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Gov. Shumlin and Vt. Yankee Nuclear Plant Reach Decommissioning Deal

Article gives a detailed overview of the shut down plans for Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant.

Shumlin, Vt. Yankee Reach Deal


In this June 19, 2013 photo, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station sits along the banks of the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vt. Entergy Corp., announced Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, it will shut down the nuclear power plant by end of 2014, ending a long legal battle with the state. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
By Susan Smallheern Rutland Herald
December 24, 2013

Montpelier — The Shumlin administration and Entergy Corp. have reached an agreement that, if all goes according to plan, would see the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant decades earlier than originally planned.

In a Monday afternoon news conference, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Michael Twomey of Entergy Corp. outlined the details of the agreement, which they called “a path to decommissioning.” Under the plan, decommissioning could start in the 2020s, the governor said.

The agreement also calls for $10 million earmarked for Windham County economic development over the next five years, as well as a new, separate $25 million fund toward the “green field” cleanup of the Vernon reactor site and a $5.2 million “green energy” fund that would benefit both Windham County and the rest of the state. “That’s a big deal,” the governor, a Windham County native, said.

Attorney General William Sorrell said that Entergy also dropped its fight for $6 million in legal fees over some of the litigation, and all legal challenges had been withdrawn. Additionally, the state dropped its push for $5.2 million in generation taxes, which Entergy had been fighting in federal court as well.

In all, Entergy pledged...


Germany’s Largest Utility Ditches Two Long-Term Contracts For Coal Power

Germany’s Largest Utility Ditches Two Long-Term Contracts For Coal Power

RWE, Germany’s largest electrical utility, will not renew two long-term contracts for coal-fired power, according to Bloomberg News.

In Germany, long-term contracts like this work by allowing utilities to buy power from a producer for a fixed rate over the contracted period of time. Utilities do this if they anticipate being able to then turn around and sell the electricity for a profit. The risk, of course, is that prices could suddenly drop in the middle of the contract, leaving the utility high and dry.

That seems to be what happened here. “German power prices for 2014 slumped 17 percent this year as renewable energy production surged and power consumption fell to the lowest since 2009, cutting margins at gas- and coal-fired power stations,” Bloomberg reports. As a result, the two long-term contracts RWE has with the power generator STEAG GmbH — which expire in the next two years — are looking far less attractive. Bloomberg’s source also said RWE won’t be renewing other contracts with two smaller coal plants.

RWE said in August it plans to shutter 3,100 megawatts of capacity in Germany and the Netherlands, which accounts for about seven percent of its production in northern Europe. In October, the utility’s Chief Financial Officer said it will decide what to do with 1,450 megawatts of coal capacity its contracted with at the end of 2013.

Though the collapse in demand for power could lead to less coal burning and thus fewer carbon emissions, it’s still a mixed bag....


A 2005 MIT Nuclear Science & Engineering Dept paper on nuclear for oil sands

Nuclear Technology & Canadian Oil Sands: Integration of Nuclear Power with In-Situ Oil Extraction
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 24-105 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Abstract - This report analyzes the technical aspects and the economics of utilizing nuclear reactors to provide the energy needed for a Canadian oil sands extraction facility using Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology. The energy from the nuclear reactor would replace the energy supplied by natural gas, which is currently burned at these facilities. There are a number of concerns surrounding the continued use of natural gas, including carbon dioxide emissions and increasing gas prices. Three scenarios for the use of the reactor are analyzed1) using the reactor to produce only the steam needed for the SAGD process; (2) using the reactor to produce steam as well as electricity for the oil sands facility; and (3) using the reactor to produce steam, electricity, and hydrogen for upgrading the bitumen from the oil sands to syncrude, a material similar to conventional crude oil. Three reactor designs were down-selected from available options to meet the expected mission demands and siting requirements. These include the Canadian ACR- 700, Westinghouse’s AP 600 and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). The report shows that nuclear energy would be feasible, practical, and economical for use at an oil sands facility. Nuclear energy is two to three times cheaper than natural gas for each of the three scenarios analyzed. Also, by using nuclear energy instead of natural gas, a plant producing 100,000 barrels of bitumen per day would prevent up to 100 megatonnes of CO2 per year from being released into the atmosphere.


Of course, that cost analysis was almost certainly based on the same fictional figures they gave the Dept of Energy in 2005 about how little the nuclear renaissance would cost.

Toshiba Nuclear Reactor For Oil Sands To Be Operational By 2020: Reports

Toshiba Nuclear Reactor For Oil Sands To Be Operational By 2020: Reports
The Huffington Post Canada | Posted: 01/18/2013 2:27 pm EST | Updated: 01/18/2013

Toshiba Corporation has developed a small nuclear reactor to power oilsands extraction in Alberta and hopes to have it operational by 2020, according to news reports from Japan.

The Daily Yomiuri reports Toshiba is building the reactor at the request of an unnamed oilsands company.

The reactor would generate between one per cent and 5 per cent as much energy as produced by a typical nuclear power plant, and would not need refueling for 30 years. It would be used to heat water in order to create the steam used to extract bitumen from the oil sands.

Toshiba has completed design work on the reactor and has filed for approval with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Nikkei.com reported. The company is expected to seek approval from Canadian authorities as well...


Canada Considering Nuclear Reactors in Alberta Tar Sands Fields

Canada Considering Nuclear Reactors in Alberta Tar Sands Fields

By John Daly | Mon, 21 January 2013 22:42
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Like them or hate them, Alberta, Canada’s tar sands deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, are the world’s largest. The province’s resources include the Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake deposits in the McMurray Formation, which consist of a mixture of crude bitumen, a semi-solid form of crude oil, admixed with silica sand, clay minerals, and water.

According to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration, “Canada controls the third-largest amount of proven reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela… Canada's proven oil reserve levels have been stagnant or slightly declining since 2003, when they increased by an order of magnitude after oil sands resources were deemed to be technically and economically recoverable. The oil sands now account for approximately 170 billion barrels, or 98 percent, of Canada's oil reserves.”

Lying under 54,000 square miles of forest and bogs, the bitumen tar sands are estimated to be comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum.

But exploiting the tar sands comes at a significant environmental cost.

Oil sands pollution is not a topic that Ottawa is keen to publicize...


Earth’s Rate Of Global Warming Is 400,000 Hiroshima Bombs A Day

Earth’s Rate Of Global Warming Is 400,000 Hiroshima Bombs A Day

Conveying abstract or hard-to-visualize ideas is always a challenge. That’s a core reason why the best communicators have always used metaphors.

As Aristotle wrote in his classic work Poetics, “the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.”

How can one convey the Earth’s staggering rate of heat build up from human-caused global warming — 250 trillion Watts (Joules per second)? The analogy to the energy released by the Hiroshima bomb has been used in recent years by a number of scientists, such as NOAA oceanographer John Lyman, and Mike Sandiford, Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute. In his TED talk Climatologist James Hansen explained the current rate of increase in global warming is:
“… equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day, 365 days per year. That’s how much extra energy Earth is gaining each day.”

That comes out to more than four Hiroshima bombs a second, which is a metric Skeptical Science has turned into a widget. I prefer the 400,000 Hiroshimas per day metric simply because the heat imbalance is occurring over a very large area, which four Hiroshimas don’t do justice to.

The deniers don’t like the metaphor because, they assert, it is inexact and sensationalistic. But the deniers don’t like the literal facts because they think those are inexact and sensationalistic, too, so we can safely ignore them....


Private investors abandon Romanian nuclear power project

Remember the nuclear revival?
I wonder how the steady stream of events like this can be squared with the claim by many in the nuclear industry that virtually all of the economic problems associated with nuclear have their roots in "greenie" antinuclear activism?

Added on December 23, 2013 12:26 pm
Last two private investors in Romania’s planned nuclear power plant expansion leave project
by Romania Insider

The last two private companies still involved in the expansion of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant have left the project company.

Enel and ArcelorMittal withdrew from the project company Energonuclear, which should build the third and fourth reactors at Cernavoda. Romania’s state owned Nuclearelectrica will become sole shareholder in the project.

The two companies join other foreign investors who decided to withdraw from the project back in 2010, CEZ, GDF SUEZ, Iberdrola and RWE. Enel had a 9.15 percent package, while ArcelorMittal Galaţi, 6.2 percent. Enel explained its decision by highlighting a potential new majority shareholder in the project company, while Arcelor Mittal cited the challenges of the business environment.

Once notified of their intention, the Romanian state has to buy their shares ...


New superconductor theory may revolutionize electrical engineering

New superconductor theory may revolutionize electrical engineering
Dec 06, 2013 by Bill Steele

"Nanostripes" of alternating electrons and holes (spaces where electrons should be that appear as positive charges) appear in this scanning tunneling microscope image of a copper-oxide superconductor, just one of many odd patterns seen in years of observations of high-temperature superconductors. Credit: Davis Research Group

(Phys.org) —High-temperature superconductors exhibit a frustratingly varied catalog of odd behavior, such as electrons that arrange themselves into stripes or refuse to arrange themselves symmetrically around atoms. Now two physicists propose that such behaviors – and superconductivity itself – can all be traced to a single starting point, and they explain why there are so many variations.

This theory might be a step toward new, higher-temperature superconductors that would revolutionize electrical engineering with more efficient motors and generators and lossless power transmission.

J.C. Séamus Davis, the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell and director of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Dung-Hai Lee, professor of physics at the University of California-Berkeley and faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, describe their theory in the Oct. 7 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The oddities, known as intertwined ordered phases, seem to interfere with superconductivity. "We now have a simple way to understand how they are created and hopefully this understanding will help us to know how to get rid of them," said Lee.

Superconductivity, where current flows with zero resistance, was first discovered in metals cooled almost to absolute zero...

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-12-superconductor-theory-revolutionize-electrical.html#jCp

Nobel winning scientist to boycott top science journals

Nobel winning scientist to boycott top science journals
Dec 10, 2013 by Bob Yirka

(Phys.org) —Randy Schekman winner (with colleagues) of the Nobel Prize this year in the Physiology or Medicine category for his work that involved describing how materials are carried to different parts of cells, has stirred up a hornet's nest in the scientific community by publishing an article in The Guardian lashing out at three of the top science journals—Science, Cell and Nature.

In the article Schekman claims that scientific research is being "disfigured by inappropriate incentives." He maintains that the top science journals are artificially inflating their stature by keeping the number of articles they publish low. He asserts that the practices of the top journals is causing undo difficulties with young researchers who have become convinced the only true measure of success is publication in one of the top tier journals.

He continues by suggesting that because the top tier journals are run by editors, rather than scientists, it's often the flashiest articles that get published, rather than the best or most relevant.

Schekman offered hints of his dissatisfaction with the publication process when he took a position as an editor at eLife, an online science journal that prints research papers—it's also peer reviewed, but doesn't charge an access fee.

In his article he suggests that many researchers and organizations cut corners in order to focus more clearly on the "wow" factor and...


Schekman's article in The Guardian:
How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science
The incentives offered by top journals distort science, just as big bonuses distort banking

Randy Schekman
The Guardian, Monday 9 December 2013 14.30 EST
Jump to comments (278)

The journal Science has recently retracted a high-profile paper reporting links between littering and violence. Photograph: Alamy/Janine Wiedel

I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession's interests, let alone those of humanity and society.

We all know what distorting incentives have done to finance and banking. The incentives my colleagues face are not huge bonuses, but the professional rewards that accompany publication in prestigious journals – chiefly Nature, Cell and Science.

These luxury journals are supposed to be the epitome of quality, publishing only the best research. Because funding and appointment panels often use place of publication as a proxy for quality of science, appearing in these titles often leads to grants and professorships. But the big journals' reputations are only partly warranted. While they publish many outstanding papers, they do not publish only outstanding papers. Neither are they the only publishers of outstanding research.

These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called "impact factor" – a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself – and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking.

It is common, and encouraged by many journals, for research to be judged by the impact factor of the journal that publishes it. But...


EIA Continues to Lowball Its Renewable Energy Forecast

This problem goes back at least 15 years and has reached absurd proportions. This is a critical document that policymakers rely heavily on, and it is being produced in a manner that seems deliberately designed to mislead on the progress of alternative energy sources.

EIA Continues to Lowball Its Renewable Energy Forecast

Even a bump from 2013 doesn’t bring it up to most other conservative estimates.

Katherine Tweed
December 18, 2013

Electricity generation from renewable energy, not including hydropower, will tick up from 12 percent to 16 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook reference case.

The upward trend seems reasonable until the timeframe is taken into account. The increase of 4 percent is forecasted to occur from 2012 to 2040.

In that timespan, renewables excluding hydropower will account for about 28 percent of the growth in electricity generation. But other government figures would suggest that, at least in coming years, renewables could be a much larger part of the picture.

In October of this year, FERC found renewable energy accounted for nearly 100 percent of all new generation capacity. A 2012 market report from FERC found that wind, and to a lesser extent solar, made up nearly half of the new generation capacity that year...

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