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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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In Heated Arizona Solar Battle, Top Regulators Tied To ALEC

In Heated Arizona Solar Battle, Top Regulators Tied To ALEC

In the ongoing fight over whether Arizona will continue its remarkable expansion of solar energy, a ThinkProgress analysis reveals four of five members of the state’s energy regulator are tied to the conservative anti-clean energy group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The fight centers on Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), the state’s largest utility, versus solar energy companies over how much customers should be compensated for the energy produced by solar panels installed on their homes and businesses. APS believes customers receive too much credit for the excess energy produced by their panels while the industry maintains changing the policy, known as net-metering, would devastate their promising and rapidly expanding industry.

The state’s energy regulator, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), is expected to begin hearings on the net-metering proposal in November. Four of the five commissioners are members of ALEC, the group backed by fossil fuel interests, major corporations and the ultra-conservative Koch brothers. In 2012, ALEC dedicated its efforts to dismantling renewable energy laws around the country and though they failed completely in that effort, leaked documents from their recent annual meeting indicates they have no intention of backing down from the fight against clean energy.

A new report released Friday by Progress Now reveals ALEC’s involvement in attacking efforts to address climate change goes beyond clean energy laws — it has actively worked to help drilling companies hide fracking fluids, fight greenhouse gas emissions accords, and advance the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, among other initiatives.

ACC Chairman and former state legislator Bob Stump (R) is described as an ALEC member in his state legislature bio, as ...


Top UK climate scientist endorses Coal with Carbon Capture as only solution to AGW

Why I think we're wasting billions on global warming, by top British climate scientist

The Transient Climate Response also happens to be a good measure of the warming we get for every trillion tonnes of carbon dumped into the atmosphere. If we emit the lot, we’re looking at well over 4C of warming, which everyone agrees would be pretty tough.

Fortunately, there is a solution. It is perfectly possible to burn fossil carbon and not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: you have to filter it out of the flue gases, pressurise it, and re-inject, or ‘sequester’, it back underground.

Since the 1997 Kyoto agreement, world emissions haven't fallen, they've risen by 40 per cent
If you’re using fossil carbon to drive a car or fly a plane, you just have to pay someone else to bury CO2 for you.

The only thing that actually matters for climate policy is whether, before we release too much, we get to the point of burying carbon at the same rate that we dig it up.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331057/Why-I-think-wasting-billions-global-warming-British-climate-scientist.html#ixzz2jfXFFbCy

And from the Guardian:
Climate change: let's bury the CO2 problem
Myles Allen


The problem requires a different approach. We started out before the industrial revolution with roughly 4 trillion tonnes of fossil carbon underground. We have dumped about half a trillion tonnes into the atmosphere, and have up to a trillion more tonnes to go before we commit ourselves either to warming substantially greater than two degrees or some form of geoengineering.

Given the extraordinary profits that can be made from the extraction and use of fossil fuels, no conceivable carbon tax or cap-and-trade regime is going to prevent a substantial fraction of those 2½ trillion "excess" tonnes from being burned somewhere, someday. Nor should it: what right have we today to prevent the citizens of India of the 2080s from touching their coal?

So the only thing that really matters for long-term climate is that we deploy the technology – carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) – to bury carbon dioxide at the same rate we dig up fossil carbon before we release too much.

Shell, in its latest scenarios, predicts that conventional measures will have only a modest impact on global emissions until about 2040, at which point rising concern about climate change will trigger a crash CCS programme, mopping up over 50% of extracted carbon in only a couple of decades. For the taxpayers and consumers of the 2040s – bearing the full cost, and risks, of such rapid deployment – this is the worst possible outcome.

It is revealing that Shell's scenario-builders envisage large-scale deployment of CCS only when it is made mandatory. ...


Q: "Could the Entire Pacific Fishery Be Tainted by Fukushima?"

Fisheries and tainted, not gallons of water.

A recently released study, "collected the plankton at 10 points in the Pacific, ranging from just of the coast of Japan in Hokkaido all the way to Guam, between January and February 2012" forms a solid basis for answering the question since
"A group of Japanese scientists have revealed on Tuesday that they have seen high levels of radioactive cesium, presumably from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, in samples of Pacific Ocean plankton collected from 10 areas in the Pacific that they have checked, the highest levels found at a location 25 degrees north latitude and 150 degrees west longitude. This research data was presented by the scientists, researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology, at a regular meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union in Chiba Prefecture."

They sampled 10 widely dispersed locations and found all had contaminated food webs.

That "taints" the associated fisheries.

Since sampling is limited the extent and locations where concentrations of Fukushima related toxins have/will occur haven't been identified - with the converse implication that the areas not affected are also unknown.

It's reasonable to point out that the probability of highly Fukushima contaminated seafood is very low, there is nonetheless good reason for public awareness of the circumstances.




Imagine we've invested in 700 new nuclear plants

...and we have a meltdown with a Chernobyl scale release of radioactivity that blankets some high density population/economic center like New York, London, Chicago, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, or Moscow; forcing it's evacuation and abandonment.

What happens to that massive and already overpriced investment in low carbon energy?

Along with the concrete problems of cost, safety, proliferation and wasted associated with nuclear energy, the risk of a major public backlash in response to the next, inevitable "impossible" accident is virtually 100%.

An open letter to James Hansen on the real truth about stabilizing at 350 ppm
To James Hansen (and his fellow 350 ppm-ers):

NUCLEAR: The single nuclear wedge requires building 35 nukes a year — roughly 10 times the current production rate, more than 50% higher than the greatest rate the world ever sustained for even a single decade, and far in excess of what current production bottlenecks would allow. Nuclear plant prices in this country have already tripled since 2000 to nearly price themselves out of the market (see “The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power, Part 1“).

Is it now clear why your extended nuclear power discussion is off the mark? You point out that
The common presumption that 4th generation nuclear power will not be ready until 2030 is based on assumption of ‘business-as-usual”. Given high priority, this technology could be ready for deployment in the 2015-2020 time frame.

Sorry, too late. The incomprehensibly fast scale up of low carbon generation we need for 350 ppm leaves no time for such hypotheticals, no time for hoping things get commercialized within 10 years. After all, somebody has to build the massive manufacturing capacity right now, and somebody has to train all of the people needed to build these reactors right now (not to mention training people to run them), and somebody has to contract for all of the relevant raw materials pretty damn soon.

Maybe fourth-generation nukes could be useful in the next set of post-2030 wedges, which is why a major ramp up of R&D remains incredibly valuable. But for getting off of coal in two decades, we gotta go with what we have.

Again, I’m not advocating building 700 nuclear plants

I prefer these sources



The release of the results of the study below seems to be connected to the increased discussion about the effects on sea-life across a much wider area of the Pacific than was previously the norm. Finding the dispersion of contamination to be so damned widespread isn't a comforting indicator when viewed in light of the problem of bio-accumulation. Just as dispersion is a natural process, so too is concentration via the food web.

There may be some over-reaction, but it would be an equally overstated reaction to claim there is no basis for public concern, even if some of that public concern is inevitably extreme.
Japanese researchers find radioactive cesium in Pacific plankton
May 23, 2013 John Hofilena National No Comments

A group of Japanese scientists have revealed on Tuesday that they have seen high levels of radioactive cesium, presumably from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, in samples of Pacific Ocean plankton collected from 10 areas in the Pacific that they have checked, the highest levels found at a location 25 degrees north latitude and 150 degrees west longitude. This research data was presented by the scientists, researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology, at a regular meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union in Chiba Prefecture.

The team of researchers collected the plankton at 10 points in the Pacific, ranging from just of the coast of Japan in Hokkaido all the way to Guam, between January and February 2012. The samples showed amounts of cesium-134 in plankton at all 10 sample areas. The density of radioactive cesium was at the highest levels, around 8.2 to 10.5 becquerels per kilogram, in plankton samples collected at around 25 degrees north latitude and 150 degrees east longitude, an area of the ocean around 560 miles northeast of Honolulu, and 2,000 miles southwest of Los Angeles. The lowest concentration at any of the 10 points was 1.9 becquerels per kilogram.

Minoru Kitamura, a marine ecologist and senior researcher at the agency, presumed that plankton would play a key role in the dispersion of the radioactive substance as they are a basic foundation in the ocean’s food chain, eaten by a huge number of bigger fish. This proves that the 2011 Fukushima disaster – already one of the world’s worst, comparable to Chernobyl in 1986 – has long-reaching effects to the global ecosystem. Kitamura said his team will continue to look into the accumulation of radioactive cesium and how it affects the ocean’s food chain and ecosystem....


The Passivhaus's fabric-first approach to energy efficiency

The Passivhaus's fabric-first approach to energy efficiency
The building does the work, from super-high insulation to absolute air-tightness and harvesting the sun's energy through windows

Oliver Wainwright
The Guardian, Friday 1 November 2013 16.22 EDT

Justine Hutton and her children at their Passivhaus in Oldham Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

It may sound – and sometimes look – like a facility for pacifying particularly violent criminals, but Passivhaus is in fact the gold standard for ultra-low energy homes, which is enjoying increasing popularity as heating bills continue to rise at astronomical rates. Developed in Germany in the early 90s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the Passivhaus Standard is based on a set of principles that mean homes should be able to remain at a comfortable ambient temperature of around 20C with a minimal amount of heating or cooling.

It is a "fabric-first" approach to energy efficiency, meaning the building does the work, rather than relying on bolt-on renewable energy devices, like solar panels and ground-source heat-pumps. Based on the tenets of super-high insulation, absolute air-tightness, and harvesting the sun's energy through south-facing windows, passive houses aim to keep as much heat inside the home as possible.

They also rely on a box, usually kept in the loft: the MVHR, or mechanical ventilation heat recovery unit, a heat-exchange system that uses air from warmer rooms in the house to heat fresh air coming in.

"There are a lot of myths around Passivhaus, like you can't open the windows and people will suffocate if the MVHR breaks down," says Kym Mead, director of Passivhaus at the Building Research Establishment. "It's all nonsense – you can live in it like a normal house. It's based on the idea of harvesting the heat that comes from occupants and their devices, like TVs, computers, cookers and showers."



The Official Explanation for the German Energy Transition

This is one of those articles that deserves reading in full; a snip doesn't do it justice.

The Official Explanation for the German Energy Transition

America's Power Plan
October 28, 2013

...Another side of the coin is what the politicians think of the energiewende. Critics abroad seem convinced that German leaders will come to their senses and change course on energy. Based on what the leaders say in their official documents, these critics are likely to be disappointed.

First, some background. There are two federal ministries responsible for energy, the Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Until the recent election these were headed by Peter Altmaier and Peter Rosler. (Rosler has resigned due his party's loss in the recent election.)

With near unanimous support, the German parliament adopted legislation in 2010 that sets ambitious targets for carbon reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and commits to a phase-out of nuclear power. According to Altmaier, the environment minister for the Merkel Administration, “this is unprecedented and brings to an end decades of public debate in Germany.”

While much international attention is paid to the rapid growth of solar energy and the phaseout of nuclear power, the legislation is a comprehensive energy policy, covering transportation, heat, and electricity use across the whole economy.

Much more at: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2013/10/the-official-explanation-for-the-german-energy-transition?cmpid=BioNL-Tuesday-October29-2013

Browse the website of America's Power Plan

...Consumers and businesses are demanding a new relationship with energy. They want to control the energy they consume – make it cleaner, more efficient, certain, and affordable. Innovative companies are finding new ways to meet this demand. Now you can buy smart thermostats at Lowe’s, solar panels at Home Depot, and LED lightbulbs on Amazon, to name a few.

In the last five years, the cost of solar energy has plummeted 80 percent, while wind energy costs have sunk by 30 percent. Last year, 49 percent of all new power plant investment in the U.S. was for renewables, three times that of new natural gas power plants. And while fracking has transformed the natural gas and power industries, experts warn that gas prices will continue to be volatile, and are likely to rise as demand increases.

As the demand for clean energy accelerates, it is hitting a wall of regulations designed for traditional fossil fuel plants. Our current legal, economic and regulatory structures, in some cases in place for more than a century, are actively thwarting innovation. Imagine trying to introduce the iPhone in the era of rotary phones and Ma Bell — this gives an idea of the pressure in the system. Energy markets, utilities, grids and regulatory structures need an upgrade.

Under the current regulatory system, these market trends constitute a considerable threat to traditional utility business models. The current system penalizes utilities for every kilowatt-hour not used, and for every generator put on the customer side of the meter. According to the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, these “disruptive” technologies will lead to declining power sales and declining revenues. “As the cost curve for these technologies improves, they could directly threaten the centralized utility model.”

New technologies require new rules...


All or nothing nuclear power – from 24/7 to 0/365

"Nuclear plants were supposed to create certainty, reliability, predictability, 24/7 operation. But in the last few years, this has given way to a new reality. Nuclear reactors are 24/7 until they become 0/365 with little or no notice."

All or nothing nuclear power – from 24/7 to 0/365

The last few months have seen some definite signs that commercial nuclear power is not the wave of the future but a way of boiling water that might be seen as a twentieth century folly. Four commercial nuclear reactors have been shut permanently ostensibly for different reasons, but economics underlies them all.

Crystal River in Florida came first, in early February 2013. It had been shut since 2009. Like many other pressurized water reactors, it had to have a premature replacement of its steam generators, the huge heat exchangers were the hot reactor water (“primary water”) heats up water in the secondary circuit to make the steam the drives the turbine-generator set. The outer layer of the containment structure cracked during the replacement. Duke Energy, the owner, determined it was too costly to fix the problem. See Duke’s press release at http://www.duke-energy.com/news/releases/2013020501.asp

The 556-megawatt Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin came next, in early May, unable to compete with cheap natural gas and falling electricity prices. Indeed, electricity consumption in the United States is declining even as the economy recovers from the Great Recession due in part to the increasing efficiency of electricity use. There doesn’t appear to be enough money in the reserve fund for decommissioning at present – see the New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/business/energy-environment/kewaunee-nuclear-power-plant-shuts-down.html.

San Onofre, with two reactors, came next. Both had been down since early 2012, when excessive wear of steam generator tubes and leaks of primary water were discovered. The steam generators were new, but contrary to the company’s claims, it turned out that the new ones were not copies of the original licensed design. A long, contentious process followed; prospects for a green light to restart faded. The blame game between the supplier of the steam generators, Mitsubishi, and the majority owner, Southern California Edison grew intense (and it continues). Announcing the decision to close the plant, the SCE President Ron Litzinger said: “Looking ahead, we think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.” (See the La Times article at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-edison-closing-san-onofre-nuclear-plant-20130607,0,7920425.story).


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