The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

18 July British Parliament to vote on renewal of Trident nuclear missile system

submarine-missileflag-UKBritish MPs to vote on renewing nuclear deterrent on July 18   MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 13/07/2016  Warsaw–   Britain’s parliament will vote this month on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons programme, Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday as he sought to reassure NATO allies alarmed by Brexit.Cameron’s announcement at a NATO summit in Warsaw comes as the alliance grapples with the implications for its unity after key member Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union.Conservative leader Cameron is pushing through the vote on the A20 billion (23 billion euro, 25 billion) plan to maintain the submarine-based system before he steps down in September in the wake of the EU result.”Today I can announce that we will hold a parliamentary vote on the 18th of July to confirm (lawmakers’) support for the renewal of a full fleet of four nuclear submarines capable of providing around-the-clock cover,” Cameron told a press conference at what will be his final NATO summit after six years in power……

Cameron is likely to win the Trident vote as his party widely backs it.The leader of the main opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn has opposed the upgrade but a significant part of his increasingly rebellious MPs are also likely to support it.The future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent is however in question as the submarines are based in Scotland, where the government is considering a second independence referendum following the Brexit vote.Asked why he was pushing through the vote before handing over to his as-yet-undecided successor, Cameron said it was a pledge in his party’s 2015 election manifesto “and we need to get on with that.””I don’t think it needs to be caught up in the leadership contest (of the Conservative party) and we will be doing it on the 18th of July,” he said….

July 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Illegal to use Trident nuclear missile, so it should be phased out

justiceflag-UKUsing Trident would be illegal, so let’s phase it out Geoffrey Robertson, 15 July 16 
Nuclear doom is nearer than most of us believe, experts warn. Britain must set a moral lead by becoming the first of the ‘big five’ powers to reduce its arsenal 
  The most portentous decision for every new prime minister is what to write in the secret “letter of last resort” to Trident submarine commanders telling them what to do with their nuclear missiles if the British government is wiped out. In Monday’s debate on the renewal of Trident, Theresa May should tell parliament what life-or-death decision she has made in her letters of last resort.

It is said that Margaret Thatcher ordered our nukes, trained on Moscow, to be fired so as to cause maximum destruction to the enemy – ie to its civilians. That order, even for a nuclear “second strike”, would today be illegal.

It is ironic that although Chilcot produced so much condemnation of Blair for joining an unlawful war, MPs are now being asked to vote for a weapons system that cannot be used without committing a crime against humanity. This was defined in 1998 by the Rome Statute, which set up the international criminal court, as “a systematic attack directed against a civilian population, resulting in extermination or torture, or an inhumane act intentionally causing great suffering”.

The same statute additionally makes it a war crime to intentionally launch an attack in the knowledge that it would cause incidental loss of civilian life or severe damage to the natural environment, out of proportion to military advantage.

Trident’s 200 thermonuclear bombs, each 10 times more powerful than those that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are illegal because they cannot discriminate between military targets and hospitals, churches and schools; because of their capacity to cause untold human suffering for generations to come; and because their consequences (eg ionising radiation, which tortures victims and lingers for half a century) are beyond the control or knowledge of the attacker, who cannot judge the proportionality of their use.


As the international court of justice put it, back in 1996: “The destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in space or time. They have the potential to destroy all civilisation and the entire ecosystem of the planet.”

So why is our law-abiding government spending tens of billions on a weapons system that cannot lawfully be used?

First, because its advisers wrongly think that nuclear weapons are legal in certain circumstances. Back in that 1996 case, the UK argued that it could lawfully drop “a low-yield nuclear weapon against warships on the high seas or troops in sparsely populated areas”.

This scenario has now been shown up as fantastical: “first use” in these circumstances by the UK would trigger a nuclear reprisal with inevitable damage to the atmosphere, the oceans and the “sparsely populated” area (which would henceforth be entirely unpopulated). In any event, Trident’s weapon-bays will not carry “low-yield” bombs, and if they did the result would be better achieved by conventional weapons, making nuclear deployment unnecessary and disproportionate.

The world court ruled that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would “generally” be contrary to war law but might be lawful “in extreme circumstances of self-defence, in which the very survival of a state would be at stake”. This was a time-warped view of war law in 1996 that is not tenable today. The court, to be fair, predicted as much, saying that it expected international law to “develop” towards a total ban on the use of the bomb. It soon did, with the Rome Statute and subsequent development of the principle that a state has no right to preserve itself at the expense of damage to other states and to the rights to life of millions of citizens.

It is absurd to suggest that it would have been lawful for Hitler, his back to the bunker wall, to start a nuclear Götterdämmerung to save the Nazi state (Nuremberg decided it was not lawful for him even to fire doodlebugs). Given what we now know about the uncontrollable and devastating propensities of modern nuclear weapons, it is unlawful to fire them at all.

There is a further legal reason for allowing Trident to wear out. It is Article VI of the nuclear proliferation treaty (NPT), by which parties undertake to proceed in good faith to “general and complete” nuclear disarmament.

The world court’s 1996 ruling decided that this imposed not a “mere” obligation but a binding legal obligation on existing nuclear states to reduce the number of their bombs gradually, to zero. It is contrary to the spirit of article VI to upgrade rather than downgrade the fleet.

A decision to phase out Trident would help Britain recover some of the clout it has lost through Brexit. It would show moral leadership, and shame other nuclear powers that have failed to live up to their NPT obligations (especially the US; President Obama’s Nobel prize was prematurely awarded in part for envisaging “a world without nuclear weapons”).

Moral leadership from a nuclear-weapons state is urgently needed. The latest US defence budget allocates $1tn for future modernisation of its nukes and it has acquired new sites for them, in Poland and Romania. President Putin has promised in return a new generation of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. The American most knowledgeable on the subject – Bill Clinton’s defence secretary William J Perry – has just published a book warning that “nuclear doom” is closer today than it ever was during the cold war.

Although possession of nuclear weapons is not per se unlawful, the UK is under a duty to reduce its arsenal: the vice of refurbishing Trident is that it encourages other states to do the same, and remains a constant stimulus for countries – particularly in the Middle East and Asia – to acquire arsenals of their own.

When negotiating to buy Polaris (Trident’s predecessor), back in 1962, Harold Macmillan confided in his diary that “the whole thing is ridiculous”, but consoled himself with the thought that “countries which have played a great role in history must retain their dignity”.

A half-century later, the best way for Britain to regain its dignity post-Brexit is not to throw vast sums of money away on a weapon that cannot lawfully be used, but rather to appear as the first of the “big five” powers to shoulder its legal obligation to disarm under article VI of the NPT. It will be many years before the mushroom cloud becomes a hallucination, but at least Britain would be able to boast that it had led the way.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Legal, Reference, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s THAAD nuclear ‘missile offense’ launchers make South Korea a prime target: protestors revolt

Protest-No!flag-S-KoreaCitizens Revolt in South Korea :  15 Jul 16  Yonhap News reports:

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn visited the town of Seongju, which was tapped as the site for the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, on Friday, in the face of strong opposition from the residents who questioned the safety and legitimacy of the government’s decision.

 The trip is seen as a move to alleviate concerns that residents may have about the health issues related to the missile system’s powerful radar and questions raised about the fairness of the government’s decision-making process.

   “I would like to apologize for making the decision without prior notice,” Hwang said during his visit, adding that the government will make efforts to ease residents’ concerns over the safety.

   During his visit, however, protesters threw water bottles and eggs at Hwang, reflecting their anger over the deployment.

   The prime minister was blocked by resentful residents and physically barred from leaving the county for more than six hours.  

There is a real revolt going on in South Korea.  The US is forcing the South Korean government to deploy THAAD ‘missile offense’ launchers and the people know that it makes them a prime target.  Koreans can see the provocative steps the US is taking in the region against China and they know how crazy the leadership in the US actually is.  They’ve been through one war involving the US already and are not interested in another

I’ve long said that the Koreans are the best organizers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.  Right now they have a national campaign underway to resist these THAAD deployments that are aimed at China even though the Pentagon tells everyone they are intended for North Korea.  It’s the same shell game the US does with the missile offense deployments now going into Romania, Poland, and Turkey – all aimed at Russia.  The US says they are aimed at Iran who actually has no nuclear weapons.

The shine has come off the American coin and the world ain’t buy the script anymore.  Sadly there is still half the population in the US that believes the official Washington line (including many ‘liberals’ who support Hillary Clinton).

The world is turning against corporate control of the planet.  We are in for a rough patch ahead.  The story today about a coup d’etat in Turkey indicates the CIA’s operatives in the Turkish military took down President Erdogan because in recent days he apologized to Russia for shooting down their plane and began to alter his war with Syria.  My initial reaction is that US-NATO were not happy with that change of tune and decided to take him out.  More on that one as things develop.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics international, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK does not want to move nuclear weapons from Scotland

poster-cut-Trident‘No plans’ to move nuclear weapons from Scotland, BBC News, 15 July 2016
The UK government does not intend to make alternative plans for the storage of the UK’s nuclear weapons outside of Scotland, it has emerged.

The Scottish government opposes the Trident missile system and the storing of nuclear weapons in the country.

On Monday, MPs will vote on whether or not to renew Trident, which is based at Faslane on the Clyde.

No contingency plans for moving Trident were put in place in the run up to the 2014 Scottish independence vote. The Scottish government had pledged it would get rid of nuclear weapons if Scotland voted to leave the UK.

The MoD has said it was not anticipating another referendum and Faslane is the best place for the weapons to be based.

After the UK referendum vote to leave the EU, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a second independence referendum was now “highly likely”…….

July 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Czech Republic’s headache about its mounting nuclear wastes

Oscar-wastesCzech nuclear waste deep storage will only be sited where there is local support says ministry Radio Czech Republic, 15-07-2016  Chris Johnstone Nuclear power means nuclear waste and the Czech Republic, like many other European countries, is faced with the headache of where to store the waste long term. A shortlist of seven locations for geological tests for suitable deep storage resulted in howls of protest from most of the citizens and mayors living near the sites. And that has forced a rethink from the ministry and state body piloting the selection process.

The Czech Republic has been producing nuclear power for just over 30 years now with the two plants at Dukovany and Temelín responsible for producing around a third of the country’s electricity. And there are plans to boost that proportion with more plants in the future.

But the high level nuclear waste produced from the process is still being stocked on site at the plants with plans for a deep storage site hitting furious opposition from most of the seven preliminary sites earmarked for geological tests. Five of those sites have launched or allied themselves to legal proceedings aimed at stopping the surveys and sent back millions of crowns in payments aimed at compensating locals for the inconvenience.

Now the Ministry of Industry and Trade says it will bow to the opposition and seek to push ahead with surveys at one locality near Třebíč in Vysočina and another straddling Vysočina and South Moravia.

Minister Jan Mládek said the decision was not a defeat for the ministry………..

What’s the time pressure to get this done – how long can you keep storing it [the waste] at nuclear sites?

“It’s a really long term process and the storage should be built by 2065, but we have milestones and what for us at this moment is very important is that the decision about the location should be decided by the Czech government in 2025. This is a milestone we are targeting, we are not yet about building but about picking the place where it will be built.”

July 16, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

We need proven renewable energy technology, NOT General Atomics’ small nuclear reactor gimmickry

Laurel Kaskurs, 15 July 16  With all the generous subsidies General Atomics has received thanks to its friendly military industrial complex Congressional friends in the area, I would have hoped they might repay the taxpayers for their generosity by working on something that does not put people and the environment at risk for plutonium contamination, which is a very real possibility whenever you talk about burning spent fuel.

questionFirst of all, if this is designed to burn spent fuel down to just 3% of what it was before, then why do you say you could burn the spent fuel from the EM2? There are all different kinds of spent fuel with different grades of uranium and plutonium left. So are you claiming it works for any of these? What about the fact that the spent fuel at San Onofre, Pilgrim, and many other commercial nuclear power plants is leaking and already unsafe to transport?

Some dry cask containers contain damaged fuel rods and the DOE will not touch them. Is this really being designed to solve a nuclear waste problem, because it sounds like a way the nuclear industry will just cling in desperation to so they can keep producing more nuclear waste.

I would like to know exactly what fuels General Atomic has designed this SMR to run on. If it’s traditional nuclear fuel, every step of the uranium fission process is extremely carbon intensive, from mining, milling, construction, the ceramic making, and each step of the fuel cycle creates heaps of radioactive waste we have no way to dispose of.

If it’s actual spent fuel we are talking about, how do you propose we transport the spent fuel from their leaking dry casks that sit rusting on a seaside cliff to these little fast breeder reactors? If they are for remote locations, how will emergency personnel get there if an emergency happens? Accidents involving plutonium mixed fuel are far more dangerous than those involving uranium fuel, and those are downright deadly! (I would love to post links to back up everything I am telling you, but the site [San Diego Union Tribune ] will not allow me to).

What we need is not more atomic pipe dreams producing separated plutonium as waste. That is what SMRs amount to. There are triple renewable hybrid plants, like Stillwater in Fallon, NV that produce zero waste and can compete with SMRs to deliver flexible power to the grid by using geothermal storage to convert heat from daytime sunlight to keep the lights on at night while Solar and solar pv handle the load all day. It’s not a theory on paper. It’s an operational power plant designed by Enel Green Power and I read about it in a renewable energy magazine.

That is where our government subsidies should go. Not to another plutonium making weapons contractor that is decades away from a prototype.  For the sake of the DNA of future generations, we can not keep draining the economy by subsidizing an industry that kills us slowly with cancer and genetic instability. If you want to solve the climate problems, the time is now, with proven renewable technology, not 2030 with an atomic fantasy.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK Conservatives could, and should, shut down useless Trident nuclear deterrent

Trident II USG photo of UK subflag-UKThe Tories know Trident is a waste of money and only they can kill it off, Guardian Chris Mullin, 15 July 16  Our nuclear deterrent is purely symbolic but Labour would never be forgiven for letting it go A
few days from now parliament will be asked to make a final decision on whether or not to spend around £40bn renewing Trident. Many of the Labour MPs arguing in favour do so not because they regard nuclear weapons as an essential tool in our armoury, but because they are terrified of being thought “soft” on defence. And they are right to be worried. For years the British addiction to nuclear armaments has proved a devastating weapon in the hands of the Conservatives and their friends in the tabloid media, even if they are not much use against our enemies.

And yet just about anyone who has ever given the matter any thought knows it’s bonkers. Most Tories know in their heart of hearts that Trident is of little or no relevance to national defence in the 21st century. So, too, do a fair swath of the military. Indeed, our possession of nuclear weapons was never primarily about defending us from the Russians. On the contrary, it made us a target.

One has only to read the minutes of a top-secret cabinet subcommittee on 26 October 1946, at which the fateful decision to develop a nuclear arsenal was taken. Opinions were divided. The chancellor, Stafford Cripps, was against on the grounds that they were a luxury we couldn’t afford. Ernie Bevin, the foreign secretary, arrived late having nodded off after a good lunch. “What’s your opinion, Ernie?” he was asked. To which Bevin replied: “We’ve got to have that thing over here, whatever it costs … we’ve got to have the bloody union jack flying on top of it.” Why? Because, said Bevin, the Americans will never take us seriously, if we don’t.

And that in a nutshell is why British taxpayers have been saddled for 65 years with an expensive, but fundamentally useless weapons system.  It is about keeping up appearances. Maintaining the pretence that we are a superpower, capable (to use a phrase much beloved by successive British prime ministers) “of punching above our weight”. …….

July 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan’s “ludicrous” policy regarding nuclear safety and earthquakes – former nuclear regulator

nuke-earthquakeflag-japanFormer Japan nuclear regulator lashes out over earthquake standards, Reuters 15 July 16 A former senior official of Japan‘s atomic watchdog has lashed out publicly at the agency’s response to his concerns over the assessment of earthquake risks to nuclear plants, adding to a controversy over safety five years after the Fukushima disaster.

Former deputy chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Kunihiko Shimazaki, now a professor emeritus of seismology at the University of Tokyo, in June broke his silence after leaving the regulator in 2014 to voice his concerns that earthquake risks are not being sufficiently addressed.

Shimazaki then met with the NRA on June 16 and the regulator said it would make recalculations of its measurements but Shimazaki said the response falls short.

“I cannot be convinced by their conclusions. I think they are ludicrous,” he told reporters on Friday.

Shimazaki’s technical concerns relate to the Ohi nuclear plant operated by Kansai Electric Power, which is being assessed for a restart. But, he told Reuters after the June meeting with the NRA, “a sense of crisis” over safety prompted him to go public and urge more attention to earthquake risk in general……..

Kyushu Electric Power is the only utility that has been cleared to restart two reactors at its Sendai plant, while other utilities have been blocked so far by legal action from nearby residents. One more reactor may restart later this month.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear energy plans stalled: too expensive

nuclear-costs3flag-S.AfricaEnergy plan stalls on cost of nuclear, Business Day Live, BY CAROL PATON,  15 JULY 2016  THE Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the government’s long-term plan for electricity generation, is again stuck in the works, despite being six years out of date, with modellers and government officials wrestling over an appropriate price estimate for nuclear energy.

Should the cost of nuclear energy come in too high compared to other technologies, then the nuclear build programme, which is championed by President Jacob Zuma, could be blown out of the water.

The IRP is a 20-year plan that estimates demand, plans for supply, and makes policy decisions on the energy mix based on a range of factors, including energy security and affordability. Regular updates to the IRP — every two years — are crucial to ensure energy security and prevent overbuilding capacity.

In the latest draft, being drawn up by technical experts based at Eskom on behalf of the Department of Energy, the overnight cost for nuclear energy is said to have been estimated at $6,000/kW.

The number comes from several industry sources, who are privy to the information, but was not confirmed by the government. Overnight costs include construction costs, but exclude interest…..

In previous drafts of the IRP, overnight costs for nuclear were estimated at $5028/kW in 2010, and $5800/kW in 2013. The 2013 IRP, which cautioned against nuclear energy due to lower than expected demand and the high risk involved, has never been adopted by the Cabinet.

At the time, it was speculated that the Department of Energy held it back, as it was not nuclear-friendly enough. Instead, the government has continued to use the 2010 IRP, despite its outdated assumptions and modelling, and a wide acknowledgement in the energy industry that its credibility is shot.

The IRP process under way right now is a new attempt to update the plan, which is six years out of date.

But since the modelling team submitted its draft to the department earlier in 2016, the process appears to have stalled. Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in September that the new IRP would be completed by March. But the draft is far from finished, and public consultations — which should take place under the policy framework — are still far from a reality……

there are other pressures to finalise the IRP. A legal challenge is under way that attempts to block the nuclear procurement on the basis of an outdated IRP.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Floating nuclear reactors for China in South China Sea?

reactors-floatingChina media again touts plans to float nuclear reactors in disputed South China Sea.  Reuters, 15 July 16China aims to launch a series of offshore nuclear power platforms to promote development in the South China Sea, state media said again on Friday, days after an international court ruled Beijing had no historic claims to most of the waters.

Sovereignty over the South China Sea is contested by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and any move to build nuclear reactors is bound to stoke further tension in the region.

The China Securities Journal said 20 offshore nuclear platforms could eventually be built in the region as the country seeks to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea.

“China’s first floating nuclear reactor will be assembled by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation’s (CSIC) subsidiary, Bohai Heavy Industry, and the company will build 20 such reactors in the future,” the newspaper said.

“The marine nuclear power platform will provide energy and freshwater to the Nansha Islands,” it said, referring to the disputed Spratly Islands.

The newspaper was citing a social media post by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), which has since been deleted…….

The news is old,” an expert with the China Nuclear Energy Association said. “It is repeated in reaction to the latest South China Sea disputes,” the expert, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

“Little progress has been made on building such a small reactor.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked at a daily news briefing, said he did not know anything about the plans.

Floating reactors were first proposed in the United States in the 1970s but then abandoned. The first demonstration of the technology is due to be launched in Russia next year.

“This will need several years of design and safety analysis before it can go into full construction,” said Li Ning, Dean of the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University…….

A spokesman for CNNC told Reuters the floating reactors plan had been drawn up by its affiliate, the Nuclear Power Institute of China, and a final decision would be made by CSIC. CSIC was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Kathy Chen and David Stanway; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

July 16, 2016 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

Teresa May’s backward step in abolishing Climate Change Department

flag-UKClimate change department closed by Theresa May in ‘plain stupid’ and ‘deeply worrying’
Campaigners called for ‘urgent reassurance from the new government’ that the fight against climate change and pollution will not be ‘abandoned’ Independent  Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent , 15 July 16 The decision to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been variously condemned as “plain stupid”, “deeply worrying” and “terrible” by politicians, campaigners and experts.

One of Theresa May’s first acts as Prime Minister was to move responsibility for climate change to a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Only on Monday, Government advisers had warned of the need to take urgent action to prepare the UK for floods, droughts, heatwaves and food shortages caused by climate change.

The news came after the appointment of Andrea Leadsom – who revealed her first question to officials when she became Energy Minister last year was “Is climate change real? – was appointed as the new Environment Secretary……..

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described the decision as “deeply worrying”.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government,” she said.

“Dealing with climate change requires a dedicated Minister at the Cabinet table. To throw it into the basement of another Whitehall department, looks like a serious backwards step.”

She said she would work with any Minister “willing to take climate change seriously”, but added she would seek to hold Government to account for “any backpeddling on our climate change commitments”.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, pointed out that a major report into the effects of climate change on Britain had made clear that it was already happening.

“This is shocking news. Less than a day into the job and it appears that the new Prime Minister has already downgraded action to tackle climate change, one of the biggest threats we face,” he said…….

A letter by DECC’s permanent secretary, Alex Chisholm, to staff in his department, which was leaked to Civil Service World, confirmed that its responsibilities were being transferred to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, under its new Secretary, Greg Clark…….

July 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

New Zealand set to get stream of refugees: Pacific atolls ‘could be underwater by 2050

Pacific atolls ‘could be underwater by 2050  Radio New Zealand Chris Bramwell, Deputy Political Editor – @chrisbramwell, 15 July 16   The government is being warned to prepare for an impending stream of refugees from the Pacific as low-lying atolls are swamped by sea-level rise over the coming decades.

Kiribati 15

Labour is also calling for the government to take a humanitarian approach to people from the region
who are overstayers in New Zealand.

United Nations warns if sea level rise continues at the current rate, the Pacific atolls of Kiribati and Tuvalu could be completely submerged within decades……

Labour’s Su’a William Sio said the people of the Pacific were fighting a losing battle. The government could take a more sympathetic approach to overstayers from Kiribati and Tuvalu and not send them back to islands already under pressure, he said.

“The main islands they’ve got issues not just with climate change, but with population growth and waste on both Tuvalu and Kiribati, so I think we’ve got to seriously look at what we do with that, and my view is that we need to adopt a humanitarian stance with the overstayers that are here.”

Climate change refugees might not be a serious issue now, but they would become one, he said.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence is telling us these islands will be underwater by 2050 or 2070, so we actually do need to have a strategic long term plan in preparation to help these islanders because we can’t just sit around once those islands are underwater.”…..

July 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Solar 2016 – a future with abundant, clean and cheap energy

sun-powerBright future for renewable energy on display at giant solar show,Financial Post, Diane Francis July 15, 2016 SAN FRANCISCO — It has been said that renewable energy is the energy of the future and always will be.

But the tipping point is nigh, thanks to Germany’s leadership, China’s pollution catastrophe and technological advances in battery storage, materials science and software.

At this year’s giant solar show – Solar 2016 – a future with abundant, clean and cheap energy was discussed and on display.

Success will be based on the continuation of five trends:

    • The Germans and Chinese have been dramatically transitioning to renewable energy by government edict, which has massively driven down costs for everyone through innovation and mass production;
    • The Americans, wary of government edicts of any kind, are increasingly adopting and developing viable solar “distributed power” units — a do-it-yourself and market-based approach designed to dramatically reduce or free residences and industries from any dependency on grids or utilities;
    • “Distributed power” is being adopted by developing countries to leapfrog the traditional giant power utility and extensive grid model. Power demands are high, fossil fuels are expensive and power grids inadequate so two-thirds of renewable development is underway in developing nations, led by China;
    • A materials science breakthrough involving solar cells made from a material called perovskite will be introduced next year and will drive down solar cell costs and exponentially increase efficiency;
    • Battery storage technology is advancing so dramatically that within three years a “tipping point” cost-wise will allow anyone with renewable power generation such as a rooftop solar system to go off grid.

The Germans have led the world to rid themselves of any dependency on fossil fuels from the Middle East or Russia as well as from nuclear power, which will be phased out by 2022. Their grand scheme — called Energeiwende — is publicly supported and German consumers pay a “green tax” of 24 billion euros annually to convert their economy to renewables such as biomass, wind and solar. Scaling and inventions have greatly reduced subsidies.

In the sunnier U.S., the biggest “tipping point” is closer thanks to cheaper storage, said Adara Power Inc. founder Greg Maguire. “Batteries are now US$650 per kilowatt hour and will be US$425 soon. In less than three years, they will hit US$200 and then there will be mass adoption.”……….


July 16, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

The dodgy economics and doubtful future for Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

SMRs-mirageFOR GENERAL ATOMICS, SMALLER NUCLEAR PLANTS ARE BEAUTIFUL, San Diego Union Tribune  But can its technology work? And is it even needed? BY ROB NIKOLEWSKI July 15, 2016 The scientists and engineers at General Atomics think the future of nuclear energy is coming on the back of a flatbed truck.

And the leadership at the San Diego-based company, which has been developing nuclear technologies for more than 60 years, has already spent millions in the expectation that its ambitious plans for the next generation of reactors will actually work.

“We have technology that we think is going to qualitatively change the game,” saidChristina Back, vice president of nuclear technologies and materials at General Atomics……’s designed to produce a reactor that’s so compact that the company’s handout material shows it being transported by tractor-trailer.

But EM² is still a long way from becoming a day-to-day reality in a fast-changing energy landscape.

Just building a prototype, Back said, is at least 10 years away and, “we’re looking at 2030-ish” before a commercial reactor could be up and running using EM² technology……And there are no guarantees the design will work……

Here in the United States, natural gas may pose an even greater challenge. Techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked vast amounts of natural gas in North America and the increased supply has lowered prices. Utilities are increasingly turning to natural gas-fired power plants to generate electricity, at least in large part, because gas burns much cleaner than coal.

Where does that leave nuclear?…….. nuclear has long faced intense opposition from those who consider it an inherently dangerous source of power and the EM² technology is being developed at a time when nuclear plants are getting shut down in places such as Illinois, Vermontand New York.

The environment for nuclear power in California is even more daunting……Critics of nuclear power point  to the falling costs and rising production numbers for renewable energy, as well as a mandate from the California Public Utilities Commission ordering the state’s big three investor-owned utilities to add 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage to their grids by the end of the decade.

McKinzie said the success of any advanced nuclear technology largely rests on its performance in the prototype stage, which does not come cheaply.”Safety and performance really have to be addressed by the protoype,” said McKinzie, who holds a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Pennsylvania. “When you’re talking on the order of a billion dollars to get to that point, that’s a pretty high hurdle.”….The leadership at General Atomics has invested $40 million so far in the EM² technology…….General Atomics was one of five companies that received a share of a $13 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy in October 2014…….

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear sector in crisis

Nuclear sector in crisis as SA weighs options, Business day Live,  BY MARK ALLIX,  15 JULY 2016 THE world nuclear industry status report for 2016 may give SA pause for thought about its ambitions to build nuclear power capacity.

The report says the global nuclear industry is in crisis, and renewable energy is taking over……

SA’s government is adamant that nuclear will be part of the energy mix, and of the country’s commitments to cutting carbon emissions. Existing solar and wind energy technologies cannot cater for base-load electricity demand to run modern industries, it says.

Safety and the funding of huge initial financial costs for nuclear reactors remain critical factors, despite the promise of lower carbon emissions, and ultimately, much lower electricity retail costs. Costs of up to R1-trillion have been estimated for SA’s proposed 9,600MW of nuclear power.

Knox Msebenzi, MD of the Nuclear Industry Association of SA, said on Thursday it was difficult to obtain an authoritative figure. The association, whose members included potential nuclear bidders, had not made an independent estimation of what such a project would cost.

“There are a lot of variables, which if not defined, could push the price up or down,” he said.

Project cost estimations could use typical industry accepted valuations. But despite including plenty of local content such as concrete and steel, costs were also subject to possible litigation over projects and exchange rate volatility for imported technologies.

Silas Zimu, the special energy adviser to President Jacob Zuma, said earlier in July that SA would have to build nuclear power plants on a piecemeal basis, according to what it could afford. It would also need to purchase the best technology, amid huge delays in the global nuclear industry…..

July 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment