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

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S. Korea; Nuclear Reactors' Falsified Safety Certificates; Post Fukushima

Nuclear Power Turns Off South Koreans after Fukushima

Posted date: August 12, 2013
From South China Morning Post

For Seoul residents, South Korea’s decision to keep four nuclear reactors offline because of faked safety reports means power shortages and a summer of sweltering homes and offices. Lee Jin-gon has bigger concerns.

“We feel unsafe day and night,” Lee said, pointing at the cause of his nervousness, one of the closed reactors in the town of Yangnam, a four-hour journey southeast of the capital. “We became worried about nuclear safety after the Fukushima accident. Now it’s worse,” he said, adding that locals have held protests to close the whole plant.

Lee, 60, is emblematic of growing opposition to atomic power in South Korea, a movement galvanized by the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant in Japan in 2011. It gained more support when an investigation found nuclear plants were using components with faked safety certificates. That cost Kim Kyun-seop his job as head of state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, which runs the 23 operating reactors.

The anti-nuclear lobby is forcing President Park Geun-hye to take note. Her administration said it would review the role of nuclear power to reflect “social acceptability” in its energy plan due by the end of this year. The government had planned to build more reactors to cope with electricity demand it forecast to surge almost 60 per cent by the year 2027.

Surveys show nuclear power is becoming increasingly socially unacceptable...

- See more at: http://www.energytribune.com/78751/nuclear-power-turns-off-south-koreans-after-fukushima#sthash.6UgCs3kM.dpuf

ALEC - Recognizing the Large and Growing Need for Commercial Nuclear Energy

Resolution Recognizing the Large and Growing Need for Commercial Nuclear Energy and Urging the President and Congress to Make Steady Progress toward a Permanent Geologic Repository for Used Commercial Nuclear Fuel and Such Nearer-Term Priorities as Interim Fuel Storage and Research into Fuel Reprocessing and Closing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Model Resolution

WHEREAS, America’s 103 commercial nuclear plants generate 20 percent of the Nation’s electricity with remarkably high levels of efficiency and reliability while producing zero emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases; and

WHEREAS, projected U.S. electricity demand will increase by 40 percent by the 2030, requiring the nuclear industry to bring online 50 gigawatts of additional generation just to maintain nuclear energy’s present 20 percent share of the electricity generation fuel mix, and

WHEREAS, more than a dozen nuclear utilities and consortia are actively exploring plans to pursue construction and operating licenses for more than 30 new commercial nuclear reactors in the next several years; and


NOW THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the American Legislative Exchange Council hereby urges the President and Congress to work together with the commercial nuclear industry, State and Local governments and other interested parties to encourage development of safe new nuclear plants as a key component of American fuel portfolio diversity and energy security; and


Approved by ALEC Board of Directors in 2007.


Photojournalist essay - Fukushima 360

Fukushima - the fog of silence above the country of the rising sun
Today, two of the remaining 50 nuclear reactors in Japan are up and running again, although the country is facing the high probability of a new, strong earthquake every day. Stronger than ever, the general question of nuclear energy shows up: At what point do the risks of a technology become socially unacceptable?

Maybe the following 360-degree view of every day life in Japan after the Fukushima melt-downs will help to answer this question ...


Together with my Japanese co-author, Mr. Kazuhiko Kobayashi, I traveled more than 2,500 miles through Japan and shot more than 17,000 photos on our attempt to better understand the two nuclear catastrophies that happened in this country - the atomic bombs and the core melts in Fukushima. We had the chance to interview 87 people whose lives have been irreversibly impacted by the nuclear catastrophy in Fukushima.

And I gained one major insight: Fukushima is the biggest experiment ever on the effects of ionizing radiation on human beings and nature at all.

Koriyama: As with all official measuring posts checked by me (37 of 1,341) this one also shows a value almost 50% too low compared to my calibrated Geiger counter.

Dial up warning for the link to the complete photo essay


The Supreme Court of India’s Judgment on the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

This is a great article well worth reading in full.

The Supreme Court of India’s Judgment on the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant


The charge of poor quality supplies to KKNP-1 Project from the Russian supplier was not a wild allegation. The AERB itself has found at least four defective valves during the second round of inspections at KKNP-1, the results of which were revealed on 19.04.2013. [5] (Incidentally, the defective values were detected only after activists in Kudankulam, who found out about the said scam in Russia, raised a furore. [6]) The claim that the Russian supplier had supplied only four defective valves to KKNPP is a little hard to digest. That the concerned officials in India are hardly perturbed by the arrest of the procurement director of ZiO-Podolsk by the Russian Government for large-scale fraud is even more disturbing. In this regard, Dr.Gopalkrishnan has cautioned the decision makers in India as follows:

“There could be a large number of equipment, components and materials of substandard quality from ZiO-Podolsk already installed in various parts of KKNP-1& 2 whose deficiencies and defects are dormant today, but these very same shortcomings may cause such parts to catastrophically fail when the reactor is operated for some time. Many such parts and materials may have been installed within the reactor pressure vessel itself, which is now closed and sealed in preparation for the start-up. Once the reactor is made critical and reaches power operation, much of these components and materials inside will become radioactive and/or will be in environments where they cannot be properly tested for quality or performance. Under the circumstances, KKNP Unit-1 commissioning and KKNP-2 construction work must be stopped forthwith, and there can be no question of resuming these works towards start-up of both these reactors until a thorough and impartial investigation is carried out into the impact of this corruption scandal and sub-standard supplies on the safety of these reactors. And these investigations must be carried out by a team, where majority membership must not be from DAE, NPCIL and AERB, but include subject experts from other organisations in the country. India must also seriously consider inviting an IAEA expert team specially constituted to investigate the specific issues which this scandal has thrown up.”[7]

Recently, in another article dated 19 June 2013, Dr.Gopalakrishnan has drawn attention to yet another safety concern. According to him:

“Besides the probable installation of substandard parts in KKNPP reactors due to laxity of quality control, it is now evident that another major safety issue related to the I&C [instrumentation & control] systems is worrying the KKNPP management and the AERB, because of which the Unit 1 start-up is now postponed to July 2013. This inference is reached by piecing together information now available in the public domain. The problem, to put it simply, appears to be the inability to eliminate spurious signals of untraced origin appearing in many of the instrumentation cables of paramount importance to safety, like the reactor neutron chamber output lines, wiring of the safety and shut-off rod control systems, etc. Such phenomena belong to a broad class of problems known as Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI)…. It is most likely that the KKNPP cable system, as completed today, has not conformed to the norms and standards of cable selection, EMI shielding, or layout as per Russian, Indian or any other standards. No wonder the EMI problem is persisting, because there is no other short-cut solution other than re-doing a sizeable part of the I&C cabling and its layout in accordance with a set of modern standards, agreeable also to the Russians. This may take several more months and extensive re-working, but this must be done in the interest of public safety.” [8])

In this context, it may be noted that Justice Radhakrishnan himself...



The promise of the Energiewende: energy democracy

A new book by the CEO of a German renewables developer is drawing a lot of attention in Germany right now. In this first of three installments, we present the German debate to the non-German-speaking world.

The promise of the Energiewende: energy democracy

Matthias Willenbacher, head of one of Germany’s largest renewable development firms, says he will give away his shares in the company if Chancellor Merkel adopts a 100% renewable target for energy, not just electricity, by 2020. Today, the positive things about the book he wrote in German for this purpose.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the announcement of the German book “My indecent proposal to the Chancellor”; now I have had a chance to read it. Parts of it are worth making known to the non-German-speaking world as an indication of what the debate sounds like over here. (Alas, no translation is in the works.)

First, some facts that were not clear to me from the press releases before I read the book. The author is talking about 100% renewable energy, not just electricity, though he could make that distinction clearer even in his book. Second, he would donate his shares in juwi, the firm he cofounded, to Germany’s energy cooperatives – the citizens who have invested in renewables over the past few decades.

Willenbacher minces no words about the role that energy democracy will play in the transition to renewables: “The German government still believes energy corporations can implement the Energiewende. This is a fundamental error.” He believes it will only work with distributed renewables in the hands of citizens, coops and municipals.

I find this stance a bit radical in Germany, but common enough...


The U.S. Nuclear Power Industry's Dim Future

Pretty good recap, except it starts with one of the nuclear industry's favorite myths. It wasn't Three Mile Island that derailed the nuclear bandwagon market of 70s and 80s, it was the same problem they face now - nuclear power simply can't deliver on the promises its sales force makes on its behalf.

