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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Study: Countries that support nuclear energy lag on climate targets

Study: Countries that support nuclear energy lag on climate targets

Madeleine Cuff
23 August 2016

Countries with a strong national commitment to nuclear energy tend to make slower progress towards meeting their climate targets, compared to countries without nuclear energy or with plans to reduce it, according to research published yesterday by the University of Sussex.

The researchers looked at the progress of European countries towards cutting carbon emissions and increasing their share of renewable energy under the EU's 2020 Strategy. They found nuclear-free countries such as Denmark and Norway have made the most progress towards their climate targets, while pro-nuclear countries such as France and the UK have been slower to tackle emissions and roll out clean energy sources.


"Looked at on its own, nuclear power is sometimes noisily propounded as an attractive response to climate change," Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, said in a statement. "Yet if alternative options are rigorously compared, questions are raised about cost-effectiveness, timeliness, safety and security."

"Looking in detail at historic trends and current patterns in Europe, this paper substantiates further doubts," he added. "By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive."

Countries which have no nuclear energy ...


Hinkley Point nuclear power station: Whitehall officials 'exploring ways UK could pull out of deal'

Hinkley Point nuclear power station: Whitehall officials 'exploring ways UK could pull out of deal'
Theresa May's administration called an unexpected halt to the project amid security and viability concerns

Joe Watts

Artists impression of Hinkley Point PA


Westminster sources told The Independent civil servants are looking to see if there is any loophole, clause or issue in contracts yet to be signed that allow the Government to pull back without huge loss and while also saving face.


“They are looking for anything that will allow the Government to withdraw and also allow the Chinese to withdraw while also saving face.”


It followed claims that the price promised for Hinkley’s electricity at £92.50 per MWh, more than double the wholesale price, was too expensive.

The two new reactors that would be built at Hinkley are also of unproven design, with the two being constructing elsewhere beset by budget overruns and delays.


Nick Timothy, a senior adviser to Mrs May previously warned that China “could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.”


EDF may also have problems fulfilling its end of any agreement. The company’s finance director Thomas Piquemal resigned earlier this year, fearing Hinkley could lead to the firm’s insolvency....


Theresa May writes conciliatory letter to Chinese president amid Hinkley nuclear deal spat

Hinkley Point: China warns Theresa May over 'suspicious' decision to delay nuclear power station

We should be cautious of Hinkley Point – and relying on other powers to keep our lights on

Kuwait scraps nuclear power plans - renewables more cost effective

Kuwait scraps nuclear power plans
Ministry says alternative sources are more cost effective

By Robert Anderson

Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water has reportedly scrapped plans to build a nuclear power plant citing cost concerns.

The country had planned to obtain a licence for the project from the United Nations.

Kuwait Times reports that the ministry decided to retract the plans because studies proved it was unfeasible and too expensive.

The ministry also said alternative energy sources like wind and solar power were more cost effective, according to the publication.

The country is expected to require several new power stations ...

More at: http://gulfbusiness.com/kuwait-scraps-nuclear-power-plans/#.V737NWVh2Rs

The Next Big Energy Appliance

Listen Up: The Next Big Energy Appliance
August 16, 2016
By The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World

We’re witnessing the transformation of electricity generation, storage and usage of electricity in buildings. The “home of the future” will have an appliance that combines an inverter, rooftop solar, battery storage and an EV charger — linked together with easy-to-use management software.

In August, Tesla implied they are developing such a product. But other companies have been working on similar complete systems — as well as individual components — for years. SolarEdge, Enphase and others for inverters; dozens of solar module manufacturers; multinationals such as GE, Siemens and Schneider for chargers and home electronics; and thousands of software entrepreneurs who hope to create an “app for that.”

These developments are being driven by new technology in solar, battery storage and power electronics. From a consumer’s “demand” perspective, it is becoming increasingly cost-effective to generate and store one’s own electricity. And from a utility’s “supply” perspective, the realization is dawning that they cannot maintain their “we generate it so you must buy it” business model.

The challenge is to build a profitable business around this future building energy reality. Can one company dominate the commodity manufacturing of solar panels and batteries to create a complete “home energy appliance” product offering? Or will multiple companies collaborate as they provide pieces of this appliance, integrated by one or more suppliers of electronics and software? For more about the Next Big Energy Appliance, please Listen Up to the Energy Show on Renewable Energy World....

20 minute panel discussion

Why smart grids are the mobile phones of the electricity world

Why smart grids are the mobile phones of the electricity world

WRITTEN BY David J. Unger

PHOTO BY Jonathan Rieke / Creative Commons
Dr. Mohammed Shahidehpour oversees the microgrid at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

If you want to know how microgrids will transform energy, just look at what cellphones did to communication, says Dr. Mohammad Shahidehpour, the professor and engineer who oversees a microgrid at a university on Chicago’s South Side.

The future of power has a parallel in the recent history of telecommunications: a rapid rise of decentralization, access, and capabilities we once could have never imagined.

In 2008, the Illinois Institute of Technology launched what it calls the Perfect Power Initiative, a $18.5 million project aimed at designing and building “the world’s first self-healing and efficient smart microgrid distribution system.” Across nearly ten years, that vision grew into a 9-megawatt network of gas turbines, large-scale batteries, a wind turbine and numerous smart-efficiency technologies – with more on the way.

IIT’s microgrid can separate completely from the broader grid and, in many cases, supply the campus with all the power it needs. It has helped the university offset $7 million in other infrastructure upgrades, and it saves about $1 million per year through efficiencies, reduced peak demand and other benefits.

The project’s success is one reason ComEd is planning a microgrid of its own right ...

Solar still made of bubble wrap could purify water for the poor

Solar still made of bubble wrap could purify water for the poor
By Robert F. ServiceAug. 22, 2016 , 11:15 AM

Solar stills can make tainted water or seawater fit to drink. But to produce more than a trickle, devices typically require expensive lenses or other equipment. Not anymore. Today, researchers report that they’ve created a cheap solar still from bubble wrap and other simple materials.

Solar stills have been used for thousands of years. The most basic versions are water-filled vessels with black bottoms that absorb the sun’s rays, increasing evaporation of the water inside. Glass or other clear material on top captures the vapor, and the condensate drips into a collection vessel. To speed up this process, modern versions use lenses or mirrors to collect about 100 times more sunlight. But the high cost of these solar concentrators, typically on the order of $200 per square meter, makes them unaffordable for many people.

Two years ago, researchers led by Gang Chen, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, unveiled an efficient solar absorber made from a layer of graphite on floating carbon foam. The two layers were perforated, allowing the water below to wick up to the graphite, where it was warmed by the sun. The device worked, but much of the energy in the sunlight radiated away. To boil water, the still needed additional devices to concentrate 10 times the ambient sunlight to overcome the infrared losses.

Chen and his colleagues wanted to do away with the extras. They kept their idea of a spongy insulator floating on water. For their current experiment, the researchers replaced the graphite solar absorber with a thin layer of a bluish metal and ceramic composite material used in commercial solar water heaters. This material selectively absorbs visible and ultraviolet rays from the sun, but it doesn’t radiate heat in the infrared. Between this layer and the foam, they placed a thin sheet of copper, an excellent heat conductor. The researchers then punched holes through the sandwichlike layers as before.

A problem remained. Much of the energy absorbed by the composite was being swept away by convection, heat lost to the air moving above the still’s top surface. The fix came from Chen’s 16-year-old daughter, who was designing a cheap greenhouse for a science fair experiment. She found that a top layer of bubble wrap acted as an excellent insulator. So Chen and his student George Ni covered their solar still in bubble wrap. And in today’s issue of Nature Energy they report that their setup allowed them to boil and distill water with no extra solar concentrator. Down the road, Chen estimates that this will allow them to make large-area solar stills for about one-twentieth the cost of conventional technology...

NC Gov McCrory continues criticism of state scientists over coal ash contamination warnings

Rudo is the state toxicologist who resigned in protest...

NC Gov McCrory continues criticism of state scientists over coal ash contamination warnings
By Mark Binker and Tyler Dukes

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory for the first time Thursday personally addressed allegations by two state scientists who have said administration officials provided a "false narrative" to the public over how top administrators oversaw the development and then reversed warnings regarding well water potentially contaminated by coal ash.


Rudo has been at the center of the controversy for more than a week after an environmental group suing the state and Duke Energy included a large portion of a deposition he gave in the lawsuit in a public court filing. In that sworn testimony, Rudo suggested that top administration officials, including state Health Director Dr. Randall Williams, acted against scientific evidence when they rolled back warnings to well owners who live near coal ash pits that their water may have unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium.

McCrory's administration responded with an assault on Rudo's work and character, issuing a barrage of news releases, statements, editorials and news conferences that questioned his account and his work. Statements by McCrory's chief of staff, agency spokesmen, Department of Environmental Quality Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder and Williams all claimed Rudo has acted alone to establish what levels of hexavalent chromium were toxic and was somehow acting without the knowledge of his superiors and colleagues.

That account has been disputed by previously released depositions by Davies and even Williams himself, who both testified under oath that DHHS and DEQ scientists developed safety thresholds for the potentially cancer-causing element.

Davies forcefully rebutted the claim from administration officials that Rudo acted alone in her resignation letter, saying that officials including former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos and Williams were briefed on how the warnings were developed and why. She said an opinion piece issued by Reeder and Wiliams this week "misinforms the public," and added, "I cannot work for a Department and an Administration that deliberately misleads the public."

Read more at http://www.wral.com/mccrory-continues-criticism-of-administration-scientists-over-coal-ash-contamination-warnings/15920573/#QZTug2sK3eRxjowY.99

LA Times Editorial: A tainted settlement on San Onofre closing costs

First, it's helpful to know a bit about the problem which led to the shutdown:
A detailed memo by nuclear commission staff on the lessons learned at San Onofre has concluded that efforts by plant operator Southern California Edison to avoid a more-detailed review of the generators by safety regulators are not necessarily to blame in the breakdown of the plant. Responsibility lies instead with design mistakes overseen by Edison, according to the 70-page memo quietly released last month……..


Back to the main story:
LA Times Editorial: A tainted settlement on San Onofre closing costs

After the San Onofre nuclear plant shut down unexpectedly in early 2012, regulators approved a deal dividing up the $4.7 billion in closing costs.

The terms of the settlement were worked out by Southern California Edison, which owns 78% of the plant, in negotiation with San Diego Gas & Electric, consumer advocates and environmentalists. They decided that ratepayers would be responsible for most of the bill — $3.3 billion, minus various credits — while the two utilities’ shareholders would pay the rest.

That apparently seemed reasonable to most of the parties at the time, although consumer groups initially wanted investors to pay more of the costs and some smaller stakeholder groups did not agree to the final deal. But the agreement avoided a protracted litigation process that consumer advocates worried could result in a worse outcome for ratepayers if it was influenced by then-PUC President Michael Peevey, a former chief of Edison, who some suspected was not on the side of customers.

That deal seems a lot less reasonable now, in light of troubling information that has emerged since about secret meetings to discuss how costs should be allocated between Peevey and Stephen Pickett, who was then Edison’s executive vice president for external relations. The meetings were held during the year before the deal was made.

Consumer advocates say they might have rejected the settlement terms and pushed harder for utility shareholders to cover more of the cost of decommissioning if they knew at the time about the meetings, which they say gave an unfair negotiating advantage to Edison at the expense of ratepayers. The PUC in May agreed to reopen the settlement and consider whether it ought to be changed.

The secret meetings occurred in March 2013...

May the (protophobic X boson) Force be with you.

Step Aside, Gravity: Scientists Confirm Possibility of New, Fifth Force of Nature
Aug 17 2016 12:00 AM EDT
By Anna Norris

What holds galaxies together like the spiral NGC 6814? UCI scientists think they know. (ESA/Hubble/NASA)

Of all the mysteries of the universe, there are a handful of forces we know to be true. Take gravity, for example. We can observe a raindrop as it falls from the sky and infer the reason behind that journey from the clouds to the ground.

But a group of physicits from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) may have made a "revolutionary" discovery about the universe we live in. They may have found a new, fifth force of nature, never before realized. One that could, as lead author Jonathan Feng said in a statement, "completely change our understanding of the universe."


The UCI researchers came to their conclusion after examining a 2015 study from researchers at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences who were looking for "dark photons," visible clues to the dark matter that is responsible for the majority of the universe's mass.


If the force is confirmed, it may be the answer to many of the questions physicists currently have about dark matter. It could also be related to electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces such that it ties them all together as "manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force," Feng said.


Scientists Urge EPA To Say Why It Thinks Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Water

Regulatory capture is a theory associated with George Stigler, a Nobel laureate economist. It is the process by which regulatory agencies eventually come to be dominated by the very industries they were charged with regulating.
Regulatory Capture Definition | Investopedia


Scientists Urge EPA To Say Why It Thinks Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Water
The EPA draft report lacked clarity in “several critical areas.”

An independent board of scientists said Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency should clarify why it said in a landmark draft report on fracking that there is a lack of evidence of widespread impacts on water.

In a much-awaited report submitted to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the agency’s independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) said it was concerned about the clarity and adequacy to support “several major findings” found in a draft assessment report on fracking the EPA first published last year.


“The EPA did not support quantitatively its conclusion about lack of evidence for widespread, systemic impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, and did not clearly describe the system(s) of interest (e.g., groundwater, surface water), the scale of impacts (i.e., local or regional), nor the definitions of “systemic” and “widespread,” the report reads.


The SAB, comprised of 30 experts, also recommended the EPA discuss “significant data limitations and uncertainties” when presenting major findings on the fracking report, a document that condenses available scientific literature and data on the potential impacts of fracturing. It furthermore said the EPA should compile toxicological information on the chemicals employed in fracturing in “a more inclusive manner,” and recognize the many stresses fracking has on surface or groundwater resources.

Environmental groups quickly applauded the SAB review and ...
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