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South Africa’s nuclear programme will be a disaster.

The nuclear killer lurking in our midst, Pambazuka News Gerard Boyce Sep 22, 2016

South Africa’s nuclear programme will be a disaster. Besides the fallouts being witnessed in the jostling for gains by greedy politicians, the project is likely to gobble up huge amounts of public funds that will be difficult to account for as the government will cite national security concerns of nuclear power, thereby curtailing citizens’ right to accountability.

Nuclear power kills. If ever one had any doubts about the truthfulness of this statement, the past few months in South African politics have surely dispelled them. During this time, the government’s nuclear plans effectively killed the political career of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene whilst indications are that the career of current Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will soon suffer the same fate. It has slain any semblance of unity in the upper echelons of the ruling African National Congress. It is rumoured that the public spats in which members of various ruling party factions are engaged and that have come to hog national headlines each week are a result of ongoing palace intrigue that is caused by their jostling for position which will enable them to secure the maximum benefits from the potential bonanza that awaits when tenders for the construction of nuclear plants are awarded.

The open hostility exhibited by erstwhile comrades has exposed as a sham the image of a strong and united party and revealed a picture of an organisation riven by factionalism and bitter internal disputes. It is widely predicted that, if this deal is pushed through (as current indications are that it will), the country’s credit rating will be downgraded to junk status. A downgrade will likely plunge the economy into a coma and cause it to be put on life support………

it can become relatively easy for governments to be drawn into continuing to invest in their nuclear programmes even if they see little or no justification for doing so. One has only to observe the decades long (and seemingly never-ending) construction periods of many nuclear plants internationally for evidence thereof. Needless to say, this set of circumstances provides the ideal conditions in which graft and patronage networks are able to thrive and is likely to increase both the opportunity and propensity for certain individuals to engage in corrupt practices.

Secondly, given the destructive purposes to which nuclear technology can be put, a raft of laws and regulations have to be passed in order to prevent this technology falling into the wrong hands. Since each reactor is potentially a national calamity, policymakers justify these regulations as being necessary to protect the welfare and safety of citizens. These laws also serve to provide convenient cover behind which the less than savoury aspects of these deals can be hidden.


To shore up this cover, the global nuclear industry seems to have a built-in failsafe against closer public scrutiny and unwanted attention in that, once established, stakeholders in the industry can always appeal to the nebulous concept of the ‘national interest’ in an attempt to conceal their actions from the public. By elevating every investigation of their operations to a potential national security concern, they are able to shield their operations from investigation and thus to avoid criticism. Arguably, this has the effect of lowering the degree to which this industry feels accountable to the public since being open to investigation and subject to criticism (and thence learning) forms the basis of public accountability…….. Dr Gerard Boyce is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He writes in his personal capacity.

September 26, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear marketing: sell nukes, then sell the clean-up, too!

Russian-BearMaking nuclear power plants safe after they shut down RBTH, September 24, 2016 ANDREI RETINGER,  The problems of dealing with spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste and the decommissioning of nuclear facilities (experts call it “back end”) did not immediately become apparent to the countries developing their nuclear industries. But now the world market for back end services is booming and its value is estimated to total about $347 billion until 2030.


A number of nuclear facilities in the UK are scheduled for decommissioning, and all the 17 nuclear power plants that are still operating in Germany are due to close down by 2020. Japan must rehabilitate the areas after the accident at Fukushima, and the United States and Russia need to solve the problems of radioactive waste storage and reprocessing. Not all countries have the ability to solve these problems, but Russian technologies and facilities can come to their aid…..

in 2008, Russia was faced with a catastrophic situation because of the accumulation of radioactive waste and spent fuel remaining from the time of the creation of nuclear weapons and the Cold War. Storage sites were almost full and had not been provided with reliable insulation, creating a threat to people and the environment.

In this situation, Russia had no choice but to tackle the problem urgently. In 2007, it adopted a state program on nuclear and radiation safety, which was developed by the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. Then it approved a law on radioactive waste management, taking into account the latest standards and requirements………

September 26, 2016 Posted by | marketing, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Israel with 200 nuclear weapons a bigger threat than Iran

Atomic-Bomb-Smflag-IsraelWhich is the Real Threat? Iranian Nuclear Program Versus Israel’s 200 Nukes.Sputnik News, 23 Sept 16  As Israel continues to oppose the Iranian nuclear deal, leaked emails written by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell suggest that Tel Aviv does have a sizeable cache of functioning nuclear weapons at its disposal.
While Israel doesn’t confirm nor deny the alleged existence of its nuclear arsenal, one of Colin Powell’s recently leaked emails suggests that Tel Aviv does possess 200 nuclear warheads “all targeted at Tehran”.

These revelations cast a new light on Israel’s vehement opposition to the nuclear deal reached between the P5+1 group and Iran in July 2015. Furthermore, Sabbah Zanganeh, Iranian political analyst and Middle Eastern affairs expert, told Sputnik Persian that the existence of the Israeli nuclear arsenal is one of the chief factors contributing to the tensions in the region. “This is all part of the US double standards policy. The Americans are well-aware of the fact that the Iranian nuclear program always was and still is peaceful in nature and poses no threat to any nation or country. The US also knows that Iran opposes nuclear weapons, and not just for moral or humanitarian reasons, but first and foremost due to its religious beliefs. Iran rejects weapons of mass destruction of any kind,” Zanganeh said. On the other hand, he argued, Israel, which enjoys absolute US support, constantly threatens other countries in the region, provoking military conflicts and instigating wars against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine……..

September 26, 2016 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Amazing growth in wind and solar power in USA, and even more to come

Statue-of-Liberty-solarWind and solar get cheaper and better, Energy Transition, 14 Sep 2016   by     Wind and solar power have reached a tipping point in the US, as their prices become competitive with conventional electricity sources. Ben Paulos looks at the leaps and bounds in solar and wind, and what this means for the US energy transition.

In the cornfields of Iowa, thousands of wind turbines are spinning, supplying over 30 percent of the state’s power—the highest percentage of any US state. On especially windy days in the spring, there may be enough wind power to run the whole state.

The state’s largest utility, MidAmerican Energy—partly owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett—aims to provide 100 per cent renewable energy. And with their plan to add another 2000 MW recently approved, they’ll be getting 85 percent of their power from renewables, mostly wind.

While that number is impressive, even more impressive is the fact that MidAmerican won’t have to raise rates to do it. Thanks to the steady decline in prices and improvement in performance, wind energy is now the cheapest source of new electricity in some parts of the US.

Solar prices, too, are falling rapidly. California is the national leader by far, in both distributed and utility-scale systems. The state is now home to 14,000 MW of solar, including over 4000 MW installed on over 400,000 rooftops. Utilities are signing contracts for solar power for as low as 3 cents per kWh.

Reports released in August by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, as well as other industry data, are showing that wind and solar prices and performance have reached a tipping point, putting renewable energy squarely in the mainstream.


What has changed? What is driving the growth of wind and solar power?  While the price of wind turbines is certainly important to the cost of wind energy, the biggest price reductions in recent years have come from improved performance……..


Solar power has its own cost drivers, but it is similar to wind in one respect: the cost of the solar panels themselves is no longer the most important aspect.

Because panel prices have fallen so low—only 80 cents per watt—they now make up only one-fifth of the total cost of a residential rooftop system. Some of the costs are in the other hardware, like racks and electronics. But especially expensive are the “soft costs”—all of the other things needed to get those panels on your roof, like marketing, acquiring customers, and getting permits………

Utility-scale solar plants are increasingly using tracking systems that follow the sun across the sky, thus increasing output. Power contracts signed for new systems in 2015 were at or below $ 50 per MWh, with some as low as about $ 30 per MWh.

Overall, the US has 29.3 GW of solar installed, according to GTM Research. Utility-scale solar has been the fastest growing segment for the past few years, accounting for over half of the 7.5 GW installed in 2015.

California continues to dominate the market, with about half of all solar as of the end of 2015. But that share has been falling as other states grow.

Some US neighborhoods are seeing very high levels of saturation. In San Diego County, one in eight single family homes has solar, with some zip codes boasting double that rate. Hawaii, with very high electricity prices and excellent sunshine, has more solar power per capita than any state. In 2014, 6 percent of the state’s power came from the sun, and 17 percent of homes sported solar panels.

While this growth has been impressive, all signs point to even greater growth in coming years. At the end of 2015, there were at least 56.8 GW of utility-scale solar plants waiting to be interconnected across the nation, enough to triple current levels. And wind is expected to see at least 8 GW of growth per year: in the Midwest alone, there are 29 GW of wind projects waiting to be connected. We can expect to see even better, cheaper wind and solar soon.

Bentham Paulos is an energy consultant and writer based in California.

September 26, 2016 Posted by | renewable | Leave a comment

Ambitious solar power plan for 12,000 homes in Saskatchewan

community-solarSaskPower says solar plan to power up to 12,000 homes by 2021
Crown says between 10,000-12,000 Sask. homes will run on solar power within 5 years 
CBC News                   22, 2016  SaskPower says between 10,000-12,000 homes in Saskatchewan will be run on solar power by 2021, from a project aiming to deliver 60 megawatts. Some of that electricity should be reaching the grid by 2018.

The government’s target is to have 50 per cent of its power delivered by renewable sources by 2030.

“So if we think about it, 2000 megawatts would be about fifty per cent of our mix today,” said Guy Bruce, SaskPower’s Vice President of Planning, Environment and Sustainable development. “So it’s a relatively small percentage, but it’s a move in the right direction.”

Three types of solar power providers

The 60-megawatt plan is divided into three types of providers. Twenty megawatts are expected to be provided by community projects, and another 20 from a competitive bidding process with vendors due to begin in September. SaskPower says it’s currently in negotiations with the First Nations Power Authority to provide two more 10-megawatt solar projects. ………

September 26, 2016 Posted by | Canada, decentralised | Leave a comment

Cheap, Portable Solar Panel could transform the solar power industry

sunThis Cheap, Portable Solar Panel Will Be the iPad of Renewables by Good News Network – Sep 24, 2016 A California-based startup unveiled a product this week that aims to disrupt solar power production, much like the iPhone changed communications.

SunCulture Solar Inc. is calling its wire-free SolPad, which resembles a large iPad, the “world’s first integrated solar energy solution.”

It combines batteries, software, inverters and solar panels into one device. Typically, a solar system involves installation of separate parts, increasing costs.  SolPad can be used off grid or tied to the grid, and uses batteries that the company says are safer than traditional lithium-ion ones.

”If the grid goes down, SolPad can keep delivering electricity,” the company said in a video unveiling the device in California this week.

“We’ve transformed solar — much like the smartphone revolutionized the personal computer sector, combining numerous components into a single device that’s significantly less expensive, more powerful and easier to use than conventional systems,” said CEO Christopher Estes.

The company plans to bring the product to market in the second half of next year……..

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

The next nuclear accident may be much sooner or more severe than the public realizes

Risk of another Chernobyl or Fukushima type accident plausible, experts say : Broadcast: News items : University of Sussex

 “The next nuclear accident may be much sooner or more severe than the public realizes.”
Biggest-ever statistical analysis of historical accidents suggests that nuclear power is an underappreciated extreme risk and that major changes will be needed to prevent future disasters
A team of risk experts who have carried out the biggest-ever analysis of nuclear accidents warn that the next disaster on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima may happen much sooner than the public realizes.
Researchers at the University of Sussex, in England, and ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, have analysed more than 200 nuclear accidents, and – estimating and controlling for effects of industry responses to previous disasters – provide a grim assessment of the risk of nuclear power.
Their worrying conclusion is that, while nuclear accidents have substantially decreased in frequency, this has been accomplished by the suppression of moderate-to-large events.  They estimate that Fukushima- and Chernobyl-scale disasters are still more likely than not once or twice per century, and that accidents on the scale of the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island in the USA (a damage cost of about 10 Billion USD) are more likely than not to occur every 10-20 years.
As Dr Spencer Wheatley, the lead author, explains: “We have found that the risk level for nuclear power is extremely high.
“Although we were able to detect the positive impact of the industry responses to accidents such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, these did not sufficiently remove the possibility of extreme disasters such as Fukushima. To remove such a possibility would likely require enormous changes to the current fleet of reactors, which is predominantly second-generation technology.”
The studies, published in two papers in the journals Energy Research & Social Science and Risk Analysis, put fresh pressure on the nuclear industry to be more transparent with data on incidents.
“Flawed and woefully incomplete” public data from the nuclear industry is leading to an over-confident attitude to risk, the study warns.  The research team points to the fact that their own independent analysis contains three times as much data as that provided publicly by the industry itself. This is probably because the International Atomic Energy Agency, which compiles the reports, has a dual role of regulating the sector and promoting it…

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