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Mikhail Gorbachev warns of increasing danger of nuclear conflict

World on dangerous threshold’: Gorbachev warns of nuclear threat amid intl tensions https://www.rt.com/politics/362253-world-is-on-verge-gorbachev/ 10 Oct, 2016 Mikhail Gorbachev has called the current state of relations between Russia and US the “collapse of mutual trust” and urged the sides to resume dialogue and push towards demilitarization and complete nuclear disarmament.

“I think the world has approached a dangerous threshold. I would prefer not to suggest any particular schemes, but I want to say: we need to stop. Dialogue should be resumed. Stopping the dialogue has been the biggest mistake. Now we must return to the main priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, fighting terrorism and prevention of global environmental disasters. Compared to these challenges everything else is a second priority,” Gorbachev said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Of course, at this moment it is difficult to talk about moving towards a nuclear-free world, we must honestly admit it. But we should not forget: as long as there are nuclear weapons there is the threat of their use. It could be an accident, a technical malfunction of someone’s evil will – a madman or a terrorist,” the former Soviet leader said.

Gorbachev also reminded that in line with the nuclear non-proliferation agreement all of its signatories must hold talks on nuclear disarmament uniting the eventual full destruction of nuclear weapons.

The nuclear-free world is not a utopia, but rather an imperative necessity. But we can achieve it only through demilitarization of politics and international relations.”

He said that veterans of international politics, such as the “council of sages” chaired by former UN leader Kofi Annan, understood these problems and he expressed hope that their voices would be heard by modern leaders. At the same time he emphasized that the main responsibility for global security lied on these modern leaders who would make the greatest mistake if they do not use the last chance to return international politics to a peaceful course.

The interview was published on Monday and timed with the 30th anniversary of the USSR-US summit in Reykjavik, which eventually allowed the nuclear arms race to slow down and greatly contributed to the end of the Cold War.

Gorbachev reiterated his position that the Reykjavik summit was a major breakthrough.

First, we agreed on many issues and second, we managed to look over the horizon, see the perspective of a nuclear-free world,” he said.

It was very appealing that in the course of our negotiations President Ronald Reagan sincerely spoke about the necessity to rid the world of the weapons of mass destruction. We shared a common position on this issue.”

October 12, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Cyberattack on nuclear power station, says IAEA chief

cyber-attackIAEA chief: Nuclear power plant was disrupted by cyber attack, Yahoo News By Andrea ShalalOctober 11, 2016 BERLIN (Reuters) – A nuclear power plant became the target of a disruptive cyber attack two to three years ago, and there is a serious threat of militant attacks on such plants, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano also cited a case in which an individual tried to smuggle a small amount of highly enriched uranium about four years ago that could have been used to build a so-called “dirty bomb”.

“This is not an imaginary risk,” Amano told Reuters and a German newspaper during a visit to Germany that included a meeting with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“This issue of cyber attacks on nuclear-related facilities or activities should be taken very seriously. We never know if we know everything or if it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Amano declined to give details of either incident, but said the cyber attack had caused “some disruption” at the plant, although it did not prove to be very serious since the plant did not have to shut down its operations. He said he had not previously discussed the cyber attack in public.

“This actually happened and it caused some problems,” he said, adding while the plant did not have to shut down, it “needed to take some precautionary measures.”……..

Concerns about cyber attacks on nuclear sites have grown in recent years after the emergence of computer malware that can be used to attack industrial controls. The issue flared again after Belgian media reported that the suicide bombers who killed 32 people in Brussels on March 22 originally looked into attacking a nuclear installation.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd, which operates 23 nuclear reactors in South Korea, said in 2014 it was beefing up cyber security after non-critical data was stolen from its computer systems, although reactor operations were not at risk.

In April, German utility RWE increased its security after its Gundremmingen nuclear power plant was found to be infected with computer viruses. The company said they did not appear to have posed a threat to operations.

Security experts say blowing up a nuclear reactor is beyond the skills of militant groups, but the nuclear industry has some vulnerabilities that could be exploited…..

Amano flagged the issue at an IAEA cyber security conference in June 2015, and said it will be key topic at a broader nuclear security summit in Vienna in December. https://www.yahoo.com/tech/iaea-chief-nuclear-power-plant-disrupted-cyber-attack-144115568–finance.html

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

China’s plan for small floating nuclear reactors carries potentially devastating risks

Could China build the world’s smallest nuclear power plant and send it to the South China Sea?
Nuclear plant under development could fit into a shipping container and make a small island economically viable, CNBC, Stephen Chen, 11 Oct 16  SCMP A top mainland research institute is developing the world’s smallest ­nuclear power plant, which could fit inside a shipping container and might be installed on an island in the disputed South China Sea within five years.

 Researchers are carrying out intensive work on the unit – dubbed the hedianbao, or “portable nuclear battery pack”.

Although the small, lead-cooled reactor could be placed ­inside a shipping container ­measuring about 6.1 metres long and 2.6 metres high, it would be able to generate 10 megawatts of heat, which, if converted into ­electricity, would be enough to power some 50,000 households……The research is partially funded by the People’s Liberation Army.

reactors-floating

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety Technology, a national research institute in Hefei, Anhui province, say they hope to be able to ship the first unit within five years.

“Part of our funding came from the military, but we hope – and it’s our ultimate goal – that the technology will eventually benefit civilian users,” Professor Huang Qunying,a nuclear scientist ­involved in the research, said.

The Chinese researchers admit their technology is similar to a compact lead-cooled thermal reactor that was used by the navy of the former Soviet Union in its nuclear submarines in the 1970s.

However, China would probably be the first nation to use such military technology on land.

While these “baby” reactors would able to generate large quantities of electricity and desalinate huge supplies of seawater for use as fresh water, they have also attracted serious environmental concerns.

If any one of them were to ­suffer a catastrophic problem, the ­radioactive waste would affect not only the countries nearby, but also spread around the world via the region’s strong sea currents…….

The lead-cooled reactor is part of China’s efforts to develop new-generation reactors for its rapidly expanding nuclear energy sector. Other technological approaches, such as molten salt reactors and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, are also under rapid development thanks to generous government funding.

China also has been considering building small floating nuclear power plants using conventional technology to generate electricity for the South China Sea islands.

A marine environment ­researcher at the Ocean University of China, in Qingdao, Shandong province, has warned that the inevitable ­discharge of hot, radioactive water from a nuclear plant into the ocean might alter the ecological system of an entire region around an island.

“Many fish and marine creatures will not be able to deal with the dramatic change of environment caused by massive desalination and the rise of sea temperatures caused by a nuclear reactor,” said the researcher, who declined to be named.

“If a nuclear disaster happened in the South China Sea, it would not have an immediate effect on people living on the mainland owing to it being a great distance away,” the researcher said.

“But the radioactive waste would enter the bodies of fish and other marine creatures and likely end up on our dining tables. Sea currents could also carry the waste to distant shores,” she said.

Before putting any nuclear power plant on a remote South China Sea island, the Chinese government should consider not only its political, military or economic benefits, but also carry out comprehensive scientific evaluations on its potential environmental impact, the researcher said. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/11/could-china-build-the-worlds-smallest-nuclear-power-plant-and-send-it-to-the-south-china-sea.html

October 12, 2016 Posted by | China, oceans, technology | Leave a comment

Something not quite right about South Africa’s plan for Eskom to finance nuclear build?

flag-S.Africabribery handshakeEskom will finance South Africa’s R1 trillion nuclear plans: minister, Business Tech By October 11, 2016 Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has told Parliament that South Africa’s ambitious and controversial nuclear energy plans will be entirely funded by Eskom, with no money coming from National Treasury.

The minister was briefing Parliament’s energy oversight committee on Tuesday.

The process around South Africa’s nuclear plans, which will see 9,600MW of nuclear power added to the grid, has been a mysterious one, where the DoE has not revealed any of the details surrounding the project – including its cost.

Conservative estimates have put the build at R500 billion, while experts have noted – taking into consideration the country’s much-delayed Medupi and Kusile power station builds – that costs may balloon to well over R1 trillion.

joemat-pettersson-tinaAccording to Joemat-Pettersson, Eskom will fund the entire build off its own balance sheet, and the funding process will be handled in the same way as the Medupi and Kusile projects.

No funds will come from Treasury or the fiscus, she said, with Eskom turning to global markets to raise money it needs.

Eskom’s handling of Medupi and Kusile have drawn much criticism as both projects have seen massive delays, labour issues and come in billions of rands over budget………

DA shadow minister of energy, Gordon Mackay, said that Pettersson’s announcement “is nothing short of an elaborate sleight of hand aimed at muddying the water and subverting effective parliamentary oversight over the R1 trillion nuclear deal”.

