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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

Journal Archives

Data are or data is?

Do you know someone who has an agendum about what verb should be used with data?

Please be sure you skim the article before replying...

Data are or data is?
Is it singular or plural? It's a word we use every day here on the Datablog - but are we getting it completely wrong?

How do you say "data"?

I only ask because it's a contentious issue. Along with split infinitives, getting this one wrong offends and delights in equal measure. And, as we write about data every day, we're either getting it very wrong or very right.

The Wall Street Journal has...


Up in smoke: how efficient is electricity produced in the UK?

Up in smoke: how efficient is electricity produced in the UK?
Huge amounts of energy are wasted every day in our gas, coal and nuclear power stations.

Over half of the energy in gas and around two thirds of the energy in nuclear and coal used to produce electricity is lost as waste heat.

Information is Beautiful has created a graphic for Friends of the Earth that illustrates just how much energy is lost in production and compares it to renewables sources, which lose less than 1%.

It makes particularly interesting reading when considered alongside Good Energy's (one of our partners on the Clean British Energy campaign) recent graphic showing where our energy comes from.

This graphic was produced...


Energy cooperatives are booming in Germany

Energy cooperatives are booming in Germany

The move away from conventional sources of energy in Germany is driven primarily by citizens. An increasing number of people work together by forming cooperatives to build wind farms and solar plants.

Cooperatives have experienced a revival in Germany. In 2006, eight new energy cooperatives were founded. In 2011 alone, this number was 167. And the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation expects the figure to be even higher for 2012.

This kind of growth is vital if Germany wants to phase out its nuclear energy dependency by 2022. By promoting energy policy at the local level, communities all over Germany are profiting from renewable energy sources and the power of cooperatives.

A typical example of this growth is seen in the Horb Ecumenical Energy Cooperative in Stuttgart, which has implemented several solar power plants. Bernard Bok was a driving force in this task: before his retirement he was on the board of the local cooperative Volksbank, so he was interested in helping the cooperative.

For him there was no question, the development ...


World Atomic Output Falls by Record in Fukushima’s Aftermath

World Atomic Output Falls by Record in Fukushima’s Aftermath
By Kari Lundgren on July 06, 2012

World nuclear power production dropped by a record 4.3 percent last year as the global financial crisis and the Fukushima disaster in Japan prompted plant shutdowns and slowed construction of new sites.

Reactors generated 2,518 terawatt-hours of electricity, down from 2,630 terawatt-hours in 2010, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012 published today. Atomic power accounted for 11 percent of all electricity generation.

The meltdown of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima Dai- Ichi plant in March last year drove countries including Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan to announce their withdrawal from nuclear power. Global output was further restricted as nations put new- build plans on hold amid safety concern and economic stagnation, forcing utilities to study extending the lives of current sites.

“The situation is much worse for the industry than after Chernobyl,” said Mycle Schneider, co-author of the report, referring to the 1986 accident in Ukraine. “New projects have a very dull future, but it will put enormous pressure on extending lifetimes and that raises obvious safety issues.”

Seven ...


Inexpensive point source, on-demand hot water heaters

When I lived in Japan I became accustomed to the type of water heater shown below. They were everywhere and were installed in homes exactly as you see them shown - no special venting was employed. The smaller ones ($100-150) that heat up to 1.5 GPM are good for lavatory or kitchen use, but really are not able to put out enough heated water for a shower. The larger ones ($180-300) will, however, do the job pretty well even on cold days.

Important things to consider:
1) SAFETY Traditional Japanese homes are very poorly insulated and drafty. If your home (or especially the room you are going to use it in) is tightly sealed as almost all US homes are you should ensure ventilation and/or an exhaust system just as if you were installing a gas range/oven or a tank gas hot water heater.

2) SATISFACTION Obviously these hot water heaters work to raise the temp of a flow of water - their performance will therefore vary between seasons as the input water temp changes. They adjust temperature by increasing or decreasing the rate of flow. A 10-15 degree seasonal difference in the input temperature of the water will have a very noticeable impact on the rate of flow, and may disappoint you if you are inflexible in your expectations.

3) They are incredibly fuel efficient.

Google 'portable hot water heater'. Eccotemp is one brand of many. I've never used electric models, so I have no opinion on them.
Eccotemp L5 Outdoor Portable Tankless Water Heater

Today $119.00
Item #: 11715581

Enjoy hot water wherever you are with a tankless water heater
Camping accessory is perfect for campsites, cabins, or simply around the house
Camping gear ignition starts the flame only when water is running...more
...For outdoor use only


ECCOTEMP 10L Portable Tankless Water Heater LPG Gas


The Eccotemp L10 tankless water heater is one of the hottest tankless water heaters on the market!

The Eccotemp L10 tankless water heater gives you endless hot water at your cabin, summer cottage, lake homes, potting sheds, RV's, campers, horse washing stalls or wherever else you need hot water. The Eccotemp L10 tankless water heater delivers up to 2.65 Gallons Per Minute of hot water ranging from 80-165 degrees F - plenty for 1-2 hot water applications running at the same time. The 2 "D" cell battery ignition starts the flame only when water is running, so there's no chance of overheating and makes it perfect for off grid or areas where you have limited electricity. Designed for a more permanent installation, the L10 comes with standard 1/2" NPT fittings, making it easily plumbed in with standard fixtures.

The ideal operating range is 25~80 PSI. The system also works great on modified water systems such as a 12 volt pump. Total dimensions are 28" tall (35" with rain cap), 17" wide, 6.5" deep and weighs about 18 pounds. Some of the other benefits:

Outdoor installation only
1 year manufacturer warranty on the unit
75,000 BTU
Includes stainless steel rain cap
Includes CSA regulator for use with standard 20 lbs grill propane tank
Battery igniter means no electricity needed
Garden hose adapter included
20 Minute automatic safety shutoff timer


Obama using Executive Power to sidestep (R) obstructionism of renewable energy

Biofuels are not considered a viable option for personal transportation, but they are going to be essential for heavy duty applications such as shipping, aviation, construction equipment and agriculture. To achieve the goal of affordable biofuels for these applications new processes for producing the fuel must be made practical and scaled up; a goal that requires a market that will attract private investment in the manufacturing facilities that compete against fossil fuels.
This is a small slice of one of the best ways I've seen our President exercise his Executive Powers. He has done it not only in the military with biofuels, solar, wind and energy efficiency; but also in almost every area of government that he has direct control over.
So while there has been almost no progress on climate/energy big-picture legislation or international agreements, his behind the scenes approach has been yielding remarkable success in laying the economic groundwork for a viable infrastructure to move us away from fossil fuels.

The naysayers who would have you believe otherwise are full of it.

The Obama Plan for Cost-competitive Military Biofuels: The 10-Minute Guide
Domestic, diversified military fuels or affordable fuels? "False choice!" says Obama.

By Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest
July 3, 2012

It's finally here. The Obama Administration has laid out an integrated strategy for commercializing advanced biofuels, with a focus in this phase on military advanced biofuels at cost-competitive prices with conventional fuels.

The vehicle is a joint program between the DOE, USDA and the Department of Defense (principally, starring the US Navy, though, as we’ll see, critically including other elements).

In his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future released in March 2011, President Obama set a goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and laid out an all-of-the-above energy plan to achieve that goal by developing domestic oil and gas energy resources, increasing energy efficiency, and speeding development of biofuels and other alternatives.

It’s a huge step in the journey toward those goals — a multi-step, integrated program that we’ll investigate in today’s Digest, and provide to you in a convenient 10-Minute Guide with links to the full funding announcements....


Monju (fast breeder reactor) costs far surpass usual nukes

10,000 yen is about $125.

Trouble-prone reactor has rung up far higher tab than initially planned

If the troubled Monju prototype fast breeder reactor project continues, its costs will swell to more than ¥1.4 trillion and its power generation costs will be ¥10,000 per kwh, roughly 1,000 times greater than a regular reactor, according to data compiled by Kyodo News.

Construction of the reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, started in 1985 as part of the government's goal to establish a nuclear fuel cycle to make use of spent nuclear fuel at conventional atomic plants that run on uranium. Monju uses a uranium and plutonium mix known as MOX as fuel.

The facility operated by the government-affiliated Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. first reached criticality — where a chain reaction of nuclear fission is sustained — in 1994.

But sodium, used as a coolant, leaked during its test run in December 1995. Around 640 kg of leaked sodium reacted with air and sparked a fire, forcing a prolonged suspension.

The operator was also caught trying to cover the incident up...


Locked-in: The Financial Risks of New Coal-fired Power Plants in Today's Volatile ... Coal Market

The Financial Risks of New Coal-fired Power Plants in Today's Volatile International Coal Market

Coal "lock-in," rather than rational investments in coal power, is one of the largest global threats today. This lock-in results from high capital costs and long asset lifespans associated with coal-fired power plant investments. Over the past six years due to large scale public opposition, mounting costs, and dramatic changes in the energy market, an irrational coal lock-in was successfully averted in the US and the EU. However, excessive coal reliance is now becoming a serious economic, as well as long-term environmental and public health threat, to China, India, and other parts of the developing world.

While the environmental and human health impacts of coal plant investments are increasingly well known, the financial impacts are not. This report examines the wide ranging risks these coal investments force countries to bear in today's rapidly changing energy market. Understanding and incorporating these risks in decision making is particularly important given the potentially untenable opportunity cost of financial flows that could otherwise be directed to increasingly affordable clean energy and energy efficiency alternatives.

Download the full report:

Composting gets lift from ancient 'bokashi' ways

How to compost food waste without the odor...

Composting gets lift from ancient 'bokashi' ways

MIDDLETON, Massachusetts — On a plot lost among the expanse of tightly trimmed fairways and greens, weeks-old food is buried under a tarp and mulch and left to decompose.

This country club in Massachusetts isn't taking an unsanitary shortcut with its trash. It's trying "bokashi," an obscure composting method it says will help it return 4 tons of food waste each year to Mother Nature.

Bokashi is based on an ancient Japanese practice that ferments food waste by covering it with a mix of microorganisms that suppress its smell and eventually produce soil. Bokashi is not widely used in the United States, but its practitioners think it should be because of the amount of food wasted in the U.S.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generated more than 34 million tons of food waste in 2010, accounting for 14 percent of all the solid waste that reached landfills or incinerators.

Advocates say the key advantage of bokashi...


We Are All ‘Climate Test Dummies’

We Are All ‘Climate Test Dummies’ Now, Providing Data On How Humans Respond To Extreme Weather
By Joe Romm on Jul 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

We have turned ourselves into test subjects for the single most terrifying “crash” the world will ever know — the crash of a livable climate.

Since we have done so wittingly, and continue blissfully subjecting ourselves to the impending climate crash without making any serious effort to stop it in spite of the gravest warnings from the most credible sources, that makes us little better than crash test dummies:
Crash test dummies are full-scale anthropomorphic test devices (ATD) that simulate the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and are usually instrumented to record data about … velocity of impact, crushing force, bending, folding, or torque of the body, and deceleration rates during a collision for use in crash tests…. Crash test dummies remain indispensable in the development of … all types of vehicles….

I offer this definition of the other CTDs and ATDs:
“Climate test dummies are full-scale anthropocene test dummies (ATDs) that simulate exactly the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and usually record or complain about the impact of off-the-charts heat, rainfall, floods, snow, fire, dust or drought during a collision with extreme weather for use in climate tests. Or, rather, climate test, because we only get one and unlike cars we don’t get to go back and redesign the planet or the energy system to avoid the otherwise easily preventable suffering.”

If you want to know how humans respond to 115° temperature...

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