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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Nuclear power – very unpopular

Nuclear power – very unpopular

Recent surveys in the United States and Germany show that renewables remain very popular – and that an overwhelming majority of people oppose nuclear. At the same time it, surveys show that the political divide is greater in the US over renewables than it is in Germany.

As someone who spends part of his time defending the German nuclear phaseout against proponents of nuclear in the Anglo world, I tend to think that support for nuclear is greater than it actually is. But as our colleagues at Think Progress recently pointed out, a Gallup poll found that only 37 percent of Americans think that "more emphasis" should be placed on nuclear power in domestic energy production. The difference between Republicans and Democrats was also quite salient, with 49 percent of the former leaning towards nuclear compared to only 30 percent of the Democrats.

In contrast, 76 percent of Americans expressed their support for solar power, compared to 71 percent for wind power. Here, the greatest discrepancy between the two parties was the 24 percent gap pertaining to wind power (see chart).

Recent polls in Germany have focused less on nuclear (the most recent ones I could find were from 2011) than on support for the energy transition. But a survey (PDF in German) taken in mid-March on Environmental Minister Altmaier's proposal (since rejected) to "put the brakes on power prices" (which everyone essentially took to mean slowing down the energy transition, and hence renewables) met with great popular resistance, and the differences between political parties was only slight. While 89 percent of the Greens believe that "renewables should be consistently expanded," the figure was 21 percentage points lower for the Christian Democrats, who still came in at 68 percent in favor of renewables. In contrast, 81 percent of the Social-Democrats said renewables should continue to grow, a difference of only 13 percentage points compared to the CDU.

Germany currently has five political parties in ...


This is quite a bit different than what some regular posters here would have you believe about support among Germans for the energy transition, isn't it? If you listen to them, the German public is ready to abandon the effort. Just to be clear - the LOWEST level of support among any party for the continuation of the policy to expand renewables is 68%.

Carbon bubble makes Australia's coal industry ripe 'for financial implosion'

Carbon bubble makes Australia's coal industry ripe 'for financial implosion'
Much of the nation's coal reserves will be worthless if world's governments fulfil pledge to cap emissions, warns report

Damian Carrington
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 April

Australia's huge coal industry is a speculative bubble ripe for financial implosion if the world's governments fulfil their agreement to act on climate change, according to a new report. The warning that much of the nation's coal reserves will become worthless as the world hits carbon emission limits comes after banking giant Citi also warned Australian investors that fossil fuel companies could do little to avoid the future loss of value.

Australia is already the globe's biggest coal exporter and "mega-mine" plans in Queensland for more extraction are identified as the world's second biggest "carbon bomb" threatening runaway global warming.

"Investments in Australian coal rest on a speculative bubble of climate denial, indifference or dreaming," said John Connor, one of the new report's authors and CEO of The Climate Institute, an independent research organisation based in Sydney. "Investors, governments and even some coal companies say they take climate change seriously, but this report shows they do not or are taking risky gambles."

James Leaton, at thinktank Carbon Tracker and also another of the report's authors, said: "Investors need to challenge the assumption that coal demand will continue to rise in China and elsewhere, otherwise billions of dollars of taxpayer, superannuation and shareholder funds will be wasted in assets linked to unburnable carbon."

Carbon Tracker's recent global report found that at least two-thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves will have to remain underground ...


Britain looks to tackle deadly legacy of nuclear power plants

Britain looks to tackle deadly legacy of nuclear power plants
By Sylvia Pfeifer

Britain is set to tackle a 60-year-old problem that has dogged successive governments: how to resolve the deadly legacy from the country’s first generation of nuclear power plants.

The UK is home to the world’s largest stockpile of plutonium, with more than 100 tonnes of the highly radioactive material.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, whose job it is to look after the plutonium, is preparing to give its recommendation on how the government should deal with the problem, with an announcement expected as early as next month.

In the early days of the UK’s civil nuclear programme some forecast that uranium – used to fuel conventional reactors – would rapidly run out. The UK decided to stockpile plutonium – which is extracted from reprocessed nuclear waste – as an alternative to be used in a new generation of experimental reactors.

However, not only were the forecasts about uranium wrong but the reactors were never built...

