The Age of Energy Nihilism

Neither fossil, nor renewables, nor nuclear

Welcome to the working week. Here's what we're looking at today: Russian troops continue to press in Ukraine, BP divests from Russian oil, $4 billion in New York offshore real estate goes to wind companies, Feds walk back Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station extension, Ukraine to disconnect its grid from Belarus network. 


  • Russia struggles to take Kyiv and Kharkiv but pushes across Black Sea coast. (FT)

  • Metals markets brace for chaos as Ukraine crisis worsens. (OP)

  • Russia sanctions over Ukraine spare energy sector, vital to Europe. (WSJ)

  • Supreme Court to hear case that could hobble Biden's global warming approach. (WSJ)

  • As many as 4 million Ukrainians could flee to EU countries. (OP)


  • US to help Uzbekistan explore new shale deposits. (OP)

  • China stocks up on oil despite surging prices and US call for crude release. (OP)

  • Sanctions or not, Russian crude is getting hit. (OP)

  • Germany backs new LNG plants to cut Russian gas dependence. (BBG)

  • BP to divest stake in Russian state oil company Rosneft. (FT)


  • Wind power companies bid more than $4 billion for ocean blocks off New York. (FT)

  • First attempt to build tandem perovskite-PERC/POLO solar cells achieves 21.3% efficiency. (PVM)

  • State grid of China unveils plans for 100GW battery fleet. (PVM)

  • Buyer power in a tight PV module market. (PVM)

  • Orsted and PGE seek more room offshore Poland. (OWB)


  • Germany mulls extending nuclear plant's life-span. (Reuters)

  • Feds walk back plans for nuclear plants to run 80 years. (E&E)

  • Construction starts on eighth Tianwan unit. (WNN)

  • Finland questions Hanhikivi's prospects amid Ukraine conflict. (WNN)

  • US uranium producers begin preparations. (WNN)


  • New England grid relies on vulnerable energy supply. (CWM)

  • Ukraine to disconnect its grid from Belarus network. (Reuters)

  • Low power allocation from national grid causes black out--Eko Disco. (TGN)

  • South, central Mumbai faces power outage due to grid failure. (TOI)

  • 14 states urge FERC to tighten accounting rules to prevent utilities from recouping lobbying expenses. (UD)

The Age of Energy Nihilism

The core incoherencies of the Biden Administration's energy strategy bespeak more than inattentiveness or reckless--they bespeak a nihilistic view of energy, the most critical element of any society.

In the midst of a global energy crunch, America imports more oil from Russia than anyone else, a fact that hampers American sanctions against Putin. When asked about this situation, Press Secretary Psaki had this to say, "...what this actually justifies, in President Biden's view, is the fact that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general, and need to [...] look at other ways of having energy in our country and others."

Perhaps Psaki has in mind the $35 million the government just kicked into to handle the rare earth mineral supplies green tech needs. Or the $4 billion in bids wind companies just coughed up for offshore sites in New York. Or the lithium mine in Nevada that's speedily moving through the approval process.

But those last two are state initiatives, the first of which betrays FDR's legacy. Those were federal waters protected by FDR to keep them from being disturbed for industrial use. Hard to see what environmental sense this makes. 

Plus, $35 million for rare earth minerals is a drop in the bucket when compared to the Department of Interior's reversal on a Trump-approved mining road in Alaska that was supposed to provide copper, essential for both wind turbines and solar panels. It seems Biden's DOI has little interest in domestic renewables production.

And what about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reversal on Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Florida? Under the Trump administration, the plant received a 20-year extension on its operating license.

Now that license has been rescinded because allegedly environmental groups (like the Natural Resources Defense Council (whose former president, Gina McCarthy, serves as the first-ever Climate Advisor to the White House, and which pushed for the premature closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York last year) have convinced the NRC the approval needs a second look. 

But nuclear energy provides clean baseload power. The United States operates the safest, most efficient nuclear fleet in the world. If the renewal application doesn't go in Turkey Point's favor we will see, as we did with the closure of Indian Point, greater reliance on fossil fuels. Not less.

And the decision introduces uncertainty into an already embattled portion of the clean energy sector because this decision impacts all plants that already received approval to run for another 80 years.

Combine this with the pause on drilling operations and the recent blow to the Dakota Access Pipeline doled out by the Supreme Court and it becomes impossible to tell what the Biden administration values in terms of energy. Neither fossil, nor renewable, nor nuclear--that's energy nihilism.

Major energy policy decisions are often made crisis-to-crisis after which a period of muddling-through follows. That's normal. But that also implies direction. Energy nihilism has no direction. One decision is as good as another. It's a posture that cleaves to no first principles and compounds the pain of any crisis. A pain those with the fewest resources and the most to lose bear the brunt of. 

Crom's Blessing

Doug Young (1944-2005) was an American powerlifter who won international accolades in multiple weight classes. He won his third straight world title in 1977, during which he totaled 1,956 pounds (699 lb. squat, 545 lb. bench press, and 710 lb. deadlift) with three broken ribs. He's known to have bench pressed over 600lbs in a t-shirt.