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Off Fukushima coast – tsunami warning has been issued, following earthquake

Tsunami warning issued after earthquake off Fukushima, Japan, SMH, 22 Nov 16 A tsunami warning, with waves of up to three metres, has been issued for Fukushima following a magnitude 7.3 earthquake on Tuesday morning.

NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster, is showing a livestream of the coast around Fukushima, where a three-metre tsunami is expected to hit.

NHK said a tsunami had already been observed about 20 kilometres off Fukushima’s coastline, at 6.06am local time.

At 6.49am, a 60 centimetre tsunami was observed at the Port of Onahama, at Fukushima. NHK said back wash has been reported, as the sea level decreases for the approach of a tsunami.

MA said the tsunami height is estimated to be one to three metres in the Fukushima area. Tsunami waves are expected to hit repeatedly, the warning said.

The epicentre of the earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, was off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10 kilometres, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

The earthquake was recorded about 6am local time (8am AEDT).

Residents are being told to evacuate from coastal regions and riverside areas to a safe place, such as higher ground or an evacuation building immediately.

NHK is repeatedly telling people in coastal areas of the Fukushima prefecture to evacuate to higher ground immediately….. .

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Temporary Radioactive Soil Storage Sites Hinder Fukushima Farmers

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Farmers harvest rice in one of Hisayoshi Shiraiwa’s paddies in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 19, 2016. Another rice paddy in the foreground serves as a temporary storage site for piles of black plastic bags containing radioactive soil.

FUKUSHIMA — Wide swaths of temporary storage sites for radioactive soil and other waste generated from decontamination work in areas around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are hampering locals from resuming farming, it has been learned.

The makeshift storage sites occupy roughly 1,000 hectares in total, or an area the size of 213 Tokyo Domes, across zones currently or formerly designated for evacuation in 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, according to the Ministry of the Environment. The high occupancy is the result of delayed work to develop interim storage facilities for contaminated soil.

Because slightly over 90 percent of those temporary storage sites lie on farmland, local governments are deprived of the very foundation for restoring farming — a key local industry — in those areas while farmers are concerned about possible damage caused by harmful rumors.

According to the Environment Ministry, there are about 280 temporary storage sites in areas designated as evacuation zones. Those storage sites — which are leased to the ministry by local farmers — accommodate over 7 million black plastic bags containing radioactive soil, grass and branches. Those flexible container bags — each capable of containing 1 cubic meter of soil and other waste — are commonly known as “flecon baggu” in Japanese.

Under the ministry plan, interim storage facilities will be built in areas totaling some 1,600 hectares in the so-called “difficult-to-return” zones in the prefectural towns of Futaba and Okuma around the Fukushima No. 1 plant. Under the scheme, radioactive soil temporarily stored at different locations in Fukushima Prefecture will be transported there for longer storage periods spanning up to 30 years before it is put to final disposal outside the prefecture.

While the ministry had initially sought to begin construction of interim storage facilities in July 2014, delays in negotiations with local residents and efforts to acquire land lots made it impossible to meet the schedule. The ministry aims to finish acquiring up to 70 percent of land necessary for the construction of interim storage facilities by the end of fiscal 2020, but the land it had managed to acquire by the end of October this year stood at a mere 170 hectares, or only 10 percent of the planned area.

The Environment Ministry estimates that up to 22 million cubic meters of contaminated soil and other waste will be generated across Fukushima Prefecture, but the interim storage facilities are expected to be able to accommodate no more than 12.5 million cubic meters of such waste by the end of fiscal 2020.

The Fukushima Prefecture village of Katsurao, where evacuation orders were lifted in most areas in June, has been pushing restoration of farming as a key policy measure. However, the total size of rice paddies in the village has dropped from some 130 hectares operated by roughly 270 households in 2010 — prior to the Fukushima meltdowns — to around 6 hectares operated by 11 households this year. Nearly 30 percent of the village’s rice paddies totaling some 220 hectares now serve as temporary storage sites for radioactive soil and other waste.

Hisayoshi Shiraiwa, a 70-year-old farmer in Katsurao, harvested rice in his paddy in October, which is adjacent to another paddy that serves as a temporary storage site for piles of black plastic bags containing radioactive soil. As the price of rice from the area hasn’t recovered to pre-disaster levels, local farmers are worried about prolonged reputational damage.

“As long as temporary storage sites remain here, farmers will lose their motivation and face a shortage of successors,” Shiraiwa said.

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November 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Ice wall at Fukushima plant examined



Government officials have examined an underground ice wall built around Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to confirm whether the soil has frozen.

Work is ongoing to build a 1.5 kilometer barrier of frozen soil encircling reactor buildings. The goal is to prevent underground water from seeping into the plant premises, resulting in more tainted water.

Coolants are being circulated from pipes buried around the reactor site.

Work to build an ice wall began in March, and is almost completed.

State minister for industry, Yosuke Takagi and others on Monday looked at an exposed section of the ice wall.

They said the ice wall had hardened enough to withstand being hit with a hammer.

Officials say prior to construction of the ice wall, workers collected some 350 tons of underground water on a daily basis. The amount has shrunk to about 200 tons.

Japan’s nuclear regulator is also planning to assess the effectiveness of the ice wall installment.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Pro-Nuclear Candidate Wins in Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant Host City


Pro-nuclear candidate wins mayoral race in plant host city

KASHIWAZAKI, NIIGATA PREF. – A candidate who pledged to conditionally approve the restart of the world’s biggest nuclear power plant has been elected mayor of Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture.

Masahiro Sakurai, a 54-year-old former member of the city’s assembly, on Sunday defeated Eiko Takeuchi, 47, a former municipal employee who opposes the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex on the Sea of Japan coast.

During the campaign, Sakurai said he would not reject a restart of the power plant if Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. takes into account the opinions of nearby residents and ensures the facility’s safety.

He was supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and local businesses.

Takeuchi promised not to accept the plant restart, saying it will expose the public to danger. She had official support from the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Speaking with reporters Monday morning, Sakurai repeated his pledge to gradually reduce dependence on nuclear power but that he sees value in the plant operating for a certain period of time.

He also referred to decommissioning some of the reactors, saying the process should create jobs in the city.

It remains uncertain whether Tepco will be able to resume operation of the plant due to opposition from Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was elected in October.

An agreement, though nonbinding, between the utility, Kashiwazaki and Niigata Prefecture is essential to restart the nuclear power station.

The power station straddles Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa.

Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada, who supports restarting the plant, was handed a fifth term Nov. 15 when no one ran against him.

Whether to restart nuclear facilities has dominated several local elections across Japan, especially since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are boiling water units, the same type that suffered core meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1, raising safety fears.

If all of its seven units are in operation, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is the world’s largest nuclear power complex, boasting a combined output capacity of around 8.2 million kilowatts.

Mayoral candidate in Japan campaigning to bring world’s biggest nuke plant back online set to be elected: exit polls

A pro-nuclear power advocate who campaigned on a platform of rebooting the world’s largest nuclear power plant is placed to win the mayoral election in the Japanese City of Kashiwazaki, in Niigata Prefecture, exit polls reported by local media showed Sunday.

According to Kyodo News, Masahiro Sakurai, 54, who formerly worked for the city council in Kashiwazaki, will become mayor, having beaten his opponent Eiko Takeuchi, 47, a former employee of the city, who stood in opposition of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear complex being restarted.

Despite the likely win for Sakurai however and his plans to bring the mega-plant on the Sea of Japan back on-line, the plant’s utility may not get the green light to restart its idled reactors, as a month earlier Ryuichi Yoneyama, an anti-nuclear candidate, won the gubernatorial election in Niigata Prefecture.

Yoneyama winning the race was a major blow to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling administration, who favors bringing the nation’s nuclear power plants, idled in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, back online, as he has unequivocally stated that he will not accept the plant being restarted.

“Let me clearly say that I cannot accept the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant under the current circumstances where I cannot protect people’s lives and live as I have promised,” Yoneyama was quoted as saying to his supporters recently, with reference to major concerns in the area over the plant’s checkered safety record.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station that Sakurai wants to reboot is located in the towns of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan, and was central to Yoneyama’s winning campaign, with incumbent Gov. Hirohiko Izumida, who was not seeking reelection, also voicing skepticism over the safety of the plant’s restart.

For the power station, with a potential output of 8.2 million kilowatts making it the largest in the world to be restarted, an accord has to be struck between the city, the prefecture and the utility, with Yoneyama likely to be the bottle-neck.

Safety concerns have been rife in the region as the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s Nos. 6 and 7 units use the same boiling water technique as the reactors at TEPCO’s Daiichi plant in Fukushima that suffered multiple meltdowns in 2011, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant itself has been no stranger to accidents and controversy and in 2007 an earthquake caused reactors at the plant to catch fire and leak radioactive materials. As with Fukushima Daiichi, the plant is also owned and operated by the embattled Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which is currently under state control.

Following TEPCO’s numerous coverups, continued misinformation and other monumental gaffes related to the ongoing Fukushima disaster, public opinion towards the utility, and, by default, the government here, has remained indignant and distrusting.

Pro-reactor restart candidate wins mayoral race

Voters in a Japanese city that hosts an offline nuclear power plant have chosen their new mayor. Independent Masahiro Sakurai conditionally supports plans to restart the plant.
He defeated the only other candidate, who opposes the restart, in the election in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, on Sunday.
Sakurai endorses the plan to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant with some conditions, including ensuring its safety. He also insists that the number of nuclear plants needs to be reduced in the future.
During his campaign, Sakurai said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, as well as the central government should play a proactive role in preventing nuclear disasters. He promised to work for necessary legal revisions.
Sakurai also urged the city to overcome the division regarding the restart.
He garnered support from local business leaders and many municipal assembly members.
Last month, a candidate with a cautious stance toward the restart won the election to become the prefecture’s governor.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

A Preposterous Proposal on Nuclear Accident Compensation


The industry ministry has put forth a ridiculous proposal on financing compensation payments to victims of nuclear accidents.

In essence, the ministry’s proposal is designed to bail out operators of nuclear power plants that have failed to set aside compensation money for possible accidents at facilities that have been in service for decades.

To secure necessary funds for potentially huge compensation payments, the ministry wants to require old customers to bear part of the burden.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates the power industry, has submitted this proposal to a panel of experts discussing the issue.

This effectively means shifting the cost of bad management to people who are not responsible, an approach that defies common sense in the world of business management and obscures the responsibility of the operators. The ministry should withdraw the proposal.

The law concerning compensation for nuclear accident-related damages stipulates that in principle operators are responsible for paying compensation for all damages caused by accidents at their facilities.

But the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., prompted the government to set up an entity to pay compensation to the victims. Under this arrangement, TEPCO and other established electric utilities will pay back the money over a long period of time.

This new system, based on the notion of mutual help, is designed to get nuclear power plant operators involved in a joint effort to cover the risks of nuclear accidents.

The utilities involved are allowed to raise their electricity rates to finance contributions to the system. So the burden is actually borne by customers of the utilities.

The ministry’s new proposal would widen the scope of contributors to the pool of money for compensation payments. The new contributors include electricity suppliers that have entered the market in response to its liberalization even though they don’t operate nuclear power plants.

Specifically, the new utilities would be required to make contributions through the increased fees they pay to use the power transmission lines operated by established utilities. That would force almost all people in this country to shoulder part of the burden.

Here’s the ministry’s case for this scheme.

The money needed to pay compensation for damages caused by nuclear accidents should have been set aside since the 1960s, when nuclear power generation started in Japan. So it is appropriate to require people who paid low electricity rates that didn’t include this cost to bear the burden now.

Behind the ministry’s move is the fact that the total compensation amount related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has already surpassed the original estimate and is now reaching 6 trillion yen ($54 billion). The amount is expected to grow in the coming years.

Even so, if past beneficiaries of low electricity rates are involved, the established utilities should be first forced to use the profits they accumulated in the past through their nuclear power operations.

At the very least, no consumer would accept such a new financial burden unless the utilities are held responsible for failing to save up for emergencies during the past half century.

The ministry has also proposed similar plans to tap the fees paid by new power suppliers for use of established utilities’ transmission cables to cover the costs of decommissioning the reactors at the crippled Fukushima plant and aging reactors at other plants.

The latest proposal is the third scheme based on this approach.

Imposing part of the burden on newcomers in the power market is tantamount to giving preferential treatment to nuclear power and undermines the fair competitive environment that is the foundation for power deregulation.

Some consumers have switched from established utilities to new power suppliers because of their aversion to nuclear power generation.

Clearly, adequate compensation should be paid to victims of nuclear accidents.

But the costs related to nuclear power generation should be shouldered by the operators of nuclear plants. An unreasonable scheme to shift this burden from the operators is simply unacceptable.


November 21, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

Skiing in Fukushima


Fukushima mounts winter tourism offensive to draw foreign tourists to its snowy charms

A project will kick off in Fukushima Prefecture this winter to lure more foreign tourists to its snowy hills and mountains to help revitalize depopulated regions.

For starters, the prefecture will invite tourists from Taiwan, Thailand and Australia to Okuaizu, Urabandai and southern areas of the prefecture, and subsidize nearly all of their transportation and accommodation costs. About 200 people are expected to participate.

The purpose of the project is to promote Fukushima’s name overseas, raise occupancy at its hotels and inns, and bolster jobs in its tourism industry.



The project will run until fiscal 2018. The Fukushima Prefectural Government plans to earmark about ¥17 million from the central government’s local revitalization subsidies to finance the first year.

The prefecture is coordinating with travel agencies so that areas including the towns of Minamiaizu, Kaneyama and Bandai, as well as the villages of Kitashiobara and Tenei, can welcome visitors from Australia, where skiing is very popular, and Taiwan and Thailand, where Fukushima has tourism offices.

The four towns and villages will get three tours each, including an overnight journey, with the prefecture shouldering most of the transport and accommodation fees.

Each tour is designed so participants can ski, snowboard and have snowball fights in Fukushima’s powder snow, as well as enjoy local snow festivals. There are also plans to reserve a ski resort for a whole weekday just for foreign visitors.




In addition, tourists will be invited to soak in hot springs to interact with local residents after experiencing snow-removal activities. This will be followed by chances to sample the local cuisine and taste sake popular at home and abroad.

Other trips are being planned to famous tourist spots along the Tadami Line, which has gained an overseas following on the internet, and to fishing spots where pond smelt can be caught in Hibara and Hatori lakes.

Once the visitors return home, the project encourages them to spread information on the ski resorts, tourist spots, food and sake they experienced via SNS.

Already, the Fukushima Prefectural Government is looking to create more tours that appeal to a wider range of countries, including China and South Korea.

It intends to set up a study group comprising officials from cities, towns, villages and local tourism associations to analyze the participants’ reactions. Based on the results, the prefecture will set up multiple tourism routes to draw attention ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Amid tepid demand from Japanese skiers, if the prefecture successfully emphasizes the high quality of its snow, it is possible to lure more tourists from abroad,” said a source connected with a ski resort in the Aizu region.

We’d like to design a model tour to make the mountainous areas popular in winter,” an official in the prefecture’s regional development section said.

Even though tourism has rebounded since the Fukushima disaster unfolded in 2011, it has not fully recovered.

Last year, foreign tourists who stayed at lodging facilities with more than 20 employees in Fukushima came to 48,090, more than double the 2011 tally, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

But that’s still far short of the 87,170 who did so in 2010, and the prefecture is hunting for more ways to raise tourism in cooperation with its neighbors in the Tohoku and Kanto regions.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Unease amongst world leaders over Donald Trump’s nuclear policies, and appointments

trump-worldWorld leaders anxious for Trump’s nuclear policy, The Hill, Questions are swirling about whether President-elect Donald Trump will follow through on suggestions during the campaign that he might allow other countries to develop nuclear weapons.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pacific Island Nations appeal to USA to save them from global warming

The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.

sea-level-rise_mainClimate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged 19 November 2016  The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two. He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed. Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.

But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.

“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.

“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.” He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming. Continue reading

November 21, 2016 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Canadian government to review plan to dump nuclear waste close to Great Lakes

“No matter what process is followed, burying and abandoning radioactive nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin will always be a bad idea”  “The Trudeau government’s environmental credibility is on the line.” 


Ottawa to hold public review of new material on proposed nuclear waste dump
OPG to submit information to Canadian government in December 
By Jim Bloch For The Voice, 20 Nov 16  Next month, Ontario Power Generation will submit to the Canadian government new information about its proposed Deep Geological Repository for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced the submission goal in October.

“OPG has stated that it intends to submit the requested information in December 2016,” said the CEAA in a public announcement on Oct. 25.

 OPG’s submission will contain new details about alternative locations for the DGR, an analysis of the cumulative effects the dump could have on the environment and an updated list of OPG’s commitments to reduce “each identified adverse impact” of the DRG.

Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Katherine McKenna had been expected to make a decision on the dump, proposed for the shore of Lake Huron in the Ontario municipality of Kincardine, by March 1 of this year. Instead. McKenna made her request for more information on Feb. 18……. Continue reading

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Arctic ocean protection: Obama blocks new oil, gas drilling

Obama,BarackObama blocks new oil, gas drilling in Arctic Ocean, USA Today  November 18, 2016 WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administrationis blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbate global warming.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, environment, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Killings of climate activists

The deadly business of grassroots climate activism New Internationalist, 20 Nov 16  A recent report found that 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists, raising concerns for those who continue to fight on the frontline, writes Liam Turner.  It’s 2015, and Honduran campaigner Berta Cáceres has just won the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmentalism in South and Central America. The crowd claps as she walks up to the podium in her silver-sequined dress, a slight smile on her face. Then the room goes quiet, and Berta adopts a much more serious tone.

She speaks of her people, the Lenca, and their constant battle to protect their land. She speaks of how the world must break free from the grasp of ‘rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy’ that will ultimately lead to its self-destruction. She speaks of how her people’s sacrifice is not just for them, but for the world and everyone in it. She ends by dedicating the award to the martyrs who have given their lives in the struggle to defend our natural resources.

Less than a year later, armed men would break into her house in the middle of the night and murder her in cold blood, making her the latest to die for her cause. She was 44.

 The Truth Behind the Paris Climate Deal

Climate activism has always been risky. Not only are there hazards that come from protesting at large, industrial sites, there is also the danger that comes from conflict with people whose interests lie with extractivist transnational companies. Ultimately, those who make a stand put themselves in harm’s way one way or another.

In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that climate activism is now more dangerous than ever. In June, a report by Global Witness revealed that 2015 was the deadliest year for environmental activists. It had recorded a total of 186 killings across 16 different countries, an increase of 59 per cent from the previous year. Global Witness also believes this number should actually be much higher, as a lack of reliable data meant that they weren’t able to record all fatal incidents.

An increasing threat

In a postscript to the Global Witness report – entitled ‘On Dangerous Ground’ – campaign leader Billy Kyte said: ‘As demand for products like minerals, timber and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are seizing land in defiance of the people who live on it. Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers.’

The report revealed that activists in Brazil were the worst hit, with a total of 50 recorded deaths. The Philippines was the next highest, with 36 deaths………

November 21, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Decentralized renewable energy – this is the future

Why the Future Belongs to Decentralized Renewables, Not Centralized Hydrogen and Giga-Scale Nuclear November 18, 2016 by Energy Post
highly-recommended“……….Let me develop the real reasons why conventional renewables are likely to emerge as the dominant primary energy sources in the first half of the
21st century. The fundamental advantages of renewables, as revealed by practical experience in China as well as in industrialised countries like Germany where an energy transformation is well under way, are these.As they scale renewable energies do not present greater and greater hazards. Instead they are relatively benign technologies, without serious riskThey are clean (low to zero-carbon); they are non-polluting (important in China and India with their high levels of particulate pollution derived from coal); they tap into inexhaustibleenergy sources; and they have close-to-zero running costs since they do not need fuel. They are also diffuse, which should be viewed as an advantage, since this means that renewable sources are decentralised, and can be harvested by both large and by small operations. So they are eminently practicable.

Some advantages of renewables are not at all obvious and need to be made explicit. Fundamentally, they are scalable. They can be built in modular fashion – one solar panel, 100 solar panels, 1000 solar panels. As they are replicated in this fashion so their power ratings continue to rise, without complexity cutting back on efficiency. This cannot be said of nuclear reactors, which have an optimal operational size – below which or above which the plant under-performs.

Moreover as they scale they do not present greater and greater hazards. Instead they are relatively benign technologies, without serious risks.


When they use hazardous materials, such as the cadmium in Cd-Te solar, the solution would be to recycle materials in order to minimise the use and waste of virgin materials.

Most importantly, the superiority of conventional renewables lies in their cost reduction trends which are linked to the fact that they are always the products of manufacturing – and mass production manufacturing, where economies of scale really play a role. This means that they offer genuine energy security in so far as manufacturing can in principle be conducted anywhere. There are no geopolitical pressures stemming from accidents of chance where one country has deposits of a fossil fuel but another does not. Manufactured devices promise an end to the era in which energy security remains closely tied to geopolitics and the projection of armed force. As Hao Tan and I put it in our article published in Nature, manufacturing renewables provides the key to energy security.

Manufacturing is characterised by improving efficiencies as experience is accumulated – with consequent cost reductions captured in the learning or experience curve. Manufacturing generates increasing returns; it can be a source of rising incomes and wealth without imposing further stresses on the earth. Add to these advantages that renewables promise economic advantages of the first importance: they offer rural employment as well as urban employment in manufacturing industry; they offer an innovative and competitive energy sector; and they offer export platforms for the future.

The real driver of the renewable energy revolution is not government policy, or business risk-taking, or consumer demand. It is, quite simply, the reduction of costs

This is to list the advantages of renewables without even mentioning their low and diminishing carbon emissions. Indeed they offer the only real long-term solution to the problem of cleaning up energy systems.

With all these advantages, it is little wonder that China and now India are throwing so much effort into building renewable energy systems at scale. These are not exercises undertaken for ethical or aesthetic purposes, but as national development strategies of the highest priority.

So the real driver of the renewable energy revolution is not government policy, or business risk-taking, or consumer demand. It is, quite simply, the reduction of costs – to the point where renewables are bringing down costs of generating power to be comparable with the use of traditional fossil fuels, and with the promise of reducing these costs further still. Supergrids are also being promoted for renewables, but these are very different conceptions, based on integrating numerous fluctuating sources in IT-empowered grids, offering the same practicable, scalable and replicable energy future.

Against these advantages, the obstacles regularly cited are small indeed. There is the fluctuating nature of renewables, which can be addressed by various forms of systems integration (smart grids, demand response) and of course through energy storage, which is moving into the same kind of cost reduction learning curve that has characterised solar and wind power, promising rapid diffusion of both commercial and domestic energy storage units. With rapidly falling costs of storage providing the buffer that can even out fluctuating levels of generation, there is no further serious argument against renewables……..


This article is based on a scientific paper by John A. Mathews, Competing principles driving energy futures: Fossil fuel decarbonization vs. manufacturing learning curves, which was published in Futures in November 2016 (.

John Mathews is author of the Greening of Capitalism: How Asia is Driving the Next Great Transformation”, published by Stanford University Press: His latest book, “China’s Renewable Energy Revolution” (co-authored with Hao Tan) was published by Palgrave Pivot in September 2015:

See his author’s archive on Energy Post.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised, Reference | Leave a comment

South Africa’s renewable energy is making nuclear power look obsolete

solar,-wind-aghastflag-S.AfricaSolar And Wind Versus Nuclear: Is Baseload Power Obsolete? Planet Save November 20th, 2016 by . The future of electrical energy is playing out in South Africa, where 80% of all electricity is generated by burning coal. The government is anxious to shutter all those coal fired plants but is caught in a crossfire between advocates for nuclear power and those who favor renewable solutions like solar and wind energy.

South Africa is the most advanced economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Until 2008, its electrical power came from coal fired generating stations and one nuclear power plant. Starting in 2008, the country ran short of electricity due to poor infrastructure planning, That’s when crippling rolling blackouts began. Desperate for more electrical capacity, the government started a campaign to lure investment in wind and solar power. By June of this year, 102 renewable energy projects worth $14.4 billion had been completed.

Renewable Strategy Successful

“The program has been very successful, clear of any corruption and very well run,” said Wikus van Niekerk, the director of the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University. “It’s been seen by many people in the rest of the world as one of the most successful procurement programs for renewable energy. It’s something that the South African government and public should be proud about.”

Several of those projects are concentrated solar facilities located near Upington in the central part of the country. That area has some of the most abundant daily sunshine of any place on earth. But those facilities use technology that is now almost obsolete. They use mirrors to concentrate sunlight to boil water to make steam.

After the sun goes down, they can continue to make electricity from the steam on hand for a few hours. After that, they have to wait for the sun to reappear the next day. Newer concentrated solar plants use the sun’s rays to heat molten salt, which can be kept in storage for up to 10 hours after the sun sets and used to keep the steam turbines spinning. Researchers in Spain say using molten silicon can store up to ten times as much energy as molten salt……….

Is Baseload Power An Outmoded Concept?

“The concept of baseload is actually an outdated concept,” said Harald Winkler, the director of the Energy Research Center at the University of Cape Town. “Eskom was built around big coal and to a lesser extent big nuclear — big chunks of base load power. It’s really myopic in terms of where the future of the grid is going to go. We’re going to see in South Africa and the rest of the world much more decentralized grids.”

Distributed Vs. Centralized Power

Ahhh, there is in a nutshell. The same fears that drive established utility companies in the United States. Europe, and Australia apply in South Africa. Utility companies think in terms of centralized grids. Renewables coupled with efficient, cost effective energy storage make grids virtually obsolete. Utility companies are petrified they may become irrelevant and the trillions of dollars invested in building grids throughout the world will stop producing income.

Businesses in South African cities are increasingly installing solar panels and going off the grid. Elsewhere in Africa, it is now common to see villagers connecting cellphones to single solar panels outside mud­ brick homes.

Opposition to South Africa’s nuclear plans is also coming from the government’s main research agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It says an expansion of solar and wind energy, in addition to natural gas, could meet South Africa’s future energy needs for less money. “No new coal, no new nuclear,” said Tobias Bischof­Niemz, who leads the
council’s research on energy. “South Africa is in a very fortunate situation where we can decarbonize our energy system at negative cost.”……..

Nuclear power relies completely on a centralized grid. Building grid infrastructure — transmission lines and substations — costs as much or more as a building generating facilities themselves. That’s why localized renewable power provides the most amount of electricity per dollar invested.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, South Africa | Leave a comment

A new nuclear plant at Wylfa on Anglesey? the economics don’t stack up

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKEconomic case for nuclear ‘falling apart’ anti-Wylfa Newydd protesters claim

Rally urges government not to build new nuclear plant on Anglesey B 19 NOV 2016 

The economic case for nuclear energy is “falling apart”, a leading anti-nuclear campaigner claimed. Dr Carl Clowes made the claim at an anti-nuclear power rally at Llangefni.  An audience of more than 50 listened to arguments against building a new nuclear plant at Wylfa on Anglesey.

Dr Clowes said: “There’s been a proposal to develop Wylfa Newydd for some years now and we believe passionately this is not the right way forward for either energy or employment on the island. “It’s going to cause as many problems as it may potentially solve and it leaves a legacy which is wholly inappropriate for future generations. “There are better more effective, more efficient ways of producing energy now and we need to address those rather than waste our time and money indeed on something that may not happen at the end of the day.

“The economic case for nuclear is falling apart. We’ve seen already this week Vatenfall, a Danish company, is aiming to produce electricity with offshore wind at something like half the price, 45 pence per kiolwatt hour that the Government has agreed for Hinkley C with EDF.

“So it’s a no brainer for an economist or a Government minister they should be seriously looking at the way ahead and it’s not nuclear.” Dylan Morgan of PAWB (People against Wylfa B) claims Hitachi’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) which they are proposing for Wylfa B is not a proven technology.

“Since the explosions and triple meltdowns at nuclear reactors in Fukushima in March 2011, none of the four ABWRs which were operating in Japan are now operational. “One nuclear power complex shut down in June 2006 after only running from its start up in January 2005.

“Also a plan to build an ABWR in the USA was abandoned in March 2011 because nobody wanted to invest in it,” he said.

The meeting also considered why small nuclear reactors should not be built at the site of the now decommissioned nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd near Blaenau Ffestiniog or anywhere else.

A competition to develop a miniature nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd earlier this year attracted interest from 38 companies from around the world.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been compared to the nuclear reactors that have been used to power submarines since the 1950s.

Last year the UK Government announced £250m in funding over the next five years for nuclear research and development, including a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

New Nuclear Power Is Simply Not Competitive

scrutiny-on-costsLet’s Be Honest — New Nuclear Power Is Not Competitive  November 17th, 2016 by   [graphs] The Before the Flood website recently published a great article about why nuclear power is now a dead end. It was based on solid research and a deep plus broad understanding of the fast-changing energy industry.

As the article noted, nuclear power has been growing only in China. Even in China, though, the growth targets announced a few years ago keep getting undermined by nuclear’s lack of competitiveness, and China is all but certain to dramatically cut its long-term plans.

Nuclear power is nonsensical for new electricity capacity for a handful of reasons. It’s extremely expensive, it’s inflexible, it’s extremely slow to build, and it’s economically and environmentally risky.

Unfortunately, the nuclear lobby is still influential and keeps pushing its agenda despite nuclear power’s lack of competitiveness. I received word that the Before the Flood team got some backlash from nuclear fans after publishing the article, despite the realistic and insightful nature of the summary.

There seem to be remaining science-fiction technology enthusiasts who are simply enamored by the idea of an energy dense, centralized nuclear world, but that idea is disconnected from reality. At least, it is disconnected from any market-competitive reality.

If you look at the facts, new nuclear is about 2–5 times as expensive as solar and wind, is irreparably inflexible (a huge handicap in a 21st century grid), and comes with a financial threat that the private insurance sector won’t touch without massive, massive subsidies and risk protection from the government or ratepayers.

The bottom line: new nuclear makes no sense today.

Frankly, we primarily stopped writing about nuclear since everyone in the industry should know by now it is an industry entering its retirement stage. However, because of the interest (and backlash) the Before the Flood article raised, I decided it was worth communicating this point one more time.

Unless you want to pay 2–5 times as much for electricity, put your country at dramatic economic risk, and increase the number of blackouts in your region, drop the nuclear fantasy and jump into the 21st century.

If you are interested in implementing quick and strong climate solutions, Kelly Rigg’s closing statement in the Before the Flood article is right on point: “in the time it takes to plan and build a single new nuclear plant we could build thousands of new solar and wind plants” … for much cheaper.

Related: Leonardo DiCaprio Gives Us Hope In “Before The Flood”

November 21, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment