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

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Solar panels seen as boost to homes' resale value

Solar panels seen as boost to homes' resale value
David R. Baker
Published 4:52 pm, Friday, December 13, 2013


In general, that premium more than covers the cost of the panels themselves, with homeowners making a small profit on their solar investment. Bigger solar arrays fetch higher premiums than smaller ones.


"The take-away here is the market is showing that PV is valued by home buyers," said Ben Hoen, staff research associate at the laboratory and the study's lead author. "There could be a green cachet for the PV system that would be over and above the expected price."

The study, "Exploring California PV Home Premiums," examined sales data for 1,894 solar homes and 70,425 comparable non-solar houses sold in California from 2000 through 2009. It builds on an earlier study released by the lab in 2011 that noted the solar premium but didn't explore it in the same depth.

The authors found that the size of a solar array can make a big difference in a home's resale value. Among the houses studied, that value increased about $5,900 for each kilowatt that an array can generate. Most home solar systems can produce between 2 and 5 kilowatts of electricity.

But the premium ...


Builder of new nuclear plant quits reporting data after large early cost over-runs

Their motto should be "We don't tell you what it really costs until after you've bought it"

Builders of Vogtle Nuclear Plant Face Growing Costs, Concerns
By Scott Judy

...The assessment came on the heels of Southern Co.'s request for a $737-million budget increase for the project. That request was later withdrawn as part of an agreement between the utility and PSC to review these costs upon the completion of the first new nuclear unit, now officially expected in the fourth quarter of 2017. If approved, the increase could be paid mostly by ratepayers.

...William Jacobs and Steven Roetger (project monitors - k) testified that Southern's most recent target, 2017's fourth quarter, for completing Vogtle 3 is "more reasonable" than its previous 2016 date, but added, "at this time, we are not able to conclude that the schedule is reasonable and achievable."

...The monitors testified, "To date, the consortium has not demonstrated the ability to fabricate high-quality CA20 sub-modules at its Lake Charles, La., facility that meet the design requirements at a rate necessary to support the project schedule." They added that Southern is prohibiting shipment of sub-modules from Lake Charles to the Vogtle site and that "several" of the already delivered sub-modules will require rework at the site.

Overall, the monitors say the fabrication and assembly of building modules is "significantly behind schedule," with the target to set the CA20 module on the nuclear-island foundation having slipped 21 months to date, to this November....


About the source:
ENR Southeast provides local, in-depth and comprehensive coverage on heavy, highway, building and industrial construction news in the four-state area of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In every printed issue and every day on our website, we provide news, features and information about people and projects.

This is an excellent discussion of the flagship project meant to launch a new nuclear industry in the US. As a result of the Cheney energy bill from 2005, it isn't possible for the project to be delayed by public, judicial or legislative action - and in the event ANY shutdown is forced on the builders, there is a $500,000,000 federal fund set aside to reimburse them.

Highly recommended reading.

That's a presentation by John Holdren, one of the MIT 2003 nuclear study authors

Dr. John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Prior to joining the Obama administration Dr. Holdren was Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, as well as professor in Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Director of the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. Previously he was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he co-founded in 1973 and co-led until 1996 the interdisciplinary graduate-degree program in energy and resources. During the Clinton administration Dr. Holdren served as a member of PCAST through both terms and in that capacity chaired studies requested by President Clinton on preventing theft of nuclear materials, disposition of surplus weapon plutonium, the prospects of fusion energy, U.S. energy R&D strategy, and international cooperation on energy-technology innovation.

Dr. Holdren holds advanced degrees in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics from MIT and Stanford. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a foreign member of the Royal Society of London and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2005, as Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control from 1994 to 2005, and as Co-Chair of the independent, bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy from 2002 to 2009. His awards include a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the John Heinz Prize in Public Policy, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Volvo Environment Prize. In December 1995 he gave the acceptance lecture for the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization of scientists and public figures in which he held leadership positions from 1982 to 1997.

Existing and aspiring nuclear power states

100 Grams (and Counting...): Notes from the Nuclear Underworld

Belfer Center on Managing the Atom
100 Grams (and Counting...): Notes from the Nuclear Underworld
June 2008
Author: Michael Bronner

The preface by Matthew Bunn, a Senior Research Associate at the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School and a former adviser in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Clinton administration.
Link to pdf of full article follows

This report on the 2006 seizure of weapon-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) in Georgia, by journalist Michael Bronner, provides new insights on both nuclear smugglers and those trying to stop them.

Bronner’s account highlights the dangers posed by the toxic combination of routine smuggling, stateless zones such as Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia, and the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons. The story has a Keystone Cops quality on both sides – investigators who show up for the climax of a complex sting operation without any cash and almost lose their quarry, and a smuggler who carries HEU in plastic baggies in his pocket, and who provides his pursuers with an easily-traced landline number while chatting on his cell phone after the deal goes sour. At the same time, there are also some indications that the key smuggler, Oleg Khintsagov, may have been more than the incompetent small-time criminal he seemed: cross-examining witnesses himself, he reportedly showed an unexpected knowledge of nuclear matters, and his passport reveals travel to Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates.

Bronner’s report gives the reader an on-the-ground perspective on a global problem of enormous stakes, and has clear policy implications. First, given how easy it is to smuggle the essential ingredients of nuclear bombs, it is crucial to secure these materials at their source. Every cache of nuclear weapons or the plutonium or HEU needed to make them worldwide must be secured—as rapidly as possible--against the kinds of threats that terrorists and criminals have shown they can pose. (For more on what needs to be done to meet that goal, see the Securing the Bomb series, available at http://www.nti.org/securingthebomb.) Second, in this case, success in stopping nuclear smuggling came from old-fashioned police work – including stings based on tips from organized criminals in the breakaway zone. Third, radiation detection did not work – the smugglers easily bypassed radiation detectors at the Russian-Georgian border, with the help of a relative who was a retired customs officer. Fourth, the account suggests that some significant part of the nuclear smuggling danger may be from material stolen long ago – a part of the problem that nuclear security upgrades installed in the future will not solve. In particular, the Georgian and Russian investigations offer at least suggestive indications that the HEU may have come from the huge fuel fabrication facility at Novosobirsk, perhaps as long ago as 2000. Together, these points make a strong case for expanded international police and intelligence cooperation, including operations such as stings, as a key part of reducing the chance that the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons could fall into terrorist hands.

More broadly, Bronner’s account highlights the urgency of the threat of nuclear theft and smuggling, and the dangerous gap that still exists between that threat and the scope and pace of the U.S. and international response. Many nuclear facilities around the world do not have security measures that could protect against demonstrated terrorist and criminal capabilities. Only about a quarter of the world’s HEU-fueled research reactors have had all their highly enriched uranium removed, leaving a major gap to be closed. There are currently no specific and binding global nuclear security standards in place.

Stronger efforts are needed to get countries to sustain upgraded security for the long haul, and to convince those who work with nuclear materials never to cut corners on security. The United States should expand its efforts to completely remove nuclear weapons and potential nuclear bomb material from as many facilities worldwide as possible. These efforts should be a top priority for the next U.S. administration.

In the meantime, the world urgently needs more of this kind of in-depth analysis of the most important nuclear smuggling cases, to explore patterns, trends, interconnections, and lessons learned.1


Yes it is.

Additional reading

First, for nuclear energy programs to be developed and managed safely and securely, it is important that states have domestic “good governance” char- acteristics that will encourage proper nuclear operations and management. These characteristics include low de- grees of corruption (to avoid officials selling materials and technology for their own personal gain as occurred with the A.Q. Khan smuggling network in Pakistan), high degrees of political stability (defined by the World Bank as “likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically-motivated violence and terrorism”), high governmental effectiveness scores (a World Bank aggregate measure of “the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures [and] the quality of policy formulation and implementation”), and a strong degree of regulatory competence. Fortunately, we have a great deal of information measuring these domestic good governance factors across the globe. Unfortunately, the data highlight the grave security challenges that would be created if there were rampant proliferation of nuclear energy production facilities to each and every state that has expressed interest to the IAEA in acquiring nuclear power. The World Bank publishes annual aggregate data, derived from multiple sources, on each of these good governance characteris- tics, and, as shown in Figure 2, the average scores of the potential new nuclear-energy states on each of these dimensions is significantly lower than the scores of states already possessing nuclear energy.

Second, all nonnuclear weapon states under the NPT must accept IAEA safeguards inspections on their nuclear power facilities in order to reduce the danger that governments might cheat on their commitments not to use the technology to acquire nuclear weapons; therefore, it is illuminating to examine the historical record of NNWS violating their NPT commitments. Here there is one very important ending about how domestic political characteristics influence the behavior of NPT members: each known or strongly suspected case of a government starting a secret nuclear weapons program, while it was a member of the NPT and thus violating its Article II NPT commitment, was undertaken by a non-democratic government.2 (The confirmed or suspected historical cases of NPT member states starting nuclear weapons programs in violation of their Treaty commitments include North and South Korea, Libya, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Taiwan, Iran, and Syria, all of which were non-democratic at the time in question.) It is therefore worrisome that, as Figure 2 shows, the group of potential new states seeking nuclear power capabilities is on average significantly less democratic than the list of existing states with nuclear energy capabilities.

Third, states that face significant terrorist threats from within face particular challenges in ensuring that there is no successful terrorist attack on a nuclear facility or no terrorist theft of fissile material to make a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb. Figure 3 displays data from the United States Counterterrorism Center comparing the five-year totals of terrorism incidents in the existing states that have nuclear power facilities and the IAEA list of aspiring states. India and Pakistan, both of which have nuclear weapons and nuclear power facilities and which face severe terrorist threats from homegrown and outsider terrorist organizations, clearly lead the pack. But as Figure 3 shows, the states that are exploring developing nuclear power would take up six of the slots on a “terrorist top ten risk list” if each of them develops civilian nuclear power in the future.

Concerns about proliferation (whether to states or terrorists) arise at the intersection of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Indeed, the connection between power and weapons is somewhat inevitable because key technologies in the nuclear sector–notably, uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities–are relevant to both. In the nonproliferation context, this is the dual-use dilemma: many technologies associated with the creation of a nuclear power program can be used to make weapons if a state chooses to do so. When a state seems motivated to acquire nuclear weapons, a nuclear power program in that state can appear to be simply a route leading to the bomb or a public annex to a secret bomb program. The crisis over Iran’s nuclear activities is a case in point. Depending on what capabilities spread to which states, especially regarding uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, a world of widely spread nuclear technologies could be a world in which more states, like Iran, would have the latent capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. This could easily be a world filled with much more worry about the risk of nuclear proliferation–and worse, a world where more states possess nuclear weapons. A fundamental goal for American and global security is to minimize the proliferation risks associated with the expansion of nuclear power. If this development is poorly managed or efforts to contain risks are unsuccessful, the nuclear future will be dangerous.

Steven E. Miller & Scott D. Sagan
Nuclear power without nuclear proliferation?

"Spreading Temptation: Proliferation and Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreements"
Journal Article, International Security, volume 34, issue 1, pages 7-41
Summer 2009
Author: Matthew Fuhrmann

Peaceful nuclear cooperation-the transfer of nuclear technology, materials, or know-how from one state to another for peaceful purposes-leads to the spread of nuclear weapons. In particular, countries that receive peaceful nuclear assistance are more likely to initiate weapons programs and successfully develop the bomb, especially when they are also faced with security threats. Statistical analysis based on a new data set of more than 2,000 bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation agreements signed from 1950 to 2000 lends strong support for this argument. Brief case studies of the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons programs provide further evidence of the links between peaceful nuclear assistance and proliferation. The finding that supplier countries inadvertently raise the risks of nuclear proliferation poses challenges to the conventional wisdom. Indeed, the relationship between civilian nuclear cooperation and proliferation is surprisingly broad. Even assistance that is often viewed as innocuous, such as training nuclear scientists or providing research or power reactors, increases the likelihood that nuclear weapons will spread. "Proliferation-proof" nuclear assistance does not exist. With a renaissance in nuclear power on the horizon, major suppliers, including the United States, should reconsider their willingness to assist other countries in developing peaceful nuclear programs.


"Peaceful nuclear cooperation-the transfer of nuclear technology, materials, or know-how from one state to another for peaceful purposes-leads to the spread of nuclear weapons."

""Proliferation-proof" nuclear assistance does not exist."

The dieting analogy is a good one

I think the difference between us could largely be that I recently spent years in an academic setting under the tutelage of a world class expert specifically studying the nature of a transition away from carbon. Consequently my view is highly structured and when a new piece of information comes in, I might have a deeper appreciation of its degree of relevance to the problem than is typical for most participants here.

I can understand pessimism and worry - in fact I share all the worry and some of the pessimism. However I see a great deal of room for optimism also. This is a massive piece of infrastructure we are tackling, and changing the direction of the inertia is consequently a massive undertaking. My pessimism crawls our from under the bed and rears its head anytime I read of attempts at addressing the problem through political cooperation. The opposition began organizing after the '92 Earth Summit and by the time Kyoto was ratified at the UN that opposition had put in place the machinery to largely thwart further coordinated political action.

