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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Backfilling Nuclear Shutdowns With Efficiency And Renewables In Japan, Germany And California?

Backfilling Nuclear Shutdowns With Efficiency And Renewables In Japan, Germany And California?
By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 29, 2012 at 10:41 am
by James Newcomb, via the Rocky Mountain Institute

Electric utilities and policymakers in Japan and Germany have been scrambling for months to find ways to compensate for nuclear power plants shut down in the aftermath of Fukushima.

In both instances, fossil fuels are part of the stopgap solution to offset the declines in nuclear generation in the short term, but longer-term energy policies are shifting definitively toward efficiency and renewables. Now, the unexpected and indefinite shutdown of both units at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California has raised questions about California’s short-term electricity supply options and long-term contingency plans.

Not surprisingly, efficiency, demand response, and renewables could play a key role in helping to diversify and mitigate risks for Southern California’s electricity supply future. The solutions being pioneered in these three markets, while driven by different circumstances, all take advantage new smart grid technologies to manage and integrate distributed resources.

In Japan, only one of the 54 commercial nuclear reactors that supplied 30 percent of the nation’s electric power prior to the Fukushima disaster is currently operating. It, too, is scheduled to shut down for scheduled maintenance on May 5, leaving the country with no power supplies from nuclear plants for the first time in more than four decades....


See also: Germany: Fighting Climate Change And Phasing Out Nuclear Power Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin

New Jersey warehouse unveils massive rooftop solar project

New Jersey warehouse unveils massive rooftop solar project
Published 29 April, 2012 11:15:00 Living on Earth

The Gloucester Marine chilling facility at the Port of Philadelphia is where much of the nation's east coast produce arrives. (Photo courtesy of Independence Solar.)

The Gloucester Marine Terminal, a gigantic produce warehouse in New Jersey, has completed construction on the largest rooftop solar installation in America. The installation has drawn attention to the potential for more corporate rooftop solar projects.

The Gloucester Marine Terminal now boasts 25 acres of 9 MW solar panels on its rooftop.

It's the largest rooftop solar array in the country. It just opened and couldn't have been built at a better time.

Panel construction on the roof of the terminal came during a lull in solar power development. Solar power has been hit hard by the economic downturn and the growing supply of cheap natural gas. Recently, three of the biggest solar manufacturers announced large layoffs and cutback production. But as the Holt family, who own the terminal warehouses, learned, the situation is bright for one sector of the solar industry: corporate rooftop solar....


Britain's hibernating bats avoid deadly fungus killing their US cousins

Britain's hibernating bats avoid deadly fungus killing their US cousins
Scientists in Britain are monitoring the fatal 'white-nose' syndrome that has been devastating colonies of the flying mammals in the US

It has been a satisfying spring for bat expert Lisa Worledge. Reports sent to her from volunteers who have been monitoring Britain's bats as they emerge from hibernation have given a clean bill of health to the nation's flying mammals. In particular, their observations have found no sign of an epidemic of fungal disease that has wiped out almost seven million bats in the US over the past six years and threatens to leave many American species extinct.

Many biologists fear that the infection, known as white-nose syndrome, could spread to Britain, with devastating consequences. "It is a real worry and we keep a very close eye out for any sign of the disease, but so far, happily, we have not seen a sign," said Worledge, partnership officer for the UK Bat Conservation Trust.

Bats are at their most vulnerable from white-nose syndrome while they are hibernating. Hence the decision to have volunteers monitor major sites – caves, old railway tunnels and abandoned buildings – where Britain's 17 species of bat spend the winter. "To date, we have only had good news," said Worledge.

The threat of white-nose syndrome worries bat experts for good reasons. Over the past six years, the disease has spread inexorably across the US. "The epidemic is heading to be one of the worst wildlife catastrophes of the century," said Mollie Matteson, a bat specialist with the Centre for Biological Diversity in the US.

Biologists say that...


There is certainly an ugly undercurrent of tension waiting to bubble up IMO

I remember the first few months after Obama was elected and inaugurated it seemed that casual inter-racial interactions in public places like supermarkets or restaurants took on a friendlier feel. What I noticed specifically was an increase in eye contact and greetings as people passed each other.

Then the teabaggers rose out of the ashes of the KKK and we went right back to looking past each other.

In my opinion, there has been a great deal of harm done by the rightwing use of racism as a political tool against Obama. I know that I resent it mightily and I'm white, so it is my assumption that in general the feelings of minorities of all persuasions are at least as predisposed towards anger as my own. With that in mind, it is understandable that many could believe Treyvon's killing could very well be the spark for a far wider reaction. Anyone that lived through the riots of the 60s knows that sometimes people can take only so much of this type of abuse before they collectively react.

I think this is a good article and that the claims of it being a right wing screed are totally off target. I can see how it might be perceived that way if you are reading it looking through a lens hyper-focused on a few key concepts. For example, the slight against the Reverend Al, is something that could legitimately be read as coming from the standard right wing playbook. I think the author is mistaken on that point because I recall him at the press conference on the day they announced the charges; he was definitely calling for public calm and imploring people to recognize that the judicial process was, albeit delayed, working. However that alone doesn't make it a right wing POV and it really requires a narrow focus to not detect the dripping sarcasm that accompanied the sentence "Rip-roaring fun!".

I don't think Treyvon's murder is going to be the spark that sets off wide spread racial violence, but it is one more stick on an overloaded camel's back. What is most worrisome is that such violence, were it to become widespread, would play directly into the political ambitions of the right. In public policy and economics that is called a "perverse incentive" and I believe it is proper to be on guard against those who would try to create the impression of it hoping to ratchet tensions ever higher.

I do not think this article is doing that.

Think hydro is tapped out? Think again...

Congressional Uncertainty Threatens 12,000-30,000 MW Of Possible Hydropower
By Stephen Lacey on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

(definitely go to link to see the map)

A new resource assessment of U.S. hydro potential finds that the industry could feasibly develop 12,000 megawatts of projects on existing non-powered dams around the country.

However, the inability of Congress to pass a production tax credit or help streamline permitting among regulatory agencies is threatening the hydro industry’s ability to get new projects constructed.

In a report released this month, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found enormous potential for projects greater than 1 MW on existing dams around the country. There are more than 80,000 non-powered dams scattered throughout the U.S., with roughly 54,000 potentially suitable for energy projects.

Of those 54,000 non-powered dams — ranging from four feet to 770 feet in height — the researchers found about 12 GW of potential electrical generation capacity.

This follows a 2006 report from the Idaho National Laboratory that found roughly 30 GW of potential capacity in rivers around the country...


Nature: Antarctica Is Melting From Below

Nature: Antarctica Is Melting From Below, Which ‘May Already Have Triggered A Period of Unstable Glacier Retreat’
By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

We knew that “deep ocean heat is rapidly melting Antarctic ice.” And we knew that these warm ocean currents melting Antarctica were so intense that, seawater appears to “boil on the surface like a kettle on the stove.”

We also knew that the the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) is inherently far less stable than the Greenland ice sheet because most of it is grounded far below sea level (see below). And JPL has told us that polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up and is on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050.

Now a new study using NASA satellite data finds the WAIS in particular is “being eaten away from below by warm water” as the AP put it, which “suggests that future sea levels could rise faster than many scientists have been predicting.”
The Nature study itself, “Antarctic ice-sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves,” concludes:

We find that ocean-driven ice-shelf thinning is in all cases coupled with dynamic thinning of grounded tributary glaciers that together account for about 40% of Antarctic discharge and the majority of Antarctic ice-sheet mass loss. In agreement with recent model predictions, we conclude that it is reduced buttressing from the thinning ice shelves that is driving glacier acceleration and dynamic thinning. This implies that the most profound contemporary changes to the ice sheets and their contribution to sea level rise can be attributed to ocean thermal forcing that is sustained over decades and may already have triggered a period of unstable glacier retreat.

This ought to be doubly worrisome since ...


Germany: Fighting Climate Change And Phasing Out Nuclear Power Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin

In response to (nuclear industry generated) criticisms of the path Germany is following as articulated in a recent WP article:
Germany: Fighting Climate Change And Phasing Out Nuclear Power Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin
By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm
by Arne Jungjohann

Recently, the editorial board of the Washington Post asked if the world can fight global warming without nuclear power, looking to Germany and Japan for the answer.

Both countries are known for a nuclear shutdown path. In Japan, only one of the 54 nuclear reactors currently remains in operation. Germany has closed eights reactors following the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima in March 2011 and the remaining nine are scheduled to be closed by 2022.


If you look at the most recent emissions data, however, the opposite is happening. Germany reduced its carbon emissions in 2011 by 2.1 percent despite the nuclear phase out. How can that be?

The cut in greenhouse gases was mainly reached due to an accelerated transition to renewable energies and a warm winter. In addition, the EU emissions trading system capped all emissions from the power sector. While eight nuclear power plants were shut down, solar power output increased by 60 percent. In 2011 alone, 7.5 gigawatts of solar were installed. By the end of last year, renewable energies provided more than 20 percent of overall electricity.



Last year in the US, with the largest nuclear fleet in the world, carbon emissions increased 3%.

The dream that failed - The Economist on Nuclear Power

The dream that failed
A year after Fukushima, the future for nuclear power is not bright—for reasons of cost as much as safety

Mar 10th 2012 | from the print edition

THE enormous power tucked away in the atomic nucleus, the chemist Frederick Soddy rhapsodised in 1908, could “transform a desert continent, thaw the frozen poles, and make the whole world one smiling Garden of Eden.” Militarily, that power has threatened the opposite, with its ability to make deserts out of gardens on an unparalleled scale. Idealists hoped that, in civil garb, it might redress the balance, providing a cheap, plentiful, reliable and safe source of electricity for centuries to come. But it has not. Nor does it soon seem likely to.

