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

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Rosatom-owned company accused of selling shoddy equipment to reactors...

Bellona.org, 28.02.2012 - Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad.
Charles Digges, 28/02-2012

The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB.

It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.

“The scope of this scandal could reach every reactor in Russian and every reactor built by Russia over the past several years and demands immediate investigation,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “Were is the political leadership in the Russian government to deal with such a crime?"

Hauge expressed outrage that an alleged crime of such a massive scale ...


NRC "...an agency that has a unique view of its own independence"

Attorney Generals Fight for Public Access in Nuclear Issues
Roger Witherspoon


"The (Nuclear Regulatory) Commission has stated that it is not bound by judicial practice, including that of the United States Supreme Court," ...the NRC has taken the position that U.S. Supreme Court decisions on procedural rules that apply to federal judicial proceedings are advisory, and the Commissioners are not bound to follow them. ...

"Four years ago," said David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, "an ASLB in California ruled against the staff in a challenge to the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. The staff opposed requiring the plant to assess the possible impact of a deliberate commercial jet crash into the plant, saying it was speculative. The board ruled that since there have been terrorist attacks using commercial jets, that the challenge was not speculative and should be allowed.

"The Commissioners then ruled that the Board's decision applied only to Diablo Canyon and could not be applied to anyplace else. If they had won that case, I'm sure they would have said it was a precedent and used it everywhere. But since they lost, they made it unique."

It is the issue of hiding loses before a judicial tribunal by the NRC staff and then forcing states and civic groups to litigate the same issue at each and every power plant that has drawn fire from Sorrell and Schneiderman.


This is an outstanding article.


SKorean Prime Minister says nuclear industry like the Mafia

Scandal in South Korea Over Nuclear Revelations
Jean Chung for The New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea — Like Japan, resource-poor South Korea has long relied on nuclear power to provide the cheap electricity that helped build its miracle economy. For years, it met one-third of its electricity needs with nuclear power, similar to Japan’s level of dependence before the 2011 disaster at its Fukushima plant.

...a snowballing scandal in South Korea about bribery and faked safety tests for critical plant equipment has highlighted yet another similarity: experts say both countries’ nuclear programs suffer from a culture of collusion that has undermined their safety. Weeks of revelations about the close ties between South Korea’s nuclear power companies, their suppliers and testing companies have led the prime minister to liken the industry to a mafia.

The scandal started after an anonymous tip in April prompted an official investigation. Prosecutors have indicted some officials at a testing company on charges of faking safety tests on parts for the plants. Some officials at the state-financed company that designs nuclear power plants were also indicted on charges of taking bribes from testing company officials in return for accepting those substandard parts.


“What has been revealed so far may be the tip of an iceberg,” said Kune Y. Suh, a professor of nuclear engineering at Seoul National University.


Poor Nnads

Just as food for thought, here is the status of world final energy consumption by source.

This is the concept behind calls for energy efficiency (a strategy that is anathema to the coal and nuclear industry because it slashes their profits).

The energy wasted from thermal sources is a very significant factor in understanding the issue of what energy source is doing what. Primary energy measures the total amount of energy that a fuel source yields - no matter whether it is powering our lives (ie electricity or or propulsion for autos) or whether it is waste heat being transferred to our waterways from nuclear plants or heat causing NO2* emissions off the hot engine block of an internal combustion.

An alternative (and most say better) way of looking at the production and use of energy is to measure what is needed and consumed by the actual work being accomplished. For example, an average internal combustion engine (ICE) powered car ejects 85% of the energy content of the gasoline it consumes as heat and only uses 15% for motive power. When we look for alternatives to gasoline do we think biofuels, and duplicate the efficiencies of the gasoline powered ICE or do we focus on batteries and electric motors that have far better efficiencies - typically using 90% of the input energy for locomotion?

Writ large, what does that mean? Take a look at this flow chart and note that the "rejected energy" comprised 58.1 quads of the total 95.1 quads of primary energy used in the US last year. How much was actually used to do the work of the nation? Only 37 quads.

If we look more closely at the various sectors we can see where the major opportunities for energy efficiency improvements are to be found:

Sector: Gross - Useful Energy; Rejected Energy (proportion of useful to rejected)

Transportation: 26.7 - 5.6; 21.1 (21 : 79)
Electric Generation: 38.10 - 12.40; 25.70 (33 : 67)

In sectors where the heat value of the energy is useful we see much higher efficiency
Industrial: 23.9 - 19.1; 4.77 (80 : 20)
Commercial: 8.29 - 5.39; 2.90 (65 : 35)
Residential: 10.60 - 6.9; 3.72 (65 : 35)

Now let's look at the Solar, Wind and Hydro Subset of Electric Generation. These produce electricity directly with insignificant primary energy lost as heat in the generation phase, however they do incur line losses of about 7%.

SolarWindHydro: 4.07 - 3.78; 0.285 (93 : 7)

Let's compare that to
Nuclear: 8.05 - 2.62; 5.43 (33 : 67)

In the US, the our fleet of nuclear reactors (what is it, down to 99 and falling fast?) might have produced 8.05 quads of primary energy, but at about 35% efficiency at the busbar and a further 7% line loss, (8.05q x 0.35 = 2.82q x 0.93) that only equals 2.62 quads actually delivered to the end user for work.

3.78q > 2.62q

See also: http://www.nawindpower.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.11788#utm_medium=email&utm_source=LNH+07-19-2013&utm_campaign=NAW+News+Headlines

Oh yes, and then there is this.

Greenhouse emissions explained in 7 balloons

Graph of the Day: Greenhouse emissions explained in 7 balloons

In 2010 human activity caused 50 Gt CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions.

These emissions were 76% carbon dioxide (CO2), 16% methane (CH4), 8% nitrous oxide (N20) and 2% F-gases.

The big terrestrial emitters were China (23%), the USA (14%), Europe (10%), India (5%) and Russia (5%).

And the primary sources of emissions were energy (35%), industry (18%), transport (13%), agriculture (11%), forestry (11%), buildings (8%) and waste (4%).

The sources are explained in more detail in the balloons above, which technically shouldn’t float so well...


Japan, Automakers Go All In on Massive EV Charging Plan

Japan, Automakers Go All In on Massive EV Charging Plan

Japan puts up over $1 billion in subsidies for installation of EV charging facilities, and Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors collaborate to get it done.


Japan’s automotive industry is very competitive, but there’s always room for cooperation. Especially when it comes to green vehicle development.

With this in mind, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi Motors announced today they all plan to work together to promote the massive installation of more electric vehicle chargers, including building out “a charging network service that offers more convenience to drivers.”

Currently there are around 1,700 fast and 3,000 regular chargers in Japan, which is said to be an insufficient number. This, coupled with “lack of sufficient coordination among existing charging providers,” is said to be a hinderance to the development of this growing industry. To improve upon all of this, and increase the number of normal chargers by 8,000 and quick chargers by 4,000, the national government has announced subsidies for installation of charging facilities totaling 100.5 billion yen as part of its economic policy for fiscal year 2013 to quickly develop the charging infrastructure and expand the use of electric-powered vehicles using alternative energy sources. Currently, each prefecture in Japan is drawing up a vision for the use of the subsidies. With this strong support, the four automakers will work together to install the chargers. Previously, each automaker assessed possible locations for charging facilities on their own. Now, they have agreed to work jointly under the common understanding that the charging infrastructure has public value and that enhancing it should be done quickly during the limited period that the subsidies are available.

100.5 billion yen, or $1.025 billion American, is a staggering amount of money to put towards development of a national charging infrastructure plan for Japan. It is being done though in “recognition of the critical need to swiftly develop charging infrastructure facilities to promote the use of electric-powered vehicles.”

The four automakers will pick up...


Exploring a different structure for utilities

Could Utilities’ Future Be Selling Light Instead of Electrons?

There’s a growing recognition within and outside the electric industry that the existing utility business model is unfit both for meeting society’s climate goals and for competing with new disruptive technologies such as distributed solar power.

“It’s something that worked really well in the last century, when we needed to electrify the country and expand the grid to use more electricity for more things,” says Annie Levenson-Falk, the Citizens League’s senior policy manager. “Now that the goal is conserving, we have the wrong setup for that. I think folks are starting to recognize that.”

The Citizens League started its electricity policy project in 2011, bringing together about 100 people, including utility officials, state lawmakers, environmentalists, business leaders and citizens, to talk about what Minnesota’s electricity system should look like in 2040.

The project is currently in its second phase, which is focused on identifying long-term, system-level policy changes that would promote more efficient use of electricity in the state. Fox-Penner’s Energy Service Utility model is one of several ideas that have been discussed...


Doubts cast over TEPCO's plan to block radioactive water at Fukushima plant

Doubts cast over TEPCO's plan to block radioactive water at Fukushima plant

August 03, 2013

After nearly 30 months of failure, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still providing little reason for confidence in its ability to deal with the radioactive water leaking at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The utility continues to face criticism for its delay in releasing vital information about conditions at the crippled plant. Fishermen and residents have lost patience over the many setbacks in TEPCO’s preparations to decommission the reactors.

And now, the Nuclear Regulation Authority is raising doubts about the utility’s latest plan: constructing underground walls to prevent the contaminated water from reaching the Pacific Ocean.

The immediate concern is radioactive water seeping along the seaward side of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors and spilling into the sea.

TEPCO is currently solidifying soil with chemicals near a levee to...


Radioactivity levels higher in water deeper underground at Fukushima plant
August 02, 2013

By JIN NISHIKAWA/ Staff Writer
Radioactive cesium levels were much higher in water deep underground at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant than in samples taken closer to the surface, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on Aug. 1.

TEPCO measured the radioactivity of water samples taken from the vertical shafts of two concrete trenches for pipes each connected to the turbine buildings of the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

The samples were collected on July 31 at a depth of 1 meter, 7 meters and 13 meters on the seaward side of the plant.

Cesium-134 levels of 300 million becquerels and cesium-137 readings of 650 million becquerels per liter were found in water samples from a depth of 13 meters in the trench for the No. 2 reactor turbine building, according to TEPCO.

Levels of radioactive materials that emit beta rays, including strontium, were 520 million becquerels at the same site, TEPCO said....


How Clean Energy Victory Bonds Can Power Our Future

How Clean Energy Victory Bonds Can Power Our Future

Rosana Francescato
August 01, 2013

While we weren’t looking, a major new market has developed and could be the next big thing for clean energy in the U.S. — it’s the market for green bonds. Especially exciting are the bonds being promoted by Green America, Clean Energy Victory Bonds.

Another Investment Opportunity for the 75 Percent

Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVBs) aren’t available yet. They’re proposed U.S. Treasury bonds that will fund clean energy programs supporting wind, solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.

In addition to financing the production of innovative technologies in the U.S., CEVBs will extend proven programs like the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for a decade. Now, that’s huge. All over the country, renewable energy advocates have been fretting about what will happen when the ITC runs out at the end of 2016. Extending it would provide a welcome boost to solar and other clean power sources.

What’s more, any American will be able to invest in CEVBs, for as little as $25. That distinguishes them from other green bonds. As Todd Larsen of Green America notes, “Clean Energy Victory Bonds are different in that they will be available to individual investors as well as institutions.” And their low barrier to entry “means that all Americans can afford to purchase one.” In other words, the 75 percent of us who can’t put solar panels on our own roofs will have another way to participate in and benefit from solar and other renewables.

We’ve already seen evidence of pent-up demand for clean energy investment opportunities...


SunPower Producing Solar Panels at Full Speed and May Expand Capacity

SunPower Producing Solar Panels at Full Speed and May Expand Capacity

Ehren Goossens, Bloomberg
August 01, 2013

NEW YORK CITY -- SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is selling panels as fast as it can make them and is seeking ways to expand production capacity in anticipation of increasing global demand.

The company reached “full manufacturing utilization” in the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Chuck Boynton said during a conference call yesterday. It’s considering expanding a production joint venture with the Taiwanese electronics maker AU Optronics Corp. or building new fabrication facilities. It also recently announced its foray into residential leasing.

SunPower is mulling an expansion as the rest of the industry contends with a global oversupply of panels that’s driven down prices and margins. Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner is seeking to position the company to gain share, especially in Asia.

“We’re fully allocated,” Werner said in an interview yesterday. “There are times you wish you could build a new fab.”

SunPower’s sales in Asia doubled...

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