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Russia stops agreement with Ukraine on nuclear power plant construction

MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. The agreement between the government of Russia and Ukraine on building a third and fourth reactor of the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant has been terminated, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in an official statement on the official website of legal information.

“The operation of the agreement between the government of Russia and Ukraine on cooperation in building the third and fourth units of the Khmelnitsky NPP, signed in Kiev on June 9, 2010 has been stopped,” the document says.

The agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian governments on cooperation was concluded on June 9, 2010 and ratified by the Ukrainian parliament on January 12, 2011. Under the contract Russia was to fund the reactors’ design and commissioning.

In 2015, the Ukrainian government initiated the procedure of severing the agreement and the parliament supported that proposal on September 16, 2015.

The Khmelnitsky NPP is located in the town of Neteshin. It has two one-thousand-megawatt pressurized water reactors VVER-1000 (commissioned in 1987 and 2004)

http://tass.com/economy/925011

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January 14, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transition to renewable energy – theme for January 2017

This transition is well underway. Renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper.  It is now the time to consider whether perhaps renewable energy should not be so cheap.  This is the age-old debate between quantity and quality.  Should the world have so much more renewable energy, or so much better renewable energy?  But then perhaps it can have both.

energy-transition

The whole point of renewable energy is that it is clean. And, for sure, the major fuels – sun and wind – are undoubtedly clean. However, renewable energy does require some components – rare earths – that certainly have a dirty radioactive  history, and may still have a dirty radioactive present.

rare-earths-pollution-ChinaTwo notorious historic examples of pollution from the production of rare earths are the Bukit Merah  project in Malaysia , and China’s project in Inner Mongolia

China is now controlling   rare earths’ production in a cleaner way.  but it would be naïve and simplistic to assume that its pollution problems have completely gone away.

 

3 main approaches are being taken to this problem:

rare-earth-recyclingDesign for recycling
. This is particularly appropriate for wind turbines.

Reduction in consumption of rare earths . This is not applicable to renewable energy, but rather to the rampant and wasteful  consumption of modern electronic gadgets –  often unnecessary, all too often a part of our throwaway culture. http://chinawaterrisk.org/resources/analysis-reviews/can-we-build-a-clean-smart-future-on-toxic-rare-earths/

Design for green technologies that don’t require rare earths

clean-technology Of course, like all modern industrial technologies, mining and manufacture and transport  of renewables do mean environmental disturbance.  But this is a balancing act, considering the environmental benefits of renewable energy.

The nuclear lobby pretends that renewable energy is environmentally dirty. In the 21st Century, it is vital that we acknowledge environmental problems, including that fact of radioactive waste from rare earths, and make sure that the production processes are clean, even if this adds to their cost.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes | Leave a comment

Climate and nuclear news to 14 January

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

A week away from Donald Trump taking over the USA Presidency, and it’s anybody’s guess as to how bad the repercussions of that will be, for climate action, nuclear safety, and the public good. If there happen to be some accidental unintended benefits for they public good, I doubt that these will compensate for the world’s most powerful nation being run by the lead bully boy for corporate America. Barack Obama retires graciously, claiming that “we did”. Perhaps more accurately “we tried”.

Don’t for one minute think that nuclear power is in any way “green“.

Record loss of sea ice in 2016-both Arctic and Antarctic.

Alexei Yablokov, grandfather of Russian environmentalism, dies at 83

CLIMATE   NOAA– Atmospheric CO2 Increased by 2.77 Parts Per Million During 2016. Copernicus organisation says 2016 ‘hottest on record’ in new sign of global warming.  Greenland Ice Melt might cause Atlantic Circulation to Collapse.

ENERGY  Bleak future for nuclear revival, with solar and wind costs continuing to fall.  Rapid rise in Global Photovoltaic Installation Market is predicted by Transparency Market Research.

USA.

CANADA. Canada’s government releases carbon pricing plan

UKRAINE. Giant solar farm to be built on Ukraine’s land contaminated by Chernobyl radiation.

NETHERLANDS. Trains 100% wind powered for Netherlands, by 2018.

FRANCE. France’s desperate move to save nuclear company AREVA.

RUSSIAAlexei Yablokov, Russia’s environmental conscience, dies at 83 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo2cyS1YUqo

UK. China to build ANOTHER nuclear reactor in Britain – concern for nuclear regulator. Wales introduces solar ‘eco hamlet‘ – the first of many?

CHINA. China’s $493 billion plan for renewable energy.

TAIWAN. Taiwan will end nuclear power generation by 2025.

JAPAN.  ‘Monju was not worth dying for’ – says wife of top nuclear official, who suicided.   Toshiba’s $billions loss raise questions about costs for new nuclear power. Coral bleaching kills 70 percent of Japan’s biggest coral reef. Japanese Government hides contamination from Fukushima nuclear disaster while sending evacuees home .

NORTH KOREA. North Korea’s greatly increased plutonium stockpile

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Monumental showdown between grassroots campaigners and Coal, Oil, Nuclear, and Gas

text-relevantKing CONG vs. Solartopia, Harvey Wasserman “………Some 10,000 arrests of citizens engaged in civil disobedience have put the Diablo nuclear reactors at ground zero in the worldwide No Nukes campaign. But the epic battle goes far beyond atomic power. It is a monumental showdown over who will own our global energy supply, and how this will impact the future of our planet.

On one side is King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, and Gas), the corporate megalith that’s unbalancing our weather and dominating our governments in the name of centralized, for-profit control of our economic future. On the other is a nonviolent grassroots campaign determined to reshape our power supply to operate in harmony with nature, to serve the communities and individuals who consume and increasingly produce that energy, and to build the foundation of a sustainable eco-democracy…….

with this dangerous and dirty power have come Earth-friendly alternatives, ignited in part by the grassroots movements of the 1960s. E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful became the bible of a back-to-the-land movement that took a new generation of veteran activists into the countryside.

Dozens of nonviolent confrontations erupted, with thousands of arrests. In June 1978, nine months before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, the grassroots Clamshell Alliance drew 20,000 participants to a rally at New Hampshire’s Seabrook site. And Amory Lovins’s pathbreaking article, “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken,” posited a whole new energy future, grounded in photovoltaic and wind technologies, along with breakthroughs in conservation and efficiency, and a paradigm of decentralized, community-owned power.

As rising concerns about global warming forced a hard look at fossil fuels, the fading nuclear power industry suddenly had a new selling point. Climate expert James Hansen, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman, and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand began advocating atomic energy as an answer to CO2 emissions. The corporate media began breathlessly reporting a “nuclear renaissance” allegedly led by hordes of environmentalists.

But the launch of Peaceful Atom 2.0 has fallen flat.

climate and nuclearAs I recently detailed in an online article for The Progressive, atomic energy adds to rather than reduces global warming. All reactors emit Carbon-14. The fuel they burn demands substantial CO2 emissions in the mining, milling, and enrichment processes. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has compiled a wide range of studies concluding new reactor construction would significantly worsen the climate crisis.

Moreover, attempts to recycle spent reactor fuel or weapons material have failed, as have attempts to establish a workable nuclear-waste management protocol. For decades, reactor proponents have argued that the barriers to radioactive waste storage are political rather than technical. But after six decades, no country has unveiled a proven long-term storage strategy for high-level waste.

For all the millions spent on it, the nuclear renaissance has failed to yield a single new reactor order. New projects in France, Finland, South Carolina, and Georgia are costing billions extra, with opening dates years behind schedule. Five projects pushed by the Washington Public Power System caused the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. No major long-standing green groups have joined the tiny crew of self-proclaimed “pro-nuke environmentalists.” Wall Street is backing away.

Even the split atom’s most ardent advocates are hard-pressed to argue any new reactors will be built in the United States, or more than a scattered few anywhere else but China, where the debate still rages and the outcome is uncertain……..

Where once it demanded deregulation and a competitive market, the nuclear industry now wants re-regulation and guaranteed profits no matter how badly it performs.

The grassroots pushback has been fierce. Proposed bailouts have been defeated in Illinois and are under attack in New York and Ohio. A groundbreaking agreement involving green and union groups has set deadlines for shutting the Diablo reactors, with local activists demanding a quicker timetable. Increasingly worried about meltdowns and explosions, grassroots campaigns to close old reactors are ramping up throughout the United States and Europe. Citizen action in Japan has prevented the reopening of nearly all nuclear plants since Fukushima.

Envisioning the “nuclear interruption” behind us, visionaries like Lovins see a decentralized “Solartopian” system with supply owned and operated at the grassroots………

logo-solartopia

[In Germany] the transition is succeeding faster and more profitably than its staunchest supporters imagined. Wind and solar have blasted ahead. Green energy prices have dropped and Germans are enthusiastically lining up to put power plants on their rooftops. Sales of solar panels have skyrocketed, with an ever-growing percentage of supply coming from stand-alone buildings and community projects. The grid has been flooded with cheap, green juice, crowding out the existing nukes and fossil burners, cutting the legs out from under the old system.

In many ways it’s the investor-owner utilities’ worst nightmare,………

The revolution has spread to the transportation sector, where electric cars are now plugging into outlets powered by solar panels on homes, offices, commercial buildings, and factories. Like nuclear power, the gas-driven automobile may be on its way to extinction.

Nationwide, more than 200,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, including more than 75,000 in California alone. By contrast, only about 100,000 people work in the U.S. nuclear industry. Some 88,000 Americans now work in the wind industry, compared to about 83,000 in coal mines, with that number also dropping steadily.

Once the shining hope of the corporate power industry, atomic energy’s demise represents more than just the failure of a technology. It’s the prime indicator of an epic shift away from  corporate control of a grid-based energy supply, toward a green power web owned and operated by the public.

As homeowners, building managers, factories, and communities develop an ever-firmer grip on a grassroots homegrown power supply, the arc of our 128-year energy war leans toward Solartopia.

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at solartopia.org. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org.  http://www.progressive.org/news/2016/12/189107/king-cong-vs-solartopia

January 14, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Risk of nuclear war with China is raised in comments by Trump’s proposed secretary of state

Atomic-Bomb-SmFlag-USATrump’s China policy threatens nuclear war World Socialist Website,  James Cogan 13 January 2017 The confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees confirm that his administration intends to vastly intensify US demands for massive economic and strategic concessions from the Chinese regime. In pursuit of the predatory ambitions of a tiny layer of corporate oligarchs, policies are being put forward that could result in a military clash and trigger a nuclear exchange.

On Thursday, Rex Tillerson, Trump’s proposed secretary of state, made unprecedented statements on the attitude the next US government will take toward China’s land reclamation activities and construction of facilities on the islets and reefs Beijing claims as sovereign territory in the South China Sea.

Tillerson declared: “We are going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

The implications of such a policy are immense. The islands referred to by Tillerson are occupied by Chinese military personnel. The waters surrounding them are patrolled by the Chinese Coast Guard and Navy. The airspace above them is patrolled by the Chinese air force. The only conceivable way to deny China access would be through the large-scale deployment of US aircraft carriers and associated military forces into the South China Sea.

Media headlines around the world have reflected the recognition that war would be the most likely outcome of attempting to implement Tillerson’s declaration. For its part, the Chinese state-owned publication Global Times, whose editorial line is believed to come directly from the highest echelons of the Chinese regime, has not hedged its words in response.

Its January 13 editorial states: “Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish. The US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories [emphasis added].”

An analysis of the social forces and economic interests that stand behind Trump leaves no room for doubt that his administration is more than prepared to threaten a full-scale war with China, posing the risk of a nuclear exchange.

Before he is even sworn in, Trump and the cabal of billionaires and ex-generals who will comprise his cabinet have signaled they will provoke conflict with China over a range of issues. In addition to rejecting Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, these policies include imposing tariffs on Chinese exports; demanding Beijing force North Korea to shut down its nuclear weapons program; and threatening to repudiate the “One China policy” under which Washington, since 1979, has formally recognised that the island of Taiwan is part of China and not an independent state.

Adding to the possible list of provocations, one of Trump’s chief supporters in the Congress, Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, joined with Republican presidential aspirant Marco Rubio to introduce the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” in November. The Act would require the US government to take action to ensure Hong Kong remains “sufficiently autonomous” from the mainland regime. Tibetan nationalists have enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s election as a signal that their cause might also be taken up by the incoming administration.

The focus on China flows directly from the interests of a powerful faction of the American corporate elite who view it as their greatest immediate economic, geopolitical and potential military competitor.

Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of oil conglomerate ExxonMobil, personifies this layer. Under Tillerson, ExxonMobil aggressively pursued access to potential oil and gas fields in the South China Sea, in partnership with Vietnam and in defiance of China’s territorial claims. In 2014, one of its fields was occupied by a Chinese oil rig. ExxonMobil’s ambitions for a stake in mainland Chinese energy production and distribution have been hindered also by the dominance of the Chinese state-owned companies that monopolise the domestic industry. Around the world—even in US-occupied Iraq—bids by American energy corporations for contracts have been undercut by their Chinese rivals.

The preoccupation of the Trump oligarchs with shattering Chinese competition is most clearly demonstrated in their willingness to defy the furious demands in the American ruling class for action first against Russia. Trump has thus far largely brushed aside the hysterical calls from the Democratic Party, figures in the Republican Party and the intelligence agencies for an immediate confrontation with Moscow over its alleged interference in the US election and its intervention in Syria to protect the regime of Bashar al-Assad from US-backed Islamist rebels……..ttps://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/01/13/pers-j13.html

January 14, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New data show massive radiation levels in Odaka, Minamisoma

We are presenting here the most recent soil contamination map made by the “Environmental Radioactivity Measurement Project around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.”

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The area where measurements took place is shown by a green square in the map.
It includes two administrative units, Hanokura and Otomi of the Odaka district of Minamisoma town of Fukushima prefecture.

3.jpg

 

Here is the soil contamination map.

4.jpg

 

Taro Yamamoto of the Liberal Party, member of the House of Councilors, used another map prepared by the same group on two other administrative units of Odaka district during his questions at the Special Commission of Reconstruction of the House of Deputy on November 18th 2016.

We are quoting here some extracts of his questions *.

Taro YAMAMOTO

You are well aware of the existence of the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards. This is a rule that must be respected in order to protect workers exposed to risks related to ionizing radiation in establishments such as hospitals, research laboratories and nuclear power plants, isn’t it?

It contains the definition of the Radiation Control Zone. This is Article 3 of the Ordinance in File No. 1. It states that if the situation corresponds to the definition described in Article 3/1 or to that specified in Article 3/2, the zone shall be considered as a Radiation Control Zone and a sign must be posted there. I will read parts 1 and 2 of this article.

1: The area in which the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months! When the dose reaches 1.3mSv over a period of three months, a zone is called a Radiation Control Zone.

Part 3/2 refers to the surface density in the attached table.
Here is File No. 2. What will it be if we do the conversion of the density of the surface per m2?

Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)
The conversion is 40,000Bq/m2

(…..)

In the town of Minamisoma in the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture, three types of evacuation zones were established after the earthquake. In July 2016, the evacuation order was lifted in the “evacuation order lifting preparation area” and in the ‘’not-permitted-to-live area’’. There is only one household with two people remaining in the “the difficult-to-return-to area”.
According to the State, 90% of the territories of Minamisoma are safe.

There is a group called “The Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity Around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant*** ” composed mainly of residents of Minamisoma. Since 2012, its members have been taking measurements of soil contamination in the vicinity of the members’ neighborhoods and in residential areas. They provided the information. Please take a look at File No. 3. You see a colored map.

This is the map of soil collected and measured in the territories where the decontamination works have been completed. The colors show the levels of contamination. The blue colored area indicates where the contamination measurements are below 40,000Bq / m2, ie below the level of a radioactivity controlled zone. There is only one, at the bottom right. Apart from this one, at all other places, the colors show measurements equivalent or higher than in a Radiation Control Zone. There is even an area colored gray where the measurements exceed 1,000,000Bq / m2. There are people living there!

END OF QUOTE

The evacuation order is already lifted from Odaka district of Minamisoma town, and officially the decontamination work has finished. However, the two maps show that in wide areas highly radioactive soil is being found. Their measurements are well above the lower contamination limit of a Radiation Control Zone.

In a Radiation Control Zone, following the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

How can people live there?

minamisoma-contamination-map-oct-2016.jpeg

 

The policy to make a population return and live in areas even more contaminated than most of the Radiation Control Zone, while cutting the financial and housing aid for evacuees, is a serious infringement of human rights.

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* Source : Taro YAMAMOTO’s website
** Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, Ministry of Labour Ordinance No. 41 of September 30, 1972, Latest Amendments: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance No. 172 of July 16, 2001
***
Fukuichi shûhen kankyôhôshasen monitoring project
ふくいち周辺環境放射線モニタリングプロジェクト (in Japanese)
Facebook
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Read also…

Full English translation of Taro Yamamoto’s questions : “Taro Yamamoto defends Fukushima victims’ rights
About activities of “Environmental radioactivity Measurement Project around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant”, read “Minamisoma Whistleblowers, Fukushima

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Thanks to Pierre Fetet and Hervé Courtois for providing the contamination map of Kanabuchi and Kanaya of the Odaka district.

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/new-data-show-massive-radiation-levels-in-minamisoma/

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Mother of bullied Fukushima evacuee reveals details of abuse to court

The mother of a student who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Tokyo in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster disclosed to the Tokyo District Court on Jan. 11 that the student had been bullied from elementary school and was told “you’ll probably die from leukemia soon.”
The mother was testifying as part of a damages lawsuit filed against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the central government by about 50 plaintiffs including victims who voluntarily relocated to Tokyo after the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster.

“My child was bullied for simply being an evacuee, and not being able to publicly say we are evacuees has caused psychological trauma,” the mother said.

The mother testified that directly after transferring to a public elementary school in Chiyoda Ward following the disaster, her child was bullied by a male classmate who said, “You came from Fukushima so you’ll probably die from leukemia soon.” She said that the teacher, while joking, also added, “You will probably die by the time you’re in middle school.” She also asserted that a classmate pushed her child down the stairs after saying, “You’re going to die anyway, so what’s the difference?”

After moving on to junior high school, the student was reportedly forced by classmates to pay for around 10,000 yen worth of sweets and snacks. This bullying case is currently being investigated by a Chiyoda Ward Board of Education third-party committee.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170112/p2a/00m/0na/005000c

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan revises law to become nuclear-free society by 2025

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Operations of two reactors at the No. 4 nuclear power plant in New Taipei City have been put on hold.

TAIPEI–Taiwan enacted a revised law on Jan. 11 to phase out nuclear power generation by 2025 and increase renewables, a considerable challenge for this resource-poor island.

Departure from nuclear power was a campaign pledge of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who assumed office in May.

The bill met with no strong opposition during deliberations at the Legislative Yuan, or the Taiwanese parliament.

The legislation aims to raise the share of renewables, such as solar or wind power, from the current 4 percent to 20 percent of total output in 2025 by liberalizing the renewable energy market.

Electricity generated at three nuclear power stations account for about 14 percent of Taiwan’s electricity output. Operations have been frozen at a fourth nuclear power plant because of public outcry against nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The industrial sector and others have raised concerns about possible fluctuations in the power supply or a spike in utility rates in the coming years.

Another focal point of debate was disposal of radioactive waste kept at a facility in an outlying island.

The Executive Yuan, the equivalent of Japan’s Cabinet, sponsored the bill to revise the electricity utilities industry law to pave the way for a nuclear-free society.

Under the revised law, Taiwan Power Co., operator of all nuclear power plants in Taiwan, will be spun off into two companies: one in charge of power generation and the other overseeing electricity distribution.

All six reactors in Taiwan will reach their 40-year operation limit by May 2025. The No. 1 reactor at the No. 1 nuclear power plant will be the first to hit the limit, in December 2018.

The revised law ruled out the possibility of extending the lives of the reactors, stating that all reactors will end their operations by 2025.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701120036.html

 

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Taiwan | | Leave a comment

US ‘threatens to involve Australia in war with China’

flag-AustraliaAtomic-Bomb-Sm US ‘threatens to involve Australia in war with China’: Paul Keating condemns US secretary of state nominee’s comments, The Age, Fergus Hunter, 14 Jan 17  

 Former prime minister Paul Keating has rounded on President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, accusing him of threatening to bring on war with China and making “ludicrous” comments on the tense South China Sea dispute.

In a statement released on Friday, Mr Keating warned the Australian government to reject Rex Tillerson’s declaration this week that a “signal” needed to be sent to Beijing that the construction of artificial islands in the contested region must stop and “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed”. The remarks from the former chief of Exxon Mobil, in which he also called for regional allies “to show backup”, have set the stage for sharply increased tensions between the US and China as the Asian superpower builds up its military presence on the islands to defend against competing territorial claims from neighbouring countries.

According to Mr Keating, Mr Tillerson’s testimony to his US Senate confirmation hearing “threatens to involve Australia in war with China”. And he has urged the Australian people to “take note” and recommended the government tell the Trump administration, which will take over on January 20, “that Australia will not be part of such adventurism, just as we should have done in Iraq 15 years ago”. “That means no naval commitment to joint operations in the South China Sea and no enhanced US military facilitation of such operations,” the former Labor prime minister said.

“Tillerson’s claim that China’s control of access to the waters would be a threat to ‘the entire global economy’ is simply ludicrous. No country would be more badly affected than China if it moved to impede navigation. On the other hand, Australia’s prosperity and the security of the world would be devastated by war.”……… http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/us-threatens-to-involve-australia-in-war-with-china-paul-keating-condemns-us-secretary-of-state-nominees-comments-20170113-gtqy0k.html

January 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Wyoming lawmakers introduce Bill to stop large-scale wind or solar energy projects

Flag-USAWyoming bill would bar utilities from using wind or solar energy http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/wyoming-bill-would-bar-utilities-from-using-wind-or-solar-energy/article/483604

BY KAREN GRAHAM , 13 Jan 17   
While it may be hard to believe, nine lawmakers in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to the state that comes from large-scale wind or solar energy projects by 2019.
SENATE FILE NO. SF0071 details the Electricity Production Standard for the state of Wyoming, and it’s a real doozy. It is being sponsored by two state senators and seven state representatives, all Republicans, of course.

Inside Climate News is calling the bill an attack on clean energy in Wyoming, and possibly the nation. And what’s really absurd is that it is coming at a time when the cost of using clean energy sources has plummeted across the country, as we seek to remedy the impacts of climate change.

There are only six permissible resources allowed for the generation of electricity in the state, coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, something called a “net metering” system, nuclear power and oil. Wind and solar are not included with the exception that they are for individual use only, reports the Star Tribune.

Utility companies are mandated to use the approved sources to meet 95 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2018 and 100 percent of the state’s power needs by 2019. Bottom line — using power from utility-scale wind, solar and other renewable projects would be outlawed under this legislation.

Now utility companies can sell electricity generated by wind or solar power outside the state without paying a penalty. But they will be charged a fine of $10.00 per kilowatt hour if they give any electricity to state residents.

Wyoming’s dependence on coal

You could believe it when I say many of the lawmakers backing the bill are from top coal-producing counties in the state. Coal production has been the backbone of Wyoming’s economy since the 1970s and has provided the most stable source of tax revenues for the state over the past four decades.

And the proposed legislation is a last ditch effort to save a coal industry that has already been crippled because of plummeting oil, gas and coal prices over the past few years. This is one reason it was so important that Donald Trump win the election in November. With Trump, there was a very good chance that regulations would be rolled back, energizing the coal industry in the state.

Trump’s energy platform is primarily about deregulation, including a promise to kill the Clean Power Plan, which is under consideration by the courts. Under the plan, coal production in Western states would fall by 155 million tons between 2015 and 2040. And two-thirds of that coal comes from the Powder River Basin in northern Wyoming and Montana, according to a story in the Star Tribune in October 2016.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Wind, solar power will continue to gain market share- analysis of levelized cost of energy

solar,-wind-aghast“Our analysis suggests that solar could now infringe on gas’ market share and in some cases challenge its peak margins, and that gas and renewables collectively will continue to gain market share at the expense of coal and nuclear,”

Levelized cost of energy survey shows wind, natural gas cementing economic edge SNL, 06 January 2017   By  Lucas Bifera

A survey of levelized cost of energy, or LCOE, studies illustrates that onshore wind and combined-cycle gas have secured their place as the lowest-cost energy resources, with utility-scale solar not far behind.

Often used as a barometer for estimating the cost at which certain generation technologies can be deployed on an economic basis, LCOE has become a mainstay for policymakers, analysts and industry groups as a reference when comparing costs and benefits of various technologies on the grid.

Incumbent technologies like combined-cycle gas, onshore wind, utility-scale solar photovoltaic, nuclear and coal are uniformly included in studies…….the emergence of a cluster around onshore wind and combined-cycle gas across the different studies indicates an economic consensus, one that highlights the cost effectiveness of renewables on an unsubsidized basis and role of combined-cycle gas as the preeminent baseload resource.

“The demands of a developed economy will continue to require both traditional and alternative energy sources as the technologies driving renewable energy evolve,” observed George Bilicic, vice chairman and global head of power, energy & infrastructure group at Lazard, an investment bank that releases a widely-cited LCOE study each year.

But on an unsubsidized basis, renewables remain competitive across all studies, and in the case of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis, wind resources in Texas have become the cheapest source of power across North and South America, consistent with Lazard’s finding that wind has a low end range of $32/MWh in the Midwest and $36/MWh in Texas.

“Wind capital costs will go up because they are building higher towers, but LCOE values will fall because they have better capacity factors,” said Josh Rhodes, postdoctoral fellow at the Webber Energy Group and co-author of a study from The University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.

“I think we will see a major deployment of solar and wind to come online by [the end of] 2019 in order to take advantage of the full ITC and PTC,” Rhodes noted, looking outward.

Onshore wind and utility-scale solar additions appear poised to outstrip additions of natural-gas fired ………  the Energy Information Administration’s recent 2017 Annual Energy Outlook, which projects that between 2018 and 2022, as much as 54.2 GW of wind could come online, in addition to 13.4 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity.

Combined, that projected capacity is more than 40 times the amount of projected advanced natural gas-fired capacity projected in the same study, which EIA estimates at 1.6 GW.

“Our analysis suggests that solar could now infringe on gas’ market share and in some cases challenge its peak margins, and that gas and renewables collectively will continue to gain market share at the expense of coal and nuclear,” Guggenheim added. http://www.snl.com/web/client?auth=inherit&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWlRsaU0yUXhZMkV3TnpjNCIsInQiOiJGZnRMT045UWllTkRYNzZsSDE1YWFJMXE0M0lQU2F1QnN6Z25jM2hoZlFpNDhwNFFSRzIyTnI1cDdyUW14c2hKXC9keStFV2JvenljcVVFT2Ztc3gxck12WElPXC9WMGVlQWNMbjNJcklpalltM01OTUN2ckRsQktyWlFLTFRcL0VrVyJ9#news/ar

January 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Changes in technology result in rise in employment in renewable energy

green-collarFlag-USAHow Did 2016 Fare For U.S. Energy Employment?

North American Wind Power by Betsy Lillian on January 13, 2017 Changes in America’s energy profile are affecting national employment in key sectors of the economy, explains a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In particular, wind and solar added 25,000 and 73,000 new jobs, respectively, last year, says the agency.

According to the DOE’s second annual report tracking these employment trends, 6.4 million Americans now work in the “traditional energy and energy efficiency industries,” which added over 300,000 net new jobs in 2016 – representing 14% of the nation’s job growth. The report describes “traditional energy” jobs as those in “electric power generation and fuels” and “transmission, distribution and storage,” both of which include include “fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources and their value chains,” the report explains. In addition, “energy efficiency” jobs are described as those covering the “production of energy-saving products and the provision of services that reduce end-use energy consumption.” The report notes that energy efficiency jobs increased by 133,000 jobs for a total of 2.2 million.

The agency says its “2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER)” uses information from surveys to over 30,000 employees in energy sectors and tracks “dramatic growth” in several key sectors of the U.S. economy in 2016. The report also uses secondary data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

For wind power specifically, the industry employs a total of 101,738 workers, which represents a 32% increase since 2015, the report says. The largest share of wind employment lies in construction, which accounts for 37% of the workforce. Manufacturing and wholesale trade follow at 29% and 14%, respectively.

“Wind means opportunity and job security for over 100,000 Americans,” comments Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “The Department of Energy’s new jobs data underscore the incredible impact of wind power in creating American jobs. Wind workers directly contribute to our nation’s energy independence and economic success story. We’re especially proud of helping America’s veterans find well paying jobs after their service – employing them at a rate that is 50 percent higher than the national average.”

For solar, the report says U.S. Department of Labor data does not adequately capture the true employment numbers: The data “dramatically underestimates” how many workers are employed in the solar sector, which, the DOE report says, includes 373,807 Americans who “spend some portion of their time working to install, distribute or provide professional services to solar technologies.” Like wind, construction/installation represents the biggest employment share, followed by “wholesale trade, manufacturing and professional services.”

“This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st-century economy,” says David Foster, the DOE’s senior advisor on industrial and economic policy. “Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel-efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016.”

USEER examines four sectors of the economy – electric power generation and fuels; transmission, wholesale distribution and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles – which cumulatively account for almost all of the U.S.’ energy production and distribution system and roughly 70% of U.S. energy consumption, according to the DOE.

By looking at such a wide portion of the energy economy, the agency says, USEER can provide the public and policymakers with a clearer picture of how changes in energy technology, systems and usage are affecting the economy and creating or displacing jobs……… The full report can be found here.   http://nawindpower.com/how-did-2016-fare-for-u-s-energy-employment

January 14, 2017 Posted by | employment, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

New York has big plans for clean non nuclear energy.

poster renewables not nuclearFlag-USANew York Bets On Renewables To Replace Indian Point text-relevantNuclear Plant https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/13/new-york-bets-renewables-replace-indian-point-nuclear-plant/ January 13th, 2017 Originally published on Think Progress. By Jeremy Deaton

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans this week to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which supplies electricity to New York City and surrounding areas. The plant’s two working reactors — which account for roughly 10 percent of the state’s power generation — are slated to go offline in 2020 and 2021, more than a decade ahead of schedule.

Nuclear power plants represent a range of risks, from hazardous radioactive waste to a full-scale meltdown. They also supply the bulk of America’s zero-carbon electricity. In laying out its carbon-cutting goals, the Environmental Protection Agency assumed that existing nuclear power plants would continue to hum and buzz for decades to come. But cheap natural gas is digging into the profits of America’s aging nuclear power plants, pressuring them to close ahead of schedule.

Some states, like Illinois, have thrown a lifeline to nuclear, subsidizing struggling plants, lest they be replaced by carbon-spewing natural gas. New York, by contrast, is betting that the hole created by Indian Point’s closure will be filled with solar, wind, and hydropower.

In a statement, Cuomo said the plant’s closure won’t drive up emissions “at the regional level.” Given New York’s ambitious climate policies, he might be right.

New York has big plans for clean energy.

This week, Cuomo called for states belonging to the Northeast carbon trading program to further limit carbon pollution. He also announced that New York would cut carbon emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030. As part of its energy plan, New York will require 50 percent of its power to come from renewables by 2030.

To help integrate renewables, New York is remaking its power grid, incentivizing utilities to advance distributed energy — rooftop solar panels, community solar arrays and microgrids. It’s also building power lines to supply New York City with wind and hydroelectric power generated upstate. Cuomo promised that new hydropower and improved transmission would largely fill the gap left by Indian Point. He’s said the shift will come “at a negligible cost to ratepayers.”

You may be wondering why New York isn’t maximizing zero-carbon power, building out wind, solar, and hydropower while maintaining its nuclear reactors. More zero-carbon power means less natural gas. Less natural gas means less climate change.

Advocates and policymakers are trying to perform triage on environmental threats. With climate change, there is a high probability of a global disaster in the future. With nuclear power, there is low probability of a local disaster in the present. How we should balance these risks is the subject of vigorous debate.

In the years following the Three Mile Island disaster, the United States stopped building nuclear power plants, in part because new projects were met with fierce local opposition. This left the door open for carbon-intensive coal and natural gas. Now, New York is trying to wean its way off nuclear without repeating the same mistake.

Cuomo is weighing numerous risks.

The Indian Point power plant presents a range of risks. Last year, it was discovered that a leak at the power plant was turning groundwater radioactive, though reportedly not enough to threaten human health. Experts are most concerned about the possibility of nuclear meltdown or a terrorist attack. The people who planned the 9/11 attacks had initially floated targeting nuclear power plants in addition to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Indian Point offers a prime target for terrorists. The plant lies less than 40 miles from Midtown Manhattan.

What should replace Indian Point? Unlike wind turbines and solar panels, gas-fired power plants can provide energy on demand. But, gas-fired power plants generate carbon dioxide and other pollutants, putting vulnerable New Yorkers in harm’s way.

“Western Queens already produces a majority of the electricity for the New York metropolitan area and has the high asthma and emphysema rates to prove it,” New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D) said in a statementissued in response to the planned closure of Indian Point. “Make no mistake, I will vigorously fight any efforts to build new power plants in already over-saturated communities.”

Cuomo is putting his money on clean, resilient renewable energy, but New York can’t transform its energy grid overnight. It will take decades to run the state on wind, solar, and hydropower alone, and that transition depends on smart public policy.

Renewables thrive where policies nurture their growth. That’s why New Jersey generates more solar power than Texas. And it’s why New York can shutter an important nuclear power plant and realistically expect to curb carbon emissions at the same time.

Its slate of climate policies could serve as a model for other states looking to wean off fossil fuels and nuclear energy both. And it has already begun: Just this week, Cuomo announced a new offshore wind project that will generate enough electricity to power more than 18,000 homes.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear power plants going down like dominoes

nuclear-dominoesU.S. Nuclear Power Plants Continue To Close, Oil Price, 

While the New York government supported reactors elsewhere in the state, they resisted Indian Point because of its proximity to the city. Entergy ultimately conceded, as the company is in the midst of ridding itself of nuclear reactors in the north and is instead focusing on regulated markets in the south.

In fact, Entergy disputed Gov. Cuomo’s influence, citing cheap natural gas as a significant factor in its decision to shut down the plant. But Gov. Cuomo and the state’s attorney general resisted granting Entergy a 20-year license extension on Indian Point. Entergy spent $200 million over the past decade in legal fees trying to obtain a new license, to no avail……..

Gov. Cuomo is now aggressively pushing offshore wind, and is targeting 2.4 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. The first down payment on that target is a 90-megawatt project off the coast of Long Island, which he is supporting. However, those projects will take years to come online even under the most optimistic circumstances, raising fears of a gap in power supply…..

Environmental groups are more confident. “Hats off to the Cuomo Administration and New York leaders for planning to shut down another nuclear plant and replacing it with clean energy,” Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions Program, said in a statement. “There’s more than enough renewable energy projects in the pipeline to replace Indian Point.” Offshore wind could be complemented by onshore wind, solar, and energy efficiency. If New York fails to fill the gap left by Indian Point with renewables, the state can still import hydropower from Quebec.

Indeed, New York is unfazed. The state recently implemented a tighter renewable portfolio standard that requires utilities to source 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, one of the most aggressive in the nation. Gov. Cuomo also announced this week that New York will cut greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030, tightening the requirements under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program between Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states. Gov. Cuomo is going all-in on renewables in an effort that has raised questions regarding his presidential aspirations in 2020.

Indian Point is just one power plant, but it is indicative of the eroding position of nuclear power. Only a handful of new nuclear reactors are under construction, and despite the hype of a “nuclear renaissance,” even the newest models are facing lengthy delays and cost overruns, a longstanding problem for the industry. Meanwhile, existing nuclear reactors are getting picked off, one by one.

Whether it will be solar, wind or natural gas, the one thing that is clear is that nuclear power will increasingly give way to alternatives.http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/US-Nuclear-Power-Plants-Continue-To-Close.html

January 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Analysing the pros and cons of tax-payer subsidies for nuclear power

Nuclear power producers want government-mandated long-term contracts or other mechanisms that require customers to buy power from their troubled units at prices far higher than they would pay otherwise.

In California and in Nebraska, utilities plan to replace nuclear plants that are closing early for economic reasons almost entirely with electricity from carbon-free sources. Such transitions are achievable in most systems as long as the shutdowns are planned in advance to be carbon-free.

We should not rely further on the unfulfilled prophesies that nuclear lobbyists have deployed so expensively for so long.

Tax - payershighly-recommendedShould troubled nuclear reactors be subsidized? http://bangordailynews.com/2017/01/13/the-point/compete-or-suckle-should-troubled-nuclear-reactors-be-subsidized/ By Peter Bradford, The Conversation

Since the 1950s, U.S. nuclear power has commanded immense taxpayer and consumer subsidy based on promises of economic and environmental benefits. Many of these promises are unfulfilled, but new ones take their place and more subsidies follow.

Today, the nuclear industry claims that keeping all operating reactors running for many years, no matter how uneconomic they become, is essential in order to reach U.S. climate change targets.

Economics have always challenged U.S. reactors. After more than 100 construction cancellations and cost overruns costing up to $5 billion apiece, Forbes magazine in 1985 called nuclear power “the greatest managerial disaster in business history … only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money [$265 billion by 1990] has been well spent.” U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss’ 1954 promise that electric power would be “ too cheap to meter” is today used to mock nuclear economics, not commend them.

As late as 1972, the Atomic Energy Commission forecast that the U.S. would have 1,000 power reactors by the year 2000. Today, we have 100 operating power reactors, down from a peak of 112 in 1990. Since 2012, power plant owners have retired five units and announced plans to close nine more. Four new reactors are likely to come on line. Without strenuous government intervention, almost all of the rest will close by midcentury. Because these recent closures have been abrupt and unplanned, the replacement power has come in substantial part from natural gas, causing a dismaying uptick in greenhouse gas emissions.

The nuclear industry, led by the forlornly named lobbying group Nuclear Matters, still obtains large subsidies for new reactor designs that cannot possibly compete at today’s prices. But its main function now is to save operating reactors from closure brought on by their own rising costs, by the absence of a U.S. policy on greenhouse gas emissions and by competition from less expensive natural gas, carbon-free renewables and more efficient energy use.

Only billions more dollars in subsidies and the retarding of rapid deployment of cheaper technologies can save these reactors. Only fresh claims of unique social benefit can justify such steps.

When I served on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1977 through 1982, it issued more licenses than in any comparable period since. Arguments that the U.S. couldn’t avoid dependence on Middle Eastern oil and keep the lights on without a vast increase in nuclear power were standard fare then and throughout my 20 years chairing the New York and Maine utility regulatory commissions. In fact, we attained these goals without the additional reactors, a lesson to remember in the face of claims that all of today’s nuclear plants are needed to ward off climate change.

Nuclear power in competitive electricity markets

During nuclear power’s growth years in the 1960s and 1970s, almost all electric utility rate regulation was based on recovering the money necessary to build and run power plants and the accompanying infrastructure. But in the 1990s, many states broke up the electric utility monopoly model.

Now a majority of U.S. power generation is sold in competitive markets. Companies profit by producing the cheapest electricity or providing services that avoid the need for electricity.

To justify their current subsidy demands, nuclear advocates assert three propositions. First, they contend that power markets undervalue nuclear plants because they do not compensate reactors for avoiding carbon emissions or for other attributes such as diversifying the fuel supply or running more than 90 percent of the time.

Second, they assert that other low-carbon sources cannot fill the gap because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. So power grids will use fossil-fired generators for more hours if nuclear plants close.

Finally, nuclear power supporters argue that these intermittent sources receive substantial subsidies while nuclear energy does not, thereby enabling renewables to underbid nuclear even if their costs are higher.

Nuclear power producers want government-mandated long-term contracts or other mechanisms that require customers to buy power from their troubled units at prices far higher than they would pay otherwise.

Providing such open-ended support will negate several major energy trends that currently benefit customers and the environment. First, power markets have been working reliably and effectively. A large variety of cheaper, more efficient technologies for producing and saving energy, as well as managing the grid more cheaply and cleanly, have been developed. Energy storage, which can enhance the round-the-clock capability of some renewables is progressing faster than had been expected, and it is now being bid into several power markets — notably the market serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

Long-term subsidies for uneconomic nuclear plants also will crowd out penetration of these markets by energy efficiency and renewables. This is the path New York has taken by committing at least $7.6 billion in above-market payments to three of its six plants to assure that they operate through 2029.

Nuclear power versus other carbon-free fuels  While power markets do indeed undervalue low-carbon fuels, all of the other premises underlying the nuclear industry approach are flawed. In California and in Nebraska, utilities plan to replace nuclear plants that are closing early for economic reasons almost entirely with electricity from carbon-free sources. Such transitions are achievable in most systems as long as the shutdowns are planned in advance to be carbon-free.

In California, these replacement resources, which include renewables, storage, transmission enhancements and energy efficiency measures, will for the most part be procured through competitive processes. Indeed, any state where a utility threatens to close a plant can run an auction to ascertain whether there are sufficient low-carbon resources available to replace the unit within a particular time frame. Only then will regulators know whether, how much and for how long they should support nuclear units.

If New York had taken this approach, each of the struggling nuclear units could have bid to provide power in such an auction. They might well have succeeded for the immediate future, but some or all would probably not have won after that.

Closing the noncompetitive plants would be a clear benefit to the New York economy. This is why a large coalition of big customers, alternative energy providers and environmental groups opposed the long-term subsidy plan.

The industry’s final argument — that renewables are subsidized and nuclear is not — ignores overwhelming history. All carbon-free energy sources together have not received remotely as much government support as has flowed to nuclear power.

Nuclear energy’s essential components — reactors and enriched uranium fuel — were developed at taxpayer expense. Private utilities were paid to build nuclear reactors in the 1950s and early 1960s, and received subsidized fuel. According to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, total subsidies paid and offered to nuclear plants between 1960 and 2024 generally exceed the value of the power that they produced.

The U.S. government also has pledged to dispose of nuclear power’s most hazardous wastes — a promise that has never been made to any other industry. By 2020, taxpayers will have paid some $21 billion to store those wastes at power plant sites.

Furthermore, under the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, each plant owner’s accident liability is limited to some $300 million per year, even though the Fukushima disaster showed that nuclear accident costs can exceed $100 billion. If private companies that own U.S. nuclear power plants had been responsible for accident liability, they would not have built reactors. The same is almost certainly true of responsibility for spent fuel disposal.

Finally, as part of the transition to competition in the 1990s, state governments were persuaded to make customers pay off some $70 billion in excessive nuclear costs. Today, the same nuclear power providers are asking to be rescued from the same market forces for a second time.

Christopher Crane, the president and CEO of Exelon, which owns the nation’s largest nuclear fleet, preaches temperance from a bar stool when he disparages renewable energy subsidies by asserting, “I’ve talked for years about the unintended consequences of policies that incentivize technologies versus outcomes.“

But he’s right about unintended and unfortunate consequences. We should not rely further on the unfulfilled prophesies that nuclear lobbyists have deployed so expensively for so long. It’s time to take Crane at his word by using our power markets, adjusted to price greenhouse gas emissions, to prioritize our low carbon outcome over his technology.

Peter Bradford is a the former chair of the Maine’s Public Utilities Commission and former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory commissioner. He also is on the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists. This piece was originally published on TheConversation.com.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, USA | Leave a comment