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650Bq/Kg of I-131 still measured from sewage sludge of Fukushima


Radioactive sewage sludge storaged at sewage plant. Posted by Fukushima prefectural government. 

This proves for the xth time that something is still fissioning at Fukushima Daiichi, releasing unstoppingly Iodine 131, and that ongoing since 311…..And never mind the theory that it would come from some medical iodine, if it would be the case certainly it would then measure at a much lesser level….

High level of I-131 was measured for 11 days this January in dry sewage sludge, Fukushima prefectural government announced on 2/26/2016.

According to the prefectural government, the sewage plant is in Da-te District of Fukushima prefecture.

The highest density was 648.1 Bq/Kg. It was continuously detected from 1/21 to 1/31/2016. The data of February has not been published yet.

Along with I-131, Cs-134/137 density also increase and became the highest, which was 111 Bq/Kg on the same day when I-131 density became the highest.

Both of the highest densities were detected about 1 week after the rain (57.0 mm) to strongly implies the possibility that the discharged radioactive material is carried by the wind and fall with rain.


March 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

Tepco executives get a taste of citizens’ wrath



Three Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives are now facing criminal prosecution for negligence in failing to anticipate a monster tsunami that cut off electricity and inundated back-up emergency generators, causing a cessation of cooling in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reactors that precipitated three meltdowns in March 2011. How were they to know?

At the time, Tepco kept insisting that the 15-meter-high tsunami was sōteigai (inconceivable), an act of nature that absolved them of all responsibility. And, just in case the public was not buying this grand shirk, malicious rumors disingenuously scapegoated Prime Minister Naoto Kan, in a failed attempt to shift blame to him. Subsequently, Kan has been vindicated while Tepco remains guilty in the court of public opinion.

In mid-2012, Tepco released the results of its own investigation into the nuclear accident and, with unseemly chutzpah, absolved itself of all responsibility. It was so embarrassing in its exculpatory excesses, and thoroughly contradicted by all three of the other major investigations into the Fukushima debacle, that Tepco disavowed this whitewash in October 2012, conceding allegations of numerous failures; this mea culpa was at the insistence of a panel of international experts hired by the utility.

The court case will focus on what could have been done that Tepco knew about to better manage the risks inherent in the operation of nuclear reactors in a seismically active area with a history of devastating tsunami. As much as Tepco would like to paint this as a “black swan” once-in-a-thousand-year event — something of such low probability of occurrence that it would be a costly fool’s game to prepare for it — Tohoku’s tsunami coast was fairly recently battered in 1896 (8.5 magnitude with waves reaching 38.2 meters) and in 1933 (magnitude 8.4 with waves cresting at 28.7 meters). So it would seem that anyone operating a nuclear reactor on that coastline would have looked into the seismicity of the area and prepared accordingly.

In fact, Tepco did so in 2009 when it conducted in-house computer simulations suggesting the possibility of a 15.7-meter tsunami slamming the site of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. That information was actually provided to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) four days prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake, meaning that it was information considered vital enough to submit to the watchdog agency.

Interestingly, in February 2011 the Fukushima reactors were granted an extension to their 40-year operating license, passing a NISA safety review. But NISA was sharply critical of Tepco and called for the urgent replacement and relocation of backup diesel generators that had stress cracks and were located below, and between, the reactors and the ocean, leaving them vulnerable to inundation. In addition, NISA scolded Tepco for its lax safety practices, a clear reference to the 2002 scandal when a whistleblower revealed that the utility had falsified the repair and maintenance records for all of its nuclear reactors.

NISA, as part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, was implicated in the attempted cover-up of that scandal and stands accused of regulatory capture, meaning it was co-opted by the utilities — a watchdog with neither bark nor bite. By not conducting rigorous oversight to ensure safety, NISA is thus also complicit in Tepco’s lack of a culture of safety, pinpointed by three major investigations as a cause of what they declared was a man-made nuclear accident.

Thus one wonders why no bureaucrats are being prosecuted. Haruki Madarame, then chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission, testified in the Diet on Feb. 15, 2012: “Though global safety standards kept on improving, we wasted our time coming up with excuses for why Japan didn’t need to bother meeting them.” He also pointed out that back in the early 1990s, Tepco was told about the risk of a station blackout that might lead to reactor meltdowns and was urged to develop a defense in depth, meaning more backup electricity sources just in case. Tepco stonewalled safety regulators, asserting that the current systems were adequate.

So the nuclear accident at Fukushima was precipitated by natural disaster, but poor risk management and institutionalized complacency about risk were major factors increasing the likelihood of an accident and fumbling crisis response. The myth of 100-percent safety propagated by the “nuclear village” of atomic energy advocates made it taboo to question safety standards and militated against sober risk assessment and robust disaster emergency preparedness.

Not everyone was surprised by the nuclear disaster. In 1975, nuclear chemist Jinzaburo Takagi and others established the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), which ever since has issued regular reports on power plant safety issues. Fukushima was the nightmare scenario that CNIC had long been predicting. In a 1995 interview, Takagi spoke about the risks of a meltdown in the event of multiple failures, as happened in Fukushima in March 2011. He correctly warned about the possibility of large radioactive releases from a meltdown resulting from a breakdown in the emergency core cooling system and the failure of back-up diesel generators.

