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International Policy Digest
Contamination of USS Ronald Reagan During Fukushima Response Underreported
By Peter Lee | February 6, 2014
That article links to this
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 11, No. 4. March 18, 2013.
Fukushima Rescue Mission Lasting Legacy: Radioactive Contamination of Nearly 70,000 Americans
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 12, No. 1. March 25, 2013.
A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission: Cat and Mouse with a Nuclear Ghost
This is part two of a two part series.
Posted by kristopher | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 07:36 AM (1 replies)
China's Premier wants to declare "war on pollution" as smog becomes extra horrible
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made remarks about the country's huge pollution problems during what could be described as China’s equivalent of the State of the Union address in the US. He said pollution is a "major problem" and he wants the government to “‘declare war’’ on smog by removing high-emission cars from the road and closing coal-fired furnaces.
Pollution is ‘‘nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development,’’ Li said today in his work report at the start of this year’s National People’s Congress in Beijing. ‘‘Fostering a sound ecological environment is vital for people’s lives and the future of our nation.”
China will fight smog with the same determination it battled poverty and all society should “act more vigorously to protect the land our lives depend upon,” Li said. (source)
Not a moment too soon, and hopefully this isn't just empty rhetoric because, as we recently mentioned, China's smog is getting close to 'nuclear winter' bad...
What China has to do is not so different from what the U.S. had to do at an earlier phase of its development. The so-called 'coal laws' in the 1940s became necessary because air quality was just terrible. See for yourself.
Posted by kristopher | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 05:49 AM (6 replies)
Is Utility 2.0 a Forecast or a Post-Mortem?
February 26, 2014
For the last six months, the energy news sphere (perhaps led by the Edison Electric Institute) has been rife with a discussion about the threat to the utility business from distributed energy like local solar, as their customers shift to getting their own power from nearby renewable resources. Reports and news stories – e.g. “Adapt or Die” – suggest changes to the electric utility business model are imminent as power generation shifts from massive to medium scale and from remote to local.
For some utilities, this discussion is not a forecast, but a post-mortem.
Electric utilities have always built infrastructure (power lines, power plants, etc.) as long-term investments. They relied on growing electricity demand and sales to help recoup the costs of new coal-fired power or (over budget) nuclear retrofits in the Midwest or new high-voltage power lines in the Northeast. Utility commissions played along, allowing them cost recovery and generous returns on equity (10-11 percent) for new infrastructure. But hardware that seemed wise in the 1990s and 2000s is suddenly and rapidly being exposed as untimely and unnecessary.
Electricity demand has flattened (even fallen), thanks to energy efficiency legislation and economic stagnation. Customers are increasingly generating their own energy from renewable energy like solar, whose cost is falling by 10 percent or more per year. Not only is big infrastructure proving harder to pay off as revenues stagnate, it’s also increasingly irrelevant in a 21st century electricity system where power generation can be cost-effectively placed right on the roof.
Commercial wind power started to crack the facade 20 years ago, but today renewable energy is rapidly imploding the utility’s entire antiquated business model...
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 04:47 PM (1 replies)
Third Conference on the Physics of Sustainable Energy
Using Energy Efficiently and Producing It Renewably
March 8-9, 2014
University of California, Berkeley
This conference will be an intense weekend short course to enhance the background of private and public sector professionals, researchers and students active in energy affairs now or in the future. The content will be centered in the physical sciences, but will reach substantively into related fields important to energy policy and practice. The conference is sponsored by the APS Forum on Physics and Society, the APS Topical Group on Energy Research and Applications, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. As with the two previous conferences on this theme, in 2008 and 2011, both also held on the UC Berkeley campus, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) will publish the proceedings as a sourcebook. The motivation for this third conference is the continued importance of this energy research and the need to update faculty and educate students either to work in the field or to have an appreciation for the key issues.