Read more at: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8ea1d8d2-b0bc-11e2-9f24-00144feabdc0.html

Why is Reuters puzzled by global warming's acceleration?

Why is Reuters puzzled by global warming's acceleration?
'Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown,' said Reuters. But warming is speeding up, and scientists can explain it

Oceans, such as the Pacific pictured here from space, are absorbing much of the warming the planet is currently experiencing. NASA/ Roger Ressmeyer/ Corbis
The rate of heat building up on Earth over the past decade is equivalent to detonating about 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs per second. Take a moment to visualize 4 atomic bomb detonations happening every single second. That's the global warming that we're frequently told isn't happening.

There are periods when the ocean heats up more quickly than the surface, and other periods when the surface heats up more quickly than the oceans. Right now we're in a period of fast ocean warming and overall, global warming is continuing at a very fast pace.

The confusion on this subject lies in the fact that only about 2 percent of global warming is used in heating air, whereas about 90 percent of global warming goes into heating the oceans (the rest heats ice and land masses). But humans live at the Earth's surface, and thus we tend to focus on surface temperatures. Over the past 10–15 years, Earth's surface temperature has continued to rise, but slowly. At the same time, the warming of the oceans – and the warming of the Earth as a whole – has accelerated.

This was the conclusion of a scientific paper I co-authored last year, in which our team found more overall global warming (of the oceans, air, land, and ice combined) over the past 15 years than during the prior 15 years. Just recently, another paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the warming of the oceans since the turn of the century has been the most sustained in the past 50 years. They also found that, consistent with my team's research, about 30% of overall global warming has gone into the deep oceans below 700 meters due to changing wind patterns and ocean currents. This accelerated deep ocean warming is also unprecedented in the past 50 years.

We often hear from the media that the (surface air) warming has slowed or paused over the past 15 years. This isn't a puzzle; ...


(UK) Am I paying a lot for 'green' energy?

Am I paying a lot for 'green' energy?
How much more is so-called green energy adding to my bill?

Lucy Siegle
The Observer, Saturday 20 April 2013

'Goodenergy.co.uk’s local-energy tariff offers those living next to wind farms of over 4 megawatts a 20% reduction in their energy bill': Lucy Siegle on green energy incentives. Photograph: Alamy
My answer ought to reflect the hideous complexity of the energy industry, incorporating such factors as degression mechanisms and carbon-floor pricing. It should have a whiff of rancour, mirroring the internecine warfare that rages around UK energy policy. Finally, it should feel totally desperate, taking its cue from the upcoming one-in-12 chance of blackouts as predicted by Ofgem.

But if you don't mind I'm going to park all that. At the risk of sounding like the ultimate hippy, these negative vibes are not getting us anywhere.

The simple answer is that green energy is not costing you nearly as much as you've been led to believe. Yes, energy bills have soared. A new government report analysing the cost of energy and climate-change policies on the cost of energy lays the blame squarely at the feet of global gas prices, followed by network costs. So 47% of your bill (assuming you have an average usage of electricity and gas) is attributable to wholesale gas and electricity costs; around 9% is attributable to the cost of policies, which includes those that decarbonise (or green) the supply. Support for renewables roughly adds up to £20 on the cost of the average bill. From 2004 to 2010 dual-fuel bills rose by £455, of which £382 was due to soaring gas prices. You might argue that sleepless nights should really be caused by the Dash for Gas championed by some areas of UK policy, not least the treasury rather than the expense of renewables.

Renewables were subsidised to the tune of £1.4bn in 2010 (gas, oil and coal were subsidised to the tune of £3.63bn). And if the price of fossil fuels drops, they become comparatively more expensive per unit of energy. But research shows that rather than inflating our power bills, if there had been zero climate-change and energy policies (the so-called Do Nothing scenario) we'd be paying £64 (or 5%) a year more for gas and electric.

So ...


Hollande on the ropes as French industry faces higher power prices with nuclear in decline

Hollande on the ropes as French industry faces higher power prices with nuclear in decline
Feb 7, 2013

For decades, the French power industry enjoyed a competitive advantage thanks to one of the cheapest electricity prices in Europe, a result of the country’s long-term investment in 58 nuclear reactors. But as shale gas prices slash energy costs in the U.S., and financial breaks to businesses offset the price of energy in Germany, that competitive advantage is being eroded, Bloomberg reports.