“It’s inexcusable that a nuclear accident couldn’t be managed because a major event such as the tsunami exceeded expectations,” said Yotaro Hatamura, chariman of the government’s Third Party Panel Investigation Committee, blasting Tepco’s hubris in 2012. He added that risk management means anticipating worst-case scenarios — not wishing risk away.

Hatamura pointed out that the utility was ill-prepared for the crisis, dismissing the possibility of a total loss of power, and that its workers made critical errors in shutting off automated emergency cooling systems and wrongly assumed part of the cooling system was working when it was not. These workers and their managers were inadequately trained to cope with an emergency situation and according to the panel, lacked basic knowledge concerning the emergency reactor cooling system. Their mishandling of emergency procedures contributed to the crisis.

Tepco chose to ignore centuries of geological evidence and failed to act on fresh and compelling evidence about tsunami risk, a blind spot that left the plant needlessly vulnerable. It also successfully lobbied the government’s Earthquake Research Committee on March 3, 2011, to soften a public advisory warning that a massive tsunami could hit the Tohoku coast because it might cause misunderstanding. This PR approach to risk management promoted an unjustified insouciance that cost Japan dearly. Alas, Tepco was also cutting corners, balking at the $1 billion price tag of building a higher seawall to cope with the higher tsunami projections — a bargain in retrospect.

While it is unlikely that the Tepco Three (former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro) will be convicted for irresponsibly minimizing risk in ways that endangered local residents or for cutting costs that compromised public safety, the trial will make the nuclear village squirm as the public revisits the folly of wishing risk away — and understands it is happening all over again.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 2 Comments

Fukushima’s invisible victims


It’s been a while since we last discussed the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown.  That is not for lack of issues; it is primarily for lack of any meaningful progress in the ongoingdisaster.

We have just passed the fifth observance of the first catastrophic day, March 11, 2011 and pretty much all of nuclear safety expert Arnie Gundersen’s grim predictions of what we would learn in the aftermath have come to pass.

What Arnie could not have predicted iin 2011 is how unwilling both TEPCO and Japan’s government officials have been to learn from this disaster, and how persistent the effort would be to suppress important radiological and epidemiological information.

Without accountability, deaths of citizens who lived near the doomed reactors following the triple meltdown have simply been attributed to the stress of evacuation, and supposedly no one has been harmed by radiation.  In an unbelievable extrapolation of a convenient myth, there has been a major government effort, supported by the atomic power industry, to increase allowable levels of radiation exposure and dismiss the need for future costly evacuations as harmful and unnecessary.

It was only a little over a week ago, that anyone in an official position at TEPCO was finally held accountable under the law.   I find it unbelievable that only three individuals can be held responsible for the cascade of unaddressed design flaws, corruption, lax regulation, human error and human arrogance that all contributed to making a bad situation much, much worse.

Now we are learning of an even more egregious breach of the public trust and social justice at Fukushima.

Individuals who have exhibited symptoms of radiation poisoning and other illnesses are apparently being shunned by some of their neighbors and dismissed by the medical establishment without appropriate care and without acknowledgment in their medical records.

This mistreatment specific to radiation victims is apparently not without precedent in Japanese history.

On his current speaking tour of Japan, Arnie Gundersen has had the privilege of speaking with a small group of survivors of the 1945 bombing at Hiroshima who share a unique perspective on what may lie ahead for the people of Fukushima

Hiroshima survivor, Tomiko Matsumoto, 85, recalls being a schoolgirl following that inhuman bombing.  Of the 80 students at her school, only thirty survived the blast.  Tomiko could be said to have been one of the “lucky” ones, but mere survival is a pretty poor kind of ‘luck.’

Still traumatized by the mental and physical horrors of the blast experience, she recalls that there was no proper care provided for the injured who were regarded with suspicion and hostility by their neighbors and callous indifference or unfeeling curiosity by their occupiers, upon whom they depended for any care that they could get.

The discrimination must have been the hardest for a young girl with no surviving family to bear:

“I was shocked because I was discriminated against by Hiroshima people. We lived together in the same place and Hiroshima people know what happened but they discriminated against each other. ..I was shocked.”

“There were so many different kinds of discrimination. People said that girls who survived the bomb shouldn’t get married. Also they refused to hire the survivors, not only because of the scars, but because they were so weak. Survivors did not have 100 percent energy.”

“There was a survivor’s certificate and medical treatment was free. But the other people were jealous. Jealous people, mentally discriminated. So, I didn’t want to show the health book sometimes, so I paid. Some of the people, even though they had the health book, were afraid of discrimination, so they didn’t even apply for the health book. They thought discrimination was worse than paying for health care.”

The mistreatment and insensitivity experienced by survivors continued into Tomiko’s adulthood. She was the victim of employment discrimination and personal shame.

Though she was lucky enough to bear children, both of her daughters are sterile and one suffers from anemia. Doctors have dismissed the possibility that the family’s health issues might be linked to her exposure to radiation from the atomic bomb blast.

It may be precisely because of their uniquely traumatic history of nuclear attack that modern Japanese society is ill-prepared to challenge the current meme being promoted by TEPCO and the Abe government, that no one was harmed by the triple meltdown at Fukushima and there is no cause for concern about using atomic power as an energy source.

Having emerged from beneath the cloud of WWII, they want to view themselves  under the lens of success and progress, not to revisit the shameful legacy of nuclear radiation sickness that they had hoped to leave behind.

Sadly, neither TEPCO nor the Abe government and functionaries right down to the regional level can be trusted to reveal the truth about radiation from Fukushima Daiichi and how it’s shadow has now been irreversibly cast over the Prefecture, marring the future of Japan.

So survivors of Fukushima, like those of Hiroshima before them are left to face unfolding health issues and despair in the friendless vacuum of their own thoughts and care.

(I am pleased to be a non-technical member of the Fairewinds Energy Education crew, but my posts on GMD are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fairewinds.)

Fukushima’s invisible victims

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

26 March latest nuclear news

a-cat-CANWake up World! Belgium terrorist attack shows vulnerability of nuclear facilities. And it’s not just nuclear reactors- it’s ANY nuclear or radioactive facilities.

CLIMATE. Highest in 666 million years – today’s carbon emissions. World Meteorological Organization — Dangerous Climate Future Has Arrived.

NASA and Rosatom want nuclear rockets to take astronauts to Mars.

BELGIUM. Fears that Brussels bombers were plotting to build a radiological dirty bomb. Belgium: nuclear staff refused access following news that terrorists had considered attack on nuclear plant. Military presence increased at Belgium’s nuclear power stations.

GERMANY. Danger of terror attacks on Germany’s nuclear stations


UK.   Taxpayers up for huge liabilities if Hinkley nuclear power project goes ahead? UK govt getting resigned to the likely scrapping of Hinkley Point C nuclear project?  China wants big involvement in construction of Hinkley Point C nuclear station.   Rolls Royce touts “football fields” of mini nuclear reactors for Britain. Cheaper, faster renewable energy will obliterate the prospects for “new nuclear

FRANCE. Years more delay for EDF’s Flamanville nuclear power station. AREVA’s huge loss on Finland nuclear project.

FINLANDRussia funding and building new nuclear power station in Finland.

JAPAN. Nuclear safety too costly for Japan- scraps 6th nuclear reactorToshiba investigated over Westinghouse Accounting. Toshiba to dump its nuclear business, as U.S. units probed? TEPCO refuses to reimburse ¥20.1 billion in claims from Tohoku. TEPCO says 5.3 tons of tainted water leaked at nuclear plant.    Incidences of Thyroid Cancer in Children Rising in Fukushima. FIVE YEARS AFTER: Fukushima thyroid cancer patients’ families join forces. Incineration of radioactive waste begins at Fukushima nuclear plant.

UKRAINE. Disturbing facts about Ukraine’s nuclear power stations. Chernobyl’s anti radiation sarcophagus. Nuclear dump plan for Chernobyl area.

INDIA. Kakrapar radiation leakage highlights need for investigation of All of India’s nuclear reactors. Renewable energy beating nuclear power in India.

SOUTH AFRICA. Once again, access to South Africa’s nuclear documents is denied

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Solar power’s mighty future

text-relevantWe’ve Barely Begun to Tap the Sun’s Mighty Power  By  Mar. 24, 2016 It seems like every few weeks there’s some new measurement of how successful solar power is in the United States. In early March, industry analysts found that solar is poised for its biggest year ever, with total installations growing 119 percent by the end of 2016. This week, federal government analysts reported that in 2015, solar ranked number three (behind wind and natural gas) in megawatts of new electricity-producing capacity brought online. That rank is even more impressive when you consider that each individual solar installation is fewer megawatts than a wind turbine, and far fewer than a natural gas plant; that means solar panels are popping up like crazy across the country.

Which makes you wonder: Is there a limit to that growth? According to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a federal research outfit, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news: Yes, there is a ceiling for solar power in the US. The good news: We’re not even remotely close to reaching it. In other words, solar’s potential has barely been tapped.

The report is the deepest dive on solar’s potential since NREL conducted a similar analysis in 2008. The new report’s estimate is much larger than the older report’s, mostly because of vast new troves of satellite imagery data of the country’s rooftops and computer models that are better able to calculate how much power each panel can produce. The analysis leaves behind policy and cost considerations. Instead, the only question is: How much power could we really get if we slathered every roof in America with solar panels? The answer: About 39 percent of the country’s electricity consumption, at current levels.

It’s important to note that the report looks only at rooftop panels, as opposed to utility-scale solar farms. Utility-scale solar provides about twice as much power as rooftop panels, so the full potential of solar is likely even higher than what NREL describes in this report. Even 39 percent, though, would be a revolutionary change from where we are now; despite solar’s rapid growth in the last several years, it still accounts for less than 1 percent of electricity consumption. Coal, which is still the nation’s number-one energy source, commands about 32 percent of the market. So the future that NREL is envisioning here would basically flip our energy makeup on its head.

The most potential exists in sunny states, obviously, but also in states that have relatively low electricity needs. [good map on original] Again, NREL stresses that the estimates here “provide an upper bound on potential deployment rather than a prediction of actual deployment.” It’s very unlikely that this exact scenario will come to pass. The most recent study by Stanford energy economist Mark Jacobson, who researches ways the US could get 100 percent of its power from renewable sources, sees rooftop solar contributing about 7 percent of total electricity by 2050. And that’s with, as Vox‘s David Roberts put it, “enormous, heroic assumptions about social and political change.”

But hey…we’re dreamers of the golden dream, right?

March 26, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

UN security chief warns on nuclear terrorism

A grapefruit-sized amount of plutonium can be fashioned into a nuclear weapon

a far likelier risk was a “dirty bomb”. This is a device using conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material other than uranium or plutonium.

Such material can be found in small quantities in universities, hospitals and other facilities the world over, often with little security.


UN atomic chief warns on ‘nuclear terrorism’ By Simon Sturdee 26 Mar, Vienna (AFP) – The world needs to do more to prevent “nuclear terrorism”, the head of the UN atomic watchdog has warned ahead of an important summit and in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks.

 “Terrorism is spreading and the possibility of using nuclear material cannot be excluded,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano told AFP in an interview late Thursday.

“Member states need to have sustained interest in strengthening nuclear security,” he said. “The countries which do not recognise the danger of nuclear terrorism is the biggest problem.”

Amano’s comments came before a summit of around 50 leaders in Washington on March 31-April 1 on ensuring that nuclear material in the world’s roughly 1,000 atomic facilities are secured.

Highlighting the risks, in December Belgian police investigating the November 13 Paris terror attacks found 10 hours of video of the comings and goings of a senior Belgian nuclear official. The material, filmed by a camera in bushes outside the official’s home, was reportedly found at the property of Mohamed Bakkali, incarcerated in Belgium for his links to the Paris attackers.

One Belgian newspaper reported that the device was collected by none other than brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui — two of the suicide bombers in this week’s Brussels attacks.

– Grapefruit-sized –

The Washington summit is part of a process begun by US President Barack Obama in a speech in Prague in 2009 and follows similar gatherings in Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014.

Major progress has been made, with countries reducing stockpiles of nuclear material, experts say. Japan for example is this month returning to the US enough plutonium to make 50 nuclear bombs.

But according to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium still exist to make 20,000 weapons of the magnitude that levelled Hiroshima in 1945.

A grapefruit-sized amount of plutonium can be fashioned into a nuclear weapon, and according to Amano it is “not impossible” that extremists could manage to make a “primitive” device — if they got hold of the material.

“It is now an old technology and nowadays terrorists have the means, the knowledge and the information,” he said.

But he said that a far likelier risk was a “dirty bomb”. This is a device using conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material other than uranium or plutonium.

Such material can be found in small quantities in universities, hospitals and other facilities the world over, often with little security.

“Dirty bombs will be enough to (drive) any big city in the world into panic,” Amano said. “And the psychological, economic and political implications would be enormous.”

This is thought to be well within the capabilities of extremists. The Islamic State group has already used chemical weapons, CIA director John Brennan told CBS News in February.

– Tip of the iceberg –

Since the mid-1990s, almost 2,800 incidents of illicit trafficking, “unauthorised possession” or loss of nuclear materials have been recorded in an IAEA database. One such incident occurred in Iraq last year.

Only a few involved substances that could be used to make a actual nuclear weapon, but some could be used to create a dirty bomb.

“It is very possible this is the tip of the iceberg,” Amano told AFP. A vital step, he said, would be the entry into force of the arcane-sounding but important 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

It is the only legally-binding international undertaking for the physical protection of nuclear material.

Amano said it will reduce the likelihood of a dirty bomb by making it legally binding for countries to protect nuclear facilities and to secure nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport.

Pakistan this week became the latest country to ratify the CPPNM, bringing to just eight the number of adherences still required.

“The weakest link (in nuclear security) is that this amendment. .. has not entered into force. This is a top priority,” Amano said, expressing hope that this could happen “in the coming months”.


March 26, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | 1 Comment

Wake up World! Belgium terrorist attack shows vulnerability of nuclear facilities

Every country, no matter how safe it thinks it is, needs to protect nuclear weapons and the materials you could use to make them against the full spectrum of plausible threats,”

“And wherever there are potential nuclear bomb materials, they need to have armed guards.”

A Nuclear Wake-Up Call in Belgium, Huffpost, 25 Mar 16, By R. Jeffrey Smith “…….The risk of radiation bombs raised few concerns before it became clear that al Qaeda was seeking nuclear materials. And over the past 15 years, those worries have taken a back seat to an even larger anxiety: that materials usable in a Hiroshima- or Nagasaki-sized nuclear bomb might fall into the wrong hands.

As a result, the Obama administration has focused its attention until now on locking down or eliminating the big sparkplugs: plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

But the smaller “dirty bombs” and their lighter security have been a real source of worry among specialists, some of whom say that a detonation somewhere in the world is inevitable.

dirty bomb

“I’m surprised it has not happened yet,” said Laura Holgate, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction terrorism, at a Washington symposium three years ago. The mechanics of such a device are simple and widely known.

An internal Energy Department report in 2013 counted 70,000 medical, industrial and research devices with potentially dangerous radiological materials, and observed that they are “poorly secured at facilities in nearly every country.”……..

“Every country, no matter how safe it thinks it is, needs to protect nuclear weapons and the materials you could use to make them against the full spectrum of plausible threats,” said Matt Bunn, a nuclear security expert and former White House official who is now at Harvard University. “And wherever there are potential nuclear bomb materials, they need to have armed guards.”