But the war isn't only being fought on the political front; there is also an economic battle underway and there we are winning hands down. We haven't achieved victory yet, but the entrenched global energy system is now starting to crumble. They may be able to engage in a stalling action, but the outcome is inevitable given the dynamics on the table.

The change may therefore still be far slower than those who see the need for it yesterday are comfortable with. But what I see of our position is self-reinforcing cycle where every retrenchment of the fossil industry leads to an expansion of market position for renewables and distributed energy systems. At some point a critical mass of new economic winners will be achieved and the political wall that the fossil/nuclear industry giants have erected will crumble. After that, all bets are off as to the pace of change possible for the transition.

We are seeing a sample of that right now with the investment by China in solar. That single economic shift moved us 20 years ahead on global solar deployment.

To paraphrase a quip from the religious community*, the greatest trick the entrenched energy powers ever played was convincing the public that a renewable system can't replace them.

*The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people he doesn't exist.

I'm a pastafarian, btw.

Postcard from the Future: 122% Wind Power in Denmark

Postcard from the Future: 122% Wind Power in Denmark

America's Power Plan
December 11, 2013

Renewable electricity records are falling every day. In early October, Germany recently hit a 59 percent renewable peak, Colorado utility Xcel Energy peaked at 60 percent wind at the beginning of the year, and Spain got its top power supply from wind for three months leading into 2013.

But that’s chump change compared with Denmark. According to data from Energinet, the national grid operator, wind power has produced 30 percent of gross power consumption to date in 2013. This includes over 90 hours where wind produced more than all of Denmark’s electricity needs, peaking at 122 percent on October 28, at 2:00 a.m.

And Denmark has plans to get to 50 percent more wind by 2020, creating even bigger hourly peaks. Energinet predicts the country may hit as many as1,000 hours per year of power surplus.

To champions of renewables, this is validation that a clean energy future is possible and that the transition is already underway. These regions also give insight into what is to come in the U.S., and what needs to change to keep a reliable and affordable power system as clean energy grows....


About the source, "America's Power Plan"

Our nation’s electricity system is undergoing a rapid transformation. Market forces — driven by demand for cleaner, more efficient energy and technological innovation — are redefining America’s power sector. Yet these forces are being hindered by policies designed for the last century's technologies.

America’s Power Plan examines the challenges facing the country’s electric power system and proposes policy and market-design solutions. More than 150 top energy experts have contributed to this project, offering innovative recommendations on utility business models, finance, distributed generation, distributed energy sources, market design, transmission and siting.

Find out more at: http://www.americaspowerplan.com/

Naoto Kan demands anti-nuclear LDP politicians make their views public

Naoto Kan demands anti-nuclear LDP politicians make their views public
Friday, 13 December, 2013, 2:11am
Julian Ryall in Tokyo

Naoto Kan

Naoto Kan, the former Japanese prime minister who has become a vigorous campaigner against nuclear power, yesterday called on members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who share his convictions to state them openly.

Leader of the nation on March 11, 2011, when a massive earthquake struck northeast Japan and triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, Kan stepped down in August of that year and has since travelled the globe promoting his vision of a world that does not require nuclear energy.

Even though he is no longer in government, after his Democratic Party of Japan suffered a drubbing in a general election last December, Kan continues to push his belief that humankind cannot completely control nuclear energy and that we therefore need to harness power from renewable sources to ensure our future.

Many people in Japan share that opinion, he believes, including a substantial proportion of the LDP. But they are being prevented from speaking their minds, he charges.

"I would say that more than 50 per cent of LDP members share my position on nuclear energy," Kan said ...


NRG CEO Crane: Power grid will soon be 'last resort'

Remember that if you are a DUEE regular reader, you heard years ago that we were on this trajectory.
NRG CEO: Power grid will soon be 'last resort'

By Ethan Howland Dec. 11, 2013 |

Dive Brief:
- In a few years, most power will come from distributed sources and the centralized power grid will become a "last resort," according to David Crane, NRG Energy's president and CEO.

- Utility power sales have entered an “inexorable decline,” the "massive excess capacity" needed to meet peak demand "will become unnecessary" and the need for new power plants and transmission infrastructure "will be eliminated," Crane posits.

- Crane says three trends will lead consumers to stop buying power from utilities: cheap rooftop solar, automated conservation and extreme weather.

- But Crane sees a possible compromise between utilities and their customers on solar. Utilities should buy back excess supply that coincides with peak use, instead of offering average power supply costs, Crane said. Solar customers should pay for grid use at night or on cloudy days.


In case you're wondering what the "Dive Brief" is about.
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