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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Government must boost coal, nuclear power

This is an OpEd demonstrating the belief system underpinning most support for nuclear power:

My Turn: Government must boost coal, nuclear power

By V.K. MATHUR For the Monitor
Saturday, December 29, 2012

... An active role for the federal government is needed to help achieve energy security and retain America’s edge in energy technology. Economic and environmental concerns – climate change, ensuring low-cost electricity and leading in two critical export industries – justify a concerted effort to boost domestic production of coal and nuclear power.


Here in New Hampshire, coal and nuclear power continue to serve us well, supplying about 60 percent of the state’s electricity, safely and reliably. But that won’t last for long, and our economy will suffer unless the government shows more support for coal and nuclear power.

In the years ahead, a cost-sharing partnership with private industry will be needed to achieve the promise of advanced clean-coal technologies and small modular reactors that can be built for a fraction of the cost of large nuclear plants. Coal and nuclear technologies are financially viable for a full range of energy companies in this country, and their development will position the United States to be a world leader in the commercialization of new and innovative power-plant designs.

To be sure, our nation’s energy future has become considerably brighter as a result of the enormous growth in oil and gas production. But we will continue to need a balanced mix of energy sources in order to hold prices down. Especially natural gas, with a history of price volatility, is a reminder of what could happen if we become heavily dependent on a single energy source for electricity production and neglect coal and nuclear power....


(V.K.Mathur is a professor emeritus in the University of New Hampshire’s Department of Chemical Engineering.)

Nuclear arms advocates get bolder amid nuclear energy debate

In case you didn't know Japan has long outlawed nuclear weapons in their country. Even though they turn a blind eye to their presence on visiting US warships, the idea that they would build and possess nuclear weapons themselves is strongly rejected by a large majority of the people.
The fact that the right-wing nationalists are so open in their advocacy is extremely unusual.

Nuclear arms advocates get bolder amid energy debate
The contentious debate over atomic energy is also bringing another question out of the shadows: Should Japan retain the possibility of making atomic weapons — even if only as an option?


Hot zone: The reactor 4 building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is in ruins on March 24 last year. AIR PHOTO SERVICE / AP
It may seem surprising in the only country to have ever come under nuclear attack, particularly as it prepares to mark the 67th anniversaries of the Hiroshima A-bombing on Aug. 6 and that of Nagasaki three days later. The government officially renounces nuclear weapons, and the vast majority of citizens oppose them.

But as the nation weighs whether to phase out atomic energy generation, some conservatives, including certain influential politicians and analysts, are becoming more vocal about their belief that Japan should at least not rule out producing a nuclear arsenal in the future.

The two issues are intertwined because nuclear power plants can develop the technology and produce the fuel necessary for such weaponry, as highlighted by concerns that allegedly civilian atomic energy research in Iran is masking a bomb program, as was the case in North Korea.

"Having nuclear plants shows to other nations that Japan can make nuclear arms," ex-Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba told AP...




Advent of solar power has transformed the remote Indian village of Meerwada, writes Jo Winterbottom

LIFE in the remote Indian village of Meerwada used to grind to a standstill as darkness descended. Workers downed tools, kids strained to see their schoolbooks under the faint glow of aged kerosene lamps and adults struggled to carry out the most basic of household chores.

The arrival of solar power last year has changed all that. On a humid evening, fans whirr, children sit cross-legged to study their Hindi and mother-of-seven Sunderbai is delighted people can actually see what they are eating and drinking.

“When it was dark, we used to drink water with insects in, but now we can see insects, so we filter it and then drink,” said the 30-year-old, whose flame-orange sari and gold nose ring are small defiances in a life close to the poverty line.

Meerwada, on a dirt track rutted by rains and outside the reach of the national grid, struck lucky when US solar firm SunEdison picked it to test out business models and covered the hefty initial expense of installing hi-tech solar panels in the heart of the village.

But rapidly falling costs and improved access to financing ...


(National Renewable Energy Lab) US: 200,000 GW of solar could be installed; 400,000 TWh/a

US: 200,000 GW of solar could be installed; 400,000 TWh/a
27 JULY 2012

According to a new study released by NREL, the technical potential of photovoltaics and concentrating solar power (CSP) in the U.S. amounts to just under 200,000 GW, which could generate around 399,700 TWh of energy annually.

The U.S.-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a new report – U.S. renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis – in which it says, technically, 154,864 of photovoltaics and 38,000 GW of CSP could be installed. This would mean, photovoltaics could generate around 483,600 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually, and CSP, 116,100. Refer to the table for a breakdown of the different solar technologies.

Overall, it believes rural utility-scale photovoltaics has more potential than any other renewable energy technology, due to the "relatively high power density, the absence of minimum resource threshold, and the availability of large swaths for development." Meanwhile, Texas is said to have the ability to account for around 14 percent of this 153 GW, or 280,600 TWh annual potential.

Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/us--200-000-gw-of-solar-could-be-installed-4-000-twh-a_100007894/#ixzz22Tie011i

Executive Summary
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) routinely estimates the technical potential of specific renewable electricity generation technologies. These are technology- specific estimates of energy generation potential based on renewable resource availability and quality, technical system performance, topographic limitations, environmental, and land-use constraints only. The estimates do not consider (in most cases) economic or market constraints, and therefore do not represent a level of renewable generation that might actually be deployed.

This report is unique in unifying assumptions and application of methods employed to generate comparable estimates across technologies, where possible, to allow cross- technology comparison. Technical potential estimates for six different renewable energy technologies were calculated by NREL, and methods and results for several other renewable technologies from previously published reports are also presented. Table ES-1 summarizes the U.S. technical potential, in generation and capacity terms, of the technologies examined.

The report first describes the methodology and assumptions for estimating the technical potential of each technology, and then briefly describes the resulting estimates. The results discussion includes state-level maps and tables containing available land area (square kilometers), installed capacity (gigawatts), and electric generation (gigawatt- hours) for each technology.



Renewable energy technical potential, as defined in this study, represents the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given system performance, topographic limitations, environmental, and land-use constraints. The primary benefit of assessing technical potential is that it establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential (DOE EERE 2006). It is important to understand that there are multiple types of potential—resource, technical, economic, and market—each seen in Figure 1 with its key assumptions.

Download full report: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51946.pdf

Cheap Coal Is Dead. Long Live Renewable Age

Cheap Coal Is Dead. Long Live Renewable Age
By Carl Pope, Bloomberg

Part 1
June 20, 2012

"Sustainable Energy for All" is the main theme for this week's Rio+20 United Nations gathering in Brazil. The challenge of making energy both accessible and sustainable has grown more complicated in the past year or so, and also more exciting. These are tough times for coal and other high-carbon sources of energy, while the news about clean energy is more promising.

In March, the power generating arm of India’s largest conglomerate, the Tata Group, announced that it was shifting its investment strategy from coal-fired thermal plants to wind and solar renewable projects. Coal projects, Tata said, were becoming “impossible” to develop, and investment in them had stopped.

With this declaration, one of Asia’s biggest energy players confirmed an emerging reality. The U.S., Europe, Russia, Australia and Japan all had created modern consumer economies dependent on abundant, cheap fossil-fuel energy. In the 21st century that is no longer viable; the high-carbon growth path is closing.

The reason is cost....


Part 2
June 21, 2012

With oil costing close to $100 a barrel, and most imported Asian coal about $120 a ton, fossil energy costs are crippling emerging economies in Asia and Africa. Although renewable alternatives are far less costly than they were even two years ago, they still can't match the cheap coal and oil that Asia and Africa had counted on.

Fortunately, if Asia and Africa embrace bottom-up renewable strategies, they can restrain energy costs, while leapfrogging dirty energy into the emerging post-fossil global economy. What are bottom-up strategies? They vary based on markets and geography. What they share is a realization that not all electrons are equal; some are worth far more than others, depending, in part, on their proximity to markets. To make a renewable revolution low-cost, countries should roll out solar and wind projects, investing first in those locales where fossil fuels are most expensive.

There are 1.4 billion people without electricity, most of whom aren’t expected to have it for decades. These are the world’s poorest. Counterintuitively, they can best afford the most sophisticated lighting — LED lights powered by off-grid solar panels.

Costly Lighting

The poor already pay a lot for light, mostly from burning kerosene and candles....


Part 3
June 25, 2012

China announced on March 20 that it would raise retail gasoline prices to more than $5 a gallon. Two days later, the government announced its intention to cap consumption of coal at 3.9 billion tons a year, only 10 percent above its current level.

Concern for the environment is not driving these moves. Instead, they are a byproduct of economic fundamentals, including the fact that importing oil at more than $100 a barrel and coal at $125 a ton or more threatens China’s record trade surpluses. Indeed, in the past three years, high prices for imported oil and coal have contributed to three trade deficits in China.

Alarmed by these trends, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called in January for restructuring global oil markets, saying they had “deviated, to a great extent, from the supply-and-demand relations of the real economy.” The premier called on the Group of 20 to establish “just, equitable and binding international rules” to govern the oil trade (an appeal not wildly applauded in the Persian Gulf region where he made it).

Energy politics are riling India, as well....


See also:
Coal Power Loses Its Luster in India as Costs Rise
Posted by OKIsItJustMe at http://www.democraticunderground.com/112720815

Will Foreign Ownership Kill 'The Nuclear Revival'?

End to Former "Flagships" of Sputtering U.S. "Nuclear Renaissance": Foreign Ownership Rules to Block Licensing of Calvert Cliffs 3 in MD, Nine Mile Point 3 in NY, and South Texas Project.

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2012

...The same foreign ownership issues blocking the Calvert Cliffs 3 license also would effectively kill the pending nuclear reactor projects at Nine Mile Point 3 in New York State and the South Texas Nuclear Project, according to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS).

NIRS indicated that it has not been notified in advance by the NRC of the specific rulings but indicated that the handwriting has been on the wall for months for the foreign-controlled Calvert Cliffs 3 project, which has been unable find a U.S. partner in order to escape the foreign-ownership controls.

NIRS Executive Director Michael Mariotte said: "The expected NRC decision will be a blow to the nuclear industry generally, which is seeing viable new reactor orders fade away into the horizon. The first applicant beyond Calvert Cliffs 3 to be affected will be Nine Mile Point 3, also owned by UniStar. That project has been on hold pending the outcome of the Calvert Cliffs 3 proceeding. It will not proceed. Also greatly affected will be the South Texas Nuclear Project. Just four short years ago, Calvert Cliffs and South Texas were the flagships of the nuclear renaissance. In the summer of 2007, Calvert Cliffs became the first partial applicant for a new reactor license in 30 years. It was followed a few weeks later by South Texas, which became the first applicant to file a full license application. Now, both projects have failed."

Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, currently adjunct professor of nuclear and public policy at the Vermont Law School, said: "Whatever the NRC Licensing Board decides with regard to the foreign ownership issue tomorrow, the proposed reactors at Calvert Cliffs and South Texas are not going to be built in the foreseeable future. These units were never economic, not from the day that their NRC applications were first filed in 2007-2008, when they were hailed as the flagships of a 'nuclear renaissance'. The reactors always cost too much compared to available alternatives. They depended on massive subsidy from taxpayers and/or customers, subsidies that aren't going to be forthcoming and on climate change policies that have not been adopted."

Attorney Robert V. Eye...


Safety Board Delays Calvert Cliffs 3 Ruling
Rockville, MD - 7/27/2012 By Marty Madden

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported Thursday, July 26 that a three-judge panel has opted to delay for at least a month a decision regarding the Calvert Cliffs 3 project. The Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) closed the record on testimony from proponents of the project to build a new, European-style reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, and individuals and groups opposing the plan. The ASLB held an evidentiary hearing at the NRC building in Rockville in July 2011 on the opposition’s contention that since the project’s applicant, UniStar Nuclear Energy LLC, is foreign-owned the construction cannot go forward since it would violate federal law.

UniStar’s sole owner, Electricite de France (EDF) is mostly owned by the government of France.

...“It now appears that due to the intertwined nature of the issues still pending before our board, and the size and complexity of the record from the evidentiary hearing, the board will not be able to meet the July 27 deadline,” stated Administrative Judge Ronald M. Spritzer, the ASLB chairman. “The board expects to issue the partial initial decision on or before Aug. 31.”

...Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and a spokesman for the Calvert Cliffs 3 opponents, said Friday, July 27 that the board's delay wasn't a surprise and is more likely prompted by the panel's pending decision on the protesters' contention that utilization of renewable energy sources--such as wind and solar power--as alternatives to nuclear have not been given sufficient consideration. "It's more complex than they thought," said Mariotte. "They [ASLB] have hundreds of thousands of pages of testimony. They have to look at it in the legal context. It's a difficult one."



Fox Begrudges Solar Power A Tiny Slice Of Public Land

Fox Begrudges Solar Power A Tiny Slice Of Public Land
July 25, 2012 5:32 PM EDT ››› JILL FITZSIMMONS

Fox News is criticizing the Obama administration for setting aside 285,000 acres in six southwestern states for solar development, suggesting the land should be used for oil and gas extraction instead. But the government already leases 74 million acres of federal land to oil and gas companies, and the Interior Department chose sites where fossil fuel drilling is unlikely anyway.

The Interior Department announced yesterday that it will establish 17 "solar energy zones" in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah as "priority areas" for solar projects. On Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade said that the administration has "not learned their lesson" from Solyndra (which was a solar panel factory, not a solar farm) and noted that "Republicans [are] saying that land would be better used for oil, gas and mineral drilling."

But let's put this in perspective. When President Obama took office, there was no public land provided for solar projects. The 285,000 acres set aside for solar development, and the 19 million acres on which solar projects could potentially be approved, are dwarfed by the 74 million acres (38 million onshore and 36 million offshore) currently leased for oil and gas drilling.

And as The Hill noted, the Interior Department selected land that would not otherwise be used for oil and gas development:
The areas selected in the plan minimize "resource conflict," Salazar noted, meaning they avoid regions where solar development would edge out exploration for other natural resources.



Heat Sends U.S. Nuclear Power Production to 9-Year Low

Heat Sends U.S. Nuclear Power Production to 9-Year Low
By Christine Harvey on July 26, 2012

Nuclear-power production in the U.S. is at the lowest seasonal levels in nine years as drought and heat force reactors from Ohio to Vermont to slow output.

Generation for the 104 plants in the U.S. fell 0.4 percent from yesterday to 94,171 megawatts, or 93 percent of capacity, the lowest level for this time of year since 2003, according to reports from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and data compiled by Bloomberg. The total is down 2.6 percent from the five-year average for today of 96,725 megawatts.

“We’ve had a fast decay of summer output this month and that corresponds to the high heat and droughts,” Pax Saunders, an analyst at Gelber & Associates in Houston, said. “Plants are not able to operate at the levels they can.”

FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) (FE)’s Perry 1 reactor in Ohio lowered production to 95 percent of capacity today because of above- average temperatures, while Entergy Corp. (ETR) (ETR)’s Vermont Yankee has limited output four times this month. Nuclear plants require sufficient water to cool during operation, and rivers or lakes may get overheated or fall in times of high temperatures and drought, according to the NRC.

Dry conditions...


'Whale Wars' star skips out on $319,000 bail

Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Founder, Reportedly Flees Germany While On Bail
Reuters | Posted: 07/25/2012 2:29 pm
By Elisa Oddone

BERLIN, July 25 (Reuters) - A Canadian marine conservationist has fled Germany after being freed on bail while awaiting possible extradition to Costa Rica over charges stemming from his campaign against shark finning, a court official said on Wednesday.

Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group, had been banned from leaving Germany and ordered to report twice a day to police in Frankfurt after his arrest there in May..

"Watson has not reported to the police since July 22," a spokesman for the court in Frankfurt said. "His attorney informed us that his client had called him saying he left Germany for an unknown destination."

Watson is known for disrupting whale hunts and for his campaigns against shark finning, a practice that involves catching sharks, slicing off their fins and throwing them back into the sea, sometimes barely alive.

He was facing possible extradition to ...


Colstrip Power Plant Lawsuit: Environmental Groups To Sue Over Pollution Control

Colstrip Power Plant Lawsuit: Environmental Groups To Sue Over Pollution Control

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmentalists filed notice Wednesday that they plan to sue the six companies that co-own eastern Montana's Colstrip power plant over alleged pollution violations.

The Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center say the plant's owners failed to upgrade pollution control equipment as required under the Clean Air Act for older power generation facilities that undergo significant changes.

Colstrip is the second largest coal-fired power plant west of the Mississippi River, burning over 10 million tons of the fuel a year to generate about 2,200 megawatts of electricity.

That power is distributed on high-voltage transmission lines to customers in Montana, Oregon and Washington state.

Over a two decade period ...

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