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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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A Next-Generation Transmission Line Technology Grows in China

A Next-Generation Transmission Line Technology Grows in China

CTC Global, NARI to make U.S. high-tech conductor composites for China’s massive market

Creating a high-tech power grid isn’t just about information and communications technology, data-crunching software and other such digital technologies. Sometimes the innovations can be hidden inside the power lines themselves.

CTC Global is hoping that its new partnership with one of China’s biggest grid players will help push its own transmission technology into what’s set to become the world’s biggest power grid market.

On Wednesday, the Irvine, Calif.-based maker of aluminum-conductor composite core (ACCC) transmission cable (officially known as “conductor” in utility parlance), announced that it’s formed a joint venture with the NARI Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

CTC already has a sizable amount of its ACCC conductor in use in grid projects in China, but this is the first time CTC has partnered with another company to build the composite carbon-and-glass material that forms the heart of transmission lines that are lighter, more heat-resistant, and less susceptible to line loss than the steel-core cables that are the industry standard today.

To be sure, ACCC comes at a price premium, with a cost roughly ...


Moving Above Ground: From Coal Mines to Clean Energy

Moving Above Ground: From Coal Mines to Clean Energy

Emily Hois
August 15, 2013

As the number of coal mining jobs continues to decline throughout the U.S., more unemployed miners are finding work above ground — in the clean energy industry, ironically.

A group called The JOBS Project has been working for the past three years to help workers throughout Central Appalachia obtain renewable energy jobs in coal-dominated states like Kentucky and West Virginia. "In no way are we against coal or trying to replace coal,” said The JOBS Project spokesman Nick Getzen. “There's still going to be coal mining here. This is just something else to help the economy."

In February of 2011, The JOBS Project celebrated a milestone when a group of unemployed and underemployed coal miners installed rooftop solar panels on a doctor’s office in Williamson, WV. The array is expected to pay for itself within seven years, showing local residents that solar energy is “real technology and they can have it in their communities,” Getzen said.

Some coal mining families have been plagued with uncertainty since President Obama’s climate change proposal called for a reduction of coal-fired plants throughout the U.S. “It used to be you could do a dirty, hard job like coal mining and feel good about working hard and feeding your family. Now it’s like we’re doing some bad for the country,” a Virginia coal miner told The Daily Beast.

As these workers become laid off from the coal mines, many struggle to find dependable work to support their families. This stresses the importance of having organizations like The JOBS Project step in to help these workers land on their feet in the push toward renewable energy. The employment group has partnered with companies such as Mountain View Solar & Wind to develop job training programs where many of the coal-turned-clean-energy workers are earning higher salaries than they did in the mines.

Besides higher wages, the health benefits of working in clean energy are an additional perk. A report by...


Another wheel falls off the nuclear revival bandwagon

Much ado was made about how the TVA's plans to complete the Bellefonte nuclear plant in Alabama (mothballed for 30 years) was proof-positive of the inevitable resurgence of the modern nuclear industry.

In the furor over the sudden permanent shutdown of the San Onofre plant in California, this rather telling story got little notice. I think we can take efforts to paint this in some circles as a cutback to "revive" the plant as typical Doublespeak from the Dirty Nuclear Industry (to filch a recently used phrase). In the article below it is phrased as "pace of work will slow to better align with future demand", followed two paragraphs later with the note that the plant was mothballed in '85 because "TVA determined it had no immediate need for the power".

Yep, that revival is just around the corner.

TVA to cut 400 jobs at Bellefonte Nuclear Plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority is cutting 400 contract and TVA employees working at the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Alabama, sources said today.

By September, TVA expects to have cut its current 540-person staff working at Bellefonte to about 140 workers. TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said the utility will still conduct engineering studies and analysis on the Babcock & Wilcox-design reactors, but the pace of work will slow to better align with future power projections.


TVA was granted a construction permit in December 1974 to build two reactors at the Bellefonte site on the Tennessee River in Jackson County, Ala. But work was halted in 1985 when TVA determined it had no immediate need for the power that could be generated from the twin reactors.

TVA had invested more than $4 billion building the first two reactors at Bellefonte, but in 2009 TVA decided to scrap those original reactors and pursue a new Westinghouse design promoters said would be safer and more efficient. But two years later, TVA reversed course and resurrected a study on the plant when TVA directors approved the restart of construction in 2011....


Tonight 8PM: Chris Hayes MSNBC Climate Documentary "The Politics of Power”

From Joe Romm at Climate Progress

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes On Why So Many Conservatives Deny The Climate Problem: They Hate The Solution

Hayes plays an excerpt from remarks by hard-core denier Rep. Dana “dinosaur flatulence” Rohrabacher (R-CA):
ROHRABACHER: Just so you’ll know, global warming is a total fraud. The federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives. That’s what their game plan is. It’s step by step by step more and bigger control over our lives by higher levels of government. And global warming is simply that strategy in spades.
HAYES: Now, the whole “global warming is a liberal conspiracy” line is understandably a big hit among the conservative base, but in delivering that line, Congressman Rohrabacher tips his hand to the reasoning behind his global warming denialism, which basically goes like this: If global warming is real, then the government would need to intervene to fix it, but we don’t like government intervention. Therefore, global warming cannot be real.
That’s it. That is the logic behind the pervasive view on climate change on the right: We don’t like the solutions to this problem, so we officially declare this not to be a problem.


For you Millennials out there, Luntz’s infamous (and still must-read) 2002 “Straight Talk” memo on climate change messaging was designed for conservatives who want to sound like they care about global warming even as they twist the knife in deeper:
Technology and innovation are the key in arguments on both sides. Global warming alarmists use American superiority in technology and innovation quite effectively in responding to accusations that international agreements such as the Kyoto accord could cost the United States billions. Rather than condemning corporate America the way most environmentalists have done in the past, they attack us for lacking faith in our collective ability to meet any economic challenges presented by environmental changes we make. This should be our argument. We need to emphasize how voluntary innovation and experimentation are preferable to bureaucratic or international intervention and regulation.
More than a decade later, the playbook is exactly the same!


Luntz Memo

Separating Fact from Fiction In Accounts of Germany’s Renewables Revolution

AUG 15, 2013
Amory B. Lovins
Chief Scientist
Separating Fact from Fiction In Accounts of Germany’s Renewables Revolution

I recently wrote about—and debunked—the renewables “disinformation campaign” that spreads misinformed and falsely negative stories about the growth of renewable energy. A special focus of such disinformation has been reportage on Germany’s efficiency-and-renewables revolution. The impressive success so far of the German Energiewende (energy turnaround) is an important existence proof for the world, because Germany is cloudy, high-latitude, heavily industrialized, highly competitive (it rivals America’s merchandise exports with one-fourth its population), and the world’s fourth-biggest economy.

Perhaps because German success would therefore belie the supposed necessity of fossil-fuel and nuclear energy, some media regularly report the Energiewende’s failure or supposed impossibility. As I highlighted, Germany’s renewables revolution is in fact highly successful and strong as ever, but that hasn’t stopped three myths from gaining traction in the media: 1) Germany’s supposed turn back to coal, 2) how renewables undermine grid reliability, and 3) how renewables subsidies are cratering the German economy. None of those are true, and here’s why.

An efficient new German coal plant begun in 2006, with fast ramp rates to complement variable renewables, was widely but wrongly heralded on its commissioning in 2012 (Europe’s only new coal plant that year) as signaling Germany’s post-Fukushima turn back to coal—not mentioning that it replaced a larger amount of dirtier and far less efficient coal capacity that was shut down. Moreover, replacing old 35-to-38-percent-efficient coal units with modern 46-percent-efficient ones, like some of the 5.3 GW likely to come online this year, would save a fifth of their coal even if net capacity didn’t change. And though capacity may fluctuate for a few years, the German Energy Agency expects 11.3 GW of coal capacity to be added and 18.5 GW closed by 2020—a net decrease of at least 7.2 GW.


Another common misreportage theme is that renewables are degrading the reliability of Germany’s power supply, driving industry abroad. The president of Germany’s network agency has confirmed this is not true. Hearsay anecdotes alleging renewable-caused power glitches are often traceable to Der Spiegel, a frequent source of anti-renewable stories, but evaporate on scrutiny. Charles Mann in The Atlantic cites five references to bolster such claims, but his sources (cited in my response) don’t support his case. One, from a Koch-allied anti-renewable front group (whose political arm, the American Energy Alliance, lobbies for fossil fuels and against renewables), claims renewables are “causing havoc” in the German grid, the other four sources don’t, and none of the five offers any evidence this is happening, because it’s not—as I confirmed with German experts in May 2013, when I was co-keynoting the Chancellor’s electromobility conference in Berlin.



More at http://blog.rmi.org/separating_fact_from_fiction_in_accounts_of_germanys_renewables_revolution

ALEC’s New Tactics to Weaken Renewable Laws

Q&A: ALEC’s New Tactics to Weaken Renewable Laws

How serious a threat does ALEC pose to renewable energy development?



Though bills meant to revoke or undercut renewable standards in numerous states failed last session, clean energy advocates say the model Market Power Renewables Act and the Renewable Energy Credit Act proposed by ALEC’s energy task force during the conference pose a fresh threat.

The Market Power Renewables Act argues for a “voluntary market” that would allow people to invest in renewable energy if they choose without instituting mandates, and it claims that such an approach could lead to more renewable energy development overall.

The Renewable Energy Credit Act would expand the types of energy that would count toward credits. It would also remove caps on the proportion of an RPS that can be met through credits, a provision now enshrined in many states’ laws. And it would also allow the renewable standard’s full term (for example, through 2025) to be met in advance by bulk purchases of credits to meet future requirements.

The ALEC conference also included presentations by the American Petroleum Institute on local hydraulic fracturing bans; a talk characterizing offshore energy as “good sense and good cents”; nuclear energy’s role in baseload electricity production; and the U.S. EPA’s “assault on state sovereignty,” hosted by a representative of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


Full interview follows at

Chart: 2/3rds of Global Solar PV Has Been Installed in the Last 2.5 Years

Chart: 2/3rds of Global Solar PV Has Been Installed in the Last 2.5 Years

And capacity will nearly double in the next 2.5 years.

If you want to understand why people so often compare deployment trends in solar photovoltaics (PV) to Moore's law in computing, consider this statistic: two-thirds of all solar PV capacity in place worldwide has been installed since January 2011.

Let's put that into perspective. It took nearly four decades to install 50 gigawatts of PV capacity worldwide. But in the last 2 1/2 years, the industry jumped from 50 gigawatts of PV capacity to just over 100 gigawatts. At the same time, global module prices have fallen 62 percent since January 2011.

Even more amazingly, the solar industry is on track to install another 100 gigawatts worldwide by 2015 -- nearly doubling solar capacity in the next 2 1/2 years.

Those statistics and the chart below, courtesy of GTM Research Senior Analyst MJ Shiao, illustrate the exponential growth in the global PV market.

Read more at http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/chart-2-3rds-of-global-solar-pv-has-been-connected-in-the-last-2.5-years?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

ALEC to States: Repeal Renewable Energy Mandates (‘Electricity Freedom Act’ model bill adopted)

ALEC to States: Repeal Renewable Energy Mandates (‘Electricity Freedom Act’ model bill adopted)
by Todd Wynn
November 1, 2012

“Households in 29 states are and will continue to see higher electricity rates, lower economic growth and, subsequently, lower standard of livings without outright repeal of these crony capitalist policies.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation’s largest non-partisan association of state legislators boasting more than 2,000 members from all 50 states, recently adopted a firm stance opposing misguided government intervention into the electricity market which works against affordable, reliable electricity.

ALEC’s model bill for state legislators, entitled the Electricity Freedom Act, repeals a state’s renewable energy mandate stating:

“…a renewable energy mandate is essentially a tax on consumers of electricity that forces the use of renewable energy sources beyond what would be called for by real market forces and under conditions of real competition in generation resources…”

- See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2012/11/alec-repeal-state-energy-mandates/#sthash.4Bsxs4aN.dpuf

Workers likely sprayed with radioactive mist at Fukushima nuclear plant

Workers likely sprayed with radioactive mist at Fukushima nuclear plant
August 13, 2013
By RYUTA KOIKE/ Staff Writer

A mist-generating machine designed to prevent heatstroke apparently sprayed radioactive substances onto the heads and faces of 10 workers at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the plant’s operator said.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Aug. 12 that unusually high radioactivity levels--up to five times the company’s self-imposed safety standard--were detected on the 10 employees, but they showed no immediate signs of illness.

The 10 male employees, in their 20s to 50s, were working in a quake-proof building at the site and were likely exposed to the radioactive substances from the mist generator installed in front of the building, according to TEPCO.

TEPCO checked the purifying facility that supplies water for the mist generator, but no radioactive contamination was found. The company said the water might have become contaminated when it ran through the pipes.

All workers who enter ...


German Utilities Hammered in Market Favoring Renewables

German Utilities Hammered in Market Favoring Renewables
By Tino AndresenAugust 12, 2013


RWE AG and EON SE are getting hurt by falling power prices and a shrinking market share this year. They’re set to report second-quarter earnings this week just as RBC Capital Markets said both may need to raise capital.

“Lower earnings for RWE and EON have knock-on implications for the balance sheet of both companies,” John Musk, an analyst at RBC Capital in London, said last week. “The market has yet to factor in the longer-term earnings impact of German power prices,” which have dropped about 27 percent in a year.

Across Europe and some of the U.S., utilities that a decade ago dominated markets now struggle to cope with lower prices exacerbated by subsidized renewables that don’t pay fuel costs. The pain is most acute in Germany, which led the world installing solar farms and has the largest offshore wind plans. Clean energy also has preference over fossil fuels in European wholesale markets, a job killer at traditional utilities.

EON of Dusseldorf and Essen-based RWE are considering halting coal and gas plants with capacity exceeding 20,000 megawatts and can supply 21 cities the size of Cologne, risking some of the combined workforce of more than 10,000.

“A significant part of our business model is now facing new challenges...

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