Movers and SHAKERS
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How Troubling Energy Shortages Could Be Handled in a Few Short Years
Last week we reported that five gas-powered generating plants would be added to California’s electric grid. During the prior week, the headlines read the White House called on OPEC to pump more oil to help reduce gasoline prices. Both of these were met by many with shock, or at a minimum, confusion. After all, California had been aggressively reducing its reliance on fossil fuels for power generation, and the U.S. had become more-or-less energy independent four or five years ago. Strangely, if supply was a problem last year, it was because there was a massive glut of oil -- so large that there was essentially no place to store the commodity.
Change of Path?
There was a good reason for each of these diversions from the stated plan. There aren’t too many things that move in a straight line, there will always be bumps along the way. Think about the last stock you held that did well over a long period of time, were there down days? Sure. Did this mean a change of overall direction? No.
What it does mean in the above cases is that there is some trial and error and unforeseen factors that will come up that aren't counted on. In the case of California, an exceedingly dry summer has left many of the dams unable to create power via hydroelectric generators. As for the plea for OPEC to help us with our rising gasoline prices, the demand has been so uneven, due to pandemic-related economic gyrations, that it should come as little surprise that there are large imbalances.
Just in Time Solutions
As the current energy initiatives, new technology, and proposed “greener” solutions unfold, there will be new ways, even better solutions to quickly overcome unexpected shortfalls of energy.
One that may soon be a reality is the “nuclear battery.” The nuclear battery or microreactor is a proposed system that could have more quickly assisted California with its problem. The natural gas-powered generating ability that is now being installed will take just over a month to be up and running. However, we were told this is a temporary solution. The microreactor as envisioned, could install in the same or fewer days then run unattended for five or ten years. Similarly, these shipping container-sized, uranium-powered, generators could reduce oil consumption from electric generation allowing imbalances in petroleum demand to be corrected for without calling upon foreign nations.
The flexibility in power that the future holds will be necessary. As demonstrated in California (and last year's Texas freeze), relying on nature is a risky proposition; having acceptable, just-in-time solutions available reduces this risk.
New power generating designs and technology rely on many non-fossil fuel solutions. Part of the growing need is flexibility, another is the consistency of nuclear generation and the flexibility being designed in new options.
The number of ways the future may include uranium as a power source is increasing. Add microreactors to the list -- they could be well suited to provide for the needs of industry and many other sectors of the economy by producing a steady, dependable source of carbon-free electricity.
The Noble Uranium Power Players Investor Forum is a virtual conference bringing together leading companies involved in the exploration and production of uranium.
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