Sonnenschiff: Solar City Produces 4X the Energy it Consumes http://inhabitat.com/sonnenschiff-solar-city-produces-4x-the-energy-it-needs/ by Andrew Michler, 07/27/11 Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany is very much net positive. The self-sustaining city accomplishes this feat through smart solar design and lots and lots of photovoltaic panels pointed in the right direction. It seems like a simple strategy — but designers often incorporate solar installations as an afterthought, or worse, as a label. Designed by Rolf Disch, the Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village) emphasize power production from the start by smartly incorporating a series of large rooftop solar arrays that double as sun shades. The buildings are also built to Passivhaus standards, which allows the project to produce four times the amount of energy it consumes!
Renewables seen as Ukraine’s road to energy independence from Russia http://rt.com/business/ukraine-seeks-renewable-energy-396/ April 18, 2014 As a way of becoming less reliant on Russian conventional energy Ukraine is talking to US investors who want to put money into alternative energy like wind and solar.
“Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine indeed brought energy security concerns to the fore,” as Bloomberg quotes Olexander Motsyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US said at a renewable-energy conference in Washington on Thursday. “I strongly believe the time has come for US investors to discover Ukraine, especially its energy.”
To get away from Russian natural gas as the primary source for heat and electric power, Ukraine seeks wants to invest in biomass heat plants, wind and solar power.
US and European officials have been trying to find ways to help Ukraine limit its dependence, including the possibility of US approval to export liquefied natural gas.
Vadym Glamazdin, the managing director of the Energy Industry Research Center (EIRC) suggests heating in Ukraine accounts for about 40 percent of all gas imported from Russia. This could be replaced with renewable energy within three to five years.
According to his words by 2030, renewables could account for about 15 percent of Ukraine’s electricity supply, currently it is only 2 percent.
The EIRC research shows that the most likely and adoptable form of renewable energy for Ukraine are biomass and biogas, as the nation’s network of electric-power lines and substations can’t easily adjust to the addition of significant amounts of wind and solar energy.
“The resources are there,” now the major challenge is to attract investment, Todd Foley, a senior vice president for policy and government relations at the American Council on Renewable Energy said.
One biomass plant could replace 24,000 natural gas boilers EIRC officials said.
Czechs pull plug on nuclear expansion, The Economist Apr 16th 2014 by B.C. | PRAGUE More than five years of international intrigue went out with a whimper on April 10th as Czech utility company ČEZ officially cancelled the planned expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant (120 km south of Prague in the South Bohemia region)—the project undone by a collapse in market electricity prices and hard-learned lessons from a botched state energy scheme in years past.
The plan had called for adding two reactors to the existing two at Temelín (a second Czech nuclear plant, Dukovany, operates four reactors). The price tag was an estimated $15 billion, and the project made less and less sense as the wholesale price of electricity fell. Prices are now less than half what they were when bidding on the contract began in 2009. For much of that time the tender process was viewed through a cold war lens with the two final bidders being the American firm Westinghouse (now a division of the Japanese conglomerate Toshiba) and a consortium leadby Russia’s state-owned Atomstroyexport. The American and Russian ambassadors openly lobbied on behalf of their favoured firms and the companies themselves tried to outdo one another by signing highly contingent contracts with local suppliers to sweeten their offers…….
“There is absolutely no appetite from the state to get involved in something new like this now,” said David Marek, chief economist with Patria Finance, a Prague-based investment bank…….. the widespread perception that the Temelín project was doomed to be a financial failure, saw ČEZ stock surge on the announcement that the nuclear project was cancelled. Such are power politics. http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2014/04/power-plant-failures
French nuclear watchdog singles out 3 plants for safety shortfall By Michel Rose PARIS, April 16 (Reuters) - France’s nuclear watchdog singled out three of EDF’s 19 nuclear power stations for having a below-average safety performance in its annual safety report, which also asked for more enforcement powers such as the ability to impose fines….. There were 127 level-1 incidents on the 7-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) in France in 2013, ASN said, and two level-2 incidents.
