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France's EDF reviews Hinkley Point nuclear power plant costs

France's EDF reviews Hinkley Point nuclear power plant costs
By RFI Issued on 26-06-2017

EDF is carrying out a "full review" of the costs and schedule of Britain's controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the French energy giant said on Monday.

The project to build Britain's first new nuclear plant in a generation, awarded to a French-Chinese consortium, has been dogged by controversies, with Britain's National Audit Office (NAO) warning on Friday that the government had committed to a "risky and expensive" deal.


France's Le Monde newspaper on Saturday said the "first conclusions" of the review pointed to building costs overrunning the 21 billion euros budget by one to three billion euros.

The NAO, which audits British public spending, said on Friday that the price guaranteed to EDF under the deal could add an extra €34 billion to energy bills of UK customers.


Quit defending Obamacare! Lets fix it by moving toward a single-payer system

SUNDAY, JUL 2, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Hey, Democrats: Quit defending Obamacare! Let’s fix it — by moving toward a single-payer system
Obamacare was a historic accomplishment. But single-payer or a "robust" public option are now achievable goals

I’ve spent my life in politics, and the health care bill Mitch McConnell appears so desperate to revive is the single worst piece of legislation I’ve ever read. I say “appears” because I still can’t quite believe he wants to pass it. Its actual enactment would threaten his Senate majority as surely as it would the health of tens of millions of Americans. McConnell’s judgment is so clouded by partisanship and ideology one can easily see how he’d be blind to the bill’s moral dimensions. What’s harder to accept is that so sly a political fox wouldn’t sniff the enormous risk.


This fight feels like a reprise of the Democrats’ 2016 presidential campaign, heavy on moralizing, light on detail. Now as then, the words Democrats live by — “Why take a chance?” and “Don’t scare the donors” — leave them precious little to say. Sixty percent of Americans favor single-payer health care. Zero percent of Democratic leaders in Congress stand with them. The only other practical way to cut costs is a public option. Democrats only whisper its name. Why risk getting lost in the policy weeds or ruffling the feathers of their sometime allies in the insurance industry?


In 2008, candidate Barack Obama backed a public option and opposed a mandate that would force people to purchase insurance. He observed drily, and correctly, that the main reason most people don’t buy health care is because they can’t afford it. His chief primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, promised the opposite: a mandate but no public option. Obama made other related promises, among them that he’d allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. He even vowed to let C-SPAN cameras into heretofore secret health care negotiations.

In office, Obama reversed himself. In early 2009, in meetings to which he forgot to invite C-SPAN, he made private pacts with leaders of the insurance and drug industries. He dropped negotiated drug prices and the public option, and picked up Clinton’s mandate. Experts said he needed it to pay for the whole thing. But it also guaranteed insurers permanent, expanded control of the “market.” According to his own analysts, he thus passed on the two greatest sources of savings in his entire plan.

The fatal flaw of the Affordable Care Act is that it costs too much....


Bill Curry was White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut. He is at work on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism.

McKinsey: Cheaper batteries present imminent threat of load defection for utilities

McKinsey: Cheaper batteries present imminent threat of load defection for utilities
AUTHOR Peter Maloney@TopFloorPower
June 30, 2017

Dive Brief:

Continued energy storage cost declines present a growing threat of disruption for utility business models, a new study from McKinsey & Co. finds.

The study reports energy storage is already economical for many commercial customers at today’s prices and that with the paring back of incentives such as net metering in many states, combining solar power with energy storage is beginning to be attractive for some households.

Continued cost declines are moving energy storage from niche applications, such as grid balancing, to broader uses such as replacing conventional power generators for reliability, providing power-quality services, and supporting renewables integration, according to McKinsey.

Dive Insight:

Energy storage prices are falling faster than anyone expected, with battery costs down to less than $230/kWh in 2016 from almost $1,000/kWh in 2010, McKinsey noted.

The cost declines are being driven by a growing market for consumer electronics and demand for electric vehicles. In addition, companies in Asia, Europe, and the United States are building large factories to scale up for expected demand for lithium-ion batteries...

McKinsey report in full:
June 2017
Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector
By David Frankel and Amy Wagner



net energy metering (NEM) refers to rules that allow excess power to be sold back to the grid at retail rates; and feed-in tariffs, which are guaranteed price adders for renewable power, have played an important role in expanding the global market for renewables. In the US states that have implemented such rules, NEM has proved to be a powerful incentive for consumers to install solar panels.

Would you like to learn more about our Electric Power & Natural Gas Practice?
Although it has been helpful for solar, NEM also has put utilities under pressure. It reduces demand because consumers make their own energy; that increases rates for the rest, as there are fewer bill payors to cover the fixed investment in the grid, which still provides backup reliability for the solar customers. The solar customers are paying for their own energy but not paying for the full reliability of being connected to the grid. The utilities’ response has been to design rates that reduce the incentive to install solar by moving to time-of-use pricing structures, implementing demand charges, or trying to reduce how much they pay customers for the electricity they produce that is exported to the grid.

However, in a low-cost storage environment, these rate structures are unlikely to be effective at mitigating load losses. This is because adding storage allows customers to shift solar generation away from exports to cover more of their own electricity needs; as a result, they continue to receive close to the full retail value of their solar generation. This presents a risk for widespread partial grid defection, in which customers choose to stay connected to the grid in order to have access to 24/7 reliability, but generate 80 to 90 percent of their own energy and use storage to optimize their solar for their own consumption.

We are already seeing this begin to play out in places where electricity costs are high and solar is widely available, such as Australia and Hawaii. On the horizon, it could occur in other solar-friendly markets, such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York (Exhibit 2). Many utility executives and industry experts thought the risk of load loss was overblown in the context of solar; the combination of solar plus storage, however, makes it much more difficult to defend against.



Much more, including discussion of how stacking the value derived from multiple uses of the same system works to make behind the meter storage more enticing. It includes a chart showing various applications for battery storage and the general value of those uses...

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works. And Elon Musk May Add 4 More

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works. And Elon Musk May Add 4 More
Could a gigafactory glut lead to oversupply?

by Jason Deign
June 29, 2017

Gigafactory announcements have been trending in recent months, with plans for at least 10 new plants revealed in the last six months. Half a dozen have been planned in the last month alone.

In Germany, for example, the Daimler subsidiary Accumotive laid the foundation for a $550 million plant designed to take annual lithium-ion battery production from its current level of 80,000 units up to around 320,000.


The most aggressive gigafactory plans, however, remain with the company that came up with the concept. Tesla’s Elon Musk has said he will announce “probably four” new gigafactories this year. One has long been slated for Europe, and another has been confirmed to be in the works in Shanghai, China.

The recent announcements follow at least five gigafactory proposals put forward for Europe before the end of last year, including facilities in Sweden, Hungary and Poland. Not all the new plants will focus on lithium-ion batteries, though.

More at https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/10-battery-gigafactories-are-now-in-progress-and-musk-may-add-4-more?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

The top 10 trends transforming the electric power sector

The top 10 trends transforming the electric power sector
From the decline of coal power to the rise of energy storage, big changes are taking hold in the industry
Gavin Bade
Sept. 17, 2015
By now, it’s become cliché to suggest that the utility industry is on the brink of a massive transformation.

Analysts told us this would happen — the traditional electric utility model would be upended, and utilities would need to adjust their business models to operate in a new energy future. Now, with plummeting prices for renewables and energy storage, the finalization of the nation's first carbon regulations, and the proliferation of distributed energy resources, changes are taking hold faster than many expected. The electric sector is no longer simply anticipating a revolution — depending on where you are, it is embroiled in one today.

To help guide you through the uncertain waters of the industry, we have identified ten trendlines that are shaping the future of the power sector. The selection isn’t meant to be exhaustive, nor are we trying to rank one trend over another, but we hope the following list shows where we see the industry going.


8. Renewables reaching grid parity

For years, the primary argument against renewable energy was that it isn’t cost effective. Today, that line of reasoning is becoming increasingly obsolete. In many regions, wind and solar — especially at utility scale — are reaching grid parity and often pricing out more traditional generation resources.

For renewable energy observers, this trend isn’t new to 2015....

