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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Statistics: Nuclear down, renewables up

Nuclear down, renewables up

Today, energy expert Bernard Chabot is back with a special Christmas present – an overview of the global power sector over the past decade. There are three salient findings: the rise of China, the demise of nuclear, and the appearance of non-hydro renewables.

As usual, the slides are available as a PDF, but I want to draw your attention to a few things. First, slide 17 shows that power production is basically flat throughout the OECD, but it nearly tripled in China from 2003-2012 and nearly doubled in India (albeit from a much lower level – Chinese power production is currently nearly 5 times as great as India's). The only other major increase was in the Rest of the World, which saw power production to grow by more than 20 percent.

More importantly for this website, you have probably heard of a renaissance of nuclear power; I have certainly been hearing about it since Chernobyl. But slide 20 reveals that power production from nuclear plants is also basically flat over the past decade, with a slight dip in 2012 after Japan shut down more than 50 nuclear plants and Germany followed suit with eight of its own.

But overall power production has been growing, so the share of nuclear in total supply (see slide 22) has actually slipped by 4.7 percentage points from 15.7 percent in 2003 to 11 percent in 2012. Note that this decrease is discernible all the way back to 2004; it is not a sudden dip as a result of Fukushima in 2012.

Non-hydro renewables have not quite managed to fill that gap, rising only by 3.0 percentage points over the past decade, but there has been an uptick...


5 Japan exPMs Nakasone, Hatoyama, Koizumi, Noda, & Kan oppose nuclear

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 50, No.3, December 16, 2013.
Just Gas? Smart Power and Koizumi’s Anti-Nuclear Challenge

Andrew DeWit

Japan’s former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro has repeatedly called for current Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to make an explicit decision to get out of nuclear power. Koizumi’s full-scale press conference on this matter, held on November 12 in front of 350 journalists, shook up the Abe cabinet. It continues to do so, judging by the tendentious commentary it continues to attract. Koizumi forced the cabinet to address an item they clearly wanted to finesse for the time being.1 But the substance of Koizumi’s over hour-long event has not yet received the attention it merits. This article puts Koizumi’s talk in context, showing that his position is shared by all the former Japanese prime ministers, including Nakasone Yasuhiro. Most important, contrary to the claim that Japan’s choice is either gas or nuclear, Koizumi highlighted the ongoing deployment of radical efficiency and renewable energy as the proper path forward. And the accelerating rollout of smart cities across Japan suggests that Koizumi and his colleagues are standing on the right side of history.

Koizumi’s motives for speaking out continue to be the subject of speculation in the Japanese media, including a paranoid claim that he must be in hock to the US shale gas lobby.2 But one of Koizumi’s most fervent supporters is PM Abe’s own wife, Abe Akie, a significant political figure in her own right and one very knowledgeable about energy alternatives.3 Koizumi’s anti-nuclear position is also not a sudden development or apparently one driven by pecuniary self-interest. Koizumi has been publicly mooting his concerns about nuclear power since at least 2012, and during early August of 2013 went on a fact-finding mission (with the nuclear engineers of Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi) to Germany and Finland.4 Koizumi also alienated the 80 establishment firms, including prominent members from the nuclear village, grouped in the Centre for International Public Policy Studies set up in March of 2007 with YEN 1.8 billion of their funding and Koizumi as chairman.5

Nor is Koizumi the odd-man-out, at least in the league of present and former PMs. Rather, Abe is: former Prime Ministers Nakasone Yasuhiro, Hatoyama Yukio, Noda Yoshihiko, and Kan Naoto have all also expressed opposition to nuclear power and declared that that Japan must pursue alternatives. Nakasone's statement was especially surprising, because he was one of the father's of Japan's nuclear effort. Yet at a June 26, 2011 "Solar Economy Kanagawa" conference held in Yokohama, Nakasone declared that "nuclear power damages humankind" and called for a large-scale cultural shift to harvesting energy while co-existing with nature.6

So Koizumi's opposition to the nuclear village’s agenda is consistent with the mindset of other former prime ministers once they were out of the bubble of policymaking dominated by vested interests and concerns about their income streams. What makes Koizumi’s position stand out is the fact that he is enormously popular, even though he left the office of Prime Minister seven years ago. PM Abe is indeed Koizumi's protegé, and leads a party in which there are already widespread misgivings about the commitment to restarts and talk of new reactor construction.7

One core argument of the narrative that would dismiss Koizumi’s intervention as “emotional” is that it offered no alternatives. This assertion is nonsense. ...

Editorial: Return to nuclear dependency unacceptable (Japan)

Editorial: Return to nuclear dependency unacceptable

Is the Abe administration trying to pretend that the tragedy in Fukushima never happened?


The safety myth of nuclear power has been destroyed. There are questions about the economic efficiency of nuclear energy. Furthermore, we have no clue how to deal with the issue of nuclear waste disposal. We must break away from our reliance on nuclear power. We cannot accept the government's switch in policy.


The public will not grant its understanding for the promotion of nuclear reactor restarts if there is little to back up such a move. To solve the problem of final nuclear waste disposal as well, the government must present us with a detailed plan on how it will reduce nuclear reactors.

That the government is proposing the steady promotion of the nuclear fuel cycle in the same manner as pre-disaster times is also problematic. Japan owns 44 tons of reprocessed plutonium -- or the equivalent of 5,000 atomic bombs -- in both Japan and abroad. Continuing with a plutonium-producing nuclear fuel cycle with no way to use it could potentially raise international suspicions.

Considering the safety risks and the technological difficulties of the sodium-cooled fast-breeder reactor Monju, whose prospects for practical viability are unknown, and reprocessing plants, we should step away from the nuclear fuel cycle.



This editorial is enhanced by the additional, detailed information on Japan's newest PM offered in today's issue of the Guardian.
Shinzo Abe: is Japan's PM a dangerous militarist or modernising reformer?

Recommendations on Energy for the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development

Public document

Policy Brief #2: Recommendations on Energy for the UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG on SDGs)

The recommendations on energy presented here have been compiled from three civil society consultations conducted by UN-NGLS from 2012-2013: a teleconference-based consultation that resulted in the report Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post-2015 Agenda; an online consultation on four post-2015 reports to the Secretary-General; and a teleconference and meeting-based consultation on the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. This brief also draws on the Women’s Major Group energy recommendations for the OWG on SDGs.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) recognize that several sets of proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have included a goal on energy, often incorporating the three targets used by the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative:
a) ensuring universal access to modern energy services;
b) doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and
c) doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Among CSOs, there is widespread support for including a goal on energy in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The significant majority of organizations, however, are not satisfied with the proposed goals so far, and advocate for more comprehensive, specific and ambitious targets. Consistent with the prevailing call from CSOs for the post-2015 development agenda to take a human rights-based approach, consultation participants asserted that all energy policy and implementation by the private and public sector must be consistent with existing UN human rights commitments. CSOs resoundingly called for energy targets to include a strong focus on reducing emissions and excessive energy use in the industrialized world. They further advocated that governments must promote development and energy generation that does not result in dangerous by-products, particularly those with the capacity to trigger global-level destruction. Detailed recommendations are presented below, organized according to the following five objectives:
1. Achieving universal energy access;
2. Ensuring clean, safe, and locally appropriate energy generation;
3. Advancing energy efficiency;
4. Enabling effective financing for energy; and
5. Establishing the roles of stakeholders.

1. Achieving Universal Energy Access

a) Address energy access as a common good to be provided as a public service.
b) Agree to a global energy access standard that incorporates civil society definitions of energy access and sustainability, such as Practical Action’s Total Energy Access Standards.
c) Design impact metrics that measure social and economic benefits of energy access, using a participatory approach. Measure progress at least by the number of people able to access energy services that meet or exceed a minimum agreed international standard for lighting, cooking, heating, cooling, and communications.
d) Prioritize access to free energy for the energy-deprived, and modernization of traditionally free and local energy sources. Reduce energy waste to support affordability and maximize availability, through measures such as retrofits to homes and businesses. Affordability must be the fundamental consideration in delivering sustainable energy access.
e) Centre energy access strategies and implementation on equity. Mainstream gender issues and women’s empowerment in discussions about sustainable energy and reducing poverty.
f) Ensure energy access and control over energy choices for people living in poverty, in line with the principle of energy sovereignty. Link the term “sustainable energy” to peoples’ capacity to design, manage, operate, and maintain energy facilities. Fund and support local capacity building to enable the achievement of energy objectives.
g) Promote regional energy access project incubators; build cooperatives to increase impacts of energy projects.
h) Use a variety of efficient energy sources, equipment and appliances at a variety of scales, as the traditional power sector alone will not and cannot deliver an end to energy poverty. On-, off- and mini- grid approaches, and a variety of cooking and mechanical power options, will be required to create universal energy access. 55% of the new generating capacity created over the coming years will need to be mini-grid or off-grid if the goal of universal access is to be achieved by 2030.1
i) Implement climate resilient energy sources to meet the goal of universal access. According to International Energy Agency reports, this will require off-grid renewable solutions.

j) As appropriate, adapt and innovate existing energy solutions to respond to new contexts. Effective business strategies of many “socially-oriented energy enterprises, organizations and financiers that understand the energy needs of low-income consumers in developing countries” are described in the World Resources Institute (WRI) report Implementation Strategies for Renewable Energy Services in Low-Income, Rural Areas.
k) To scale up energy service delivery, implement predictable, supportive and consistent government policy and regulation that prioritizes or incentivizes energy access.
l) Avoid nuclear energy in plans for energy access. Particularly in developing countries, nuclear energy is an impractical and dangerous choice due to its excessive and growing upfront costs; inability to compete with more cost-effective, fuel-free energy sources (wind and solar) and demand- reduction/management strategies; long construction periods (see 2.f below); poor economic performance in terms of cost per job created; legacy costs for management of radioactive waste (hazardous for millennia), decommissioning and environmental remediation; and security costs including protection against nuclear proliferation risk. In addition, the economic impact of nuclear accidents – overwhelming even for the advanced industrial nations – would easily outstretch the economic and technical capacity of most nations. Nuclear generation supply is declining in nearly all nations where the industry is most advanced,2 and recent attempts to revive it have failed primarily due to economic factors. Other environmental trends resulting from climate change – such as surface water warming, drought, and sea-level rise – will exacerbate this trend in the coming years by reducing the generation capacity, reliability, and revenues of nuclear units, while raising their operating costs. Countries building new nuclear reactors are disregarding the economic and safety liabilities. Small modular nuclear reactors must not be promoted as a form of distributed generation as “vendors are cutting corners on important reactor safety features, such as containment structures,” to save capital costs, and any generic defects in mass-produced modular units would spread throughout the entire reactor fleet.3

Lots more - download full text: http://www.nirs.org/alternatives/unnlgsbriefforowgenergynov2013.pdf

Imagining the U.S. Supreme Court Covered in Solar Panels

Imagining the U.S. Supreme Court Covered in Solar Panels


Last year, we wrote about a sweeping project from the MIT Sustainable Design Lab and the Boston design firm Modern Development Studio that mapped the potential for installing solar power on every square meter of every roof in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT developed algorithms using public flyover LIDAR data to automatically assess each building's suitability – by location, angle and surroundings – for soaking up the sun's rays.

At the time, the tool looked like a replicable one that could change how we harvest solar power on a community scale. Now, the project's original creators have licensed their technology from MIT and launched a spinoff company, called Mapdwell, that intends to scale this up beyond Cambridge, even beyond solar surveys. A similar and slick interactive platform, they figure, could also educate homeowners and commercial building managers about their potential for other kinds of green roofs, or rainwater collection.


As with the original Cambridge prototype, it's possible to click on individual buildings within Mapdwell to estimate the cost of building a solar system at that exact location, and the energy savings that would come from it (solar systems already in place in the city are also marked on the map). Washington, like Cambridge, is a low-lying city without the kind of tall skyscrapers that would obscure the sun in many neighborhoods. So there's a lot of potential here.

If we wanted to plaster the Supreme Court with solar panels, the south-facing side of the classical pediment would be the place to put them (bright yellow means good solar potential, brown means you'd be wasting your money):


More at: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2013/12/imagining-us-supreme-court-covered-solar-panels/7876/

Newly released photo of loyal dog Hachiko on display at Tokyo museum

Newly released photo of loyal dog Hachiko on display at Tokyo museum

The apparently last known picture of Hachiko. (Photo courtesy of the Shirane Kinen Shibuya-ku Kyodo Hakubutsukan Bungakukan museum)

The apparently last known photograph of Hachiko, an Akita dog who waited for years for its deceased owner's return in front of Shibuya Station, is on display at a Tokyo museum.

The picture is of Hachiko sitting on the ground as members of a neighborhood family look on. It was donated by Tokyo resident Toyoko Endo, 80, to the Shirane Kinen Shibuya-ku Kyodo Hakubutsukan Bungakukan, a folk and literary museum in the capital's Shibuya Ward, in May last year.

The photo was taken near a Shibuya Station ticket gate by a foreign missionary who knew Endo's family when they were living in Shibuya. Toyoko, then a 1-year-old baby, is seen in her father's arms in the picture, while Hachiko is lying at their feet. A handwritten note on the picture reads Dec. 30, 1934, the date it was taken.

The Akita's health had already deteriorated by the time the photo was snapped, just 2 1/2 months before its death on March 8, 1935. At that time, the dog was reportedly no longer spotted outside very often...


Radioactive cesium levels in Miyagi forest soil up since 2011

Radioactive cesium levels in Miyagi forest soil up since 2011
DEC 16, 2013

SENDAI – Levels of radioactive cesium in soil and on the ground of two forests in Miyagi Prefecture have risen since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster started, according to results of a recent survey.

In forests about 60 km and 120 km north of the severely damaged Fukushima No. 1 power plant, cesium is believed to be accumulating in the soil as cesium-contaminated leaves fall to the ground and decompose.

...In a forest in the town of Marumori closer to Fukushima, the average cesium level of 10 samples of fallen quills was 26,684 becquerels per kilogram in June 2012, but rose to 42,759 becquerels a year later. And the level in soil up to 10 cm deep increased from 721 becquerels to 3,225 becquerels, according to the study.

In a forest in Ishinomaki, even farther from the damaged nuclear plant, the level climbed about 50 percent to 3,611 becquerels among fallen quills and by 2.5-fold to 620 becquerels in soil.

In these forests where all cedar tree quills are replaced about every five years..


Manual of Naval Preventive Medicine: Chapter 6 Water Supply Afloat


First let me say that the discussion about water treatment, while relevant, is only a small part of the picture.

The (1990) manual points out many opportunities for bacterial contamination exist throughout the desalinization and distribution process. It doesn't discuss radiological contaminants, so it is unknown whether the procedures detailed are adequate for that problem.

It also states the uses for non-potable water, providing another route of possible contamination.

6. Seawater (non-potable) is used aboard ships in the fire mains and for general sanitary purposes. Since conservation of potable water is a constant requirement, it is impractical to provide potable water for all purposes. Therefore, it is necessary to use sea water under certain controlled circumstances, such as: flushing weather decks, water closets, urinals and garbage chutes; decontamination showers; and laundering. Water in harbors or off-shore from habitations and when operating in fleet strength must be considered polluted and unfit for uses other than in fire and flushing systems and must not be used for other purposes. If it is necessary in an emergency situation to produce water from contaminated sources, the Medical Department must insure that increased surveillance of the system is instituted.

To me, post 11 above is most telling.

The description of exposure to airborne fallout is unmistakable; as is the lack of a regime for protection and decontamination for those exposed.

The statement describes a clear route for ingestion/inhalation of fallout. That would be extant both during outdoor activities as well as continued exposure to fallout carried by the hair and clothing. Unless the interior of the ship was sealed and operating on purified air before exposure began, it too was contaminated, including living quarters, mess areas, recreational areas and work stations. It isn't that difficult to protect against fallout if you are ready for it and know it is coming, but if you walk into a situation like this blindly all of that is irrelevant.

Many moons ago before the Cold War ended, recurrent training in decontamination procedures was a standard part of military training designed for the laughable goal of surviving a nuclear exchange; I was in charge of a team and its training for a couple of years. Respirators and protective clothing, sealed living quarters working and food prep areas as well as their desalinated water supplies are all relevant and important. I definitely wouldn't want to be these guys if they were in the path of a fallout cloud and were not taking explicit precautions to deal with it.

The real question here is why, if they were in a fallout cloud (and that doesn't seem to be disputed since the Captain of the ship acknowledged it), didn't they know it was there? The answer is we don't know at this point.

We do know, however, that the crew wasn't following decontamination protocols if the description of the retrieval of the flag is accurate. And if they were as blind to the problem as that indicates, then the problem was widespread.

Why did that happen? Well that problem could have its origins in the behavior of the Japanese. They had a system (called SPEEDI wasn't it?) for tracking the route of releases, but didn't warn the Japanese public that fallout was headed their way. It seems extremely plausible, therefore, that the US Navy was similarly kept in the dark and entered the area thinking there wasn't a need at that location to deploy monitoring equipment.

I hope this case is well covered in public media; I'd really like to know what happened.

See also: Onboard systems don't always provide clean, safe water

the iaea assessment doesn't reject the need for outside help

It is specifically called for it (Advise 14) as well as implied it strongly (Advise 15). A discussion promoting it also occurs on page 13.

Most of the rest of the recommendations include expansion of the scope of planning and action. This point is consistent with the AP article's summary of the shortage of talent currently assigned to the agencies dealing with the project; if the personal were in place then they would probably already be accomplishing the workload that iaea is stating the need for.

Anyone interested can download the IAEA report here:

It is interesting how strong the emphasis is on building public trust. When one understands that promoting the broad use of nuclear power is a central mission of the IAEA, it's difficult to read this publicly disseminated document as more of an effort at damage control than anything else.

Less Well Known Cases of Nuclear Terrorism and Nuclear Diversion in Russia

Aug. 20, 1997
Nuclear terrorism can take a variety of forms. The most frequently discussed form involves a terrorist group either stealing a nuclear weapon or building a nuclear device using stolen or illegally purchased nuclear material. In the former Soviet Union today, however, a more plausible situation involves an attack on or sabotage of civilian nuclear power facilities or spent fuel storage sites. There have been at least seven incidents since 1992 in which nuclear terrorism was threatened or used in Russia, five of which have involved nuclear power facilities.

The first three incidents occurred at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Lithuania. The first occurred in February 1992, when authorities arrested a computer programmer named Oleg Savchuk on charges of trying to sabotage the reactor with a computer virus. Two-and-a-half years later, on 4 November 1994, Swedish authorities arrested Kestutis Mazuika, a Lithuanian citizen who delivered a letter to the Swedish prime minister's office that threatened the destruction of the Ignalina NPP unless a payment was made to the secret organization NUC-41 'W.' Mr. Mazuika was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison in Sweden, but was released after one year. He was then returned to Lithuania, where he was charged with 'Extortion of State Property' under Article 96 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code. He was not sentenced in Lithuania because of the Swedish prison term. The third incident at Ignalina occurred just a few days after Mr. Mazuika's threat. On 9 November 1994, the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Conservation, and Nuclear Safety notified the Lithuanian Nuclear Safety Inspectorate about information it had received regarding a plot to sabotage the Ignalina NPP. The plot involved Georgy Dekanidze, who threatened to blow the plant up in the event that his son Boris, on trial for murder, was sentenced to death. The threat was taken very seriously, and Units 1 and 2 of the plant were temporarily shut down as bomb experts and search dogs looked for evidence of sabotage. No such evidence was found and Dekanidze failed to follow through with his threats.

In addition, there have been at least two incidents at Russian nuclear power plants. In fall 1996, Gosatomnadzor (the Russian Nuclear Regulatory Agency) received an alert that an armed group of Chechens was moving towards the Balakovo NPP. All Russian nuclear facilities were given instructions to be on guard against possible terrorist actions. A Chechen group was spotted along the Volga River, but did not stop near the Balakovo reactor. It is unclear whether or not the group intended to target the reactor. In spring 1997, Russian authorities caught five men who had penetrated the Kursk NPP. The men, who probably had intended to attempt extortion, had reached the plant generator and allegedly had plans to overrun the control room and disable the reactor. Lastly, there were at least two known terrorist incidents that did not take place at nuclear power plants. The first, in 1995, was a terrorist threat in which an unpaid employee of the Severodinsk submarine production facility threatened the destruction of two reactors. Then in late 1995, a small amount of Cesium-137 was recovered in Moscow's Izmailovsky Park, placed there by Chechen separatists who claimed that they had buried four such radioactive sources in the park.

Regarding nuclear diversion, many analysts have concluded that the lull in illicit nuclear trafficking since the recovery of 2.72 kg of HEU in Prague in December 1994 indicates that the threat of nuclear diversion has greatly diminished. However, it is possible that important instances of diversion have been missed. At the April 1996 Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit, Moscow pledged increased intelligence sharing, but it is doubtful that Moscow has provided any real information on this issue. There have been credible reports of proliferation-significant nuclear trafficking since December 1994. For example, in 1996 authorities in Belarus intercepted suspects possessing HEU that Russian and Georgian officials believe may have originated in Sukhumi, Georgia. Sukhumi is located in an area under the control of ethnic Abkhaz rebels and is not under IAEA safeguards. Neither the Russian nor the Georgian government is sure how much of the approximately 2 kg of weapons-usable HEU that was at Sukhumi in 1992 remains at the site. In a separate case, Gosatomnadzor reported the loss of about 1 kg of fresh HEU fuel enriched to 90% from Tomsk Polytechnical University in mid-1996. This material may accidentally have been included in a batch of spent fuel sent to Tomsk-7 (SKHK) in late 1994 or early 1995. Tomsk-7 officials have said that it would be impossible to try to find the material.

In addition, there have been cases...

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