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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Monju (fast breeder reactor) costs far surpass usual nukes

10,000 yen is about $125.

Trouble-prone reactor has rung up far higher tab than initially planned

If the troubled Monju prototype fast breeder reactor project continues, its costs will swell to more than ¥1.4 trillion and its power generation costs will be ¥10,000 per kwh, roughly 1,000 times greater than a regular reactor, according to data compiled by Kyodo News.

Construction of the reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, started in 1985 as part of the government's goal to establish a nuclear fuel cycle to make use of spent nuclear fuel at conventional atomic plants that run on uranium. Monju uses a uranium and plutonium mix known as MOX as fuel.

The facility operated by the government-affiliated Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. first reached criticality — where a chain reaction of nuclear fission is sustained — in 1994.

But sodium, used as a coolant, leaked during its test run in December 1995. Around 640 kg of leaked sodium reacted with air and sparked a fire, forcing a prolonged suspension.

The operator was also caught trying to cover the incident up...


Locked-in: The Financial Risks of New Coal-fired Power Plants in Today's Volatile ... Coal Market

The Financial Risks of New Coal-fired Power Plants in Today's Volatile International Coal Market

Coal "lock-in," rather than rational investments in coal power, is one of the largest global threats today. This lock-in results from high capital costs and long asset lifespans associated with coal-fired power plant investments. Over the past six years due to large scale public opposition, mounting costs, and dramatic changes in the energy market, an irrational coal lock-in was successfully averted in the US and the EU. However, excessive coal reliance is now becoming a serious economic, as well as long-term environmental and public health threat, to China, India, and other parts of the developing world.

While the environmental and human health impacts of coal plant investments are increasingly well known, the financial impacts are not. This report examines the wide ranging risks these coal investments force countries to bear in today's rapidly changing energy market. Understanding and incorporating these risks in decision making is particularly important given the potentially untenable opportunity cost of financial flows that could otherwise be directed to increasingly affordable clean energy and energy efficiency alternatives.

Download the full report:

Composting gets lift from ancient 'bokashi' ways

How to compost food waste without the odor...

Composting gets lift from ancient 'bokashi' ways

MIDDLETON, Massachusetts — On a plot lost among the expanse of tightly trimmed fairways and greens, weeks-old food is buried under a tarp and mulch and left to decompose.

This country club in Massachusetts isn't taking an unsanitary shortcut with its trash. It's trying "bokashi," an obscure composting method it says will help it return 4 tons of food waste each year to Mother Nature.

Bokashi is based on an ancient Japanese practice that ferments food waste by covering it with a mix of microorganisms that suppress its smell and eventually produce soil. Bokashi is not widely used in the United States, but its practitioners think it should be because of the amount of food wasted in the U.S.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generated more than 34 million tons of food waste in 2010, accounting for 14 percent of all the solid waste that reached landfills or incinerators.

Advocates say the key advantage of bokashi...


We Are All ‘Climate Test Dummies’

We Are All ‘Climate Test Dummies’ Now, Providing Data On How Humans Respond To Extreme Weather
By Joe Romm on Jul 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

We have turned ourselves into test subjects for the single most terrifying “crash” the world will ever know — the crash of a livable climate.

Since we have done so wittingly, and continue blissfully subjecting ourselves to the impending climate crash without making any serious effort to stop it in spite of the gravest warnings from the most credible sources, that makes us little better than crash test dummies:
Crash test dummies are full-scale anthropomorphic test devices (ATD) that simulate the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and are usually instrumented to record data about … velocity of impact, crushing force, bending, folding, or torque of the body, and deceleration rates during a collision for use in crash tests…. Crash test dummies remain indispensable in the development of … all types of vehicles….