Government studies have shown that attackers can reach sensitive areas at many nuclear sites quickly, and that “it’s really hard to design systems” against a concerted assault, Bunn said.

That’s why Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the United States have long posted armed guards at sensitive sites. But many other countries still don’t. The Netherlands, which supplies a large portion of the world’s radioisotopes, is one; Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Slovakia and Spain similarly lack regulations requiring armed guards at their nuclear sites, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Many other measures can be taken to limit the risks of radiological materials. These include expert training of security personnel, helping less-developed countries find and use non-threatening industrial or medical alternatives, and creating rigorous systems to track material locations.

A major problem, however, is that the U.S. budget for this work has declined steadily in recent years, largely to make room for increased spending on modernizing nuclear weapons. The administration in February proposed a $7.6 million cut for next year and $270 million less than previously planned over the next four years. A U.S. target for securing radiological materials in 4,400 facilities has slipped by more than a decade, according to the Arms Control Association……..

March 26, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, USA | Leave a comment

“Deadly force” – a new rule for nuclear facility safety

deadly forceTenn. House OKs deadly force by security officers at ‘nuclear power reactor’ facilities By News Sentinel Staff, 25 Mar 16, NASHVILLE — The House gave final legislative approval Monday night to a bill expanding the use of deadly force by security officers at nuclear power reactor facilities.

Tennessee law currently allows the use of deadly force by security personnel at “category I nuclear facilities” — facilities possessing “strategic special nuclear material” defined and licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “when reasonably necessary to prevent or impede an act of radiological sabotage,” under specific circumstances.

The bill expands the law to include any “nuclear power reactor facility.”

The House voted 94-0 Monday on the bill, following the Senate’s 32-0 vote on Feb. 29. The bill now goes to the governor.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | 1 Comment

Shared solar – a cheaper, better way to go for electricity

Shared solar can help low-income customers get in on the solar development.

Rooftop solar can be expensive, even with incentives or leasing programs, leaving low-income ratepayers out. Shared solar can let them in on the benefits of solar. A couple of recent reports show how.

solar shared models

text-relevantLove solar power but got no rooftop? “Shared solar” is coming for you.
Vox  [excellent pictures] by  on March 24, 2016  To date, solar power has mostly been available to utilities (as big power plants) or individual home and business owners (as rooftop panels).

Left out has been … well, everyone else, those of us who are not utility executives and do not have the money, wherewithal, or suitable rooftops to install solar ourselves. That’s a lot of people who love solar power but have no way to get directly involved in it.

 Happily, that situation is rapidly changing, thanks to the growth of shared solar. Shared solar refers to small-scale solar installations that multiple individuals co-own, or that divide their power output among multiple “subscribed” individuals. It’s a way for all those non-rooftop folks to directly support clean energy, while also supporting local jobs and economic development.

Here’s how shared solar fits into the larger energy picture, how it works, its benefits and drawbacks, and its future potential……There are two kinds of community-scale solar. The first is utility-owned, with power sold to utility customers — a traditional arrangement between a utility and a power plant developer, just on a smaller scale. Lots of smaller utilities, municipals, and co-ops are getting into this.

The other is shared solar, in which customers a) share ownership of a community-scale PV array, b) “subscribe” to the power output of such an array, or c) both.

Existing community-scale solar is split roughly half and half between those two types.

How many shared solar projects are there? From a new report by Deloitte:

In 2010, only two shared solar projects existed [in the US]. Today 77 utilities administer 111 projects across 26 states, accounting for a combined capacity of about 106 megawatts (MW).

That’s a tiny base — less than 1 percent of installed solar PV capacity, according to GTM — but growth is accelerating.

According to RMI, if you include both types, community-scale solar could grow to 30 GW capacity by 2020.

Typically, customers “subscribe” to a shared solar project. Some subscribe to a certain amount of capacity (say, the output of one panel), measured in kW. Some subscribe to a certain amount of power, measured in kWh. The credit for the power appears on a customer’s utility bill.

Who runs these things? “Shared solar arrays,” writes NREL, “can be hosted and administered by a variety of entities, including utilities, solar developers, residential or commercial landlords, community and nonprofit organizations, or a combination thereof.”

Exactly who can build and run a shared solar project depends on whether it is located in a regulated or deregulated energy market (more on that in a second) and what type of utility service area it’s in.

Shared solar is overwhelmingly driven, at least at the moment, by customer demand. So it makes sense that the utilities most responsive to their customers — co-ops, where customers are also owners — are leading the way on shared solar projects.

Deloitte offers this information-packed breakdown of shared solar by utility type:………

Benefits of shared solar

Shared solar has many of the benefits of distributed “behind-the-meter” solar and many of the benefits of larger solar power plants, with few of the drawbacks of either.

Like utility-scale solar, it enjoys economies of scale and simple, established financing models; unlike utility-scale solar, it can squeeze into almost any surface or piece of land, near existing transmission or distribution lines.

Like distributed, behind-the-meter solar it is low risk, can be sited near existing load, increases the resilience of the distribution grid, and satisfies the powerful consumer craving for solar power; at the same time, it is cheaper, simpler (fewer contracts per kW of capacity), and more inclusive than behind-the-meter solar.

Utilities, especially investor-owned utilities, aren’t in love with it (to them it’s just a more expensive version of a solar plant), but if they get their act together, they can use small, strategically sited shared solar projects to ease grid congestion or avoid expensive new grid investments………..

Shared solar can bring solar to low-income customers

One benefit is worth calling out in particular: Shared solar can help low-income customers get in on the solar craze.

Rooftop solar can be expensive, even with incentives or leasing programs, leaving low-income ratepayers out. Shared solar can let them in on the benefits of solar. A couple of recent reports show how.

One is the “Low-Income Solar Policy Guide,” from a coalition of groups including GRID Alternatives, Vote Solar, and the Center for Social Inclusion. The other is from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC): “Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model Provisions.”

Both get into the technical weeds on program design and financing………

March 26, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

China wants big involvement in construction of Hinkley Point C nuclear station

Buy-China-nukes-1China wants hands-on role in UK nuclear, UK 24 March 2016 | By Yoosof Farah China General Nuclear says it wants to bring “expertise and experience” to UK

The Chinese nuclear developer part-funding Hinkley Point C has said it wants to be heavily involved in the construction of new nuclear plants in the UK.

Speaking to MPs on the Energy Select Committee, Zhu Minhong, general director of UK nuclear projects at China General Nuclear (CGN), said that in addition to its investment in EDF’s Somerset plant, his firm wants to bring its “expertise and experience” to Hinkley and further nuclear schemes in the UK.

At the same committee session EDF’s UK chief executive Vince de Rivaz was girlled by MPs over when the French client will make a final investment decision on Hinkley.

De Rivaz began his appearance by saying “clearly and categorically” that Hinkley Point C will go ahead, but he refused to commit to a date for when a decision will be made.

Under CGN’s funding deal with EDF, the Chinese nuclear giant has already agreed to help fund Hinkley and to partner on construction of further plants at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. At Bradwell CGN is expected to lead on development and construction itself.

Minhong told MPs the final terms of CGN’s funding deal with EDF for Hinkley is “practically completed” and the firm is “confident” it will go ahead. CGN has a 33% stake in the £18bn project. In China……..

March 26, 2016 Posted by | China, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Tropical countries need solar power, more than free cooling

text-relevantTropical sites need solar power, not free cooling, Data Center Dynamics 24 March 2016 By Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira  Free cooling can improve some measures of efficiency, but tropical countries may be better off looking at where their power comes from

solar _photovoltaic_cells-wide

The importance of data centers to the average citizen should not be underestimated. They are vital for even the most common daily function – from a simple internet search to a bank transaction. Their importance can even extend to, for example, the monitoring of the electricity delivered to one’s home.

But data centers are accused of being environmental villains due to their exorbitant consumption of energy, so reducing their environmental impact is vital. In this context, photovoltaic generation is an interesting alternative to free cooling, and especially suitable for tropical regions such as Brazil.

Using the wrong metricEcological footprint (ecofootprint), according to WWF Global, is connected to the impact of human activities, measured according to the production area and the amount of water needed to produce goods and assimilate the waste produced.

Data center efficiency is usually rated by PUE, a parameter conceptualized by the US, the EU and Japan to establish a single metric to assess the energy efficiency of data centers. The concept is not new, because the relationship between useful energy and invested energy is used in many other processes.

The calculation of this indicator is based on the relationship between the energy consumption by the installation as a whole (total energy) and the energy consumption exclusively by IT equipment (IT energy). Like any indicator, PUE may be called into question, but it remains a useful metric nonetheless.

It did not take long for the cooling system to be considered the greatest enemy of PUE; as a consequence, its efficiency has become closely related to its reduction. There is nothing more tempting than getting something for free; for instance, a data center that could potentially be cooled by nothing more than the forces of nature. Since this is not possible, the solution is to decrease a good percentage of energy consumed by central chilled water, taking advantage of free cooling, thus decreasing PUE………

Free energy, not free coolingThe concept of free energy emerges as an alternative to free cooling, on the grounds that it is more suitable to the Brazilian reality and to other countries with similar weather. It is related to power generation using any renewable energy source that has been obtained directly from nature through an environmentally sustainable process. This solution, as well as free cooling, aims to improve data center effectiveness and reduce the ecofootprint from data centers in general. Because of the distributed generation and the ability of interaction between the minigeneration and the energy provider, free energy has become a feasible concept.

Taking photovoltaic power as an example of free energy, when data centers are transformed into generation plants, they may apply this energy to the grid and offset it – not only from an energy standpoint but also economic. Once the concept of free energy is settled, it is inserted into another new term – EcoPUE – bringing a new idea for calculating PUE that is now even more environmentally friendly and presents a sustainable aspect, where the reduction of energy consumption in the data center is linked to the subtraction of the energy generated by the photovoltaic generation system. This renewable generated energy is called ‘free energy.’

Use what works

The increased demand for processing and storage of data, together with the environmental problems caused by high energy consumption, are forcing data centers in Brazil, and elsewhere, to seek more technological solutions and become increasingly green, using energy more efficiently and sustainably while providing a quality service to customers

. A combination of existing technology and techniques, along with new government legislation in Brazil, are now in place, so significant improvements have already been achieved. As an alternative to free cooling, the use of photovoltaics is increasingly being seen as a viable option in countries with a high solar radiation index – like Brazil – where renewable energy can be obtained for free from the natural resources available on the planet.

The concept of EcoPUE demonstrates that greater efficiency from a data center can be enforced with the use of photovoltaic generation, thus reducing their environmental footprint.

Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira is director of Fox Engenharia e Consultoria in Brazil

This article is translated from the Portuguese-language section of the latest magazine at

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Brazil, renewable | Leave a comment

Fears that Brussels bombers were plotting to build a radiological dirty bomb.

dirty bombFears grow over radioactive plot as nuclear workers have passes revoked, Business Post BY POST REPORTER ON MARCH 25, 2016 SIX ARRESTS IN BRUSSELS AND FRANCE FOILS SEPARATE TERROR PLOTEleven Belgian nuclear workers have had their work passes revoked amid fears that the Brussels bombers were plotting to build a radiological dirty bomb.

Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui, the brothers suspected of suicide strikes on Brussels airport and Metro, are believed to have been involved in an Islamic State plan to create a bomb to scatter radioactive material over a populated area.

A senior Belgian nuclear industry official was secretly filmed by jihadists late last year, according to the country’s nuclear authority. Yesterday the brothers were linked to the surveillance.

An official at the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control told The London Times: “When you start filming someone in the way they did, the logical conclusion is that they wanted to abduct that person and to obtain radioactive material.” A conspiracy to build a dirty bomb, with the aim of contaminating a crowded public space, was “the big question” faced by the authorities, the official added.

About 140 soldiers were guarding Belgium’s two atomic power plants, a nuclear research facility and a company that makes medical isotopes, with two members of the terrorist cell behind Tuesday’s attacks at large last night.

Criticism grew over Belgium’s handling of intelligence before the bombs that killed 31 and left more than 300 injured. Two government ministers offered to resign. However, police raids on flats in Brussels last week — which led to one suspect being shot and others captured — may have disrupted an even larger Paris-style massacre, involving gun attacks, planned to coincide with the bombings.

Since those raids seven workers at the Tihange nuclear power station in eastern Belgium have had their work entry passes withdrawn and a further four passes were revoked after the latest attacks following vetting by a committee including intelligence and security agencies.

The key figure in the alleged dirty bomb plot is Mohammed Bakkali, 28, from Brussels, who was arrested in November on suspicion of helping to plan the Paris massacre. Police raided his wife’s flat and found a ten-hour video taken by a camera hidden opposite the home of an executive at the Centre for the Study of Nuclear Energy in Mol, northern Belgium. The executive had access to radioactive isotopes at the country’s national nuclear research centre…….

March 26, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear safety too costly for Japan- scraps 6th nuclear reactor

nuclear-costs1flag-japanJapan scraps 6th nuclear reactor since tsunami disaster over heavy safety costs (AFP) – Japanese nuclear power operator said on Friday (March 25) it would decommission an ageing reactor because of the cost of upgrading, the sixth to be scrapped due to tougher rules brought in after the Fukushima disaster.

Japan is pushing to restart its nuclear reactors, which were shuttered after a huge earthquake-triggered tsunami sent the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into meltdown in 2011.

But safety regulations brought in after the disaster, which require companies to build structures to guard against huge waves and earthquakes, means it could cost billions to overhaul old reactors. Only two are on line after passing the tests, while power companies have already announced plans to scrap at least five other old reactors.

Shikoku Electric Power had planned to restart the No. 1 reactor at Ikata nuclear complex in Ehime, western Japan, but said Friday it would decommission the 39-year-old technology instead.

  The company said in a statement it took the decision after “comprehensively taking into account a possible operating term and construction costs” needed to pass the new safety measures.

The Nikkei business daily estimated safety upgrades needed to meet the new safety standards could cost 200 billion yen (S$2.43 billion).

Japan set up an independent watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, after the Fukushima disaster, replacing the previous arrangement where the industry ministry both oversaw the regulator and promoted nuclear power.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and utility companies have been pushing for a return to nuclear power as the disaster forced Japan to turn to pricey fossil fuels to plug the energy gap left by the shutdowns.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Belgium: staff refused access following news that terrorists had considered attack on nuclear plant

safety-symbol1Nuclear Staff Lose Access After Brussels Attacks 25 Mar 16 

A number of workers at the Tihange plant have their passes withdrawn as reports say nuclear sites could have been targeted. The entry badges of some workers at Belgium’s nuclear sites have been withdrawn amid reports the suicide bombers who attacked Brussels may have originally planned to target a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear control agency spokeswoman Nele Scheerlinck confirmed that “in recent days, several people have been refused access to the nuclear sites”.

The El Bakraoui brothers, who blew themselves up at the airport and metro station on Tuesday, had secretly filmed the home of the head of Belgium’s nuclear research and development programme, it has been reported. :: Terror Suspect Linked To Paris Ringleader The footage recorded the nuclear chief’s routine and caused investigators to conclude the terrorists “could have put national security in danger like never before”, according to Belgian media.

However, the arrest of Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam forced them to switch to targets, said reports.

