The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released the results of the “Dallas Fed Energy Survey” with more than half of the respondents expecting higher natural gas prices in a year and more than 70 percent of participants expecting higher oil prices. Dallas Fed Senior Research economist sees a “stabilization” in business conditions based on the survey’s results.
Weighing in on recent nuclear energy news, The Motley Fool provides a breakdown on how nuclear closings will affect our ability to reach carbon-free energy goals by 2100. The analysis suggests that if we are serious in reaching these goals, nuclear energy needs to be a part of the energy mix as it is key in achieving the 90 percent of carbon-free energy needed by the end of the century. Of the 14 percent of energy (as of 2014) from carbon-free sources, nuclear energy provides the largest percentage at 5 percent.
Natural gas prices have risen in response to the upcoming summer season’s temperature forecasts. The Wall Street Journal states that prices have increased by 40 percent since the end of May. Summer officially started on Monday, June 20.
To ensure that Sweden continues to receive reliable carbon-free power throughout the year, the country has decided to discontinue a tax on the nuclear industry and will allow existing reactors to continue running for a longer period. The country’s utilities are now also tentatively allowed to build up to 10 new reactors to replace the reactors scheduled to retire. The government is debating if it can power the country with wind, hydro and solar alone in order to meet its 2040 goals and daily needs; nuclear energy currently provides 40 percent of the country’s electricity.
Further diversifying Luminant’s energy portfolio, the new Forney and Lamar power plants are the first units in the fleet with combined-cycle technology. The high-efficiency plants – which use both natural gas and steam turbines to generate electricity – are now key assets for powering Texas with safe, reliable and affordable power.
Located in Kaufman and Lamar counties, the plants have a combined capacity of nearly 3,000 megawatts and can power 1.5 million homes in normal conditions. Luminant finalized the acquisition of the plants in April.
Ignite Your Interest in Combined-Cycle Technology
Watch the latest Eye on Luminant video to learn how Forney and Lamar operate and why they’re a great fit for powering Texas.
According to data released by the EIA, natural gas continues to be the leading fuel for power generation, supplying 32.1 percent of total U.S. electricity at utility-scale power plants in Q1 2016. The EIA expects natural gas to supply 34.4 percent of total generation in 2016, up from 32.7 percent in 2015.
Texas was ranked in the top 10 of states with the best economies in a recent study from WalletHub. The study compared the economic performance of all 50 states and the District of Columbia across three areas – economic activity, economic health and innovation potential. Texas has the second-highest GDP growth, just behind North Dakota and tied with Washington and Louisiana for the top spot in the exports-per-capital category. However, the state was ranked 34th for economic health (data looked into the state’s unemployment rates, median annual income and foreclosure rates) and was ranked 20th in innovation potential.
Senior economist Keith R. Phillips said in a video on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’s website that the Texas economy is continuing to hold strong despite low oil prices. According to the Texas Employment Forecast released this month, data indicates that there could be upwards of 175,000 jobs added this year. “Jobs have to decline in order for there to be a recession, and the forecast suggests that jobs will continue to grow…,” Phillips said. “There’s still a possibility that things will weaken…, but I think our best forecast is that Texas will continue to grow this year.”
To counter the threat of attacks to the nation’s power grid, the power industry and U.S. government are considering implementing intentional blackouts across the country. Other measures in consideration include stockpiling rare transmission equipment, utilizing the latest cyberdefenses and coordinating responses between sectors. Marcus Sachs, NERC’s senior vice president and chief security officer, says “Industry continues to take the prospect of a cyber or physical attack on the bulk power system seriously.”
The DOE is sponsoring a summit on May 19 aimed at preserving the country’s nuclear reactors. Key industry representatives and legislators will meet to discuss the issues facing at-risk nuclear power plants and the potential consequences that could result from early plant retirements. NEI Senior Director of Business Policy, Matt Crozat, says, “Preserving existing nuclear power plants is imperative to any credible plan to reduce carbon emissions and necessary to preserve jobs in their host communities.”
According to a report by the Brattle Group, Texans could soon utilize natural gas, wind and solar energy for their power and shift away from power sourced from coal. The study provides an analysis of what the state’s energy mix could be if natural gas prices remain relatively low and the cost of solar energy continues to decline. In this scenario, the 2035 ERCOT grid would consist of 65 percent natural gas (up from 48 percent 2015), 12 percent wind energy (12 percent in 2015), 9 percent nuclear energy (down from 11 percent in 2015), 7 percent solar energy (~1 percent in 2015) and 6 percent coal (down from 28 percent in 2015). “I think we can learn some things from a study like this,” said Michael Nasi, general counsel for the group Balanced Energy For Texas, which includes several coal interests. “Please believe in the market because this study seems to tell you that you should not fear the market.”
The Dallas Fed forecasts that Texas’s job growth will either remain flat or grow by 1.5 percent (an additional 179,000 jobs) in 2016. These numbers are according to a report released on Friday which takes into consideration the effect that oil prices have on the Texas economy. Despite lowered crude prices, Texas did not fall into a recession in 2015 because of the many leading industries that make up the state’s economy. “Due to diversification of the state’s economy over the past three decades, the energy industry now accounts for approximately 2 percent of employment and 9 percent of gross domestic product, a smaller share of activity than in the 1980s,” said Robert Kaplan, president and CEO of the Dallas Fed.
The EIA reports that in 2015, almost 33 percent of U.S. electricity was powered by natural gas, 33 percent was fueled by coal, 20 percent was generated by nuclear energy and 13 percent was produced by renewable energy. The remaining one percent was created by petroleum. Of the renewable energy created in 2015, six percent came from hydropower, wind power provided almost five percent, biomass accounted for about two percent, geothermal powered generated less than one percent and solar power produced nearly one percent.
In 2015, China added more than 15 GWs of new solar capacity. With this addition, China has surpassed Germany as the world’s largest solar power market. China has 43.2 GWs of solar capacity, compared with 38.4 GWs in Germany and 27.8 GWs in the U.S. China plans to triple its solar capacity by 2020 by adding 15 to 20 GWs of solar capacity per year over the next five years.
The EIA reports that wind, natural gas and solar made up 41 percent, 30 percent and 26 percent (respectively) of total new electric generation capacity in 2015. Texas led the country in electric generation capacity additions in 2015. The state added the most wind capacity at 42 percent of total wind additions followed by Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and North Dakota. Additionally, Texas and New Jersey made up half of all natural gas additions.