Mackay said that in designating Eskom as the procuring agent for the nuclear new build the following must be considered:

  • The tender will be subject to Eskom’s board tender committee, the very same tender committee found to be corrupt by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
  • The tender will be subject to internal Eskom processes, effectively shielding the nuclear deal from direct parliamentary oversight.
  • A nuclear deal not directly subject to parliamentary oversight will cost more and be subject to greater levels of corruption, in the same way as Kusile and Medupi have been with regard to their association with Hitachi.
  • While tax payers will not be directly liable for the build costs of the new build programme – like the costs of Kusile and Medupi – they will be passed onto consumers via higher electricity prices. Higher energy costs will kill economic growth and jobs.

“Far from providing much needed clarity and assurance, the Minister has created greater uncertainty and has all but ensured that Zuma and his cronies will enrich themselves at South Africa’s expense,” the DA’s energy lead said. http://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/139651/eskom-will-finance-south-africas-r1-trillion-nuclear-plans-minister/

October 12, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) SLAMS MINISTER’S PLAN FOR ESKOM TO TAKE CHARGE OF NUCLEAR

DA SLAMS MINISTER’S PLAN FOR ESKOM TO TAKE CHARGE OF NUCLEAR BUILD http://ewn.co.za/2016/10/11/DA-slams-Joemat-Petterssons-recommendation-of-Eskom-nuclear-procurement-deal

joemat-pettersson-tinaTina Joemat-Pettersson said that Eskom is best placed to take over the procurement of the nuclear build.Gaye Davis | 

CAPE TOWN – The Democratic Alliance (DA) has slammed Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s plan to recommend to Cabinet that Eskom take over the procurement for the country’s proposed mega billion rand nuclear build.

Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament’s energy oversight committee that the power utility is best placed to do it.

“I do believe that on the nuclear programme, Eskom has the experience and has operated a world class nuclear power plant in Africa. The only power plant in Africa which is operated by South Africans for South Africans.”

But the DA’s Gordon Mackay has condemned the move, arguing that it’s aimed at giving Eskom free rein and preventing proper parliamentary oversight over the deal.

“Essentially what we’ve done is, we’ve created serious sleight of hand where we’re actually removing oversight of South Africans and of Parliament off the nuclear by making it subject to internal Eskom processes.”

October 12, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Switzerland bans new nuclear reactors

flag-Switzerlandtext-NoSwiss ban new nuclear reactors  http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/swiss-ban-new-nuclear-reactors-39247 By  on 11 October 2016 Energy Transition

Another setback for the “nuclear renaissance”: Switzerland voted on Friday to focus more on renewables and efficiency. For the first time ever, new nuclear plants are officially off the table—though admittedly, none were planned. The Swiss just “adopted the Energiewende,” writes the Neue Züricher Zeitung. Is no one paying attention? Craig Morris has the details.

Now here’s a news item you probably haven’t heard, at least judging from what I can gather on the internet: Switzerland’s new Energy Act (EnergiegesetzPDF) of 30 September 2016. You would think that, given its scope and Switzerland’s central role in Europe’s power sector, the following contents would have warranted a mention at, say, Reuters, CNN, Bloomberg, and Co.:

  • The generation of non-hydro renewable power is to grow from 1.7 TWh last year (PDF in German and French) to 4.4 TWh by 2020 and 11.4 TWh by 2035 (nearly tenfold).
  • “Per capita energy consumption” is to shrink by 16 percent from 2000 to 2020 and by 43 percent by 2035. “Per capita” is an important caveat in a small country whose population can easily grow quickly. (Switzerland’s is up around 10 percent over the past decade, like even smaller Norway’s.) Unfortunately, the law does not specify the most important aspect here: final or primaryenergy?
  • Power consumption is to drop by 3 percent by 2020 and 13 percent by 2035.
  • The law also, confusingly, speaks of “expanding” hydropower to 37.4 TWh by 2035 – even though it came in at 39.5 TWh last year. (If any readers know how to dissect this, please drop us a comment below.)
  • It amends the 2003 Nuclear Energy Act (here’s the old one) to ban permits for new nuclear reactors. It also bans the reprocessing and export of spent fuel rods for reprocessing (except for research purposes with the consent of the Bundesrat). And “changes may not be made to existing nuclear plants.”