Five years ago the nuclear energy industry looked set for its first run of serious growth since the late 1970s, when the Three Mile Island disaster put the brakes on reactor expansion in the U.S. In 2008, Congress authorized $18 billion in federal loan guarantees for plant construction. Utilities submitted 24 applications by the end of that year, anticipating that lawmakers would eventually put a price on carbon with a cap-and-trade bill that would make coal-fired plants less profitable. In 2007 and 2008, the price of the nuclear industry’s two biggest competing sources of power, coal and natural gas, skyrocketed as part of a global rally in commodity prices.

That optimism has given way to despair. Four reactors have closed so far in 2013—a record for the industry. Because of the shale energy boom, natural gas prices crashed, followed by coal. Electricity demand fell during the recession and has yet to regain its 2007 peak. Bolstered by billions of dollars in green energy subsidies in the 2009 stimulus package, renewables, especially wind, have come on faster than many anticipated. Cap and trade never happened. And Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011 reminded the world just how dangerous nuclear power can be.


A year ago, Exelon (EXC), the largest operator of commercial nuclear plants in the U.S., killed plans to build a 3,000-megawatt plant in Victoria County, Tex. After shuttering its Crystal River reactor in Florida, Duke Energy announced in May that it would not build two plants in North Carolina. In June, MidAmerican Energy, majority-owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A), decided not to go ahead with new nuclear plants in Iowa. Of those 24 applications for reactors filed in 2008, only four have resulted in new construction. “In a competitive market, you can’t even come close to making the math work on building new nuclear plants,” says Daniel Eggers, a utilities analyst with Credit Suisse (CS). “Natural gas is too cheap, demand is too flat, and the upfront costs are way too high.”


With fewer new plants, the average age of America’s fleet of reactors will steadily rise. A report by Credit Suisse projects that the total annual operating costs of running a nuclear power station could rise by 5 percent a year. Unless they get license extensions, 43 reactors will have to close within 20 years. The pressures on nuclear will only increase as more renewables come online. Thanks to production tax credits from the federal government, plus no fuel costs to worry about, wind producers get paid to push power into the market no matter what the price. According to Credit Suisse’s Eggers, this has led to power being sold at negative prices recently during off-peak hours at night and on the weekend in parts of Texas and in the Chicago area.

More at http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-18/the-u-dot-s-dot-nuclear-power-industrys-dim-future

Cuba as a case study for distributed grid architecture and energy efficiency

188 days of significant blackouts in 2004,
224 in 2005,
3 in 2006,
0 in 2007

Efficiency and Micropower for Reliable and Resilient Electricity Service: An Intriguing Case-Study from Cuba

AUTHOR: Lovins, Amory
DOCUMENT ID: 2010-23
YEAR: 2010
DOCUMENT TYPE: Report or White Paper

Cuba's decrepit electricity grid suffered 188 days of significant blackouts in 2004, 224 in 2005, 3 in 2006, and 0 in 2007. This dramatic improvement was due to a nationwide efficiency program, a crash program of switching to a majority of distributed generation, and reorganizing grid architecture around islandable netted microgrids. This success could be instructive for failing grids like those in Iraq and Afghanistan

Download study (3 pages): http://www.rmi.org/cms/Download.aspx?id=4946&file=2010-23_CubaElectricity.pdf&title=Efficiency+and+Micropower+for+Reliable+and+Resilient+Electricity+Service%3a+An+Intriguing+Case-Study+from+Cuba

They have dependable architecture in place and are now in the process of reducing fossil fuel dependency by moving to renewables.

Goldman Sachs: ‘Window For Profitable Investment In Coal Mining Is Closing’

Goldman Sachs Finds ‘Window For Profitable Investment In Coal Mining Is Closing’, Ditto For Coal Exports

Goldman Sachs has put out a must-read research paper, “The window for thermal coal investment is closing.” Thermal (or steam) coal is primarily used to generate power.
The U.S.-based multinational investment bank has some sobering findings for the dirtiest fossil fuel:
We believe that thermal coal’s current position atop the fuel mix for global power generation will be gradually eroded by the following structural trends: 1) environmental regulations that discourage coal-fired generation, 2) strong competition from gas and renewable energy and 3) improvements in energy efficiency. The prospect of weaker demand growth (we believe seaborne demand could peak in 2020) and seaborne prices near marginal production costs suggest that most thermal coal growth projects will struggle to earn a positive return for their owners.


Goldman projects demand for shipping coal by sea will be flat for years.

You may wonder why anyone would be building a coal export terminal — particularly on the West Coast where the obvious customer is China, whose near-term demand for coal imports is collapsing, according to Goldman:

As it turns out, the state of Washington — under the leadership of climate hawk Jay Inslee — appears to be figuring this out. The state’s Department of Ecology recently said its review of the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, will include “an evaluation and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions of end-use coal combustion.” ...

More at: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/08/08/2437551/goldman-sachs-coal/

Toxic Fukushima fallout threatens fishermen's livelihoods

Toxic Fukushima fallout threatens fishermen's livelihoods
Rising anger at Tepco two years after Japanese tsunami and nuclear meltdown as contaminated water seeps into Pacific

Justin McCurry in Hisanohama
The Guardian, Friday 9 August 2013 13.56 EDT

Fisherman Kazuo Niitsuma has been unable to work since the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph: Justin McCurry for the Guardian

Despite his age, 63-year-old Kazuo Niitsuma believes there are many more years of fishing ahead of him. The sea is in his family's blood, he says. His octogenarian father began working on boats when he was 12, and only retired three years ago.

But even if his health permits, Niitsuma knows he may never again get the chance to board his boat and head out into the Pacific in search of sole, whitebait, flounder and greenling.

The greatest threat to Niitsuma's livelihood, and that of other fishermen in Hisanohama, a small fishing town 125 miles north-east of Tokyo, lies just up the coast at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The environment ministry recently announcement that 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater from Fukushima Daiichi is still seeping over or around barriers into the Pacific every day, more than two years after it was struck by a tsunami in March 2011. Government officials said they suspected the leaks had started soon after the accident, which resulted in a nuclear meltdown.

The admission by the ministry, confirmed by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which runs the plant, is...


The Massive Demand For Solar In Asia Shows Us Where The Industry Is Headed

The Massive Demand For Solar In Asia Shows Us Where The Industry Is Headed

This year’s second quarter saw a massive surge in solar panel shipments, with three of the four largest manufacturers outdoing projections by as much as 32 percent, Bloomberg reports. Much of that was due to rising demand in Asia, where China and Japan could soon make up half the global demand for solar — with China in particular planning to double its solar capacity to about 10 gigawatts this year, and increase it by five times by 2015. According to Stefan Linder, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), that swelling demand should soak up much of the oversupply solar manufacturers were recently struggling under. At the end of July, BNEF reported recovering solar stocks as well.

Solar’s prices may soon compete with those of traditional utilities without the aid of subsidies — something that Deustche Bank’s latest market research calls a “third growth phase.” That doubles down on a similar finding the Germany-based financing and banking giant put out earlier this year. Thanks to balancing levels of supply and demand in both China and the rest of the global market, the cost of solar modules is stabilizing at 60 to 70 cents per watt, while the cost of installation has reached $1 to $1.20 per watt. Put it all together and solar’s levelized cost — the overall price at which it can deliver electricity generation when accounting for all its lifecycle inputs — is between 10 and 20 cents per kilowatt-hour for large portions of the globe.

According to Deutsche Bank, that leaves solar power hitting grid parity in eleven major markets worldwide — Los Angeles, Hawaii, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Italy, Spain, and Greece — meaning its levelized cost can compete unsubsidized with traditional sources of electricity. The report also sees the potential for solar to cross that threshold in 10 to 20 other markets within the next 3 years. As soon as 2014, according to Deutsche Bank, three-fourths of the global solar market could be “sustainable” — i.e. competitive without subsidies.


On the research and development end, Fraunhofer USA’s Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) is working on rooftop solar kits that can be assembled like an IKEA product and attached to a roof without drilling or infrastructure. A compact wireless system would then integrate with the local utility using a preset system. In essence: a user-friendly plug-and-play solar system that should escape the need for rooftop inspection or permitting processes. CSE just received $11.7 million from the Department of Energy to try to develop the system within 5 years.

Now, critics of government subsidies might...

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