EDF’s nuclear reactors in France—the most nuclear power reliant country on earth—will require billions of euros in upgrades in coming years. This, combined with installment of more costly renewable energy infrastructure, is pushing electricity prices up in France, which has seen more job losses than any other European country in the past decade and is facing a record high trade deficit. Analysts predict the price of power for big industrial users in France will average up to 25 percent higher next year than in neighboring Germany, according to Bloomberg.


Solar Jobs Beat Out Ranchers In Texas, Actors In California, And Coal Miners Nationally

Solar Jobs Beat Out Ranchers In Texas, Actors In California, And Coal Miners Nationally
By Jeff Spross on Apr 28, 2013 at 11:13 am

California, the state that the Hollywood film industry calls home, can boast 43,700 paying jobs in the solar industry in 2012, versus only 32,300 paid actors. Texas clocked in with 3,200 solar jobs, in comparison to the state’s 270 to 2,410 ranchers. And across the entire nation, 119,000 Americans were employed by the solar industry in 2012, versus only 87,500 by the coal mining industry.

All that’s according to the Solar Foundation (TSF), which compiled its 2012 survey of solar jobs in the United States several months ago, and just released the numbers via a new interactive map. That map also provides info on each state including solar jobs per capita, number of solar companies, number of solar-powered homes, and the legal status of third-party ownership.

The Solar Foundation’s announcement contains further details:
“In comparing our estimates with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we find that California now has more solar workers than actors and that there are more solar jobs in Texas than there are ranchers. Economies of scale are also making our industry more labor efficient, requiring only one-third the number of workers to install a megawatt of solar today as it did in 2010,” [said Andrea Luecke, Solar Foundation Executive Director.]
The top ten states for solar jobs in 2012 were: California, Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, Texas, Michigan, and Ohio. In comparing solar employment estimates from today’s release with previous state figures that examined solar jobs in only a few states, six states – California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and New York – are in the top ten for the third year in a row. Many of the highest-ranked solar jobs states are also those with the greatest cumulative installed capacity in the nation.

TSF’s work also determined that several of the top ten states — New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and Ohio — actually rank in the bottom 30 percent of states in terms of available sunlight. The strong industry presence despite a seemingly unfavorable climate is thanks to “high electricity prices and favorable tax and regulatory policies” as CNN Money put it. Skeptics might consider that evidence of an artificial market created through government intervention, but then our national failure to properly price carbon emissions and natural capital is massively subsidizing non-renewable power in the opposite direction.

Other facts...


Remember all the pronuclear-antirenewable BS about industrial power prices in Germany?

You know, the flood of stories that said the cost of closing the nuclear plants and building renewables would run industry out of Germany?

Yep, it was yet another lie in a long string of similar lies...

German industry power prices up 3.7% since 2008

In February, German environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) held a press conference on how German industry is faring under the switch to renewables – against the backdrop of charges that higher power prices will scare away energy-intensive industry. Today, we sum up the findings, which have not yet been widely distributed in English.

Since 2011, critics of Germany's energy transition have argued that the country is going to scare away its energy-intensive firms. In its Fact Check (see this PDF in German), the DUH addresses some well-known concerns: power prices for industry are "around 40 percent more expensive" in Germany than in France and the Netherlands and nearly 15 percent higher than the EU average.

First, the organization found that the price difference between Germany and the EU-27 has actually not changed significantly over the past five years and has even dropped since rising slightly in the second half of 2011. The price gap therefore predates the sudden nuclear phaseout of March 2011.

Likewise, French industry power prices have been consistently lower than those in Germany in recent years, and the gap has been wider than it currently is. The DUH comments, "The question is why the difference in price between Germany and France is now suddenly an indicator for the effects of the energy transition."

The organization also found that the price difference between the ...


See also:


Tesla: Better Warranty? Check! Upgradeable Cars? Sure! 500-Mile Batteries? Maybe Soon!

Tesla: Better Warranty? Check! Upgradeable Cars? Sure! 500-Mile Batteries? Maybe Soon!

Tesla's service loaner: They'll not only bring you the car, for a fee you can "upgrade" and keep the borrowed vehicle for good.

Leave it to Tesla Motors TSLA -1.6% to turn what could have been a rather dull announcement about improving its service program into something of a mini-dazzler Friday. CEO Elon Musk not only promised to honor the company’s 8-year battery warranty under pretty much all conditions — “lighting the pack on fire with a blowtorch is not covered” — but Tesla also rolled out a plan that allowed owners to upgrade to a top-of-the-line Model S anytime their car goes in for service. Musk also hinted that today’s 265-mile range on the most-expensive model wasn’t any kind of endgame; but rather that a 500-mile battery could be available within 4 years. To top it off, Tesla finished the first quarter having outsold the much less expensive Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, to become the most popular plug-in vehicle in the U.S.

Great cars, it’s sometimes said, respond as if they know what the driver wants ahead of time. Tesla is trying to expand that concept to the company level. It’s original service offering was a mandatory $600-per-year plan. It basically consisted of an inspection and a promise to replace some parts, notably brakes, that Tesla makes a point of explaining don’t even wear out on electric cars. While the price wasn’t outrageous for a luxury vehicle, it did negate one of the prime advantages of EV ownership: lower cost of maintenance — and many buyers weren’t happy. A Tesla owner wouldn’t see much savings over a similar BMW until 5 years or more into the car’s life. Solution? You can now skip the annual service and maintain both the 5-year vehicle warranty and the 8-year battery warranty. If you want the full suite of services Tesla provides, they’ll happily provide you a loaner vehicle, brought to you, and handle the service. But you’re no longer required to do so.

Deluxe loaner, keep it if you like

Oh, and about that loaner. It’s going to be a nearly new, fully loaded Model S, with the biggest battery and the Performance package. (They’ll produce enough of these to make sure all owners getting their car serviced can receive one. If you’d rather, the company will loan you one of their original Roadster models, too, although that’ll have more miles on it.). Some owners will have a car this nice, but many won’t. Tesla figures a few will want to keep the loaner and they’ll be able to. The price will be the same as new, minus 1% for every month old the loaner car is and an additional $1 off for every mile it has. So if your loaner runs $90,000 and is 4 months old with 5,000 miles, you can keep it for about $81,500. Tesla will buy back your existing vehicle on a similar formula. It’s the closest thing to an upgradeable car the industry has to offer.

Again, though, for Telsa, the suggestion is that it really is just the beginning. The company has been touting for a while that some features can be added to the vehicles via software changes. For example, the Model S didn’t originally have a “creep” mode like a typical car where it moves gently forward when you lift off the brake. That was added just a few months after launch. But being a Silicon Valley company, hardware upgrades are not out of the question, as Musk’s discussion about future batteries seemed to suggest.

An end to ‘range anxiety’?



Testing for V2G goes to next level

Delaware has key role in creating electric vehicles that add power to the grid
UD, NRG Energy create next generation of vehicles while boosting power sources


By 2005, Kempton, the director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration, had his idea fully worked out. Two years later he demonstrated it and in 2011 he convinced NRG Energy to back his work.

On Friday, Kempton was joined by state officials and electric utility executives to celebrate the coming-of-age of his concept, one that would use electric car batteries connected to the grid as a piece of the system needed to stabilize energy peaks and valleys that come when wind and solar generators cannot produce on command.

The joint enterprise between the university and NRG – known as eV2g – was officially christened as viable at the university’s Science Technology & Advanced Research (STAR) campus.

When the car is plugged in, the grid operator, PJM Interconnection, can send a signal for it to either build its charge or discharge power back onto the grid, aiding the grid’s efforts to maintain a level flow of electricity, he said. A single electric vehicle can send out about 15 kilowatts of electricity for a short period, which is enough to run about 10 homes.

The signal is refreshed in seconds, allowing precise computerized control of the ebb and flow of current to maximize grid balancing. It is all about timing and managing the process to provide the service to the grid operator, while making sure the owner has enough charge the next time he gets in the car, Kempton said.

For Friday’s demonstration...

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