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When Will You Learn That Actions Have Consequences?

Welcome to Wednesday. Here's what we're looking at today: Macron vouches for Putin, New England's shocking natural gas prices, US Energy Secretary links renewables with world peace, EU's electricity price shock as France's nuclear fleet struggles, bizarre dark money corruption with Florida Power and Light.


  • Australian lawmakers fear escalation of protests influenced by Canadian convoy. (WAPO)

  • US arrests two and seizes $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency from Bitfinex hack. (FT)

  • Macron says Putin promises not to "escalate" Ukraine crisis. (FT)

  • China state funds said to buy stocks to stem worsening rout. (BBG)

  • How blocking one bridge shut down a quarter of US-Canada trade. (BBG)


  • Bechtel to start construction of $30 billion Driftwood LNG plant in April. (RZ)

  • BHP's first LNG-fueled bulk ship to deliver iron ore to Asia. (BBG)

  • Calcasieu Pass LNG terminal receives a tanker as US facility prepares first export. (S&P)

  • UK to rely on oil and gas despite net-zero pledge. (OP)

  • Why is New England paying the equivalent of $180 oil for natural gas? (Forbes)


  • AIIM in bidding race for $2 billion African firm Lekela (BC)

  • China built more wind power than the rest of the world combined in the run-up to the Olympics. (QZ)

  • Dissension in the air: Villenova hears pros, cons of turbines. (OT)

  • Australians install record amount of solar despite lockdown, supply chain pressures. (ABC)

  • US Energy Secretary ties renewables to world peace. (OP)


  • Energy harbor's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio faces valve problem (S&P)

  • Nuclear power at full throttle underscores fragility of Ukraine's energy sector amid squeeze. (RFE)

  • New Mexico lawmakers push bills to thwart spent fuel storage in state. (ANS)

  • UK regulators approve China's UK HPR1000 design. (WNN)

  • European electricity prices soar as France cuts nuclear forecasts. (BBG)


  • Uncertainty surrounds ISO-NE capacity auction following gas-fired plant order (S&P)

  • Power station managers in crosshairs as sharp deterioration in plant performance triggers new round of load-shedding. (EN)

  • Responding to dark money controversy, NextEra did internal investigation into Florida Power and Light. (MH)

  • Trial scheme will pay householders to delay electricity use. (Guardian)

When Will You Learn That Your Actions Have Consequences?

A prevailing fiction in the opening decades of the twentieth century has been that you can do whatever you want in the power sector. Wealthy countries have talked about the "could" grid more than the actual grid. Wealth buys you a wide margin of error: you can screw around for longer than most people before you experience consequences. But when those consequences come they arrive pissed off, in a hurry, and at your inconvenience. The news this week from France, whose nuclear fleet has struggled with planned and unplanned outages, is about those kinds of consequences

France used to be the crown jewel of western nuclear energy. Its Messmer Plan build-out in the seventies is the most successful decarbonization in the history of mankind and it wasn't even done to reduce carbon. Facing down the energy crises of the 1970s with the rest of the world, and without easy access to fossil fuel, France churned out a whopping 56 reactors in 15 years. France now gets around three-quarters of its electricity from its nuclear fleet. When nuclear advocates talk about Messmer their eyes go soft and dreamy as if they've just bitten into a madeleine and a waft of sepia-toned memories from days past have rushed forward to greet them. It's hard to blame them. 

And for a while, France's fleet lived up to the hype. In 2005, the EDF produced 430 terawatt-hours. But today? They're praying to crack 300. This graph from Bloomberg is instructive. 

Some of the nuclear downtimes are simply planned maintenance. Happens to all plants. But the corrosion problems and unplanned outages bespeak long-term neglect. A notion confirmed by Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher, who said last month, “Over the past decades, we may have rest a bit too much on our laurels while the output was dwindling."  

But the neglect has other antecedents as well. France has seen anti-nuclear misinformation get entrenched in its society. Then there's this:

This all comes at the worst possible time. Europe needs French electricity now as Russian gas fails to flow and tensions in Ukraine heat up. This is a story old as Aesop's Fables. Many countries played the grasshopper, majoring in the minors and not thinking too much about hard winters. Now a hard winter is here and the ants aren't inclined to share. A cold, howling wind has silenced the fiddle music. 

Crom's Blessing

Chuck Vogelpohl is one of the heaviest dudes to come out of the strongest gym in the world: Columbus, Ohio's Westside Barbell. One of my favorite stories about Chuck comes from his old training partner Dave Tate. When Chuck was coming back from an injury, he went to squat with Dave.  A young gun at the time, Dave thought that this was his chance to outdo the top dog. Around forty sets of squats later, an out of breath Tate looked up at Chuck and asked, "How many more sets are you going to do?" 

"One more than you," Chuck replied. And then Dave threw in the towel.

Here's a classic clip of Chuck pulling over 800lbs.