I offer this definition of the other CTDs and ATDs:
“Climate test dummies are full-scale anthropocene test dummies (ATDs) that simulate exactly the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and usually record or complain about the impact of off-the-charts heat, rainfall, floods, snow, fire, dust or drought during a collision with extreme weather for use in climate tests. Or, rather, climate test, because we only get one and unlike cars we don’t get to go back and redesign the planet or the energy system to avoid the otherwise easily preventable suffering.”

If you want to know how humans respond to 115° temperature...


China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!

China Quadruples 2015 Solar Power Target!

The global solar marketplace has a huge glut of solar panels and solar cells. This is the top reason why solar panel prices have plunged in the past year or so. And China’s tremendous manufacturing output is certainly a big part of that oversupply.

Now, it seems the country is looking to help relieve that glut a lot more by quadrupling its 2015 solar power targets! The new 2015 target is reportedly 21 GW of installed solar power capacity. This is quadruple its initial 2015 target. (Though, notably, a little more than one year ago, the country doubled its target to 10 GW, and it increased it again to 15 GW in December.)

To put that into perspective, the top 5 countries for total installed solar PV power capacity (and their capacity) at the end of 2011 were:
Germany — 24.7 GW
Italy — 12.8 GW
Japan — 4.9 GW
Spain — 4.4 GW
USA — 4.4 GW

China had about 3.1 GW.

Italy installed the most...

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1gFRv)

Did you know that Germany is getting rid of coal subsidies? - "Saarland coal exit"

Like here, the German coal mining industry is a strong political force. Or at least, it used to be. This closure is ahead of schedule.

Saarland coal exit
by DoDo
Sat Jun 30th, 2012 at 03:43:36 AM EST

Today the last coal mine closes in the German state of Saarland. This is the end of an era, because Saarland was one of the two main high-grade coal regions in post-WWII Germany, alongside the Ruhr Area.
The background of the mine closure is the phasing-out of subsidies for the mining of high-grade coal by 2018 (though the closure in Saarland was accelerated after a 4.7 earthquake in 2008). These coal subventions were fought over hard ever since the first Social Democrat (SPD)–Greens coalition governments in North Rhine-Westphalia state (NRW, 1995) and at federal level (1998). While the Greens could only get the SPD to agree to reductions, in 2007 EU pressure forced the then Grand Coalition (CDU+SPD) federal government to decide for a phaseout by 2018, and again at the behest of the EU, a 2010 revision accelerated the annual reduction of subsidies.

The end of subsidies effectively means the end of coal mining: now only four mines in NRW remain active, of which the first closes at the end of the year, another in three years, and the last two when the subsidies run out. But the defenders of the subventions proved right in one point: coal users just switched to imports (now 80%), which brings additional problems like fine dust pollution in ports. As...


This link gives actual production of various fuels through 2011:

Braunkohle = Brown coal (low quality)
Kernenergie = nuclear

See also:
Coal mining in Germany
Small earthquake in Saarland...
...not many dead. But the industry itself could be a casualty

Feb 28th 2008

...The Saar and Ruhr are Germany's two historic mining areas—mining in Saarland dates back to 1429. But their production has long been uncompetitive and devours subsidies of around €2.5 billion ($3.7 billion) a year. In 2007 the industry and government struck a deal: mining would be phased out by 2014, or 2018 at the latest, unless a review in 2012 showed that the economics had suddenly changed for the better. So the miners of the Saar already looked doomed. They have dwindled from 60,000 in their heyday, producing 17m tonnes a year, to a mere 3,600 producing 3.6m tonnes from one mine at Ensdorf. But sudden closure would still be a shock.


Only 16.7% of Global Energy Consumption Is Renewable – Ways for Industry to Increase This Share

Only 16.7% of Global Energy Consumption Is Renewable – Ways for Industry to Increase This Share
Written by Moritz Bühner // June 26, 2012

You know studies. You know reports. You know data collections. But you don’t know Ren21? You should. Ren21, calling itself an international policy network promoting renewable energy, publishes an annual global renewable energy status report supported by 39 renewable energy professionals plus numerous regional researchers who verify the precision of the global coverage. In the report you find detailed diagrams for any renewable power source and more diagrams showing their development from 2010 to 2011. Because both government officials and NGO representatives, both intergovernmental organization members and industry agents all take part in the report’s generation, the conclusions and opinions spotlighted by the report can claim to be important, if not essential.

So, for the actual report, which was published last week, what were the findings? I remember that the most striking news of last year’s report was the economic crisis did not affect the renewables market:
Renewable energy [...] continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors – power, heat and transport – and supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption.

This figure refers to 2009. For 2010, the year the new report addresses, the figure had further risen to 16.7%. However, in addition to modern renewables, that includes traditional biomass – still the number one energy source in rural developing areas. ...Subtracting the use of traditional biomass, the figure for renewables in the modern sense, that is, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, woodpellet, biofuel and biogas declines to 8.2% of the entire global energy consumption. Really, just 8.2% renewables? Sounds too little? Well, it refers to the final energy consumption, as in power, heating, cooling and transport. Concerning electricity only, the share of renewables is almost three-times higher, and a large portion of newly built power plants use renewable forms of energy. Ren21:
In the power sector, renewables accounted for almost half of the estimated 208 gigawatts (GW) of electric capacity added globally during 2011. Wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) accounted for almost 40% and 30% of new renewable capacity, respectively, followed by hydropower (nearly 25%). By the end of 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,360 GW, up 8% over 2010; renewables comprised more than 25% of total global power-generating capacity (estimated at 5,360 GW in 2011) and supplied an estimated 20.3% of global electricity.

It is crucial...


America has a new word to learn: Dilbit.

Must Read: Investigation Reveals True Hazards Of Piping Tar Sands Across America
By Stephen Lacey on Jul 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

America has a new word to learn: Dilbit.
Dilbit, short for diluted bitumen, is a combination of tar sands crude (bitumen) and dangerous liquid chemicals like benzene (the dilutant) used to thin crude so it can be piped to refineries.

And there is a lot of it being piped into America — in some cases through the backyards of communities that don’t even know it’s there.

The U.S. imports around half a million barrels of bitumen a day from Canada’s tar sands. According to the Sierra Club, if Keystone XL backers get their way, that number may grow to 1.5 million barrels per day.

A must-read investigation released this week by Inside Climate News illustrates ...


The Climate Progress write-up is a good summary, but if you want to go straight to the original 8 page investigative article, it is here:

(Louisiana) PSC rules against nuclear plant charges for Entergy customers

PSC votes against nuclear plant charges for Entergy customers
BY MARK BALLARD Capitol news bureau June 29, 2012

State regulators refused Wednesday to allow Entergy Corp. to immediately charge its customers for about $63 million spent preparing to build another nuclear power plant at River Bend, near St. Francisville.

Entergy, which had gone as far as to negotiate with a building contractor, suspended in January 2010 efforts to build a generator fueled by nuclear rods to make electricity. A dramatic drop in the cost of natural gas made the cost of building a multi-billion dollar plant economically unviable at this time, according to Entergy’s filings with regulators.

The New Orleans-based company then sought to recover from customers, rather than shareholders, the money spent on the reports, studies, examinations and other activities necessary for obtaining licenses and financing. The state’s Incentive Cost Recovery Rule for Nuclear Power Generation allows Entergy to pass those costs to its customers.

The five elected members of the Louisiana Public Service Commission voted 3-2 not to hear any public testimony but to approve an administrative law judge’s decision over that of their own staff.

In wording unusually harsh for regulatory decisions ...


Solar Thermal Scales New Heights in China

China installed 34 GW(thermal) of solar hot water in 2010, bringing the total to 118GWth.

Solar Thermal Scales New Heights in China
By Barbel Epp, Solrico June 27, 2012

Millions of roofs in Chinese cities now host solar thermal systems, often at great heights and increasingly integrated into buildings' designs.

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