Looking at nuclear power 26 years ago, this newspaper observed that the way forward for a somewhat moribund nuclear industry was “to get plenty of nuclear plants built, and then to accumulate, year after year, a record of no deaths, no serious accidents—and no dispute that the result is cheaper energy.” It was a fair assessment; but our conclusion that the industry was “safe as a chocolate factory” proved something of a hostage to fortune. Less than a month later one of the reactors at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine ran out of control and exploded, killing the workers there at the time and some of those sent in to clean up afterwards, spreading contamination far and wide, leaving a swathe of countryside uninhabitable and tens of thousands banished from their homes. The harm done by radiation remains unknown to this day; the stress and anguish of the displaced has been plain to see.

et tu Japan
Then, 25 years later, when enough time had passed for some to be talking of a “nuclear renaissance”, it happened again (see article). The bureaucrats, politicians and industrialists of what has been called Japan’s “nuclear village” were not unaccountable apparatchiks in a decaying authoritarian state like those that bore the guilt of Chernobyl; they had responsibilities to voters, to shareholders, to society. And still they allowed their enthusiasm for nuclear power to shelter weak regulation, safety systems that failed to work and a culpable ignorance of the tectonic risks the reactors faced, all the while blithely promulgating a myth of nuclear safety.

Not all democracies do things so poorly. But nuclear power is about to become less and less a creature of democracies. The biggest investment in it on the horizon is in China—not because China is taking a great bet on nuclear, but because even a modest level of interest in such a huge economy is big by the standards of almost everyone else. China’s regulatory system is likely to be overhauled in response to Fukushima. Some of its new plants are of the most modern, and purportedly safest, design. But safety requires more than good engineering. It takes independent regulation, and a meticulous, self-critical safety culture that endlessly searches for risks it might have missed. These are not things that China (or Russia, which also plans to build a fair few plants) has yet shown it can provide.

In any country independent regulation is harder when the industry being regulated exists largely by government fiat...


This being the Economist they, of course, barely mention renewables and omit that option entirely as a consideration in the economics of nuclear or carbon.

Strong bipartisan support seen for shift to renewables in CSI survey


WASHINGTON, D.C.///April 25, 2012///The common wisdom is wrong: There is no political "fault line" that divides Americans along party lines when it comes to clean energy issues and solutions. Majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats agree that the United States should move away from its reliance on dirty energy sources that foul the air and water and toward a future that makes greater use of clean energy sources, according to a major new ORC International survey conducted for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI).

A key finding: More than three out of four Americans (76 percent) - including 58 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Independents, and 88 percent of Democrats -- think that the United States should move to a sustainable energy future through "a reduction in our reliance on nuclear power, natural gas and coal, and instead, launch a national initiative to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency."

However, the bipartisan support for clean energy does not mean that Americans think that Washington, D.C., is on the same page with them. More than three out of four Americans (77 percent) - including 70 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 85 percent of Democrats -- believe that "the energy industry's extensive and well-financed public relations, campaign contributions and lobbying machine is a major barrier to moving beyond business as usual when it comes to America's energy policy."

As a result, more than eight out of 10 Americans (83 percent) - including 69 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 95 percent of Democrats -- agree with the following statement: "The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to realize a renewable energy future. Congress is debating large public investments in energy and we need to take action to ensure that our taxpayer dollars support renewable energy-- one that protects public health, promotes energy independence and the economic well being of all Americans."

EAT link: http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org/media/042512release.cfm

58 percent of Republicans,
83 percent of Independents, and
88 percent of Democrats

-- think that the United States should move to a sustainable energy future through "a reduction in our reliance on nuclear power, natural gas and coal, and instead, launch a national initiative to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Former TVA Chairman calls for end to agency's nuclear building program

Former TVA Chairman S. David Freeman calls for end to agency's nuclear building program
Pam Sohn Friday, April 27th, 2012

TVA, under fire for nuclear construction overruns, is on a road to having its first ever net loss year, its board was told Thursday.

"TVA expects to end fiscal year 2012 with revenues between $500 million and $600 million below plan," Chief Financial Officer John Thomas said, blaming unusually mild weather and a slowly recovering economy for sluggish power sales.

In addition, the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the utility's president and CEO were put on the defensive by public criticism of its $2 billion cost overrun on the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor and its "nuclear addicted" management.

S. David Freeman, a former TVA board chairman, implored the agency "to just stop" its nuclear building program because it is too costly...


TVA: Watts Bar 2 Cost Overruns Soar by $2B; Operation Delayed to 2015
POWERnews April 12, 2012

Completion of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) second Watts Bar reactor will cost nearly double the $2.49 billion price estimated in 2007 and take much longer than the projected 60-month completion timeframe, a construction review undertaken by the federally owned corporation has revealed. TVA management pointed to mismanagement and faulty execution as reasons for the discrepancy...

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