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  • Grossi Set for Second Term at IAEA // US Solar to Rebound in 2023 // Australian Gov’t Defends Natural Gas

Grossi Set for Second Term at IAEA // US Solar to Rebound in 2023 // Australian Gov’t Defends Natural Gas

Grossi Set for Second Term at IAEA

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, has been unanimously reappointed by the IAEA's board of governors for a second four-year term as director-general.

The decision was made amid mounting tensions between Iran and the West, and as the IAEA seeks to maintain its monitoring of Iran's nuclear activities despite increasing difficulties.

In a statement, Grossi said that he was “deeply honored” by the board’s decision. “It comes at a time when we face many major challenges and I’m fully committed to continue to do everything in my power to implement the IAEA’s crucial mission in support of global peace and development,” he said.

Grossi has also expressed concern about the risks of a nuclear disaster following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the IAEA placing teams of experts at all four of Ukraine's nuclear power plants.

The IAEA’s general conference, comprised of 176 member countries, still has to formally sign-off on Grossi’s re-appointment when it convenes in September.

US Solar to Rebound in 2023

Last year the US solar industry saw a 16% decline in installations, according to Wood Mackenzie. This year, the industry is expected to rebound by 41%, or 28.4 GW of installations. But the future isn’t as certain as it appears.

Wood Mackenzie analysts have forecasted three potential scenarios for 2023, with about a 10% difference between the baseline scenarios and more optimistic and pessimistic scenarios.

“Much of whether the industry rebounds in the latter half of 2023 depends on what happens to supply chain disruptions created by the Uyghur act,” reports Utility Dive. “Based on past experience, [lead distributed solar analyst Michelle Davis] said Wood Mackenzie expects enforcement of the act to ease up by the second half of the year, which should allow for the flow of imported solar panels to return to something approaching normal.”

Yet “it’s tough to say whether that will come to fruition,” Davis told Utility Dive.

Another factor that will influence the rebound is the IRS publishing guidance on the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. The solar industry faces a significant amount of uncertainty in the year ahead, and the difference in outcomes between the scenarios could equate to about $30bn in capital investments and between 50 GW and 30 GW of installations per year until 2027.

Australian Gov’t Defends Natural Gas

The Australian government is defending natural gas as a necessary fuel for complementing the country's transition to renewable energy. The defense comes as the country contemplates a new emissions policy.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen argues that gas will become increasingly important as coal-fired power plants shut down. “Some call for an immediate ban on future gas, or the canceling of long-term contracts with key trading partners,” Bowen said. “These options are both irresponsible and not countenanced by the government.”

Bowen argued that natural gas will be necessary to bolster the country’s aim to reach 82% renewable energy generation by 2030.

“Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labor government came to power 10 months ago on a platform to end Australia’s reputation as a climate laggard and increase the ambition of one of the world’s biggest per-capita emitters,” reports Bloomberg. “The bill to amend the safeguard mechanism, a policy designed to control emissions from large polluters, is due to be presented to the Senate during the last two weeks of March, with negotiations between the government and minor party lawmakers still ongoing.”

This defense of fossil fuels has created static between the Labor government and the Greens Party, which opposes any further fossil fuel development and whose support is crucial for passing tougher emissions targets. The center-right coalition has also stated its opposition to the proposed legislation.

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Conversation Starters

  1. France hopes to maintain its nuclear output despite setbacks. “French energy utility EDF expects to maintain its 2023 nuclear production forecast despite being asked by nuclear safety watchdog ASN to inspect more pipe welds for cracks, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The plan still needs approval from the watchdog, which EDF hopes to obtain this week, the sources added. EDF's proposed revision would incorporate the weld checks into already-planned reactor stoppages so as to minimise additional disruption,” reports Reuters. “That would allow EDF to maintain its 2023 power production goal of between 300 Terawatt-hours (TWh) and 330 TWh this year.”

  2. Greens have promised lawsuits over the recently approved Alaskan oil project. “The approval Monday of ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve is teeing up a new high-profile legal brawl that will likely align the Biden administration and Republican lawmakers against environmentalists who have largely backed the president’s climate agenda,” reports E&E News. “The pared-down project opens up three new oil and gas drilling areas of the western North Slope — two fewer than originally proposed by the oil company — but green groups say the approval still undermines the Biden administration’s commitment to halve nationwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The brewing legal battle highlights a sharp divide between a Democratic administration and environmental groups over the extent to which public lands and federal waters should be available for oil and gas development.”

  3. Taiwan may face blackouts due to the shutdown of the Kuosheng 2 nuclear reactor, which began earlier this week.

Crom’s Blessing