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US utility dumps nuclear plant, will invest $6bn in solar and batteries

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Think Progress

This week, Duke Energy Florida announced that it will terminate all plans to build its Levy Nuclear Project.

A BROOKLYN NAVY YARD ROOFTOP COVERED WITH SOLAR PANELS, FEBRUARY 14. STATE OFFICIALS SAID INVESTMENTS IN RENEWABLE PROJECTS LIKE THIS ONE WILL HELP REPLACE THE POWER LOST WITH CLOSURE OF INDIAN POINT NUCLEAR PLANT. CREDIT: AP/MARK LENNIHAN

And as part of a deal with the Florida Public Service Commission, the company will instead invest $6 billion in solar energy, smart meters, and grid modernization as well as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and a battery storage pilot program.

Duke’s move reflects global trends that see surging growth for solar power as prices plummet, while increasingly uncompetitive nuclear power stagnates.

Note that Duke’s investment in batteries and EV chargers are core strategies for increasing solar penetration.

Indeed, as Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent grid study explained, a fleet of vehicles or chargers can be used to shift load “in response to price signals or operational needs,” and in particular “vehicle charging could be shifted to the middle of the day to absorb high levels of solar generation and shifted away from evening hours when solar generation disappears and system net load peaks.”

Duke’s deal will include adding 700 megawatts (MW) of solar energy, which would, by itself, double total Florida solar capacity. Despite being called “the sunshine state,” Florida has historically lagged in solar investment.

But ongoing price drops have spurred other utilities in the state to start building 600 MW of their own new solar, which means Florida solar capacity will soon triple.

Meanwhile, new U.S. nuclear builds have stalled because the industry is so uneconomic that half of the country’s existing nuclear power plants are losing money.

Greentech Media’s Stephen Lacey reported last week that by year’s end “solar PV could rival global nuclear capacity,” and by 2022, it could double current nuke capacity.

As Lacey notes, however, actual electricity generation is what matters most — since nuclear plants run at full capacity far more of the time, they still greatly out-generate solar. For now.

Source: Think Progress. Reproduced with permission.  

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  • George Darroch

    Surprisingly low numbers for a state with such a large population and solar resource. However, this acceleration should get them started…

    • Tom

      Isn’t this one of those backwards states that makes it basically illegal to get rooftop solar?

      • Ian

        Probably also has laws against hanging clothes on a backyard clothesline too

      • neroden

        Not exactly; in the *state* it’s legal. But it’s infested with Homeowners Associations or HOAs, which typically do make it illegal. Many local cities also make it illegal.

        • Alastair Leith

          http://documentaryheaven.com/drying-for-freedom/

          Driers costing USA up to $5 billion p.a.! That buys squid loads of PV.

          • Ian

            Considering that electricity is so cheap in the USA that is probably not a great deal of money to not bother hanging out clothes.: 326 million people one wash each a week =17 billion washes/ drying cycles @$5 billion is 30c a tumble dry cycle!

      • Pedro

        That is almost so unbelievable it may just be true. Do you have a link you can share?

  • Joe

    Gee, there was all along believing the pushers, that NU CLEAR energy was the future.

  • onesecond

    Quick, nuclear trolls to the rescue! Where are they?