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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Fla. regulators approve Duke Energy nuclear plant settlement

Solar homeowners are a threat because they supposedly don't pay their "fair share" of costs for the grid, the utilities say; and yet:

Fla. regulators approve Duke Energy nuclear plant settlement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida customers of Duke Energy will be paying the next several years for shuttered nuclear power plants under a settlement approved by state regulators.

...The Crystal River plant was shut down permanently following repairs that cracked a wall in the facility. This summer, the Charlotte, N.C. based company abandoned plans to build the Levy County plant.

Under the settlement, the average residential customer would pay $5.62 a month starting in January. But the cost could go up even more between 2015 and 2019.

...Duke has been collecting money from customers for a while and has already collected $1 billion, Channel 9 has learned.


S.Korea Indicts 100 (Nuclear Graft), Considers Drastic Cut in Future Nuclear

S. Korea Indicts 100 in Nuclear Graft Scandal, Considers Drastic Cut in Future Nuclear Power Share
10/17/2013 | Sonal Patel

South Korea in the past week indicted 100 people—including officials from the state-run nuclear power plant operator—of corruption in a scandal over forged nuclear safety certifications. It is now also considering freezing ambitions to maintain nuclear’s 29% share in its total power mix—which means scrapping a previous goal to increase it to 41% by 2035.

The scandal broke last November after the country’s energy ministry (formerly the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and now, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy [MOTIE]) ordered the shutdown of two nuclear reactors at the Yeonggwang nuclear complex owned by state company Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), which operates the nation’s 23 nuclear reactors. The measure followed the Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) subsidiary’s admission that eight unnamed firms that supplied parts had faked certificates covering thousands of nuclear power components over a period of nearly 10 years, from 2003 to 2012—affecting at least five reactors. Then in May, KHNP found safety-related control cabling with forged documentation in four other reactors, prompting the country’s nuclear regulator to force shutdown of Shin-Kori No. 2 and Shin-Wolsong No. 1 reactors—both commissioned in July 2012—for about four months for replacements.

An Oct. 10 government probe found 277 faked certificates for parts used in 20 operating reactors, as well as 2,010 false documents at eight plants that were offline or under construction. “Almost all” of the components have been replaced.

That probe also led to the indictment of about 100 officials from the state-run KHNP, parts suppliers, and certifiers on charges of forgery and corruption—including an unnamed former chief executive at KHNP and a KEPCO vice president. “We have completed inspection of test results of parts and materials used from five reactors under construction and the other suspended three. We found a total of 2,010 fake certificates there,” Kim Dong-yeon, a Government Policy Coordination official, said during a joint briefing last week with the Justice Ministry and MOTIE. “Parts or materials with falsified certificates will be replaced or go through the qualification process,” he said.

The government last week also ...


"An Oct. 10 government probe found277 faked certificates for parts used in 20 operating reactors, as well as 2,010 false documents at eight plants that were offline or under construction."

Which poses the unanswerable question: How many parts counterfeiters have gotten away with it there and elsewhere?

Tick, tick, tick...

Why Charles Darwin Would Love Distributed Energy

Why Charles Darwin Would Love Distributed Energy

“Energy Darwinism” report finds that dramatic changes in energy favor distributed power.

Martin LaMonica October 16, 2013

If you're getting the sense that the world of energy is in for some dramatic changes, the number crunchers have some data to back up your hunch.

Three recent reports released in the last week spell out how the economics of the electric power business have changed over the past few years, arguing that technology will accelerate the trend toward distributed power generation.

Investment bank Citi published a broad analysis of the world’s energy markets called Energy Darwinism that predicts that 71 percent of the money invested in power generation between now and 2035 will be in renewables or nuclear. More than 40 percent of that sum, which represents more than $4 trillion, will go to wind and solar, Citi’s energy economists concluded.

Solar, in particular, has shown an “alarming” learning rate where every doubling of production capacity results in a 30 percent price decline for panels. At 7.4 percent, wind’s learning rate is slower, but the technology has become cost-competitive with natural gas plants in some locations. Based on these cost reduction curves, Citi’s economists forecasted when utility-scale wind and distributed solar will cost the same as conventional fuels...


Sacramento’s Path to Battery-Backed Solar Homes

Sacramento’s Path to Battery-Backed Solar Homes
Turning customer-owned PV and energy storage into grid assets

Jeff St. John
October 16, 2013

While some California utilities have been in the news lately for blocking homeowners from backing up their rooftop solar panels with batteries (we’re looking at you, Southern California Edison), another is working on solar-storage combinations that help the grid and residents alike -- even if it takes a couple of trips around the block to make it work right.

The utility in question is Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the publicly-owned power provider that’s rolling out a wide array of smart grid technologies and tech-enabled services to its 600,000 customers, helped along by the $127.5 million Department of Energy smart grid grant it won in 2009.

The solar-storage project is the 2500 R Midtown housing development, where 34 homes have been outfitted with solar panels and a combined lithium-ion battery pack, inverter and power control system, all contained in a closet-sized box built by Stockton, Calif.-based startup Sunverge Energy.

Patrick McCoy, SMUD’s solar program planner, described the project’s goals as not just to test whether the technology works, but also to see how it can support the peak-shaving, grid-balancing and customer energy-saving concepts that SMUD and the DOE have in mind.

“We’re thinking, 'Is there a way to capitalize customer capex, having to do with PV and batteries?'” he said ...


No scientist would pervert a study like you have here.

"No less than the National Academy of Science states that we can count on renewables for no more than about 20% of our electric production."

As you well know, that is simply untrue. The (now outdated) NAS study states that there are no recognized barriers to a penetration of up to about 20% renewables, but to move beyond and up to penetrations of about 50% would probably require specific policies that are friendlier to renewables than is currently the general norm.
ABOVE 50% they predict a need to restructure the grid in a fashion that places pre-emimence on the way variable generation is managed - ie, more storage and deployment of 'smart grid' technologies.

At no point do they EVER state we can "count on renewables for no more than 20% of our electric production".

No ethical person would make that statement about that report.

You'd need a better citation to the IEA report to judge the information

The IEA is notorious for serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Their projections regarding adoption of renewable technology (including the investment landscape) has been horrible since forever.

That isn't just my opinion, either. It became so bad that a couple of years ago the International Renewable ENergy Agency (IRENA) was formed to address the shortcomings inherent in the International Energy Agency's (IEA) mandate.

The fact of the matter is that conservative forecasts about the progress of alternative energy sources have consistently been, not only wrong, but grossly wrong. Reviewing the issue shows that high renewable growth scenarios have consistently proven to be far more accurate than conservative growth scenarios. (Under 'Fair Use' I've included the excerpt from the free downloadable International Renewable Energy Association's (IRENA) 2013 Global Futures Report. This 76 page non-technical report is
"a pioneering publication that provides access to the range of credible possibilities on the future of renewable energy. The report is based on interviews with over 170 leading experts around the world and the projections of 50 recently published scenarios. The report can serve as a tool for dialogue and discussion on future options, and compliments well the REN21 Renewables Global Status Report.

Available here:

So, in terms of historic credibility, the Greenpeace estimate has far more standing than the EIA.

(pgs 15-17) The world gets about 17–18% of its energy from renewables, including about 9% from “traditional biomass” and about 8% from “modern renewables.”a, b The “traditional” share has been relatively stable for many years, while the “modern” share has grown rap- idly since the late 1990s. During the 1990s, projections of renew- able energy that were considered most credible, for example by the International Energy Agency (IEA), foresaw shares of modern renewables reaching no more than 5–10% into the far future, given the policies and technologies existing at the time. As a result of the market, policy, and technology developments of the past 15 years, those early projections have already been reached.

In 2011, about 30 countries were getting 20% or more of their total energy from renewables, and some as high as 50%.c (The “total energy” metric counts electricity, heating/cooling, and transport.) Countries in this category include Austria, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Uganda, and Uruguay. The European Union (EU) as a whole and the United States both stood at 12%. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and several other countries were above 10%, and Japan was at 6%. Furthermore, in 2011, about half of all new electric power capacity added worldwide was renewable—as much capacity as fossil and nuclear combined. In interviews, industry experts emphasized that historical thinking and projections about renewable energy remaining a “fringe” techno- logy no longer make sense.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, as renewable energy started to grow more rapidly than many had predicted, new scenarios emerged that showed much higher long-term shares of renewables. Notable among these was a “Sustained Growth” scenario by the Shell oil company that showed 50% of global energy from renewables by 2050, a figure that shocked many at the time. The IEA also released a report, Energy to 2050: Scenarios for a Sustainable Future, that outlined a “Sustainable Development” scenario with a 35% share from renewables.

By the mid-2000s, a larger number of scenarios emerged showing 30–50% shares. Prominent among these was the first (2006) edition of the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP), which gave a set of “Accelerated Technology” scenarios for 2050. In these sce- narios, an intermediate case showed a 24% share, and the highest case showed a 30% share. A few years earlier, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (2004) had published its “Exemplary Path” scenario that projected a 50% share by 2050. And in 2007, the first edition of the Energy [R]evolution scenario by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) likewise projected a 50% share by 2050

The most recent scenarios, published in 2010–2012, could be viewed in three main groups: “conservative,” “moderate,” and “high renewables.”5 See Figure 1 for the wide variation between groups. (See Annex 2 for a list of the recent global, regional, and national scenarios covered in this report, including full citations correspond- ing to scenario abbreviations used throughout the text, and see the online supplement, “Scenario Profiles Report,” for summaries of these scenarios.)

Conservative scenarios in the 15–20% range can be found pub- lished by oil companies, some industry groups, the IEA, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). For example, BP’s Energy Outlook 2030 (2012) and ExxonMobil’s Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040 (2012) both show an under-15% share by 2030–2040. The EIA (2011) shows 14% by 2035, and the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO, 2012), in its “New Policies” scenario, shows 18% by 2035. Conservative viewpoints by oil and gas companies mirror such conservative scenarios. These companies continue to make state- ments such as “fossil fuels will continue to provide the majority of the world’s energy supplies for decades to come” (Chevron), and “oil’s preeminence in the global energy mix will remain unchallenged in the foreseeable future” (Total).

Moderate scenarios show long-term renewable energy shares in the 25–40% range. Two IEA examples are the IEA WEO (2012) “450” carbon-stabilization scenario, which shows a 27% renewable energy
16 share by 2035, and the IEA ETP (2012) “2DS” scenario, which shows a 41% share by 2050. The IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy (2011) synthesized the results of over 160 climate-mitigation scenarios (most from 2009–2010) and found that over half of them project shares above 27% by 2050—a large group in the “moderate” category.7 (And many show very high absolute amounts of renewables, too, under high global energy demand scenarios; see Box 2.)

High-renewables scenarios project 50–95% energy shares of renewables by 2050. For example, the GEA Global Energy Assessment (2012) shows up to 75% in the highest of its “Efficiency” cases and a median share of 55%. The “ACES” scenario by the IEA multilateral program Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (2010) shows 55%. And among the group of 160 scenarios surveyed by the IPCC (2011), there are a number in the range of 50–80%. The biennial Greenpeace Energy [R]evolution scenario, which has become the most widely recognized and thorough projection made by renew- able energy advocates, shows 82%.a At the highest end, WWF (2011) shows a 95% share.8
The credibility of such high-renewables scenarios has increased over the years, following a long tradition of “100%” scenarios dating back to the 1970s by renewable energy advocates and visionaries. The difference is that now, given the scope of government policy targets and market growth in recent years, such high-renewables scenarios are grounded in growing present-day markets.9 (See Endnote 9 for further discussion of “credibility” in the context of scenarios.)

In interviews, most industry experts believed that the world could reach at least 30–50% shares of renewables in the long term. (See also Box 3 for a recent global goal of 30–35%.) And some experts advocated for 100% or near-100% futures. European experts cited considerably higher shares just for Europe (see following section), with many saying that Europe could attain 50–70% shares.10 (Also see following sections for more expert opinions based on individual sectors.)

The U.S. And The World Are Actually Making Big Strides In Energy Efficiency

The U.S. And The World Are Actually Making Big Strides In Energy Efficiency

Between 2005 and 2010, advances in energy efficiency saved eleven advanced western nations — including the U.S. — from burning $420 billion worth of oil. And without those advances, the total energy consumption of those countries would have been 65 percent higher in 2010.

That’s the takeaway from new work by the International Energy Agency (IEA). It’s the first installment of what will be a regular report on energy efficiency by the group, and covers the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Italy, and several Nordic countries.

Between them all, those countries burned through just over 1,000 Mtoe (million tonnes oil-equivalent) energy; a little over 20 Mtoe of both electricity and natural gas, and around 5 Mtoe of both coal and other sources. On the flip side, they avoided a little over 1,500 Mtoe thanks to energy efficiency. And those gains have been steadily growing since 1974, while actual energy consumption grew only modestly.

Notes: TFC = total final consumption. The 11 countries are Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Another recent energy efficiency report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), focused on America specifically, found much the same story. Americans actually use less oil now than they did in 1973, our electricity use grew just six percent between 2000 and 2012, and we used less total energy in 2012 than in 1999 despite an economy that’s 25 percent bigger in real terms.

Economic growth actually decoupled from energy consumption back in the late 1970s. The former continued steadily upward...


North Dakota Landowners Sue Fossil Fuel Companies Over Wasted Natural Gas

North Dakota Landowners Sue Fossil Fuel Companies Over Wasted Natural Gas

Nearly 30 percent of natural gas drilled in North Dakota is intentionally burned off, or flared, resulting in an approximately $1 billion loss, and releasing greenhouse gases equivalent to nearly one million new cars on the road. Now, some North Dakota landowners are fighting back.

Mineral owners from multiple states are suing ten oil and gas companies for millions of dollars in lost royalties for flared natural gas. They claim companies are burning off more gas than is allowed by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, disposing of valuable resources mineral owners should be getting paid for.

The cases filed Wednesday sought class-action certification, and an amount in damages to be determined by trial, based on future flaring and flaring that occurred in for the six years prior.

Since oil is 30 times more valuable than natural gas, companies are rushing to pull it out of the ground fast, while prices are high. Building the infrastructure to capture the natural gas that’s part of oil drilling would take time and money, and companies aren’t willing to wait or pay.

Baumstark Braaten Law Partners, one law firm involved, said in a news release that the lawsuits are an attempt to create a “compelling economic incentive for producers to reduce and eliminate the wasteful practice of flaring.”...


Major Study Projects No Long-Term Climate Benefit From Shale Gas Revolution

Major Study Projects No Long-Term Climate Benefit From Shale Gas Revolution

More abundant, cheaper shale gas (dark blue) has little impact on annual growth in U.S. CO2 emissions through 2050 compared to low shale gas case (light blue). This is true for multiple energy-economy models. Deep cuts in CO2 require a rising carbon price (green).

Most claims that shale gas will significantly reduce US carbon emissions in the future are based on little more than hand-waving and wishful thinking. That’s because those claims assume natural gas is replacing coal only, rather than replacing some combination of coal, renewables, nuclear power, and energy efficiency — which is obviously what will happen in the real world.

To figure out what the impact of shale gas is actually going to be, you need an energy-economy model. And since the output of one model depends crucially on the specific assumptions it makes, the best approach would be to look at results of several models. And that is precisely what Stanford’s Energy Modeling Forum does in its new study, “Changing the Game? Emissions and Market Implications of New Natural Gas Supplies Report.”

They “formed a working group of about 50 experts and advisors from companies, government agencies and universities” to study the impact of the North American shale gas revolution:
Modeling teams from 14 different organizations participated in the study. All models integrated information on energy supply and demand to provide prices that reached market balances for each individual fuel. The models used different approaches to determine these prices.

The top figure shows result of the models that extend to 2050 (though the results are not substantially different if the modeling stops at 2035). Note that for most models, CO2 emissions grow in both shale cases. The study points out that “Emission growth rates for the reference case are not shown because they track closely those for the two-shale cases.”

The high shale gas scenario is...


Innovation in renewable-energy technologies is booming

Innovation in renewable-energy technologies is booming
New study shows that research investments and growing markets have fueled a huge rise in new patents.

David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

New study shows that from 1970 to 2009, Japan led the world in the number of patents related to photovoltaics (solar cells). Over the last five years of that period, the number of solar patents worldwide increased by 13 percent per year.

The number of patents issued for renewable-energy technologies has risen sharply over the last decade, according to new research from MIT and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). The study shows that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.

“We were quite surprised,” says Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at MIT and a co-author of the new report, published in the journal PLoS ONE. Trancik — working with Luís Bettencourt of SFI and graduate student Jasleen Kaur from Indiana University — created a database of energy-related patents issued in more than 100 countries between 1970 and 2009, using keyword searches of the patents themselves, rather than the classifications assigned by patent offices. In all, the team examined more than 73,000 patents issued for energy-related technologies.

This database “gives you a view into innovation activity — who’s doing it, and where,” Trancik says. Further statistical analysis, she says, showed a clear correlation between this rise in patents and prior investments in R&D, along with growth in the markets for such renewable technologies.

The increase was most dramatic in patents related to renewable energy, chiefly solar energy and wind. Patents in fossil-fuel technologies showed a more modest increase, while those in nuclear technology were flat.

For example, between 2004 and 2009...

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