Level-1 incidents are minor procedural infringements and level-2 incidents can refer to cases of minor exposure to radiation…….
The watchdog also mentioned shortfalls in terms of radiation protection at Cattenom near the German border and in terms of impact on the environment at Belleville in the Loire valley, Chooz near Belgium, and Chinon.
Chevet said the ASN needed a more graduated array of sanction powers on operators such as EDF.
The watchdog can at anytime stop operations at a nuclear plant if it considers it presents a danger for the public and can also issue public warnings, but Chevet said an ability to impose fines for each day of safety breaches would be useful.
“We clearly lack intermediary sanction tools, for when shortfalls last for one, two, three years, but don’t require a shutdown of the plant,” he said.
The presentation to parliament of a much-delayed energy transition bill planned in July could be the opportunity to introduce such powers, he added. (Reporting by Michel Rose. Editing by Jane Merriman) http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/16/france-nuclear-safety-idINL6N0N74K120140416
Chernobyl Sarcophagus Jeapordised by Crisis in Ukraine, Sourceable, 15 April 14, The political crisis in Ukraine is severely hampering efforts to build a new radioactive containment structure over the site of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Efforts to build an immense steel mausoleum to house the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown site are being stymied by the Ukrainian crisis, as channels of funding dry up amidst the country’s political upheaval.
Work on the New Safe Confinement arch (NSC) project first commenced in 2010, with the goal of containing the radioactive contamination produced by Chernobyl for at least a century into the future.
While the project was originally scheduled for completion by 2015, Ukrainian officials now concede that it will be impossible to meet the original timeline as a result of political turmoil, while others question whether or not construction will ever be completed.
The Ukrainian government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are footing the hefty $2.1 billion bill for the project. The political crisis in Ukraine has left the country starved of cash, however, while also scaring off donor nations and foreign investors.
“In our financial analysis we are of course making the working assumption that it will not receive any money from Ukraine in the near term,” said Vince Novak, director of nuclear safety at the EBRD to trade publication NuclearEngineering……….http://sourceable.net/chernobyl-sarcophagus-jeapordised-by-crisis-in-ukraine/
After Ukraine, Countries That Border Russia Start Thinking About Nuclear Deterrents, NewsWeek, By Elisabeth Braw / April 15, 2014“………In a new report, Doran and several co-authors, including The Economist’s Europe editor Edward Lucas, argue that since Russia violated international treaties by annexing Crimea, NATO can renege on its promise not to base nuclear weapons in former Warsaw Pact states……
Electricity Prices Fall In Europe As German Renewable Energy Output Increases http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/04/electricity-prices-fall-europe-german-renewable-energy-increases/ Gina-Marie Cheeseman | Tuesday April 15th, 2014 For the fifth consecutive month, electricity prices in countries neighboring Germany have decreased, recently released Platts data reveals, due in large part to increased solar and wind generation in Germany.
The Platts Continental Power Index (CONT), described as a “demand-weighted base load average of day-ahead contracts assessed in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” dropped steadily in early 2014. The index decreased to €35.06 (or about $48.50) per megawatt hour in March, an 18 percent drop from February. Overall, the index is down by more than 39 percent since peaking at €50.50/MWh in November of last year.
“A mid-March surge in German wind output followed seven days of peak solar output, which rose above 20 gigawatts (GW) to a new monthly record of 23 GW on March 20,” Andreas Franke, Platts managing editor of European power and gas said in a news release.
“German power prices for March 16 delivery turned negative as wind power output rose above 24 GW combined with stronger solar production,” Franke continued. “Further along the curve, German year-ahead power prices fell below €34/MWh in March for the first time in more than nine years as the price CO2 fell drastically and coal prices retreated.”
Germany currently gets about 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy, and the goal is to increase that number to at least 80 percent by 2050. German wind and solar output for the first three months of 2014 increased by 40 percent — or 6.5 terawatt-hours — compared with last year, according to the Platts data. Wind power increased 31 percent from the first quarter of 2013, while solar power increased 74 percent from more than a year earlier. Germany’s combined wind and solar portfolio is more than 70 gigawatts, making them the country’s largest sources of power when measured by installed capacity.
Data for the past three years from the Fraunhofer Institute shows that wind and solar power generation increased, while energy generation from natural gas fired power plants decreased significantly. Solar and wind power generation in Germany in 2013 increased by 36 percent in export surplus from 2012 levels. Photovoltaic power also increased by 44 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Reuters reported last week that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved a reform measure for the country’s renewable energy law. The reform measure “will slow the growth of green energy…and force new investors in green power to take some risk,” according to Reuters. The German government wants to keep electricity affordable while allowing the renewable energy sector to grow. And growth in renewables is something that the government wants. Under the reform measure, the government wants to increase renewable energy generation to 40 to 45 percent of total electricity production by 2025 and 55 to 60 percent by 2035.
Five interesting stories about Trident http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/04/five-interesting-stories-about-trident/
1. Strikes at Faslane
In March, hundreds of workers at the Faslane naval base staged theirfirst walkout in 42 years, following negotiations over pay. Faslane is home to the UK’s Vanguard-class nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines. The Scotsman reported that employees responsible for fitting out boats and loading weapons were involved in the action. The Unite union said that further stoppages were planned, as well as a work to rule and ban on overtime.
2. Top Tory says No James Arbuthnot, veteran chairman of the Defence Select Committee, has publicly questioned the logic of replacing Trident. In a recent interview with the Guardian he stated, “Nuclear deterrence does not provide the certainty that it seemed to in the past. It’s not an insurance policy, it is a potential booby trap.”
Despite voting for replacement in 2007, Arbuthnot referred to Trident at the time as ‘of doubtful usefulness’.
3. Resignations at AWE Burghfield
In January, junior defence minister Anna Soubry confirmed that 44 Ministry of Defence Police officers based at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Burghfield were subject to a major misconduct investigation. AWE Burghfield hosts facilities in which the UK’s nuclear weapons are built and maintained. Seven officers resigned during the course of the investigation, with some media reporting that a number had missed patrols due to being ‘asleep’.
4. UK’s youth disapprove
A recent ComRes survey suggests that younger people are opposed to like-for-like Trident replacement. Of the respondents, only 19 per cent of those aged 18-35 supported renewing Trident at its current size and capacity (this compared to 33 per cent of over 35s). The poll was commissioned by WMD Awareness, who launched this campaign last week to get the UK’s youth debating nuclear weapons.
5. Radioactive leaks in Caithness
In March, Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond demanded an apology for failing to be informed for over two years about problems with a submarine test reactor. This was in response to defence secretary Philip Hammond’s confirmation that “low levels of radioactivity were detected in a prototype core” at the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment at Dounreay, Caithness, in 2012. These kinds of spats suggest nuclear defence will continue to be an issue in the Scottish independence campaign.
The above stories touch on some major problems with Trident: it’s unpopular, politically contentious, and the system relies on shaky security arrangements. Anyone for abandoning it?
- David Cameron gives nuclear test veterans glimmer of hope after our 12-year campaign for justice
- Apr 12, 2014 Prime Minister has promised to investigate setting up a £25 million health fund for descendants of those exposed to genetic suffering genetic defects
David Cameron has at last given hope to families of nuclear test veterans after a 12-year Sunday Mirror campaign for justice.
The Prime Minister has promised to investigate setting up a £25million health fund for descendants suffering genetic defects passed down by servicemen exposed to 1950s blasts.
He will also look at offering personal thanks to the veterans and recognising their sacrifice with a medal.
Campaigners say the breakthrough at a half-hour meeting is the closest they have been to formal recognition of the suffering caused by the South Pacific explosions.
It came days after the Sunday Mirror called for the PM to recognise the plight ofchildren like 15-month-old Ella Denson, who was born with a deformity linked to her great-grandad Eric Denson’s exposure to radiation on Christmas Island in 1958.
The meeting between Mr Cameron and Tory MP John Baron last Wednesday was the first time the veterans have had their case put forward to any prime minister.
Mr Baron, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, told the PM descendants had 10 times the normal rate of birth defects, their wives had elevated rates of miscarriage, and no other veterans’ group had suffered harm which spread down the generations.
A New Zealand study found veterans’ genes had three times the damage of Chernobyl survivors. The tests have never been repeated here.
Scientists say effects could last for 20 generations.
As Mr Cameron listened, Ella, of Morden, South London, was recovering from her latest hospital admission to deal with her severe defect. She was born with two tubes to a kidney instead of one and needs daily antibiotics to stop infection before having surgery at three.
At the weekend she was rushed to hospital for the third time in her short life. Her brother Jamie and mum Kimberley have teeth deformities.
Ella’s great-gran Shirley Denson, 79, had four daughters with bomb veteran husband Eric and has seen more than a third of his descendants suffer.
She said: “I pray the Prime Minister does the right thing, for the sake of my Ella and all the thousands like her.”
Eric was one of 22,000 men ordered to witness the detonation of nuclear bombs between 1952 and 1967.
He later suffered crippling headaches and killed himself in 1976. Fewer than 3,000 veterans survive.
France, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China and even the Isle of Man recognise and compensate test veterans. The MoD has always insisted no harm befell the men.
Mr Baron said: “The meeting with Mr Cameron was constructive. He is going to get back to me.”
CEZ Cancels $10 Billion Nuclear Tender on Unfavorable Economics, EU Policy, WSJ Company Targets New Expansion, Modernization Strategy by Year-End By SEAN CARNEY April 10, 2014 PRAGUE—Czech power company CEZ AS BAACEZ.PR +2.93% Thursday abruptly canceled its $10 billion tender for two new nuclear reactors one year ahead of the planned 2015 deadline to pick the winner, leaving the U.S. and Russian companies that had made it to the final round of bidding empty-handed…….It said plans to double the size of its Temelin nuclear power plant didn’t now make sense economically…..
The cancellation of the tender is a blow to the companies that had made it into the final round of bidding—Russia’s state-owned Rosatom and Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Electric Co, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp.
France’s Areva SA was originally in the final round but in 2012 was excluded from the bidding due to commercial and legal flaws in its offer, according to CEZ…….
Westinghouse officials said they were unhappy with the decision, a sentiment echoed by the U.S. government.
“[We are] deeply disappointed by the decision to cancel the tender,” said American Ambassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen. “As close friends and allies we also have fears what signals this could send to American and international investors.” …….http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303603904579493122292748700
French prosecutor probes Areva buy of Canadian miner https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/french-prosecutor-probes-areva-buy-084747257.html France’s financial prosecutor has opened a preliminary probe into state-controlled nuclear giant Areva’s controversial 2007 purchase of a Canadian uranium miner, a judicial source said Thursday.
The probe focuses on the $2.5 billion (1.8 billion euro) purchase by Areva of UraMin at a height of demand for enriched uranium.
Areva was later forced to revalue its UraMin uranium mines to only 410 million euros.
Canadian media reports have suggested the sale was preceded by suspicious stock trades.
French newspaper Le Monde said France’s Cour des Comptes, which oversees state accounts, had referred the case to prosecutors. It said the Cour des Comptes is to release a report into Areva’s 2006-2012 finances later this month.
Areva’s chief from that period, Anne Lauvergeon, said in a statement Thursday that the deal was “strategic at the time”, noting that it was “submitted and approved by the group’s decision-making bodies”.
Only renewables can create an integrated, competitive EU energy market http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/only-renewables-can-create-integrated-competitive-eu-energy-market-301456 , 9 April 14 The European Commission’s state aid decision on 9 April has put renewable energy support schemes in the firing line, and threatened attainment of the 2030 climate and energy goals, even though renewable energy has created – and not obstructed – competition, writes Martin Schoenberg.
Martin Schoenberg is head of policy atClimate Change Capital, an environmental asset manager and advisor.
Is there really a contradiction between national-level state intervention to promote renewable energy and the internal market for energy? Depends on how you look at it. I would argue there is not. Continue reading
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