Daniel Kammen, Energy and Resources Group and Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley
Robert Knapp, Physics and Sustainable Design, Evergreen State College
Barbara Levi, American Institute of Physics
Saturday, March 8
(Day sessions in North Gate Hall 105, UC Berkeley campus)
Welcome and Overview:
Daniel Kammen (UC Berkeley) and Rob Knapp (Evergreen State College)
Global and Regional Issues
Global Carbon Balance – Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution
Energy and the Global Poor – Daniel Kammen, UC Berkeley
Renewable Energy Sources
Solar Upconversion: Giving Photovoltaics the Green Light – Jennifer Dionne, Stanford
Biofuels: status and prospects – Chris Somerville, Energy Biosciences Institute, UC Berkeley
Wind Energy – John O. Dabiri, Caltech
Synergies of Energy and Information Technologies – Eric Brewer, UC Berkeley
Efficient and Transformed Uses Part I
Buildings: Lower Energy, Better Comfort – Gail Brager, UC Berkeley
Energy Use and the Information Economy – Jonathan Koomey, Stanford
Industrial Ecology – Valerie Thomas, Georgia Tech
The Rebound Effect – Tilman Santarius, UC Berkeley
Banquet Keynote Speaker – Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
Sunday, March 9
Sustainability and Nonrenewable Energy
ARPA-E: searching for breakthroughs – Arun Majumdar, Google, Inc
Displacing Oil with Gas and Biofuels – Vikram Rao, Research Triangle Energy Consortium
Topics in Nuclear Power – Robert Budnitz, LBNL
Efficient and Transformed Uses Part II
Low Carbon Power Systems – Duncan Callaway, UC Berkeley
Toward Profitable Oil-free Transportation – Amory Lovins, RMI
Batteries – George Crabtree, Argonne National Laboratory
From Lab to Market
Solar Development Roadmap – Dan Kammen,UC Berkeley
Government Initiatives – Cyrus Wadia, LBNL
Private Sector Initiatives – Todd Strauss, Pacific Gas & Electric
Session G: Non-Energy Climate Initiatives
Adapting to Climate Change – Ann Kinzig, Arizona State Univ.
Geoengineering – Alan Robock, Rutgers University
Final Comments / end of main conference
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 04:03 PM (3 replies)
McCain: no global warming action until the left supports nuclear power
3:25 PM 03/03/2014
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said that while he believes global warming is an issue, he won’t make any legislative moves until the left agrees on “certain fundamentals,” including support for nuclear power.
“But I try to get involved in issues were I see a legislative result,” McCain told Time magazine in a wide-ranging interview. “But there’s going to be no movement in the Congress of the United States certainly this year and probably next year.”
“So I just leave the issue alone because I don’t see a way through it, and there are certain fundamentals, for example nuke power, that people on the left will never agree with me on,” McCain said. “So why should I waste my time when I know the people on the left are going to reject nuclear power?”
Nuclear power has been a sensitive issue for Democrats, many of whom want to address global warming but also have concerns about nuclear waste. But nuclear plants offer a source of abundant electricity with little to no carbon dioxide emissions.
“I don’t believe that...
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/03/mccain-no-global-warming-action-until-the-left-supports-nuclear-power/
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 03:25 AM (10 replies)
Piece of metal lodged in reactor at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant
March 03, 2014
COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI — A piece of metal from a broken impeller blade has lodged in the reactor vessel at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant. Workers discovered the issue during the nuclear power plant's scheduled refueling and maintenance shutdown, which began Jan. 19.
The metal is 5 inches by 12 inches long, said Lindsay Rose, spokeswoman for Entergy Corp., which owns Palisades. The piece is wedged into the reactor vessel between the vessel wall and the flow skirt, inside the vessel.
"It's physically separated from the fuel," Rose said in an interview with the Kalamazoo Gazette. "It's not a loose piece floating around. It's firmly wedged into place."
Efforts to remove the metal have provedunsuccessful. At this point, Entergy plans to leave it in place, saying it does not pose a safety risk.
"We took steps to remove it. We've thoroughly analyzed it and we've determined that, based on the location of where it is, it's not going to have any impact on safe operations....
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 03:20 AM (13 replies)
Ukraine wants international monitors at nuclear plants
KIEV, March 2 Sun Mar 2, 2014 5:47am EST
(Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament called for international monitors to help protect its nuclear power plants on Sunday as tension mounted with Russia.
Hryhoriy Nemyria, a member of parliament, said the assembly appealed to the signatories of a 1994 nuclear treaty that guaranteed Ukraine's safety -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia.
