Mining Awareness +
While the UK government announced intention of moving forward with construction of Hinkley Pt. C Nuclear Power Station on Sept. 15th, they did not actually sign the contract until Sept. 29th.
Almost one week before, the French Regulator ASN released an update about defects-quality control problems for this nuclear power station type (as well as others).
Several days before, independent consultant Large & Associates issued a 49 page scathing analysis of the defects and quality problems related to this nuclear power station type (and others).
The Rip Rip off cost of new nuclear-Hinkley Pt. C in both the US and UK is approximately twice that of onshore wind power, and this is excluding the cost of cooling and storing the waste for perpetuity. This also excludes the health and other social costs associated with the legal (and illegal) discharges of radioactive materials into the environment. It is a lethal RIP…
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¶ India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world. But unregulated mining has led to environmental issues we might not even imagine, one of which is increasing conflicts between elephants and humans. As forests are being cleared for coal mining, wild elephants are entering villages in search of food and attacking people. [BBC]
A wild elephant in a village in Chhattisgarh (Subrata Biswas)
¶ GE Renewable Energy has received a contract from Max Boegl Wind AG to supply four 3.4-137 wind turbines that are planned to be integrated with a 16-MW pumped storage hydropower plant in Germany’s Swabian-Franconian Forest. The hydropower equipment will be delivered by local company Voith. [SeeNews Renewables]
¶ Vestas has broken into a fresh market with a deal to build the 50-MW Tsetsii wind farm in Mongolia. The Danish wind manufacturer will deliver unidentified hardware to Clean…
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Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.
For more than thirty years, climate scientists have been living a surreal existence. A vast and ever-growing body of research shows that warming is tracking the rise of greenhouse gases exactly as their models predicted.
The physical evidence becomes more dramatic every year: forests retreating, animals moving north, glaciers melting, wildfire seasons getting longer, higher rates of droughts, floods, and storms—five times as many in the 2000s as in the 1970s.
In the blunt words of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, conducted by three hundred of America’s most distinguished experts at the request of the U. S. government, human-induced climate change is real—U. S. temperatures have gone up between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees, mostly since 1970—and the change is already affecting “agriculture, water, human health, energy, transportation, forests, and…
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The Arctic climate is changing so quickly that science can barely keep track of what is happening and predict the global consequences, the UN says.
LONDON, 29 September, 2016 – In an unusually stark warning a leading international scientific body says the Arctic climate is changing so fast that researchers are struggling to keep up. The changes happening there, it says, are affecting the weather worldwide.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says: “Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic is driving sea level rise, affecting weather patterns around the world and may trigger even more changes in the climate system.
“The rate of change is challenging the current scientific capacity to monitor and predict what is becoming a journey into uncharted territory.”
The WMO is the United Nations’ main agency responsible for weather, climate and water.
Its president, David Grimes, said: “The Arctic is a principal, global driver of the…
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South Africa will delay tendering for new nuclear power stations after requests for consultation and discussion made it impossible to start the process by the end of September as initially planned, the energy minister said on Thursday.
A statement said energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson remained “fully committed” to plans for nuclear procurement. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-nuclear-idUSKCN11Z1SW
The World Passes 400 PPM Threshold. Permanently, [good graph and animation] Climate Central, By Brian Kahn September 27th, 2016 In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million.
That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.
Because carbon pollution has been increasing since the start of the Industrial Revolution and has shown no signs of abating, it was more a question of “when” rather than “if” we would cross this threshold. The inevitability doesn’t make it any less significant, though.
September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. At Mauna Loa Observatory, the world’s marquee site for monitoring carbon dioxide, there are signs that the process has begun but levels have remained above 400 ppm.
Since the industrial revolution, humans have been altering this process by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than plants can take up. That’s driven carbon dioxide levels higher and with it, global temperatures, along with a host of other climate change impacts.
“Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible,” Ralph Keeling, the scientist who runs the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, wrote in a blog post. “Brief excursions toward lower values are still possible, but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.”
We may get a day or two reprieve in the next month, similar to August when Tropical Storm Madeline blew by Hawaii and knocked carbon dioxide below 400 ppm for a day. But otherwise, we’re living in a 400 ppm world. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, what has already put in the atmosphere will linger for many decades to come…….http://www.climatecentral.org/news/world-passes-400-ppm-threshold-permanently-20738
HOW DONALD TRUMP IS REVIVING GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR’S NUCLEAR GAMEPLAN, Newsweek, BY ON 9/29/16 . Trump has said on multiple occasions that he would use nuclear weapons, possibly dropping on ISIS. Nothing else Trump has said—about Muslims, women, protesters, immigrants and so on—has chilled the political, military and media establishment more than his glib pronouncements on nuclear weapons. If we’re not going to use them, Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in a typical remark last March, “then why are we making them?” He said he might drop one on the Islamic State group, known as ISIS, or Europe. “You want to be unpredictable,” he said. A year ago, people thought such statements would disqualify him.
Whether he knew it or not, though, Trump was expressing standard U.S. policy since the dawn of the Cold War. But it’s one thing for President Barack Obama or his mostly even-keeled predecessors to have the nuclear codes. It’s another thing to hand them to a man whose narcissistic, grandiose and impulsive personality “is certainly extreme by any standard, and particularly rare for a presidential candidate,” as the psychologist Dan McAdams, a student of presidential minds,wrote in The Atlantic. A Trump presidency “could be highly combustible,” McAdams added. “He could be a daring and ruthlessly aggressive decision maker who…never thinks twice about the collateral damage he will leave behind.”…………http://www.newsweek.com/2016/10/07/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-general-macarthur-harry-truman-503979.html
Hinkley Point nuclear deal signed as Government admits gas would be cheaper, Telegraph, energy editor 29 SEPTEMBER 2016
The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant will saddle UK consumers with higher energy bills than building gas power stations, the Government has admitted, as it signed a legally-binding contract to subsidise the £18bn project.
An official assessment claimed the Franco-Chinese project to build Britain’s first nuclear plant in a generation represented “value for money”, despite being more expensive than gas, because it would help meet climate change targets.
A series of deals signed between the Government, France’s EDF and China’s state nuclear firm CGN at a ceremony in London marked the final go-ahead for the Somerset power plant and also fired the formal starting gun on Chinese efforts to build their own reactor in Essex………
Earlier this month the Government opted to press ahead with the project with some new security safeguards but leaving the controversial subsidy deal underpinning Hinkley unchanged.
Under a deal first agreed in 2013 Hinkley will be paid a fixed price of £92.50/MWh for the power it produces for 35 years, funded through levies on energy bills. The National Audit Office has said it could cost up to £30bn in subsidies.
Among hundreds of pages of documents issued on Thursday afternoon – some heavily redacted – ministers faced a series of questions over a cursory three-page assessment concluding that the deal would add £12 to energy bills in 2030 but was “value for money”.
The assessment said Hinkley was “cost-competitive to other options for delivering power” despite its own assessment that the “comparable cost” of new gas in the 2020s could be as low as £45/MWh, solar as low as £65/MWh and onshore wind as low as £49/MWh.
If Hinkley was delayed by three years and gas plants built instead then by 2030 the UK would be £3.2bn better off and energy bills would be “£6 cheaper per year”, it concluded……..
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, accused the Government of obfuscation and providing “no evidence anywhere in the documents to back up their assumptions”.
“The numbers speak for themselves. In the unlikely event Hinkley is working sometime in the second half of the next decade, renewable energy will be much cheaper, yet British consumers will still be forced to pay over the odds for nuclear power,” he said.
Another document underlined the lasting impact the decision will have on UK energy policy for more than a century to come, forecasting that the spent fuel for the plant would not be disposed of until the year 2138.
EDF Energy said Hinkley would “kickstart Britain’s nuclear revival” and that it had “been shown to offer consumers value for money”.
The Government said the signing of the deal marked “a significant step forward for a new era of nuclear power in the UK”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/29/hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-gets-final-go-ahead-as-government-si/
Why the nuclear first-use debate matters in the 2016 race, MSNBC 09/29/16 By
It’s difficult to choose the single most alarming thing Donald Trump said about foreign policy and national security at this week’s presidential debate, in part because there are so many
unsettling comments to choose from.
The Republican seemed to believe ISIS has been around for much of Hillary Clinton’s adult life, which isn’t even close to being true. Trump suggested China should invade North Korea. He took credit for NATO policies that he had nothing to do with, while suggesting the NATO alliance itself should be considered as some kind of protection racket.
Trump also insisted, as he has before, that the United States should have stolen Iraq’s oil – which would have been illegal – in order to deny ISIS the resources it’s actually getting from Syria.
But as Rachel noted on the show the other day, the real gem has to be Trump’s woeful understanding of nuclear policy. Moderator Lester Holt asked an excellent question: “On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy?”
Trump rambled a bit before eventually saying:
“I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike.
“I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.”
He then rambled some more, straying between a variety of loosely related topics, including his opposition to the international nuclear agreement with Iran.
But for those paying attention, the real problem was with Trump’s obvious contradiction. Policymakers can adopt a “no-first-use” policy or they can endorse a “nothing-is-off-the-table” position, but Donald Trump is one of those rare politicians who wants to take both sides simultaneously.
This followed a GOP primary debate in December at which Trump appeared to have no idea what the nuclear triad referred to. The Republican could have taken advantage of that opportunity, recognizing the importance of getting up to speed on the nuclear basics, but instead Trump seems to have done no homework on the issue at all.
That remained true in the intervening months……..http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-the-nuclear-first-use-debate-matters-the-2016-race
Hinkley Point: ministers sign go-ahead for nuclear power plant Representatives of British, Chinese and French governments attend ceremony giving final authorisation for power station, Guardian, Rowena Mason, 30 Sept 16, The UK has signed its £18bn contract with France and China to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, giving the final go-ahead for construction at the site in Somerset.
The deal was finalised at a low-key ceremony in London, just two months afterTheresa May alarmed her French and Chinese counterparts by putting the entire project under review. EDF, the French nuclear contractor, and its Chinese partners had to cancel their previous plans for a signing ceremony at the last minute when the review was announced in July.
The project finally got approval this month, after Greg Clark, the business secretary, announced there would be some new restrictions on future investments in critical infrastructure if there were national security concerns.
Clark attended the signing ceremony on behalf of the UK, alongside Jean-Bernard Lévy, the chairman of EDF, and He Yu, chair of China General Nuclear…….
Greenpeace said it was “no wonder the UK government has opted for a ‘champagne-free’ signing ceremony away from public view”.
The environmental group said: “With a stroke of the pen ministers are signing away billions of pounds of billpayers’ money to a project they know is plagued by legal, financial and technical problems. In the unlikely event Hinkley is working some time in the second half of the next decade, renewable energy will be much cheaper, yet British consumers will still be forced to pay over the odds for nuclear power. It’ll be like being locked into an expensive fixed-rate mortgage as interest rates plummet.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/29/hinkley-point-ministers-sign-go-ahead-for-nuclear-power-plant
Eskom may take charge of SA’s nuclear power build, IOL 29 September 2016, Emsie Ferreira Cape Town – Government will not be issuing a call for proposals for its nuclear power expansion programme to allow for more time for consultations, which could mean shifting responsibility for the project from the department of energy to Eskom, Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe confirmed on Thursday……..
Radebe was asked about conflicting statements from Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her science and technology counterpart, Naledi Pandor, as to whether the request for proposals from prospective partners would still proceed as planned on Friday.
Pandor this week indicated it would not, contradicting the energy minister.
But Radebe confirmed that government could not invite proposals while an integrated resource plan had not been finalised, and that Pandor had been right in saying Cabinet’s economic cluster first needed to meet to do so.
Eskom chief executive officer Brian Molefe last week told MPs and the media that concerns about whether the country could afford procuring the capacity to add 9,600 megawatt of nuclear energy to the grid were overwrought.
He said given the roughly 80-year lifespan of nuclear plants, the programme would pay for itself over those decades. Molefe was adamant that renewable energy could not be considered a viable alternative as it was not sufficiently reliable.
And earlier this week, Eskom’s head of generation Matshela Koko suggested that the nuclear utility could pay for the nuclear build programme because it would have accumulate cash reserves of R150 billion over the next decade.
The Democratic Alliance said on Thursday that allowing Eskom to lead the process would mean it being less open to parliamentary scrutiny, and President Jacob Zuma having greater control over the procurement process.
“Designating Eskom as the procuring agent of the state will fundamentally limit the role and capacity of Parliament to oversee the nuclear deal and, in doing so, increase the potential of corruption surrounding the trillion rand deal,” DA energy spokesman Gordon Mackay said. http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/eskom-may-take-charge-of-sas-nuclear-power-build-2074416
All over the media, on matters nuclear, I see these glowing reports on the great future just about to take off – for Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactors (SMRs) . Note that they leave out the word “Nuclear” – knowing that it’s not very popular with us all – the great unwashed.
The arguments are many – from the need for huge amounts of energy (though that’s dubious), to the false claim that SMNRs solve the radioactive trash problem, to the claim that they’ll fix climate change.
But my favourite nuclear lobby argument is the one where they either say directly, or more often imply – that big nuclear reactors are bad, so therefor Small ones must be good.
Anyway, the mainstream media knows where the money is, in reporting. Even The Guardian wrote up a lovely PR for Small Nukes – but I noticed that they sneaked in a few concerns about them:
“…….The first small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) could be operating in the UK by 2030 with the right government support, according to a new report from theEnergy Technologies Institute (ETI).
The analysis, released today by the government and industry-backed energy research body, examined the steps needed to support the first SMR in the UK and concluded a credible schedule for implementation can be set out – as long as a policy framework is developed to reduce risks for SMR developers and increase investor confidence.
Setting out a timeline of key steps that will be required to deliver SMR deployment, the ETI said the UK should clarify and raise awareness of regulatory standards and expectations in the next five years and set out a clear statement of intent in relation to SMR development in the UK by 2024, with the aim to achieve at least one final investment decision by 2025………
-the ETI report argued that despite government support and warm words from ministers there is currently no programme for UK SMR deployment or SMR-specific policies to encourage private sector development.
While advocates of SMRs maintain they can safely bring down the cost of nuclear power and help to support an increasingly decentralised grid, critics argue there is still little evidence the technology will bring down costs where larger reactors have consistently failed to do so and fear they will come with inherent safety risks, which other low carbon sources of power could avoid….. quoted in The Guardian, 29 Sept
IPCC special report to scrutinise ‘feasibility’ of 1.5C climate goal, Skeptical Science,
27 September 2016 This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Roz Pidcock The head of the United Nation’s climate body has called for a thorough assessment of the feasibility of the international goal to limit warming to 1.5C.
Dr Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told delegates at a meeting in Geneva, which is designed to flesh out the contents of a special report on 1.5C, that they bore a “great responsibility” in making sure it meets the expectations of the international climate community.
To be policy-relevant, the report will need to spell out what’s to be gained by limiting warming to 1.5C, as well as the practical steps needed to get there within sustainability and poverty eradication goals.
More than ever, urged Lee, the report must be easily understandable for a non-scientific audience. The IPCC has come under fire in the past over what some have called its “increasingly unreadable” reports.
In between the main “assessment reports” every five or six years, the IPCC publishes shorter “special reports” on specific topics. Past ones have included extreme weatherand renewable energy.
The IPCC was “invited” by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to do a special report on 1.5C after the Paris Agreement codified a goal to limit global temperature rise to “well below 2C” and to “pursue efforts towards 1.5C”. Continue reading
Standard and Poor’s: dismantling Europe’s old nuclear power plants will run up a hundred billion pound bill for EDF EON RWE and others
Nuclear liabilities of the largest eight nuclear plant operators in Europe totaled €100bn at the end of last year, representing around 22 per cent of their aggregate debt, according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s.
Operators are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high. Europe’s main nuclear operators include France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE. They are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high.
While the analysis by S&P treats nuclear liabilities as debt-like obligations, it recognises that several features differentiate them from traditional debt. But given the size of the liabilities against a company’s debt, they can impact a company’s credit metrics, and their credit rating.
The report noted that a company’s nuclear provisions are difficult to quantify, as well as cross compare, because accounting methods vary between different countries.
It also foresees many operational challenges ahead, including a reality check on costs and execution capabilities.
US trade negotiators are now working to include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in as many new treaties as possible, including both of the massive new free trade deals coming down the pike. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Obama signed in February 2016 and which Congress will likely ratify before he leaves office, already includes ISDS.
The Secret Tribunals That Corporations Use to Sue Countries, Moyers and company
These ad hoc courts are a main reason why so many politicians and activists are against trade agreements like the TPP. BY HALEY EDWARDS | SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK SHADOW COURTS: THE TRIBUNALS THAT RULE GLOBAL TRADE BY HALEY EDWARDS.
The environmental activist Jane Kleeb was driving down Highway 281 near Lincoln, Nebraska, on a gray day in January 2016, when she got a call from a reporter.
At the time, Kleeb was still riding high off of her success organizing local farmers, ranchers and environmentalists in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have carried petroleum products from Canada’s tar sands across the Nebraska plains to the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to her and other activists’ efforts, President Barack Obama had announced in November 2015 that his administration would deny the Canadian company TransCanada permission to move forward with the project, ending an eight-year-long effort to get the pipeline built.
The reporter was calling to ask Kleeb about a new twist in the saga. Earlier that day, TransCanada had announced it was suing the US government for $15 billion on the grounds that Obama’s decision to block the project violated the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was the first Kleeb had heard of the suit. “I’m an organizer, so my reaction was, ‘When are the hearings? Where is this happening? Who’s the judge?’” she said recently. If TransCanada was challenging the decision in court, she wanted to be there. Could she protest on the courthouse steps? Arrange for a rally in a nearby town?
But that, Kleeb learned, was not how this case would go down. TransCanada wasn’t suing the US in a US court, or in a Canadian court for that matter. Its argument would not be heard by a judge, and the merits of the case would not be considered under the auspices of either country’s legal system. There would be no protest on any courthouse steps. Instead, the case would be heard by a tribunal, manned by three private arbitrators, operating under a supranational legal system that Kleeb had never heard of. “It was totally strange,” she told me. “A foreign company can sue us in some secret tribunal? How is that even possible?”
Investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, first appeared in treaties in 1969. The idea behind the mechanism was straightforward: If a foreign investor believed that his host country — the nation where his company was operating had violated an international treaty by seizing or destroying his factories, oil fields or other assets, he could file an ISDS claim directly against that country. He could do that without involving his own government and without having to wait endlessly for a developing country’s corrupt or biased court system to dispense judgment……..
ISDS was supposed to be a cool, efficient and apolitical dispute resolution system that kept powerful nations from interfering in the affairs of weaker countries, and that offered an extra layer of protection for foreign investors operating in countries with unreliable courts. But in the last 20 years, the mechanism has quietly changed, evolving into something much more powerful — and very political indeed……..
That modern interpretation has only cropped up in the last 20 years, but it has opened up a vast new gray area. Where ISDS claims were once about seized oil fields and bulldozed factories, now they are about tax increases and environmental regulations. Where is the line between a government’s right to regulate in the public interest and a foreign corporation’s claim to its own property?
US trade negotiators are now working to include ISDS in as many new treaties as possible, including both of the massive new free trade deals coming down the pike. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Obama signed in February 2016 and which Congress will likely ratify before he leaves office, already includes ISDS. Whether the mechanism will be inserted into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, linking the US and Europe, is a subject of controversy…….http://billmoyers.com/story/shadow-courts-secret-tribunals-trade/