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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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EU to rule on controversial British nuclear deal this year

EU to rule on controversial British nuclear deal this year


...The legal discussion partly hinges on whether the two planned reactors can be considered to provide a "service of general economic interest". The Commission said it would not be appropriate to attach public service obligations to an activity already provided by operators under normal market conditions.

It points to British nuclear plants which operate commercially without state support, as well as to two Areva-designed EPR reactors - similar to the ones being planned for Hinkley Point - being built in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamanville, France, without state support.

The Commission also questioned the nuclear project's decarbonisation claims.

While certain generation technologies emit less carbon emissions, their impact on the environment might nonetheless be considered substantial, it said, citing storage of radioactive waste and the potential for accidents.

For Britain, the Hinkley Point C project ...


Flexible backup capacity is better option: Need for power storage overstated

This summary of an analysis shows an extremely important point I've been making here for years. Namely, that the path forward for decarbonizing our economy isn't being hindered by the lack of storage. We have more than enough natural gas generating capacity to fill this need.

The charts might be a bit difficult to wrap your head around because of the way they can't be compared side by side, but somethings are worth taking the time to study in detail and IMO this is one of those things as it gives solid basis for this core concept.

A recent publication by Fraunhofer ISE shows how little wind and solar power would need to be stored at various levels of grid penetration. We are years away from such situations. Before we need power storage, we will need flexible backup capacity. In fact, that's what we need already.

For my international audience, I should probably point out that Fraunhofer is not a single institute, but a "research society." The other study I have been talking about this week was done by Fraunhofer IWES of Kassel. Today, I focus on a paper published in November by researchers at Fraunhofer ISE of Freiburg.

The researchers took a look at how much of Germany's current installed capacity is must-run, meaning that the power plants technically cannot be ramped down any further. While prices on the power exchange plummet as soon as conventional power generation dips below 25 GW, the researchers estimate that the technical lower limit is 20 GW.A recent publication by Fraunhofer ISE shows how little wind and solar power would need to be stored at various levels of grid penetration. We are years away from such situations. Before we need power storage, we will need flexible backup capacity. In fact, that's what we need already...

<Graphs and discussion at link>

In conclusion, the need for power storage is years away, and it also depends on the unflexibility of conventional power generation. Put differently, power storage is not needed for solar and wind, but for inflexible coal and nuclear in combination with solar and wind. These findings are not particularly new or surprising; I remember reading similar things in Photon magazine years ago. If Germany started building gas turbines instead of new coal plants, the need for power storage could be pushed into the distant future. The problem is that baseload coal and nuclear power is incompatible with fluctuating wind + solar. (Craig Morris)


‘Nuclear power’ cited the most in Tokyo governor election tweets

‘Nuclear power’ cited the most in Tokyo governor election tweets

“Nuclear power” far eclipsed other phrases such as “the Olympics” and “welfare and aging issues” in Twitter messages about Sunday’s Tokyo gubernatorial poll, a research firm’s data show. The finding is in sharp contrast to a conventional phone poll that indicated “the economy” is the top focus.

Hotlink Inc., an analyzer of big data, checked a total of 319,000 messages between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2 that contain both “Tokyo governor” and references to election issues. Posts from those living outside Tokyo were not excluded, the company said.

In the period, “nuclear power” topped the list with around 214,000 tweets. “The Olympics” came in second with roughly 39,000 posts. “Welfare, aging issues” followed with some 29,000 messages.

A telephone poll conducted by Kyodo News on 1,040 randomly selected Tokyo voters on Feb. 1 and 2 found the top issue was “the economy and employment,” followed by “the low birthrate, aging and welfare” and then “nuclear power, energy issues.”

A daily breakdown indicates...


In Japan, Women Launch Sex Strike To Protest Yoichi Masuzoe, Tokyo Governor Candidate

Source: WorldPost News

In Japan, a group of women have announced a sex strike against anyone who votes for the leading candidate in Sunday’s election for governor of Tokyo.

The boycott was launched after a series of misogynistic comments attributed to the gubernatorial front runner, Yoichi Masuzoe, came to light last week.

A former health minister, Masuzoe is the ruling party’s candidate and leads most polls on who will win this weekend's election.

But a movement against the candidate, called the No Masuzoe campaign, was launched when an opposition politician’s blog quoted him as saying women are not equipped for national politics because of their strange behavior during the menstrual cycle. The blog cites a 1989 article for the diatribe against female leadership.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/06/japan-sex-strike_n_4740543.html

The Face of England's Angry, Storming Seas?

From HuffPo's "Weird News" division

Photograph Captures Huge Wave That Looks Eerily Like A Face; Everyone Freaks Out

Photographer Simon Emmett captured this stunning shot earlier this week while snapping pictures near the harbor in the coastal town of Lyme Regis, England.

According to the Daily Mail, towering waves had been pounding Britain's shores the day Emmett took the haunting photo, as a devastating storm lashed the island nation.

Emmett's awesome picture, which has gone viral, has stirred the world's imagination this week.

"Face of hell storm," the U.K.'s Daily Star wrote in a caption emblazoned over the epic shot on its front page Thursday...


Goldman Sachs Enthusiastically Decides To Invest $40 Billion In Renewables

Used with permission

Goldman Sachs Enthusiastically Decides To Invest $40 Billion In Renewables

Originally published on SolarWakeup.


Goldman Sachs sees a transformational moment in renewables and plans to invest in excess of $40 billion by 2021. The motivation for Goldman is to create a return on the capital they invest for their firm and clients, but where will it be invested and how can the capital be to your benefit?

Image Credit: Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock.

Goldman and peer banks are not new to solar investment. The top banks all have been very active investing in solar, a recent sample includes: Goldman Sachs ($500mm to SolarCity), US Bank and JP Morgan ($630mm to Sunrun), Bank of America ($220mm to SunPower), and Morgan Stanley ($300mm to Clean Power Finance).

This sample of capital was announced for project funds, much of which is going to the large expansion of the residential solar leasing market but these and many other banks are also looking to deploy capital into solar in every market segment. Every day, new capital is entering the solar space, looking for the ‘elusive’ good projects in residential, commercial and utility market segments. With all of this new capital coming into solar, much of it looking to deploy money in large funds within a set timeframe, solar companies are pushing hard to satisfy. This requirement to deploy capital rapidly is spawning the rise of solar startups that make the solar development and financing processes cheaper and faster.

Just recently, SolarCity and Vivint have acquired solar companies to make their capital deployment processes more efficient. Since the start of the year, Mercatus has closed its Series A Venture round to make the deal sourcing and due diligence process faster while requiring less manpower. Making solar professionals more efficient is also the goal of startups like Folsom Labs, which launched a few weeks ago with their product Helioscope. This web-based software makes creating a solar layout an easy task which any business development professional can complete within minutes. Innovation in solar continues to center about increasing throughput to make the process more efficient in deployment capital.

While most of the announced big bank money will go to a relative few companies, many market participants will benefit financially from the upward pull. Any innovation, that increases the speed of system deployment and/or lowers the costs per watt, will see interest at every stage of their growth. VCs are becoming much more active in early stage solar startups. Notable VC, Rob Day from Black Coral, tweeted, “Cleantech recruiters working overtime. LPs getting back into the sector. If the economy holds up, 2014 will be a great year for cleantech.” The Department of Energy SunShot Incubator Program also picked up some pace this year, with Round 8 awarding 16 companies the prestigious award.

When large amounts of project capital make its way into the solar market and large companies continue to acquire companies, the hype becomes a noteworthy trend. Smart ideas that enter the market with efficient use of capital get traction because the market will use every advantage possible to take part of this moment seen in solar today. Goldman Sachs and other banks are stating publicly what 140,000 solar market participants already know, solar is growing and will continue to expand. There has never been a better time to execute on your idea for making solar development and financing more efficient, take advantage of this “transformational moment.”

Global patent war looms with epoch-making discovery of STAP cells

Global patent war looms with epoch-making discovery of STAP cells
February 03, 2014

Japanese researcher Haruko Obokata's recent breakthrough in the creation of pluripotent stem cells in mice is set to trigger an all-out global patent war.

This is because of the huge potential for applications in regenerative medicine and related fields.

The 30-year-old stem cell biologist, who is head of a research team at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, made world headlines last week after the prestigious British scientific journal Nature carried her discovery of a new method to create pluripotent stem cells in mice.

It initially rejected a paper submitted by Obokata on her research into “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency” (STAP), calling it “unbelievable.”

STAP cell creation is simpler than the process for induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and gene damage in STAP cells is minimal compared with embryonic stem cells...


