irrational Pro-Renewable Policies, Nuclear Energy Tax Hikes Harm Spain’s Economic Recovery

Spain’s electrical supply industry is caught in a decade long death spiral of failed energy policy, over-reliance on imported fuels, and massive debt. Their new taxes on nuclear energy, an attempt to reduce utility debt, are likely to worsen their economy. Spain imports fuel for about 51 % of their electricity production in the form of coal and natural gas. Payments for these imported commodities contribute to a debilitating trade imbalance. Nuclear energy makes up the lion’s share (47%) of Spain’s domestic energy production. Their eight nuclear energy facilities add tens of thousands of jobs and billions of euros per year to the national economy while reducing the need for imported coal or gas.  At the same time Spain’s nuclear plants provide reliable, predictable energy without greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of renewable energy generated in Spain has increased considerably over the last several years.  In fact, in 2012 wind energy production exceeded nuclear energy production for brief periods when demand was low, some nuclear plants were out of service, and wind conditions were nearly optimal.  Unfortunately, Spain’s methods of encouraging investment in renewables have contributed to their current financial crises. The Spanish electricity industry is carrying $32 billion of debt, putting serious strain on an already faltering economy. Spain began deregulating their electricity supply system in the late 1990’s.  Their approach was eerily similar to the failed California experiment; they removed price controls to allow power generators to compete among themselves, but they limited rates paid by customers. As wholesale energy prices rose utilities were unable to recover the higher costs through higher rates to customers.  The result was predictable: electric utilities began loosing money on a grand scale.  Since 2005 annual “energy deficits” have been in the billions of euros per year.  With slight-of-hand economics, the Spanish government allowed utilities to “bank” their annual deficits against future earnings.  Unfortunately those future earnings never materialized and deficits ballooned. A the same time Spain (like California) began a heavily subsidized renewable energy program that included “feed-in tariffs” which guaranteed wind and solar generators above market prices for all of the energy they could produce.  Consequently utilities were forced to buy wind and solar energy at inflated rates, but were not allowed to recover the costs because of those same price controls.  Solar and wind energy investors raked in billions of euros per year while the utility deficit grew even faster.  By some accounts electric utility debt in Spain now stands at $32 billion. These out-of-whack energy policies cost Spanish workers dearly; for every renewable energy job created more than five existing jobs were lost and unemployment soared to over 20%....

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Why am I so passionate about nuclear energy? (Fast Fission Podcast 7)

Get the MP3 Here Today is Blog Action Day 2009 and this year’s topic is Climate Change. Is man made climate change real or not?  Heck, I don’t know.  What I DO know is this: whether or not human activity is causing global warming or not, there are certain things that it just makes sense for us to be doing. We need to wean ourselves off of imported fossil fuels as our primary energy source.  Oil and gas won’t last forever and prices are sure to rise as supplies dwindle and demand grows.  Imported fossil fuels come from places in the world that have amassed huge amounts of wealth at our expense.  A lot of that money is funding people who want to kill us and destroy the freedoms that millions of people have died to earn and to protect. We should stop burning coal because it is polluting our air and water with arsenic, mercury, acid rain, and particulate matter that we know is killing tens of thousands of people each year.  Thousands more die each year digging coal out of the ground. We need to become energy independent so that the countries that supply our fossil fuel addiction will no longer have influence on our foreign policies and internal business. We need to create high paying jobs for our people producing energy that we make at home, and energy products we can export to the rest of the world.  This will improve our standard of living and ensure our children and grandchildren have at least as good a life as we have. We need to respect the environment and choose a way of life that is both sustainable and supports a high standard of living. We need to find a way to help the less fortunate people of the world to rise out of poverty.  Access to plentiful, low cost, clean energy is the single most important factor in raising the standard of living of a society. I live and work in the United States, but that is not relevant; all of these same basic principles apply regardless of where you live. I am an engineer and an experienced manager.  I could make a good living in any industry.  I choose to work in the nuclear industry because I believe in the technology and the great contributions that nuclear power does and will do for society.  Nuclear energy can help us accomplish all of these lofty goals.  I know this in my head and in my heart.  Nuclear energy is not perfect, no source of energy is.  When used wisely and with respect energy from the atom...

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Could small modular nuclear reactors be the “Game Changing Technology” in the fight to reduce carbon emissions? (Podcast Episode #70)

In this video podcast I discuss the role of the social media in the unrest in Iran.  I also speculate about how the B&W mPower reactor and other small modular reactors might be a key to reducing CO2 emissions. Watch the video below. Download the video clip here. MIT Energy Initiative Twitter B&W’s mPower Reactor...

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Rep.s Edward Markey & Henry Waxman Release Draft Climate Change Legislation

It has not received any attention in the media, but on March 31, 2009 House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environment released their plan to fight global warming.   As I predicted back in Episode 62 of This Week in Nuclear ,  they are promoting a federal mandate on wind and solar power funded by huge increases in energy costs. Although nuclear energy produces 70% of the CO2-emission free energy in the USA today, in the entire 648 page bill the word “nuclear” is mentioned only twice (once is to provide an editorial change to a prior bill). Full Text of the Draft Legislation House Press Release Key parts of their plan: Create a national renewable portfolio standard to force utilities to generate (or purchase) at least 25% of the electricity they sell from “renewable sources” and pass the cost to rate payers (see page 15 of the bill) Establish a green house gas trading system (see page 358) And yes, federal government regulation over personal hot tubs (see page 223) The Markey/Waxman bill would force California-style energy rules on the entire USA.  We all know how that turned out!  The Senate will have their hands full in creating a more balanced, logical approach to fight climate change that is based on sound science and good...

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