7. Utilities face growing load defection...


1. Utility business models are changing...


New Brattle study touts flexible grid, dismisses 'baseload' hype

New Brattle study touts flexible grid, dismisses 'baseload' hype

Robert Walton
June 27, 2017

Dive Brief:

A report prepared by the Brattle Group for the Natural Resources Defense Council outlines the myriad reasons some coal and nuclear plants are considering retirement and cautions against focusing on the plants' so-called "baseload" attributes.
Instead, Brattle's report suggests system planners focus on developing a framework that accurately defines and measures system needs and consider a wider range of resources to power the grid.

The new report is one of several released recently addressing the United States' grid operation, energy markets and power mix. They come ahead of a highly-anticipated study the U.S. Department of Energy is developing, addressing whether clean energy policies threatening reliability by forcing coal and nuclear plants offline.

Dive Insight:

While Brattle's report has suggestions for policymakers and extensive explanations of why older plants are struggling, the report's real mission is one of diction.

"Overall, this report explains that the use of the term 'baseload' generation is no longer helpful for purposes of planning and operating today??s electricity system," the authors wrote. "As some of the coal and nuclear plants face retirement decisions, focusing on their status as 'baseload' generation is not a useful perspective for ensuring the cost-effective and reliable supply of electricity."


more at: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-brattle-study-touts-flexible-grid-dismisses-baseload-hype/445880/

2015: Origins of Russian Social Media Propaganda ... Material from the Troll Factory

Yle Kioski Traces the Origins of Russian Social Media Propaganda – Never-before-seen Material from the Troll Factory

We followed the operations of the secretive so called troll factory in Saint Petersburg on the spot for three days.

Troll. TROLL.
Everyone having discussions on the Internet knows the word.
It means a person who annoys and provokes others participating in web discussions on purpose.
In Russia, this word of web slang has a new meaning: a troll is an employee who is paid to post ingratiating comments in the social media about president Vladimir Putin anonymously and often aggressively.
The company that is funded by Russian businessmen has not commented on the information. The connection of the troll factory with the Kremlin has not been proved but, then again, there is no proof about all the forms of information warfare, in general.
We studied the job advertisements of the Internet Research Agency. On 2 February, there were ten of them on a Russian job website. The company is not looking for “trolls” but, for example, “social media specialists”, “Internet operators”, “content managers”, and “copywriters” for day and night shifts....


Sweden's carbon capture method for cement is rather unique...

Cement production, it turns out, is a major source of carbon dioxide. It also happens to be a top industry in Sweden.

So the country is at a crossroads—how does it keep creating one of the most widely used materials in the world, while also bringing emissions to zero?

The answer: algae.

Nestled in the quaint village of Degerhamn, Sweden, a cement factory called Cementa (owned by the international conglomerate HeidelbergCement) is implementing a new initiative that uses algae from the nearby Baltic Sea to capture the factory's carbon dioxide emissions before the gas enters the atmosphere.

Cement is composed largely of limestone, a substance that, when heated, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition, fossil fuels are burned in the process of heating the limestone, emitting even more carbon dioxide.

The process that Cementa uses is simple. First, water from the Baltic is pumped into large bags that can hold about 800 gallons of liquid. Then, nutrients are added to multiply the algae. Finally, the liquid is mixed with the factory's waste and left to sit in the sunlight, which gradually absorbs all the carbon.

This system was created...


Not mentioned in the article is the various uses for algae - biodiesel being one I have a lot of hope for as a major future player in the heavy lift transportation sector.

Hooking EVs to Grid Could Power Buildings, Improve Vehicle Battery Life

Hooking Electric Cars to Grid Could Power Buildings, Improve Vehicle Battery Life
Mon, 06/19/2017 - 3:09pm 6 Comments
by Seth Augenstein - Senior Science Writer - @SethAugenstein

The traditional thinking on electric cars: they are hooked up to the power grid to charge, continually replenishing their advanced batteries.

But reversing that flow of energy from vehicles back into the grid could not only power large buildings – it could even improve the cars’ battery life, contends a new study in the journal Energy.

Taking excess energy from an idle electric vehicle actually improves the battery life, based on an algorithm developed by scientists at the University of Warwick.

“Not only is vehicle-to-grid and effective solution for grid support – and subsequently a tidy revenue stream – but we have shown that there is a real possibility of extending the lifetime of traction batteries in tandem,” said Kotub Uddin, the leader of the team, which included engineers from Jaguar Land Rover.

The complex factors that weaken and degrade advanced lithium ion batteries ...



Study was Open Access funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

On the possibility of extending the lifetime of lithium-ion batteries through optimal V2G facilitated by an integrated vehicle and smart-grid system

Kotub Uddina, , , Tim Jacksona, Widanalage D. Widanagea, Gael Chouchelamaneb, Paul A. Jenningsa, James Marcoa


Under a Creative Commons license
Open Access


Long term ageing data collected for battery spanning wide range of conditions.

Battery degradation model developed and validated using 6 diverse usage cycles.

Smart-grid shown to extend the life of battery beyond no V2G case.

Case study shows reduction in capacity fade by 9.1% and power fade by 12.1%.

Renewable energies are a key pillar of power sector decarbonisation. Due to the variability and uncertainty they add however, there is an increased need for energy storage. This adds additional infrastructure costs to a degree that is unviable: for an optimal case of 15 GW of storage by 2030, the cost of storage is circa: £1000/kW. A promising solution to this problem is to use the batteries contained within electric vehicles (EVs) equipped with bi-directional charging systems to facilitate ancillary services such as frequency regulation and load balancing through vehicle to grid (V2G) technologies. Some authors have however dismissed V2G as economically unviable claiming the cost of battery degradation is larger than arbitrage. To thoroughly address the viability of V2G technologies, in this work we develop a comprehensive battery degradation model based on long-term ageing data collected from more than fifty long-term degradation experiments on commercial C6/LiNiCoAlO2 batteries. The comprehensive model accounts for all established modes of degradation including calendar age, capacity throughput, temperature, state of charge, depth of discharge and current rate. The model is validated using six operationally diverse real-world usage cycles and shows an average maximum transient error of 4.6% in capacity loss estimates and 5.1% in resistance rise estimates for over a year of cycling. This validated, comprehensive battery ageing model has been integrated into a smart grid algorithm that is designed to minimise battery degradation. We show that an EV connected to this smart-grid system can accommodate the demand of the power network with an increased share of clean renewable energy, but more profoundly that the smart grid is able to extend the life of the EV battery beyond the case in which there is no V2G. Extensive simulation results indicate that if a daily drive cycle consumes between 21% and 38% state of charge, then discharging 40%–8% of the batteries state of charge to the grid can reduce capacity fade by approximately 6% and power fade by 3% over a three month period. The smart-grid optimisation was used to investigate a case study of the electricity demand for a representative University office building. Results suggest that the smart-grid formulation is able to reduce the EVs' battery pack capacity fade by up to 9.1% and power fade by up to 12.1%.


Is the Powell Memo plan for locked-in corporate control of the US coming to fruition?

The idea of Kennedy retiring, allowing Trump to appoint a Fifth Horseman, sent me to review the Powell Memo from 1971.

Links to commentary and original text:
The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations
In this excerpt from Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, authors Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explain the significance of the Powell Memorandum, a call-to-arms for American corporations written by Virginia lawyer (and future U.S. Supreme Court justice) Lewis Powell to a neighbor working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

On August 23, 1971, less than two months before he was nominated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. mailed a confidential memorandum to his friend Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., Chair of the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memo was titled Attack On American Free Enterprise System and outlined ways in which business should defend and counter attack against a "broad attack" from "disquieting voices." ...

The Lewis Powell Memo: A Corporate Blueprint to Dominate Democracy
Written in 1971 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Lewis Powell Memo was a blueprint for corporate domination of American Democracy.

The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto)

The Powell Memo was first published August 23, 1971

In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

Most notable about these institutions was their focus on education, shifting values, and movement-building — a focus we share, though often with sharply contrasting goals.* (See our endnote for more on this.)
So did Powell’s political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions. On social issues, he was a moderate, whose votes often surprised his backers...


If you don't understand yet that the fundamental challenge we face is rooted in control of the nation's economic system, I beseech you to take a hard look at the GOP health care plan and then read the articles above.
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