There’s a lot more in the law, much of which deals with the policy mechanisms (level of feed-in tariffs, etc.). But what’s above is a real breakthrough. So why has it gone unreported in English?

One reason may be that a referendum could change everything, as the Swiss press explains (in German). But the report also suggests there is little support for such a referendum in industry, so the referendum may not even take place; in other words, the Swiss business world is happier with renewables and efficiencythan with old-school energy production, consumption, and waste.

Another referendum will be held on 27 November 2016: the one for a closure of the existing reactors (in German). It does not necessarily stand a good chance of passing; parliamentarians overwhelmingly reject it (it’s an idea of the Swiss Greens). On the other hand, a recent survey of the public revealed support for a total phaseout by 2029 (basically, a limited service life of 45 years per reactor). This idea may have as much as 58 percent public support (in German)—possibly another example of politicians out of touch with the people. The first reactor to be shut down would then go offline in 2019. Leibstadt, the youngest, would be the last to go in 2029.

Opponents of the phaseout referendum will reportedly not try to reject the idea of a nuclear phaseout outright. Instead, they will try to win over the “silent majority” of undecided voters in the middle of the political spectrum by simply arguing that setting a specific date or service life for all reactors makes no sense. This clever tactic is likely to succeed, but a quick comparison with the historic debate in Germany over a nuclear phaseout suggests something less savory for nuclear supporters. Remember that slippery slope? By the time you resort to the tactic of “setting a date for a phaseout makes no sense,” you have reached the bottom of it. There is no way back up the slope for nuclear at that point.

Oddly, the Swiss press outlets all report that the new law is part of the government’s “Energy Strategy 2050” even though “2050” is never even mentioned in the new Act. This law is in fact just a starting point. By the end of this year, we will probably know what direction the country is headed.

One wonders when the international media will catch on. Maybe never—or did you know that Switzerland implemented a nuclear phaseout (by 2034) in the wake of Fukushima back in 2011?

October 12, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Newborn baby deaths significantly increased in areas radioactively polluted by Fukushima nuclear disaster

Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan A spatially stratified longitudinal study

 Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Dr rer nat Dipl-Matha,∗ , Kuniyoshi Mori, MDb , Keiji Hayashi, MDc 
Abstract
Descriptive observational studies showed upward jumps in secular European perinatal mortality trends after Chernobyl. The question arises whether the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident entailed similar phenomena in Japan. For 47 prefectures representing 15.2 million births from 2001 to 2014, the Japanese government provides monthly statistics on 69,171 cases of perinatal death of the fetus or the newborn after 22 weeks of pregnancy to 7 days after birth.
Employing change-point methodology for detecting alterations in longitudinal data, we analyzed time trends in perinatal mortality in the Japanese prefectures stratified by exposure to estimate and test potential increases in perinatal death proportions after Fukushima possibly associated with the earthquake, the tsunami, or the estimated radiation exposure. Areas with moderate to high levels of radiation were compared with less exposed and unaffected areas, as were highly contaminated areas hit versus untroubled by the earthquake and the tsunami.
Ten months after the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, perinatal mortality in 6 severely contaminated prefectures jumped up from January 2012 onward: jump odds ratio 1.156; 95% confidence interval (1.061, 1.259), P-value 0.0009. There were slight increases in areas with moderate levels of contamination and no increases in the rest of Japan. In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami. Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend.
These results are consistent with findings in Europe after Chernobyl. Since observational studies as the one presented here may suggest but cannot prove causality because of unknown and uncontrolled factors or confounders, intensified research in various scientific disciplines is urgently needed to better qualify and quantify the association of natural and artificial environmental radiation with detrimental genetic health effects at the population level. …….http://ebm-jp.com/wp-content/uploads/media-2016002-medicine.pdf

October 12, 2016 Posted by | children, Fukushima 2016, Japan, Reference | 3 Comments

Response to a nuclear disaster must take account of wind direction

Wind direction is critical in devising response to nuclear disaster https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/oct/10/wind-direction-is-critical-in-devising-response-to-nuclear-disaster?CMP=share_btn_tw

In order to gauge the spread of radioactivity in the event of a leak, authorities need to consider the prevailing conditions, Guardian, , 11 Oct 16, 

he way the wind is blowing at the time of a nuclear disaster is crucial to the action the authorities need to take to protect the civilian population. Among the first priorities is issuing iodine tablets to protect people’s thyroid from absorbing the radioactive particles from the fallout that may later cause cancer.

