Gail Marcus looks at how some of the pricing rules for solar energy lead to suboptimal outcomes. We are all familiar with the negative prices that some nuclear plants have incurred because of market pricing provisions. However, the incentives that lead to owners orienting solar panels to achieve maximum total output do less to meet peak needs than orientations that produce less total power when it is needed most
If you think we’ve been doing a reasonable job of curbing fossil fuel use in our electricity production you are sadly mistaken. Growth in coal use shows no sign of slowing at all, and natural gas has kicked into high gear most everywhere. Just the growth in fossil fuel over the last five years has dwarfed the growth in renewables over the same time period. This results from the ease with which coal can be set up relative to other sources.
Brian Wang reports that China slashed its forecasts for offshore wind power by 60 percent – a tacit acknowledgment that installations are being held up by the cost and complexity of the technology. They now expect to install about 2,000 megawatts of capacity by 2015 and 10,000 megawatts by 2020. They previously planned for 5,000 megawatts of power from offshore turbines by 2015 and 30,000 megawatts by 2020.
Turkey has two ongoing nuclear projects and now plans to build a third by 2019. Plus, Japan says they are moving toward nuke restarts, but getting local consent has caused delays.
Lockheed Martin announced their compact fusion test project last week, which promises commercial possibilities within 10 years. MIT reports on the criticism and skepticism that followed. However, Lockheed fired 200 test shots with their first machine and produced a kilowatt of heat. The company reports the plasma appears stable and will be ramping things up over the coming months.