A police source is quoted as saying: “There is no doubt that they rushed their operations because they felt under pressure. “Even if one couldn’t prevent these (Brussels) attacks, one can say that their magnitude could have been much bigger if the terrorists had been able to implement their original plan and not opted for easier targets.”

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks at the airport and subway, security was boosted around Belgium’s nuclear sites and hundreds of staff were evacuated.

Belgian media reports said 11 staff had their badges withdrawn at the Tihange plant. Ms Scheerlinck said the move is “not necessarily linked with the terrorist attacks”. However, she added that the decision usually takes weeks and is based on information from the intelligence services and police, as well as a person’s criminal record.

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned of Friday that countries need to do more to prevent “nuclear terrorism”.Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that it was not impossible that militants could manufacture a “primitive” device.   It is now an old technology and nowadays terrorists have the means, the knowledge and the information,” he said.

Mr Amano also warned about the dangers of a “dirty bomb”.  “Dirty bombs will be enough to (drive) any big city in the world into panic,” he said. “And the psychological, economic and political implications would be enormous.”

March 26, 2016 Posted by | incidents, safety | Leave a comment

Ten disturbing facts about Ukraine’s nuclear power station s

But this can be changed.

The European Commission, the European Parliament, and EU governments – particularly in neighouring countries that could be affected by the Ukrainian government’s reckless nuclear adventure – need to demand Ukraine complies with its international obligations, especially when EU public money is involved.

For more on this Bankwatch campaign see here.


Ten things the Ukrainian government doesn’t want you to know about its nuclear energy plans March 2016The Ukrainian government appears willing to go to great lengths to make sure that people don’t talk too much about the plans it has for its ageing nuclear stations.

On Wednesday, March 23, the Supreme Economic Court if Ukraine will hear an appeal case by activsts who were sued for defamation for warning about the risk of the country’s continued dependence on outdated nuclear reactors.

The lawsuit was brought by Ukraine’s state-run nuclear operator Energoatom and the governmental nuclear energy regulator (SNRIU) in what appears as an attempt to discourage public participation in the important debate on this issue.

But this move is indicative of the Ukrainian government’s approach. Kiev has also been ignoring the opinions of people in neighbouring countries who could be affected by its nuclear plans, despite a legal obligation to consult them under international treaties.

So, what is it that Ukraine is so keen to hide? Here’s the complete lowdown:

1. Ukraine has 15 nuclear energy reactors and 6 of them will reach their expiry date by May 2020. Four others are already operating beyond their design lifetime, and two more were shut down as soon as they exceeded their original lifespan, in December and in February. Yet, Kiev is determined to keep all eight units going for at least 10 more years beyond their original expiry date.

 2. Ukraine’s nuclear power plants currently supply over half the country’s electricity.But this is a political choice of the government. Originally, the share of nuclear is less than 30 percent of the country’s total installed capacity. The rise in the role of nuclear power is the result of a decision to shut down other electricity production. And still, falling demand means nuclear power plants are not working to full capacity.

3. All of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are completely dependent on Russia for their fuel. And that’s not all. Three of the four nuclear stations are also dependent on Russia for either the reprocessing of spent fuel or its storage.

4. Even though most of these nuclear units will reach their expiry date in the next four years, EU taxpayer money is used for their renovation.How much? EUR 600 million from Euratom and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. For proportions, this is a quarter of the total EU support to Ukraine’s energy sector between 2007-2014.

5. International conventions oblige Ukraine to launch public consultations with neighbouring countries that could be affected by the prolonged operations of these nuclear stations. But so far, Kiev has consistently refused to do so. The Aarhus Convention and the Espoo Convention also stipulate that transboundary environmental impact assessments need to be carried out in such cases. Complying with these requirements is also an explicit condition of the European loans. But the Ukrainian government remains defiant.

6. Ukraine has already been found in breach of the Espoo Convention.The ruling came after it had authorized lifetime extensions for two of the units at the Rivne nuclear power plant, located less than 200 kilometres from the border with Poland. Ukrainian authorities are, unsurprisingly, challenging this ruling.

7. The Ukrainian government cannot guarantee the safety of any nuclear power plant. Since January 2015 a governmental decree prevents the nuclear energy regulator from carrying out inspections in nuclear facilities on its own initiative.

8. At least one of the four nuclear reactors already working beyond their design lifetime is in a dangerous condition. An independent expert analysis released in March 2015 found that the pressure vessel of unit 1 at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant suffers critical vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to a dangerous nuclear emergency. The state nuclear regulator disputes these findings, of course. But no matter how much is invested into renovations, a nuclear unit’s pressure vessel is one of the elements that simply cannot be replaced.

9. The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine is Europe’s largest. It is also just 250 kilometres from the frontlines of the ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. This has officials at the power plant obviously concerned: 10. And all of this is even more urgent than you think.

Two of the oldest units in the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant were taken off the grid once they reached their expiry dates. But in two months, on May 12 and May 28, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator will consider again a lifetime extension for both reactors. Worried? So are we.

But this can be changed.

The European Commission, the European Parliament, and EU governments – particularly in neighouring countries that could be affected by the Ukrainian government’s reckless nuclear adventure – need to demand Ukraine complies with its international obligations, especially when EU public money is involved.

For more on this Bankwatch campaign see here.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment