Germany, in response to the Fukushima disaster, is taking steps to get completely out of nuclear power over the next 11 years, shutting down all the 17 nuclear plants in the country by 2022. Italy did this earlier, following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. And Switzerland has announced similar, if slower plans. Germany plans to replace the lost nuclear energy with renewables, which may or may not be feasible. Japan is struggling with power shortages now, due to the loss of output from Fukushima; these may be exacerbated in the future, as the Chubu Electric Power Co. has agreed to shut down its Hamaoka plant, hundreds of miles from Fukushima, until improved tsunami protection can be put in place.
Yet nuclear is not dead everywhere. In a May 29 CNN interview Tony Pietrangelo, vice president and chief nuclear officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, pointed out that construction is still going on in the United States, China, India and elsewhere, and pointed out that in the U.S. renewables constitute just a small percentage of capacity and will not be suitable for base load any time soon — if ever. Yet a build-out in renewables may constitute an opportunity for U.S. manufacturers — valve makers included.
Meanwhile China is experiencing power shortages caused by steep increases in the price of coal and governmental restrictions on electricity prices — shortages that are beginning to affect manufacturing. Some of this may be reflected in recent Department of Commerce figures, which show U.S. exports climbing rapidly and reaching $175.6 billion in April.
It should be interesting, to say the least, to see how this also plays out.