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 01:00 AM (4 replies)
Adolph Reed and Electoral Nihilism
Michelle Goldberg on March 3, 2014 - 11:06 AM ET
So it’s beginning already.
It was probably inevitable, given widespread left-wing disappointment with Obama and longstanding reservations about Hillary Clinton, that we’d see another outbreak of electoral nihilism: the conviction that it doesn’t really matter which of the two parties holds the presidency. This myth has tempted radicals for a long time. In 1960, back when Commentary was still a liberal magazine, Dwight McDonald took to its pages to declare the outcome of the Nixon/Kennedy election a matter of indifference, as “the effect of one as against another built-up-torn-down candidate is in the realm of metaphysics and so of little interest to sensible people.” Fourteen years ago, this belief led otherwise smart people to declare that there was no meaningful difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
The shock of the Bush presidency cured this delusion, for a while—there was remarkable acceptance of John Kerry in 2004, despite his nakedly militaristic convention, and progressives twice mobilized for Obama. Yet here, with the 2016 primaries not yet begun, comes an essay on the cover of Harper’s Magazine arguing that liberals are too focused on winning elections for Democrats.
“Each election now becomes a moment of life-or-death urgency that precludes dissent or even reflection,” writes Adolph Reed, the University of Pennsylvania political scientist, in “Nothing Left: The long, slow surrender of American liberals.” He continues, “For liberals, there is only one option in an election year, and that is to elect, at whatever cost, whichever Democrat is running…. True, the last Democrat was really unsatisfying, but this one is better; true, the last Republican didn’t bring destruction on the universe, but this one certainly will. And, of course, each of the ‘pivotal’ Supreme Court justices is four years older than he or she was last time.”
Reed has been making a version of this argument for many years in many different elections. In 2000, he voted for Nader and dismissed the importance of the Bush vs. Gore election. During the primary in 2007, he wrote a column titled “Sitting This One Out,” saying, “This time, I’m not going to acquiesce in the fiction that the Presidential charade has any credibility whatsoever.” But the placement of this essay on the cover of Harper’s, and the enthusiastic reception it’s been given by people like Bill Moyers, suggests that the case has renewed resonance.
There are a number of things to argue with in Reed’s piece, among them the strange idea that Bush wasn’t really that bad....
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 12:54 AM (0 replies)
I saw this yesterday and thought it was worth throwing into the discussion:
I have no opinion on the value of the stock itself, but the graphic shows what Musk is shooting for. If he isn't the one that serves the need reflected there, someone else will.
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 3, 2014, 09:13 PM (1 replies)
Terrafore Looks to Cut Molten Salt Energy Storage Costs in Half
By Dave Levitan
Posted 27 Feb 2014
As we have seen in recent months, energy storage is becoming a pretty big deal. California has the country's first energy storage mandate in place, and plants like Solana in Arizona have started trying to incorporate storage in from the beginning. Solana uses molten salt energy storage, a common idea wherein salts are heated, retain that energy for relatively long periods of time, and then discharge it by heating steam to turn a turbine. Solana, a concentrating solar thermal plant, can keep running for six hours after the sun drops below the horizon.
Storage like that, though, is still expensive. A company called Terrafore Technologies wants to cut the price almost in half. Terrafore was an exhibitor at the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy Summit this week in Washington, D.C., and the company's CEO Anoop Mathur told me he was hoping to raise $5 to $10 million (maybe from the gaggle of venture capital folks that wandered the Summit's halls) in order to scale up his process.
That process, essentially, involves creating a capsule inside which a salt such as potassium nitrate could expand and contract. The capsule itself—think of a peanut M&M, around 10 or 12 mm in size—is made of clay along with some proprietary additives surrounding a polymer layer. The polymer layer (specifically a methyl cellulose polymer), coated on to the spherical salt "prills", is designed to gasify at temperatures below the melting point of the salt. The clay layer is added on above the solid polymer, and then the whole clay-surrounding-polymer-surrounding salt package is heated to a point at which the polymer gasifies and escapes through the pores of the clay, yielding some hollow space inside (see this video for a full explanation). Further heating lets the salt melt and expand into the hollow space; the salt then cools and solidifies and can melt again to act as the thermal storage mechanism. With this system, three different salt capsule types ...
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 3, 2014, 08:00 PM (1 replies)