But in October 1957, when a plume of radioactivity spread out from the burning pile at Windscale in Cumbria, the reaction of the authorities was not to warn the public but to reassure them. Everything was under control. Children continued to pick potatoes in the fields surrounding the plant while the radioactivity showered down on them.

While this disaster was not quite on the scale of Chernobyl orFukushima, there was a radioactive plume that spread for hundreds of miles on a westerly wind across the north of England and deep into Europe. However, on the first day of the disaster, the wind was said to be blowing from the east, across the Irish Sea and dusting Ireland in radioactive fallout.

It remains a sensitive issue and Ireland remains implacably opposed to Britain’s continuing nuclear programme. This is partly based on the belief of those along the Irish coast, closest to Sellafield, that a spate of birth defects in the area after the fire was a result of exposure to radioactivity.

The official inquiry into the accident was later acknowledged as a whitewashdesigned to protect the UK’s atomic weapon programme. The pages for the Met Office’s October record of wind direction at the Windscale plant were missing and replaced with a note “No records, mast dismantled”.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

Britain’s uneconomic Hinkley nuclear project really connected with its nuclear weapons aims

Britain’s Nuclear Cover-Up, NYT,  OCT. 10, 2016“………If the Hinkley plan seems outrageous, that’s because it only makes sense if one considers its connection to Britain’s military projects — especially Trident, a roving fleet of armed nuclear submarines, which is outdated and needs upgrading. Hawks and conservatives, in particular, see the Trident program as vital to preserving Britain’s international clout.

A painstaking study of obscure British military policy documents, released last month by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, demonstrates that the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain’s nuclear submarine program.

For proponents of Trident, civilian nuclear projects are a way of “masking” the high costs of developing a new fleet of nuclear submarines, according to the report. Merging programs like research and development or skills training across civilian and military sectors helps cut back on military spending. It also helps maintain the talent pool for nuclear specialists. And given the long lead times and life spans of most nuclear projects, connections between civilian and military programs give companies more incentives to make the major investments required.

One might say that with the Hinkley Point project, the British government is using billions of Chinese money to build stealth submarines designed to deter China.

One can certainly say that the British government is using an ill-advised civilian nuclear energy project as a convoluted means of financing a submarine program.

The British government must be more transparent about its military spending, if only so that those expenditures can be measured against the needs of other public programs. According to the Science Policy Research Unit study, the government itself estimated in 2015 that renewing the Trident deterrent force will cost nearly $38.5 billion. In comparison, the deficit of the National Health Services for the fiscal year 2015-6, a record, was about $3 billion.

Hiding the true costs of a project like Trident by promoting a questionable and ruinous project like Hinkley Point C distorts the economics of both the defense and the civilian energy sectors. It also skews energy policy itself.

If Britain’s energy policy were solely about energy, rather than also about defense, the nuclear sector would be forced to stand on its own two feet. And the government would have to acknowledge the growing benefits of renewable energy and make hard-nosed comparisons about cost, implementation, environmental benefits and safety.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America’s militarisation of the Pacific should stop

Washington Should Stop Militarizing the Pacific OCT. 9, 2016 WASHINGTON — Americans often assume that Chinese weapons1military aggression is increasing the likelihood of a clash between China and the United States. But many policy makers in Washington ignore that Beijing has good reason to be troubled by the United States’ military footprint in its neighborhood. President Obama’s “pivot” to Asia — which includes doubling down on Washington’s already-robust military presence in the region — further stokes the potential for conflict between China and the United States.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | oceans, USA | Leave a comment

Nobel Prize laureates call for an end to the insanity of nuclear weapons

End the Nuclear Insanity, The World Post,   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jose-ramoshorta/end-the-nuclear-insanity_b_12436344.html , 11 Oct 16 

José Ramos-Horta Former President, East Timor, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Muhammad Yunus Nobel Peace Prize winner; founder, Grameen Bank; Chairman, Yunus Centre
Kailash Satyarthi 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation

10/11/2016 This month the United Nations has the opportunity to take a major step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is an opportunity that must not be lost.

More than four decades ago, the nations with nuclear arsenals and the world’s non-nuclear states entered into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); the nuclear states — the US, Russia, UK, France and China — pledged that if the states that did not have nuclear weapons agreed not to develop them, they would enter into good-faith negotiations toward the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. During the ensuing years, the three nations that did not sign the NPT — namely India, Pakistan, and Israel — developed nuclear weapons. All of the non-nuclear weapons states that signed the treaty except North Korea have kept their pledge.

Unfortunately, the nuclear powers have not kept their part of the bargain. While the US and Russia have dismantled many of their nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War, they retain thousands of them, enough to destroy the world many times over.

More importantly, they have made clear that, in defiance of their treaty obligations, they do not intend to eliminate their arsenals. Instead, all of the states that possess nuclear weapons today are engaged in massive upgrades of their nuclear arsenals. The US alone expects to spend $1 trillion on this modernization program over the next three decades.

While the nuclear powers claim that their arsenals only exist to deter the threat of attack from other nuclear states, their actual military doctrines tell a different story. The US refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons, even against states that don’t possess them. Russia plans to use nuclear weapons early on in conventional conflict with NATO. Pakistan similarly threatens to use tactical nuclear weapons against Indian conventional forces. India threatens to retaliate with strategic nuclear forces.

In the face of this intransigence, most of the states that do not possess nuclear weapons have decided that they must act. They are not planning to build nuclear weapons of their own, but are demanding that the nuclear powers honor their obligations.

In 2013 and 2014, more than 150 countries came together — in Oslo, Vienna and Nayarit, Mexico — in a series of historic conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, to focus attention on the actual consequences of nuclear war. These conferences examined the latest scientific findings, that show that even a limited nuclear war, involving less than 0.05% of the world’s nuclear arsenals, would cause catastrophic climate disruption across the planet and lead to a global famine that could put up to 2 billion people at risk of starvation. Other data shows that a large scale war between the US and Russia would cause even more profound climate disruption, producing a nuclear winter that would kill the vast majority of the human race and could cause our extinction as a species.

n response to these warnings from the scientific and medical community, more than 100 nations have met in Geneva over the last five months at an Open Ended Working Group, convened by the UN General Assembly, to consider how to pressure the nuclear powers to disarm.

The recommendation of this OEWG will be presented to the General Assembly this month. A resolution sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa calls for the UN to convene a formal negotiating conference in 2017 to conclude a new treaty that prohibits the possession of nuclear weapons.

This “Ban Treaty” will not take the place of an actual nuclear weapons convention negotiated by the nuclear powers, which would have to establish a firm timetable for dismantling nuclear weapons, with detailed mechanisms to verify and enforce compliance. But it will create a powerful new norm about nuclear weapons, defining them not as the status symbols of great nations, but as the badges of shame of rogue nations.

Much work will need to be done to use this new treaty to actually get the nuclear powers to disarm, but their fierce opposition to the treaty makes it clear that they are feeling the pressure already even before negotiations have begun.

The non-nuclear weapons states must resist that pressure, and continue their historic efforts to protect humanity from the grave threat posed by nuclear weapons. And the citizens of nuclear weapons states must hold their governments accountable for their unconscionable refusal to meet their treaty obligations and negotiate the elimination of these weapons, which are the greatest threat to the security of all peoples throughout the world.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tina Joemat-Pettersson says South African govt will not fund nuclear build

Fiscus will not fund nuclear build programme, Tina Joemat-Pettersson says, BD Live BY LINDA ENSOR,  11 OCTOBER 2016 Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson assured MPs on Tuesday that the fiscus would not fund the nuclear build programme, saying it would be transparent, above board and free of corruption

The minister said the Department of Energy was to propose to the Cabinet that Eskom be the designated procurer for the new nuclear build programme and that the utility’s balance sheet be used to raise funds for the programme.

She said SA’s sovereignty would not be compromised and that the integrity of the programme would be protected against risk. Addressing Parliament’s energy portfolio committee, Joemat-Pettersson stressed that Eskom had the necessary expertise — having operated the existing nuclear plant Koeberg successfully for more than 30 years — to play a central role in the new nuclear build programme.

Eskom would be the owner and operator of the planned new nuclear plants.

In terms of the proposals to be submitted to the Cabinet, the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation would be the procurer for the fuel cycle and multipurpose reactor for the programme. The Cabinet will be asked to designate the department as the programme co-ordinator, Department of Energy officials told MPs.

All three entities would jointly develop a governance framework for the procurement and implementation of the programme.

The committee was told that Joemat-Pettersson would amend the determination under the Electricity Regulation Act to seek concurrence with the National Energy Regulator of SA……..

Committee chairperson Fikile Majola informed members that he had received two boxes of documents on the nuclear programme — previously refused on the basis of confidentiality — from the department. The committee will have to decide how to deal with them.

The documents were requested on the basis of an opinion by Parliament’s legal advisers that the department had no right to refuse any documents requested by Parliament.http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2016/10/11/fiscus-will-not-fund-nuclear-build-programme-tina-joemat-pettersson-says

October 12, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Solar microgrids are changing lives

solar-microgridChanging lives with solar microgrids, Green Biz, Laurie Guevara-Stone Monday, October 10, 2016 Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Only 25 percent of the 10.3 million people in the country have access to electricity. One nonprofit organization is testing a solution that could not only change the lives of the unelectrified in Haiti, but could be a model of how to bring electricity to the 1.2 billion people in the world still living in the dark.

EarthSpark International has built a 93-kilowatt solar-powered microgrid in the small town of Les Anglais (pop. 3,000 in the “downtown” area), which currently supplies clean reliable power to about 2,000 people.

Why a microgrid?

Haiti has more than 30 existing municipal microgrids, but most don’t work. Even when they do function, they run on diesel and operate just a few hours a day, a few days a week. So EarthSpark’s goal was to provide people with 24-hour clean, affordable electricity.

EarthSpark began working in Haiti providing people with small solar home systems and solar lanterns, products that are life-changing tools for people without access to grid electricity. But the organization soon realized that those aren’t the solutions to which everyone aspires. “To truly unlock economic opportunity, people need access to higher levels of electricity than what a solar home system can provide,” Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark International, told RMI.

“With the right conditions, minigrids can provide energy services in a low-cost sweet spot between small levels of energy consumption that can be effectively served by small stand-alone solar systems and traditional grid extension,” said Eric Wanless, a principal in RMI’s international practice leading the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development initiative.

EarthSpark isn’t the only group focusing on microgrids. Husk Power has brought electricity to 200,000 people in the highly unelectrified state of Bihar in India, using rice husks to fuel microgrids; PowerhiveDevergy and PowerGen are bringing power to East Africa with solar microgrids; and Gham Power is building solar microgrids in rural Nepal.

A microgrid can give residences and businesses enough power to run motors, process agricultural products and power freezers. Plus, much of the electricity used by rural industry is seasonal, such as an agricultural mill, which is used during harvest season and on market days.

“Building an energy system just for that mill would mean an asset that is underutilized much of the time,” said Archambault. “But with a microgrid, you can use that capacity for other uses, and everyone buys down the cost for everyone else. We like to say our system is powerful enough to energize industry, and progressive enough to serve every single customer.”

Tackling technical challenges………

Overcoming logistical challenges

Working in developing countries such as Haiti brings a lot of logistical challenges as well. There is often not a clear process for implementing innovative projects…….

Confronting legal and regulatory challenges

One of the biggest challenges comes in the legal and regulatory framework in Haiti, or lack thereof. ………

Promoting economic development

Residents of Les Anglais not only have access to reliable power 24 hours a day, but are also saving money on their energy expenses. Before the microgrid, they were spending about $10 to $12 each month for kerosene and spending $3 to $4 each month to charge phones (at nearly $0.25 per charge). Now residential microgrid customers are saving 80 percent of their household energy budget, paying about $2 to $3 per month for much better quality power. And EarthSpark’s larger business customers are saving 50 percent over what they were spending on diesel.

EarthSpark’s goal is to build 80 microgrids in the next five years, bringing power to over 200,000 people, a small dent in the 7 million Haitians still living without access to electricity. But for those 200,000 people, it’s a game changer.

“We have small enterprises using electricity for the first time, people starting new businesses. The carpenter now has power tools. The hotel and the mill have been able to drastically reduce their power bills, by switching off their big diesel generators. And people come up to me and tell me their children no longer have the smoke of kerosene burn their eyes when they’re studying,” said Archambault. EarthSpark’s project in Haiti and RMI’s work in sub-Saharan Africa are delivering clean reliable electricity to people and unlocking huge opportunities for rural communities around the world. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/changing-lives-solar-microgrids

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | 1 Comment

In USA Over 10 GW of utility-scale solar is under construction

Over 10 GW of utility-scale solar is under construction in the United States http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/over-10-gw-of-utility-scale-solar-is-under-construction-in-the-united-states_100026373/#axzz4MoKxV81R05. OCTOBER 2016 | TOP NEWSMARKETS & TRENDS | BY:  CHRISTIAN ROSELUND

Eight states have more than 400 MW-DC of projects under construction each, showing increasing market diversification. The U.S. utility-scale market has long been set for a breakout year in 2016, due to the formerly pending expiration of the U.S. Investment Tax Credit (ITC). But figures on exactly how much solar will get installed have been hard to pin down.

