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The New York Times utterly misrepresents whats happening in Germany

media-propagandaNuclear Power Advocates Claim Cheap Renewable Energy Is A Bad Thing, Climate Progress BY JOE ROMM JUL 28, 2016

“…………..For instance, in their “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course” story, the Times asserts:

In Germany, where renewables have mostly replaced nuclear power, carbon emissions are rising, even as Germans pay the most expensive electricity rates in Europe.

I have kept both of the hyperlinks from the Times piece so you can see for yourself what game they are playing. It is quite rare that a newspaper story links to two articles that so thoroughly debunk the points the story is trying to make.

The first hyperlink is apparently meant to cover the assertion, “In Germany, where renewables have mostly replaced nuclear power.” But as you can see, the link goes to a December 2015 “Clean Energy Wire” story with this lead chart: [on original]

This chart does not, however, show “renewables have mostly replaced nuclear power” (orange). Quite the reverse. The chart explicitly shows that, for example, from 2013 to 2015, renewable generation rose 42 billion kilowatt-hours (bkwh) — while natural gas dropped 11 bkwh, hard coal dropped 9 bkwh, lignite dropped 6 bkwh, and nuclear dropped 5 bkwh. In short, renewables up 42 bkwh, fossil fuels down 26 bkwh, and nuclear down 5 bkwh (while overall, generation was up). Oops!

Since renewables have been mostly replacing fossil fuels, as the chart shows, you can probably guess that carbon emissions haven’t actually been rising. The second hyperlink goes to a March 2016 story that contains this chart: [on original].

As you can plainly see, this chart does not show that “carbon emissions are rising.” Quite the reverse. German emissions have generally been falling.

So how does the Times get to its claim that German will “carbon emissions are rising” when the most one can objectively say is in recent years they have been flat? Well the links do note that CO2 emissions rose a whopping 1 percent in 2015. Or, as the first article put it, “Germany’s CO2 emissions have inched up in 2015 despite a rapidly increasing share of renewables in electricity production.”

Why did emissions inch up? The first link immediately goes on to explain, “The main cause for the year-on-year rise were cooler temperatures compared to 2014.” Not exactly a compelling argument for “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course.”

Yes, German electrical rates are high. The Times could have written an interesting story on why. It is actually a gift the Germans gave the world in its fight against global warming. The Germans decided to rapidly deploy solar power during a time when it was quite expensive to do so. Indeed, it was over five times more expensive to deploy in Germany back then than it is to deploy in the U.S. Southwest now!

That massive German investment helped solar power come down the learning curve faster than people expected, and today, as I’ve reported, utilities in this country and around the world are signing contracts for solar power at the unheard-of price of four cents a kilowatt hour or less — which is roughly one third of the average residential rate in this country.

Rather than trashing the Germans the way the New York Times does, we should all be thanking them! But the Times is not in the thanking business. They are in the slanting business.

The bottom line is that nothing that has happened in Germany supports the ridiculous thesis: “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course.” The truth, as the second link the Times itself provides explains, is that “a 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power within a decade, lent impetus by Japan’s Fukushima disaster, has seen dirty coal maintain a significant share of the energy mix.”

It was Germany’s decision to speed up the shutdown of its nuclear reactors that caused the drop in CO2 emissions to (temporarily) stall. Personally, I wouldn’t have made that decision, since the short-term consequences were almost inevitable. But for reasons only known to itself, the Times seems to be trying to make one of the biggest heroes of the climate action story in Germany — renewable power — into a villain.

The Times piece tries to do the same thing in its discussion of the competition between renewables and nuclear power (and natural gas) in this country. I’ll deal with that in my next piece. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/07/28/3802326/nuclear-power-renewables-cheap/

July 29, 2016 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point nuclear station – not just a folly – but a massive folly

Hinkley planWhy Hinkley Point is a nuclear folly of Titanic proportions   https://www.newscientist.com/article/2099287-why-hinkley-point-is-a-nuclear-folly-of-titanic-proportions/ French utility company EDF is going ahead with plans for a massive new nuclear reactor in the UK, but there are many reasons to doubt it will ever be finished, says Michael Le Page

It feels like watching Titanic. Despite numerous warnings of enormous icebergs ahead, it’s full steam ahead for the plan to build a huge nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in the UK. It seems all too likely to end in disaster.
The Hinkley plant is important for many reasons. For starters, it’s a key part of the UK’s plans to cut greenhouse emissions, meant to supply a whopping 7 per cent of the country’s electricity. If completed, it will be the UK’s first new nuclear plant for decades, the most expensive built anywhere and the biggest construction project in Europe, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

It’s also crucial for France, which largely owns EDF, the company that will build Hinkley. France needs the project to help cover the huge cost of revamping its ageing collection of nuclear plants, which currently supply three-quarters of the country’s electricity. And Hinkley matters to China, too, as one of its state-owned companies will be stumping up a third of the cost.

But despite today’s much-delayed decision by EDF to go ahead with the megaproject, its future still looks doubtful. There are huge financial, legal, technical and safety-related icebergs  lurking in the seas ahead.

 Rather than borrow the £20 billion – or more – needed to build Hinkley, the UK government asked EDF to pay for it in exchange for paying a guaranteed price for electricity for 35 years. But EDF is in financial difficulties, and even within the company many think that taking on the project is too great a risk.

Behind schedule

One reason why is that the two reactors planned for Hinkley are based on a new design. The EPR design is supposed to be safer and more efficient, but it has proved so difficult to construct that not one has yet been completed.

EDF started building the first EPR, at Olkiluoto in Finland, in 2005. It was supposed to start up in 2009. Work on the second, at Flamanville in France, began in 2007 and was due to be finished in 2012. Another two EPRs are being built in Taishan, China. All four projects are years behind schedule and have cost billions more than expected.

 Worse still, weak spots have been found in the steel reactor core at Flamanville. If it has to be replaced, the still incomplete plant would have to be largely dismantled to replace it, at immense cost to EDF. And that’s not all. Earlier this year, it was reported that one of the companies supplying components to EDF had falsified safety certificates.

There are also worries about the fact that a state-owned Chinese company will be supplying some of the parts and workers for the project. The UK’s intelligence agencies are said to be concerned that a “back door” could be built into the control systems, allowing China to shut down the plant if it wanted to.

Last but not least, there are various legal challenges pending. The Austrian government, for instance, is appealing against the European Commission’s decision to approve state aid for the project, saying it breaches European laws. Meanwhile, French authorities are investigating possible financial misreporting by EDF.

Even in the unlikely event that the Hinkley project dodges all these icebergs, there may not be a happy ending. Many analysts think it’s a bad deal for the UK, because it has had to promise to pay a very high price for Hinkley’s electricity.

The worst-case scenario is that the project sails on for many more years before finally sinking. That will be a disaster for everyone.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

How many nuclear detonations would create a global wasteland?

apocalypseHow Close Are We to Nuclear War? By William Boardman Global Research, July 28, 2016 “I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War – and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.” – William J. Perry, U.S. Defense Secretary (1994-1997), January 2016

Former Bill Clinton cabinet member Perry perceives a danger that none of this year’s presidential wannabes have paid much if any attention to. The most recent candidate to make nuclear arms a central issue was Congressman Dennis Kucinich in 2008. President Obama has played both sides of the nuclear dilemma: rounding up and securing nuclear materials around the world, but also modernizing and miniaturizing American nuclear weapons to make them more “usable.” These days, no one in leadership – or aspiring to leadership – seems committed to actually making the world any safer from nuclear catastrophe. With rare exceptions like Kucinich, this unquestioned reliance on nuclear weapons is mainstream American military group-think, endlessly echoed in mainstream media, and that’s the way it’s been for decades

In November 2015, William J. Perry published “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink” with Stanford University Press, a short book (234 pages) with a global warning that goes unheeded and almost unmentioned in out denial-drenched culture. A quick Google search turns up no reviews of the book – none – in mainstream media. Pro forma book trade reviews by outfits like Kirkus or Publishers Weekly or Amazon make Perry’s book sound pretty bland and boring, but then so does the publisher’s own blurb. It’s as if these people are saying: yes, we know there’s a pack of wolves in the woods, and that’s not necessarily such a good thing, but we don’t want to be accused of crying wolf, and besides we’ve got our own wolves at home, and they’re trim and well fed, and they haven’t attacked anybody since 1945, so why is anyone worried?

That’s Perry’s point, of course, that nobody’s worried – worse: “our people are blissfully unaware.” He doesn’t go on to argue that our people are deliberately kept unaware by a government and media pyramid that manages public consciousness for its own ends. Listen, Perry was free to publish his book, people are free not to read it, what more can one ask? That’s the nature of repressive tolerance.

“A Stark Nuclear Warning”

California governor Jerry Brown reviewed Perry’s book in the New York Review of Books for July 14, 2016, under the headline: “A Stark Nuclear Warning.” William J. Perry spent an adult lifetime working in the world of nuclear weapons. Perry has long expressed his concern that the detonation of just one nuclear weapon could produce a “nuclear catastrophe … that could destroy our way of life.” Perry has been a manager of nuclear weapons “deterrence,” which he now considers “old thinking.” The fact that deterrence hasn’t failed for more than 70 years is not evidence that the policy is successful. In Perry’s view, nuclear weapons do not provide security for anyone, and the more nuclear weapons there are in more and more and more hands, the more they endanger us all.

In his review, Brown tried to break through the complacent collective quiet in response to the bipartisan American nuclear risk-taking that Perry objects to:

… as a defense insider and keeper of nuclear secrets, he is clearly calling American leaders to account for what he believes are very bad decisions, such as the precipitous expansion of NATO, right up to the Russian border, and President George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, originally signed by President Nixon.

Twenty years of American stealth aggression against Russia, particularly in Ukraine and Georgia, is only the most obvious flashpoint, though perhaps not the most dangerous one……..

How many nuclear detonations would create a global wasteland?………http://www.globalresearch.ca/how-close-are-we-to-nuclear-war/5538453

July 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain’s blank cheque for massive new nuclear project, that will soon be obsolete anyway

We’ve signed a blank cheque for nuclear power with Hinkley Point , Telegraph, JEREMY WARNER, 26 July 16  “…….. Barring a surprise change of heart, which is not altogether impossible after the latest boardroom bust-up, they are to plough ahead regardless – regardless that is of the solvency risk it poses to EDF, already struggling with the finance for nuclear renewal in France, regardless of the latest EDF resignation, regardless of the ever escalating cost, estimated at £18bn and rising the last time I looked, regardless of the untested technology being adopted, regardless of the fact that it commits Britain to a Chinese solution to other nuclear reactors elsewhere in Britain, together with the accompanying security risk, and most important of all, regardless of spiralling subsidy costs, including a strike price, inflation-proofed for thirty five years, for output which is more than double the current going rate for wholesale electricity…….

The bottom line is far too big a price is being paid for an untried technology which will very likely be obsolete before the plant is even completed.

To get Hinkley built, ministers have had to agree an ever-lengthening and more humiliating list of concessions, including, almost unbelievably, virtually penalty free scope for contract over-runs of up to eight years beyond the planned completion date of 2025. With Hinkley Point scheduled to provide Britain with 7 per cent of its electricity needs, any such delay would leave consumers disastrously exposed to Britain’s looming energy shortfall, as existing nuclear and coal fired plants come to the end of their natural lives.

In any case, a project of always questionable value to the UK economy has been left looking like a total white elephant by the collapse in the price of fossil fuels.  The National Audit Office recently estimated that over the lifetime of the project, the extra cost to consumers of Hinkley’s output had risen from an already punishing £6.1bn when the strike price was originally agreed three years ago,to a jaw-dropping £29.7bn today. Together with other policies designed to deliver a low carbon future, Hinkley’s costs will add approximately £230 a year to the average household electricity bill, according to Government estimates……..

It is no accident that Hinkley’s two backers, France’s EDF and China’s General Nuclear Power Corporation, are both creatures of the state, for the upfront costs of “grand projets” like Hinkley are so large and high risk that the private sector struggles to finance them. France and China will be charging us through the nose for the privilege. ….

July 29, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Interactive tool shows you what would happen if a nuclear bomb hit London

see-this.wayWhat would happen if a nuclear bomb hit London? Use this interactive tool to discover your fate, Mirror, UK 28 July 16    What would happen if a nuclear bomb hit Britain?

The effects would be devastating but this tool shows just how widespread they would be.

It’s a highly unlikely scenario, of course.

However, 60 years ago, crisis planners were desperately worried about the threat of a nuclear attack and identified key cities and towns in the UK which were a likely target to be wiped out with one nuclear bomb.

Here’s what the effects could be today if a nuclear bomb detonated in London.

We’ve used the Nukemap website and looked at three different bombs, all of which have been either used or tested.

It’s a highly unlikely scenario, of course. However, 60 years ago, crisis planners were desperately worried about the threat of a nuclear attack and identified key cities and towns in the UK which were a likely target to be wiped out with one nuclear bomb.

Here’s what the effects could be today if a nuclear bomb detonated in London. We’ve used the Nukemap website and looked at three different bombs, all of which have been either used or tested.

1. Ivy Mike – the first H-bomb (10.4 megatons)

Estimated fatalities: 2,336,920

Estimated injuries: 2,614,180

Fireball radius (orange): The entire city centre including monuments such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace would be consumed by a nuclear fireball 3.2km wide – stretching up to Camden Town and down to Brixton. The fatality rate is 100%.

Radiation radius (green): Slightly wider than the fireball radius. Without medical treatment, expect between 50% and 90% mortality from acute effects alone. Dying takes between several hours and several weeks

Air blast radius (red – 20psi): The most intense air blast would have a radius of 4.75km and demolish heavily built concrete buildings in Chalk Farm, London Bridge, Chelsea and Kensington among other areas. The fatality rate is still 100% or very close.

Air blast radius (grey – 5psi): A lesser air blast radius would still cause the collapse of all residential buildings within a 10km radius. That means houses would collapse all the way out in East Finchley, Stratford, Poplar and Streatham. Injuries are universal and fatalities widespread.

Thermal radiation radius (lighter orange): The thermal radiation radius is 29.1km. This would mean third degree burns “throughout the layers of the skin”, which could cause severe scarring, disablement and even amputation. This radius covers Watford, Hayes, Epsom, Croydon, Twickenham, Dartford and Epping.

2. The Tsar Bomba – the largest USSR  bomb tested (50 megatons)……

3. ‘Fat Man’ – the Nagasaki bomb (20 kilotons)……..http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/what-would-happen-nuclear-bomb-8514152

 

July 29, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s aggressive military policies in Europe increase risk of nuclear annihilation

US must stop playing with nuclear hellfire, Ecologist ,Conn Hallinan 26th July 2016 

Thanks to an increasingly aggressive US foreign policy pursued over decades, NATO nuclear missiles and armed forces are poised on Russia’s border, writes Conn Hallinan – forcing it to abandon its ‘no first use of nuclear weapons’ pledge in view of the massively asymmetrical threat it faces. The world must step back from the brink of nuclear annihilation……….

bombed city

Playing with hellfire

What has made today’s world more dangerous, however, is not just advances in the destructive power of nuclear weapons, but a series of actions by the last three US administrations.

  • First was the decision by President Bill Clinton to abrogate a 1990 agreement with the Soviet Union not to push NATO further east after the reunification of Germany or to recruit former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact.
    NATO has also reneged on a 1997 pledge not to install “permanent” and “significant”military forces in former Warsaw Pact countries. This month NATO decided to deploy four battalions on, or near, the Russian border, arguing that since the units will be rotated they are not ‘permanent’ and are not large enough to be ‘significant’. It is a linguistic slight of hand that does not amuse Moscow.
  • Second was the 1999 US-NATO intervention in the Yugoslav civil war and the forcible dismemberment of Serbia. It is somewhat ironic that Russia is currently accused of using force to “redraw borders in Europe” by annexing the Crimea, which is exactly what NATO did to create Kosovo. The US subsequently built Camp Bond Steel, Washington’s largest base in the Balkans.
  • Third was President George W, Bush’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the decision by the Obama administration to deploy anti-missile systems in Romania and Poland, as well as Japan and South Korea.
  • Last is the decision by the White House to spend upwards of $1 trillion upgrading its nuclear weapons arsenal, which includes building bombs with smaller yields, a move that many critics argue blurs the line between conventional and nuclear weapons.

The Yugoslav War and NATO’s move east convinced Moscow that the Alliance was surrounding Russia with potential adversaries, and the deployment of anti-missile systems (ABM) – supposedly aimed at Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons – was seen as a threat to the Russian’s nuclear missile force.

One immediate effect of ABMs was to chill the possibility of further cuts in the number of nuclear weapons. When Obama proposed another round of warhead reductions, the Russians turned it down cold, citing the anti-missile systems as the reason.

Playing with hellfire

What has made today’s world more dangerous, however, is not just advances in the destructive power of nuclear weapons, but a series of actions by the last three US administrations.

  • First was the decision by President Bill Clinton to abrogate a 1990 agreement with the Soviet Union not to push NATO further east after the reunification of Germany or to recruit former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact.
    NATO has also reneged on a 1997 pledge not to install “permanent” and “significant”military forces in former Warsaw Pact countries. This month NATO decided to deploy four battalions on, or near, the Russian border, arguing that since the units will be rotated they are not ‘permanent’ and are not large enough to be ‘significant’. It is a linguistic slight of hand that does not amuse Moscow.
  • Second was the 1999 US-NATO intervention in the Yugoslav civil war and the forcible dismemberment of Serbia. It is somewhat ironic that Russia is currently accused of using force to “redraw borders in Europe” by annexing the Crimea, which is exactly what NATO did to create Kosovo. The US subsequently built Camp Bond Steel, Washington’s largest base in the Balkans.
  • Third was President George W, Bush’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the decision by the Obama administration to deploy anti-missile systems in Romania and Poland, as well as Japan and South Korea.
  • Last is the decision by the White House to spend upwards of $1 trillion upgrading its nuclear weapons arsenal, which includes building bombs with smaller yields, a move that many critics argue blurs the line between conventional and nuclear weapons.

The Yugoslav War and NATO’s move east convinced Moscow that the Alliance was surrounding Russia with potential adversaries, and the deployment of anti-missile systems (ABM) – supposedly aimed at Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons – was seen as a threat to the Russian’s nuclear missile force.

One immediate effect of ABMs was to chill the possibility of further cuts in the number of nuclear weapons. When Obama proposed another round of warhead reductions, the Russians turned it down cold, citing the anti-missile systems as the reason……..

There is no evidence that Russia contemplates an attack on the Baltic states or countries like Poland, and, given the enormous power of the US, such an undertaking would court national suicide.

Moscow’s ‘aggression’ against Georgia and Ukraine was provoked. Georgia attacked Russia, not vice versa, and the Ukraine coup torpedoed a peace deal negotiated by the European Union, the US, and Russia. Imagine Washington’s view of a Moscow-supported coup in Mexico, followed by an influx of Russian weapons and trainers.

In a memorandum to the recent NATO meetings in Warsaw, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argued, “There is not one scintilla of evidence of any Russian plan to annex Crimea before the coup in Kiev and coup leaders began talking about joining NATO. If senior NATO leaders continue to be unable or unwilling to distinguish between cause and effect, increasing tension is inevitable with potentially disastrous results.”

The organization of former intelligence analysts also sharply condemned the NATO war games“We shake our heads in disbelief when we see Western leaders seemingly oblivious to what it means to the Russians to witness exercises on a scale not seen since Hitler’s army launched ‘Unternehumen Barbarossa’ 75 years ago, leaving 25 million Soviet citizens dead.”

European states are getting scared – and so they should be!

While the NATO meetings in Warsaw agreed to continue economic sanctions aimed at Russia for another six months and to station four battalions of troops in Poland and the Baltic states – separate US forces will be deployed in Bulgaria and Poland – there was an undercurrent of dissent. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for deescalating the tensions with Russia and for considering Russian President Vladimir Putin a partner not an enemy.

Greece was not alone. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeler called NATO maneuvers on the Russian border “warmongering” and “saber rattling”. French President Francois Hollande said Putin should be considered a “partner”, not a “threat”, and France tried to reduce the number of troops being deployed in the Baltic and Poland. Italy has been increasingly critical of the sanctions.

Rather than recognizing the growing discomfort of a number of NATO allies and that beefing up forces on Russia’s borders might be destabilizing, US Secretary of State John Kerry recently inked defense agreements with Georgia and Ukraine.

After disappearing from the radar for several decades, nukes are back, and the decision to modernize the US arsenal will almost certainly kick off a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. Russia is already replacing its current ICBM force with the more powerful and long range ‘Sarmat’ ICBM, and China is loading its ICBM with multiple warheads.

Add to this volatile mixture military maneuvers and a deliberately opaque policy in regards to the use of nuclear weapons, and it is no wonder that Perry thinks that the chances of some catastrophe is a growing possibility.

Conn Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. A winner of a Project Censored ‘Real News Award’, he lives in Berkeley, California, and blogs at Dispatches from the Edge.  http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2987941/us_must_stop_playing_with_nuclear_hellfire.html

July 29, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France’s State-owned nuclear company EDF decides to go ahead with UK’s Hinkley nuclear station

£18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear power station gets go ahead from EDF, Mirror, 28 JUL 2016 BY ALAN JONES ,   

The French energy giant has decided to press ahead of a new plant in a crunch board meeting in Paris
EDF has given the go ahead to building a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, after a crunch board meeting in Paris.

The French energy giant had been expected to make the final investment decision today , clearing the way for the £18 billion project to go ahead.

Reports said the board voted by 10-7 in favour. EDF in the UK made no immediate comment.

John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director, said: “This deal was more riven with dissension in the EDF board than anyone expected. It’s unprecedented division and far closer than predicted.

“Countless experts have warned that for British families this power station will be terrible value for money.

“This is a bitter pill to swallow for hard up people who have been told that the Government is trying to keep bills down while dealing with energy security and lowering carbon emissions………..
A director opposed to the construction of Hinkley Point C resigned before the board met.

Gerard Magnin said in his resignation letter that Hinkley Point was “very risky”.

He did not attend the board meeting, leaving 17 directors to make the crucial decision. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/18-billion-hinkley-point-nuclear-8514859

July 29, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Critics slam British government’s Hinkley Point c nuclear boondoggle

Nuclear critics condemn government for pushing through Hinkley Point C
Green MP Caroline Lucas and host of experts strongly criticise project while pro-nuclear experts welcome EDF go-ahead,
Guardian,  28 July 16, Nuclear critics are rounding on the government for pushing through the giantHinkley nuclear project they say had been negotiated in secret, could be unbuildable, is technically flawed and will condemn Britain to centuries of massive, unnecessary costs.

“It beggars belief that this government, which prides itself on pinching the pennies, plans to spend tens of billions on Hinkley Point – the most expensive white elephant in British history. It seems its commitment to inflexible, outdated, unaffordable power production knows no bounds,” said the Green MP Caroline Lucas on Thursday.

“At a total cost to consumers of nearly £30bn, Hinkley now represents appalling value for money. If built, it will force cheaper renewables off the system for much of its subsidised life,” said Paul Ekins, professor of resources at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

Greenpeace’s chief scientist, Doug Parr, questioned the competence of French energy firms EDF and Areva to build and implement the project. “This is a one-off project which can barely be afforded and which will lead nowhere. There are serious questions over the competence and capacity of a company to build a project which will have safety liabilities that stretch centuries into the future,” he said.

UK nuclear power generation is £27.5 more expensive per MWh than that generated by gas power plants.

Parr said that Hinkley would increase the chances of nuclear proliferation and greatly increase Britain’s high-level nuclear waste. “Over its lifetime Hinkley will produce waste equivalent to 80% of all the waste so far produced in the UK in terms of radioactivity. Protecting, guarding and maintaining this highly dangerous spent fuel on site for up to 200 years will be a massive challenge. The government has no plans for what it will do with it,” he said.

Jonathon Porritt, the former head of the government’s sustainable development commission, said there were serious flaws in a similar reactor being built at Flamanville in France. “There is the increasingly likely possibility that the steel reactor vessel EDF has constructed for the EPR at Flamanville may be so seriously flawed as to require it to be broken out of the reactor building for repairs. This would be an unbelievably expensive and time-consuming process,” he said.

Legal experts warned that the government would still have to overcome court challenges. Karla Hill, Client Earth’s director of programmes, said: “This deal is less than visionary and centralises the UK’s power production even more when the government should be creating a decentralised energy system for the future. What is more, state support for this project is the subject of two ongoing legal cases.”

“UK taxpayers and electricity consumers will be locked into paying for the coming Hinkley debacle long after the current EDF board and UK government decision-makers are dead and buried,” said Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at UCL’sEnergy Institute.

“There is no way that Hinkley can deliver power by 2025, which is already eight years later than originally promised. And it is costing many more billions in subsidies than initially thought,” he added.

“This deal has been done in secret, with no transparency. It’s a barking mad decision. At a time when renewable costs are tumbling and the costs of EDF’s other projects are soaring, we are tying our hands to a contract that runs far into the future at well over the odds”, said Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of research and science…….https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/28/nuclear-critics-condemn-government-for-pushing-through-hinkley-point-c

July 29, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear company Eskom urging government to freeze renewable energy program

propagandaIs Eskom building a case for nuclear power?, Business Day Live,   BY SALIEM FAKIR  JULY 28 2016, IT IS disconcerting that Eskom is advising the government to freeze a globally acclaimed renewable energy programme based on a perceived misunderstanding of the benefits of the renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) programme.

Eskom has justified its recent announcement not to sign further power purchase agreements with independent power producers with reasons that range from questions about the need for additional renewables and baseload IPPs, to improved operating performance, its large-scale new build programme, and protecting consumers from higher prices by not buying additional capacity.

Yet, the renewable energy programme is regarded as highly successful, and it delivers a wide range of benefits at the best prices given that it is a buyer’s market.

Eskom’s own 2016 financial report states that wind and solar are now cheaper than coal-generated electricity. The Treasury has stated that 92 renewable energy programme projects have attracted R193bn in private sector investment, totalling a contribution of 6,327 MW of capacity to the national grid. The total projected value of goods and services to be procured from broad-based black economic empowerment suppliers is put at more than R101bn.

Investment in renewables accounted for 85.8% of total direct foreign investment in SA in 2014. A Council for Scientific and Industrial Research report revealed that wind energy produced net savings of R1.8bn in the first half of 2015 and was also cash positive for Eskom by R300m.

The net savings can be attributed to avoiding diesel and coal fuel costs, as well as the economic costs of load shedding. Renewable energy in total generated a net benefit for the economy of up to R4bn. Renewable energy production has cut 4.4m tonnes of carbon dioxide.

At a policy level, the government has indicated that renewable energy has to be ramped up. The country’s energy vision and the National Development Plan call for a greater mix of energy sources and a greater diversity of IPPs in the energy industry, with the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan’s vision calling for 17,800 MW of renewable energy to be in place by 2030.

Internationally, SA is a signatory to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global climate change agreement to keep planet emissions beneath 1.5°C by honouring carbon emissions reduction targets.

Legally speaking, Eskom is a buyer of electricity, with the Department of Energy procuring capacity in line with ministerial determinations. The government’s commitment has been laudable. It is worrying that Eskom seems to wish to erode this………..

It seems Eskom is building a case for nuclear and this is the real reason behind the freeze on further renewable procurement. There is no guarantee that the proposed large nuclear new build programme will be cheap, considering that Medupi and Kusile are proving to be more expensive than some renewables. We would urge pragmatism and prudence on their part.

• Fakir is the head of the policy and futures unit with the World Wide Fund for Nature in SA. http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/2016/07/28/is-eskom-building-a-case-for-nuclear-power

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

A doomed attempt to save George Osborne’s face – the Hinkley C Nuclear Shemozzle

Hinkley Point C is no more than a doomed attempt at face-saving, Guardian  John Sauven, 28 July 16 
With all the costs and risks involved, the spectre of George Osborne’s energy policy could haunt Britain for decades 

George Osborne’s reputation as a master political tactician may have gone the way of Leave’s £350m a week for the NHS, but the spectre of his misguided energy policy could haunt Britain for decades, and at Hinkley in north Somerset, for millennia.

Theresa May’s government urgently need to seize the opportunity to minimise the damage, an opportunity which only lasts while her government can portray them as the last regime’s errors, and disown them.

This week we learned that the UK has lost 12,000 jobs in the solar industry. This economic disaster was due to Osborne’s ideologically driven subsidy cuts to what was a vibrant and growing sector of the economy. The ideology in question was not opposition to state subsidies, of course.

Osborne has lavished new subsidies on the fossil fuel industry, just as the other leading industrialised nations have started to cut them, and Hinkley Point C is an Olympic-sized subsidy swallower. Osborne simply didn’t like renewables, despite onhore wind farms providing the cheapest electricity in Britain, and solar looking like the technology most likely to undercut them.

Whether this was due to powerful empathy with the small minority of voters who object to renewable energy, a gross misunderstanding of the economics, or an unhealthy affinity with the larger, more established firms pushing older technologies, is difficult to say. But the initial bad decisions became calcified into commandments as the government was forced to defend them repeatedly against an array of bewildered experts.

To avoid paying a low level of subsidy on technologies whose prices were dropping dramatically, Osborne’s Treasury made them rain on the one technology whose costs just keep on going up.

Hinkley C had been described as “the most expensive object on Earth” many months before the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that subsidies would be nearly five times as big as had been previously advertised………

 The NAO has claimed this month that new offshore wind would actually be cheaper than new nuclear energy, a claim confirmed by Danish firm Dong Energy building two offshore windfarms for €72.70 (£61.10) a megawatt hour, compared to Hinkley’s £92.50.

That eye-watering price is guaranteed to Hinkley for 35 years from the plant becoming operational, so billpayers will still be cursing the ghost of austerity past in the 2060s. But that’s just the short-term cost. Hinkley will produce yet more nuclear waste to add to our huge, hazardous and homeless stockpile, and so the legacy of Osborne could haunt us for many hundreds of thousands of years.

And all this, all these costs, risks and subsidies, are now no more than a doomed attempt to save the face of an ex-chancellor whose reputation was finally taken off life support a month ago.

Unless the new government sees sense and calls out their predecessor’s mistakes for what they are, two generations of UK consumers will be left footing the bill for the most expensive act of political face-saving in the history of British politics.  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/27/hinkley-point-c-no-more-than-doomed-attempt-face-saving

July 29, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Hans Kristensen verified Ploughshares’ facts on America’s nuclear arsenal and its costs

GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: HANS KRISTENSEN  http://www.ploughshares.org/issues-analysis/article/grantee-spotlight-hans-kristensen  Nuclear weapons information vital to debate in Washington State, Ploughshares.org. Will Lowry, July 26, 2016

  A growing number of leaders like Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, are increasingly concerned about the US government’s $1 trillion plan to rebuild our nuclear arsenal – a plan that could trigger a new arms global arms race with Russia and China. “I think to have a Cold War nuclear [weapons] policy is completely inappropriate to the current times,” the US Congressman from Washington State recently said.

He has reason to worry. Few people in the US are aware of this dangerous taxpayer-funded plan that could profoundly impact Washington State. And few locals know that if Washington State were a country, it would be the third largest nuclear state in the world, that just 20 miles west across the Puget Sound is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the United States at the Kitsap-Bangor base, and that the US Navy is planning to expand the Kitsap-Bangor base to accommodate Trident-class nuclear weapons submarines.

That is why the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action recently sponsored a public bus advertising campaign in Seattle to raise public awareness of the nuclear threat so close to home.

“We hope to generate a measure of citizen interest, and to begin a public discussion of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. In this election year the danger of nuclear weapons ought to be a topic of discussion,” Ground Zero member Rodney Brunelle recently said of the bus ad campaign.

However, Ground Zero encountered an unanticipated problem. According to the group, the county was hesitant to run the ad, doubting the accuracy of the claim.

That’s where Ploughshares Fund grantee, renowned nuclear expert Hans Kristensen, came into the picture.

Ground Zero contacted Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, to verify the facts in order to convince the county that their ad was not making false claims. He regularly provides the general public and policymakers with information and analysis on the status, number, and operation of nuclear weapons, the policies that guide their potential use and nuclear arms control.

We believe the public needs this type of information and analysis if for no other reason than that we live in a democracy where people should have a say in the most important decisions the country makes – and this includes policy decisions related to nuclear weapons.

Funding expert sourcing and verification of information around nuclear weapons can help democratize important decisions and inform expert policy analysis at the same time. We are proud to support Kristensen and the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. We believe that through reason, information and dialogue, the threat of nuclear weapons can be reduced – and one day – even eliminated.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Poland’s restrictive new law hampers wind energy development

Restrictive new law will harm Poland’s wind industry, advocates say, Midwest Energy News,  , 28 July 16, A new law that took effect in Poland earlier this month could kill growing competition from land-based wind farms by expanding setback requirementstenfold and increasing tax burdens, clean energy advocates say.

The law took effect July 15 and comes after Poland’s conservative Law and Justice Party won control of the government in last fall’s elections. That party’s leadership has embraced coal as the future of the country’s energy landscape.

Investors are going to go bankrupt,” said Wojciech Cetnarski of the Polish Wind Energy Association.

Ohio passed its own law tripling property line setbacks for wind turbines in 2014. Since then, the state has seen little development of new wind farms, except forprojects grandfathered in under previous setback requirements.

Among other things, the Polish law raises the minimum setback for a new turbine to at least ten times its height from buildings and forests. In addition, the law allows extended shutdowns for turbine inspections and could lead to a fourfold increase intaxes for all land-based wind farm operations.

In Cetnarski’s view, curtailing wind energy will give an advantage to coal-fired power, which dominates Poland’s energy landscape.

“The market share of the state-owned companies will increase,” he said. “Electricity prices in Poland will go up.”

Other new provisions in Polish law could make it more difficult for renewable energy facilities to sell electricity to the grid, delaying recovery of investment costs and profits.

Poland’s actions came soon after the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) announced earlier this year that the levelized cost of electricity from wind energy is now essentially on par with that of coal. More recently, IRENA reported that global average costs for electricity from wind and solar energy could drop up to59 percent by 2025.

Before the law, Poland’s wind industry had been expanding, with installed capacity growing more than five times from 2010 to 2015. Projections showed that the country could add up to another 10 gigawatts of onshore wind energy by 2030.

The new setback law is especially frustrating to Poland’s wind industry because the prior government had finally agreed to a plan that would have shifted more subsidies for the country’s renewable investments into wind energy.

The new government suspended that law in December…….http://midwestenergynews.com/2016/07/26/restrictive-new-law-will-harm-polands-wind-industry-advocates-say/

July 29, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) authorizes Georgia Power to spend up to $99 million on new nuclear station

text-my-money-2flag-UKGeorgia Power gets green light on new nuclear plant, Atlanta  Business Chronicle, Jul 28, 2016, State energy regulators gave Georgia Power Co. the go-ahead Thursday to start laying the groundwork for a new nuclear power plant south of Columbus, Ga.

But the Atlanta-based utility won’t be able to charge customers as much as it wanted to conduct preliminary site work and seek an operating license for a proposed nuclear facility at a 7,000-acre site in rural Stewart County.

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted 4-1 to authorize Georgia Power to spend up to $99 million on the early stages of the project through the second quarter of 2019. The utility was asking the commission for authority to recover from customers up to $175 million in costs associated with the work.

The PSC’s staff had recommended that the commission put off a decision on the new nuclear plant until 2019…..

Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, who voted against Wise’s motion, said Georgia Power should be willing to invest its own money in the Stewart County project rather than charge customers.

“If they’re as sure about another nuclear program in 2025 and beyond … let their investors make the first investment,” he said.

McDonald questioned the wisdom of building a nuclear plant along the Chattahoochee River because of the huge volumes of water consumed in nuclear power generation and noted that the federal government still doesn’t have a long-term plan for disposing of the nuclear wastes being generated today at plants across the country…..http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2016/07/28/georgia-power-gets-green-light-on-new-nuclear.html

July 29, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment