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

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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 ...


Why are threads about the consequences of the spread of nuclear ENERGY being locked?

Since when have the external or non-monitized costs of energy not been an acceptable topic for Environment and Energy?

There are 4 primary problems associated with the idea of using nuclear energy to address climate change:

Events associated with proliferation concerns - such as potential or actual wars to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons under the guise of "civilian" nuclear power - are legitimate topics for discussion.

How Obama shares at Intrade are tracking stock market

Not familiar with Intrade? Go here: http://www.intrade.com/v4/home/

As stock market fares, so will Obama
By Allan Roth (CBS)

(MoneyWatch) Will President Barack Obama win another term? If he does, it will have little to do with health care or televised debates. The only thing that matters in his re-election is largely outside of his control, and that is how the stock market performs between now and November. Here's why.


Referring to the robust market for trading in American politics, Carl Wolfenden, exchange operations manager at Intrade, noted that though the company also makes markets to speculate on European politics, such trading isn't nearly as active. Trading in American politics is likely more active because "in America, politics is a blood sport," he said.

As you might imagine, the U.S. presidential election is the most frequently traded instrument. As of this writing, Obama shares were trading at $5.59 a share. That means a share purchased for $5.59 can be cashed in for $10 after an Obama victory or end up as a worthless security if he loses. Put another way, the $5.59 price translates to the market believing Obama has a 55.9 percent chance of winning.

It appears that, on average, every 1 percent change in stock prices translates to a 1.14 percent change in Obama's prospects of a November victory. In case you think the relationship between U.S. stocks and Obama's chances are random, statistically the odds that this relationship is real are well over 99.999999999 percent.

More at: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57468124/as-stock-market-fares-so-will-obama/?tag=re1.channel

U.S. Air Force Gets Solar Power from SolarCity, Continues Clean Energy Push

U.S. Air Force Gets Solar Power from SolarCity, Continues Clean Energy Push

When the Department of Defense privatized military housing back in the 1990′s, little did it know that those homes would become the platform for the largest residential solar project in American history. Well, they did.

Last November, the solar installer SolarCity announced that it would build about $1 billion in solar projects for military housing under a project it calls SolarStrong, and now the company is following up with a new round of solar installations for the U.S. Air Force in partnership with the global company Lend Lease.

The Solar Powered Force of the Future
It’s no secret that Republican leaders in Congress have tried to monkey-wrench DoD’s efforts to transition to solar power and other forms of renewable energy that are cleaner, safer, and more reliable than fossil fuels. However, DoD has been finding ways to work around those obstacles.

The Navy is forging ahead with a $62-million biofuel research and development project under the force of a 1950′s-era law, and DoD has just announced a $420-million public-private partnership to build commercial-scale biorefineries for aviation biofuel and biodiesel.

The Army has topped them all with...


Rep. Dennis Kucinich: If You Lived Downwind From This Power Plant, Would You Be Concerned?

Kucinich takes on the system allowing continued operation of Toledo's deteriorating Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant, which has a history of near catastrophic failure.

If You Lived Downwind From This Power Plant, Would You Be Concerned?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich

If an airline pilot failed an annual exam, and the Federal Aviation Administration simply lowered its standards to allow that pilot to continue to fly, would you board the flight? If a surgeon failed a licensing exam, and the medical board simply lowered its standards and allowed the surgeon to continue to practice, would you look for another doctor?


A year ago, The Associated Press conducted an in-depth analysis of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's treatment of age-related deterioration at nuclear power plants. The AP concluded that the NRC "work(ed) closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them."

The AP examined "tens of thousands of pages of government and industry studies... along with test results, inspection reports and regulatory policy statements...over four decades." Those records "show a recurring pattern: Reactor parts or systems fall out of compliance with the rules. Studies are conducted by the industry and government, and all agree that existing standards are 'unnecessarily conservative.' Regulations are loosened, and the reactors are back in compliance."

Several nuclear engineers and former regulators "call the approach 'sharpening the pencil' or 'pencil engineering' -- the fudging of calculations and assumptions to yield answers that enable plants with deteriorating conditions to remain in compliance."

Pencil engineering is exactly ...


Hole in reactor head was located in area not subject to regular inspections. It was found by chance when, during regular inspection, the advanced state of deterioration around the control rod resulted in it moving when it was bumped by an inspector dismantling some test equipment. After peeling off all of the mechanical apparatus on the top of the reactor head associated with the operation of the control rod they found this football sized hole that was within 3/8 inch of fully penetrating the reactor head.

All NRC file photos can be seen here:

Full story and related articles
Union of Concerned Scientists
Davis Besse - Reactor with a hole in its head

Scapegoating Davis Besse by NRC

Retrospective on Davis Besse

Nuclear Regulatory Commission accounts


Bathtub curve

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