GTM Research has documented a boom in project starts, and according to the company’s Utility PV Market Tracker service there is currently 10.1 GW-DC of utility-scale solar PV under construction nationwide. This includes 8.6 GW of solar projects being built in the top 10 state markets – more PV than was put online in the entire year 2015 across all market segments.

Among this, the company also lists eight states where more than 400 MW-DC of solar is currently under construction. These include not only California and Texas – which each have over 1 GW under construction – but also states that a few years ago had small to non-existent markets, such as Georgia, Florida and Utah.

GTM Research notes that this has been building for some time. “States don’t go from zero to 1 GW, so a lot of the places where we’re seeing diversification, there is only a small amount being developed, but it is indicative of more to come,” GTM Research Solar Analyst Colin Smith told pv magazine.

In at least two of the top eight states – North Carolina and Utah – projects are being driven by PURPA, a 1978 law which mandates that utilities must buy electricity from independent power producers if they can match the price that the utility would otherwise pay for generation.

Rounding out the eight states with more than 400 MW under construction are Nevada and Arizona. Both of these states have seen regulatory set-backs for distributed solar in recent years, and in both utilities are instead pursuing large-scale solar.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Solar costs rocketing DOWN world-wide

solar-costs-16

You’ll never believe how cheap new solar power is , Think Progress, Joe Romm , 8 July 16, Solar energy has grown 100-fold in this country in the past decade. Globally, solar has doubled seven times since 2000, and Dubai received a bid recently for 800 megawatts of solar at a stunning “US 2.99 cents per kilowatt hour” — unsubsidized! For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Solar energy has been advancing considerably faster than anyone expected just a few years ago thanks to aggressive market-based deployment efforts around the globe. Since it’s hard to keep up with the speed-of-light changes, and this is the fuel that will power more and more of the global economy in the near future, here are all the latest charts and facts to understand it.

If you are looking for one chart to sum up the whole solar energy miracle, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Chairman Michael Liebreich has one from his keynote address at BNEF’s annual conference in April titled “In Search of the Miraculous”: [chart on original]

Thanks to sustained long-term deployment programs, Liebreich explained, “We’ve seen the costs come down by a factor of 150 since 1975. We’ve seen volume up by 115,000.”

“How much more miracle-y do you need your miracles to be,” Liebreich added.

What that chart doesn’t reveal is that the price drop and the sales volume increase are directly linked. There is a learning curve: Over the past four decades, for every doubling in scale of the solar industry, the price of solar modules has dropped roughly 26 percent.

BNEF has the learning curve chart in its “annual long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve in the future,” their New Energy Outlook(NEO) from June. In a section headlined, “Solar and Wind Prices Plummet,” BNEF says “The chart below is arguably the most important chart in energy markets. It describes a pattern so consistent, and so powerful, that industries set their clocks by it”:

BNEF projects that by 2040, the world will invest an astonishing $3.4 trillion in solar. That’s more than the projected cumulative investment of $2.1 trillion for all fossil fuels — and $1.1 trillion in new nuclear — combined.  [ chart]

The result of these investments and the continued learning by solar (and wind) makes “these two technologies the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world in the 2030s.”……..

From 2005 through 2015, annual PV sales in this country went up 100-fold! And projections suggest that solar sales may double this year, driven by Congress’s five-year renewal (with phase-out) of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

And here is what the recent solar boom looks like world-wide — cumulative installed PV capacity and annual additions — from the recent “Renewables 2016 Global Status Report” by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century: [chart]……….

The ‘Other’ Form Of Solar Energy, Which Can Run At Night

Earlier this month, I wrote about the “other” form of solar, concentrating solar thermal power, which uses sunlight to heat water and uses the steam to drive a turbine and generator. That heat can be stored over 20 times more cheaply than electricity — and much more efficiently — so CSP can provide power long after the sun has gone down……… https://thinkprogress.org/youll-never-believe-how-cheap-new-solar-power-is-7c17051c1152#.ptq1vfrsm

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | 2 Comments