See also: Acid bath offers easy path to stem cells

UK Conservatives pick ex-BP oil disaster and fracking exec to lead new nuclear program

Ex-BP oil disaster and fracking executive to lead big government projects
Government appoints John Manzoni as head of Major Projects Authority, which oversees HS2 and nuclear programme

Rowena Mason, political correspondent
theguardian.com, Monday 3 February 2014 09.39 EST

John Manzoni (left) arrives at Downing Street for crisis talks with Tony Blair during the fuel crisis of 2000. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

A former oil executive criticised for his role in the BP refinery explosion, and whose last company was fined over 50 health and safety violations connected with fracking, has been appointed to lead the government's Major Projects Authority.

John Manzoni, who has worked in the oil industry for 30 years, will be responsible for overseeing big-budget projects including the HS2 high-speed rail line and the new nuclear programme.

His new role will come under the remit of the Cabinet Office, where his ex-boss Lord Browne, a former chief executive of BP, is the lead nonexecutive director. Browne wrote a report last year on government execution and control of major projects.

While at BP, Manzoni was second-in-command to Lord Browne at the time of the Texas City refinery accident, one of the worst industrial accidents in US history.

After the disaster, in which 15 people were killed and 170 injured, a confidential BP report found Manzoni had paid insufficient attention to safety and failed to spot clear warning signs...


Obama accused of placing anti-hydrocarbon ideologues in top regulator jobs.

Obama nominates new FERC chairman
By Davide Savenije
JANUARY 30, 2014

The suspense is over. After months of speculation, President Obama has nominated Norman Bay to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The White House originally tabbed former head of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Ron Binz to replace exiting Chairman Jon Wellinghoff in June 2013. But Binz soon met his end in the Senate Energy Committee after coal-country Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) crucially refused to support his nomination.


...The spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said: “Sen. Murkowski has not yet had a chance to fully review the nomination, but its noteworthy that the president has chosen to elevate to the post of chairman — over clearly qualified commissioners — a FERC employee who has not served on the commission. It’s also curious that the president has for the second time this Congress identified someone he believes should jump over the sitting commissioners.”

...“The FERC is no place for anti-hydrocarbon ideologues like Ron Binz, and we stood strong with our coalition partners against his ultimately doomed confirmation,” American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle said in a statement following Bay's nomination. “The announcement today that the White House will nominate Norman Bay is due the same level of scrutiny that was applied to Mr. Binz, and we are hopeful that his confirmation process will leave no stone unturned.”



7 Facts That Weren’t In The New State Department Report On Keystone XL

7 Facts That Weren’t In The New State Department Report On Keystone XL

The State Department released its final supplemental environmental impact statement on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on Friday. Critics and supporters of the pipeline alike have awaited the report, ever since President Obama last year singled out carbon pollution as a parameter in Keystone’s national interest calculation.

The newly-released report admits to the obvious: that “the total direct and indirect emissions” of the project “would contribute to cumulative global GHG emissions.” But in its final analysis, it says the proposed pipeline is “unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas,” and does not look at the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the tar sands oil that would flow through it.

The pipeline’s prospects remain a mystery, much like they were when the draft environmental impact statement was released last year: it still says that the pipeline is not a big deal, will not appreciably increase carbon pollution, and will not have a significant environmental impact. But the report does not consider a scenario in which smaller amounts of tar sands oils are extracted, transported, and consumed. Every single scenario measured in it assumes that a Keystone XL-sized amount of tar sands oil will get burned.

But there are seven important facts that the state department’s survey left out:
1. Keystone XL, Not Rail, Is the Only Feasible Option
The final EIS says that “rail will likely be able to accommodate new production if new pipelines are delayed or not constructed.” This argument is also put forward by supporters, and essentially says that if the tar sands oil will not be exported via this pipeline, it will just be shipped away via railway — meaning approval of the project will not result in significant carbon pollution increases. Yet an analysis by Reuters’ Patrick Rucker found that rail transport is too expensive and just is not feasible. Industry officials we very skeptical about adopting crude-by-rail as an alternative, meaning that oil companies with a stake in the dirty tar sands deposits see Keystone XL as essential to getting that oil to market.

2. KXL’s ‘Alternative,’ Shipping Oil by Pipeline or Rail, Is Dangerous


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