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Romania’s dilemma – nuclear power or clean energy

Nuclear vs renewable, the debate dividing Romania’s green transition, euronews. By Hans von der Brelie  11/06/2021 ”………………..Member States like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania have plans to invest heavily in nuclear energy. But Austrian and German officials argue nuclear energy is not a way out of the climate crisis. They insist renewables are the way forward…….Member States like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania have plans to invest heavily in nuclear energy. But Austrian and German officials argue nuclear energy is not a way out of the climate crisis. They insist renewables are the way forward.

……Romania now wants to build two more reactors there and upgrade the existing ones. That’s an investment of around six billion euros, according to Teodor Chirica, the chairman of the board and former President of FORATOM, a Brussels-based pro-nuclear organisation.

However, the European Commission is shortly expected to label nuclear energy as green or not, thereby putting future investments into the industry in question.

… Teodor Chirica   believes that if people don’t accept nuclear energy as a green one, then nuclear won’t have the same access to financing as other competitors. That in turn will “affect the economic part” of the project to increase the nuclear plants’ capacities.

The Anti-Nuclear movement

Lavinia Andrei is the President of Terra Mileniul III, a known figure within Romania’s still small anti-nuclear movement. She tells us that using public funds to invest in nuclear energy will have a negative impact on the development of renewables.

“If you allocate this money for nuclear power, that means that you disadvantage another sector, like renewables. The transport company of energy said that the capacity of the network is not enough for the nuclear power plant and for the renewables”, she explains.

Climate change and nuclear energy

There is one other problem. Climate change means that rivers have less water, water which is needed to cool nuclear plants. Even the Danube has been affected by this. Cernavoda had to close down once already in summer and such scenarios could happen more often in the future……….

Sorin Zamfir is the maintenance supervisor at the ENEL wind park in Dobrogea. He says that “harnessing wind energy implies using a new, modern, high-end technology”. He thinks it’s “very important to bring this kind of new technology to the local community”. It’s something that he feels brings them closer to Europe, “putting them on the map”.

ENEL tells us that for wind energy to fully develop, “the most important factor is the building of new transmission lines which are needed to bring the electricity from the wind/solar power plants to the customers”. A problem at the moment is that “the development speed of wind projects is much higher compared to the development of new transmission lines” and that represents a huge challenge to renewable energies.

Room for development

There is no doubt that Romania’s wind energy potential is not yet fully exploited. Many more turbines could be installed. Sorin believes that wind parks could expand and produce all of Romania’s energy needs.

Romania is also a sunny place, solar power could play a bigger role in the country’s future energy mix. Andrei Bucur is an elected board member of Cooperativa de Energie, Romania’s first 100 percent green energy supplier. The small cooperative has ambitious plans.

Bucur points out that solar energy has huge potential in Romania. He sees the 1.5 million square meters of warehouse roofs as a perfect place for solar panel installation………..

The European Commission must stay neutral regarding the energy sources member states choose to use, but labelling nuclear green or not will have a huge impact on investment decisions for years to come. https://www.euronews.com/2021/06/11/nuclear-vs-renewable-the-debate-dividing-romania-s-green-transition

June 14, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Only renewables — and not nuclear power — can deliver truly low-carbon energy

Two’s a crowd   https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/06/06/twos-a-crowd/

   June 6, 2021 by beyondnuclearinternationa

Nuclear and renewables don’t mix

Two’s a crowd — Beyond Nuclear International Only renewables — and not nuclear power — can deliver truly low-carbon energy
Note: The third in the new Beyond Nuclear series of Talking Pointsfeatures the work of Benjamin Sovacool, Andy Stirling and colleagues, comparing the efficacy of carbon reductions using nuclear power or renewable energy. As this article reflects, they concluded that renewable energy is not only the better choice but that a ‘do everything’ strategy that includes nuclear power tends to cancel out renewable energy.
By Neil Vowles

If countries want to lower emissions as substantially, rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, they should prioritize support for renewables, rather than nuclear power.

That’s the finding of a new analysis of 123 countries over 25 years by the University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Management which reveals that nuclear energy programs around the world tend not to deliver sufficient carbon emission reductions and so should not be considered an effective low carbon energy source.

Researchers found that unlike renewables, countries around the world with larger scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions — and in poorer countries nuclear programs actually tend to associate with relatively higher emissions.

Published in Nature Energy, the study reveals that nuclear and renewable energy programs do not tend to co-exist well together in national low-carbon energy systems but instead crowd each other out and limit effectiveness.

Published in Nature Energy, the study reveals that nuclear and renewable energy programs do not tend to co-exist well together in national low-carbon energy systems but instead crowd each other out and limit effectiveness.

These include the configuration of electricity transmission and distribution systems where a grid structure optimized for larger scale centralized power production such as conventional nuclear, will make it more challenging, time-consuming and costly to introduce small-scale distributed renewable power.

Similarly, finance markets, regulatory institutions and employment practices structured around large-scale, base-load, long-lead time construction projects for centralized thermal generating plants are not well designed to also facilitate a multiplicity of much smaller short-term distributed initiatives.

Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “This paper exposes the irrationality of arguing for nuclear investment based on a ‘do everything’ argument. Our findings show not only that nuclear investments around the world tend on balance to be less effective than renewable investments at carbon emissions mitigation, but that tensions between these two strategies can further erode the effectiveness of averting climate disruption.”

The study found that in countries with a high GDP per capita, nuclear electricity production does associate with a small drop in CO2 emissions. But in comparative terms, this drop is smaller than that associated with investments in renewable energy.

And in countries with a low GDP per capita, nuclear electricity production clearly associates with CO2 emissions that tend to be higher.

Patrick Schmid, from the ISM International School of Management München, said: “While it is important to acknowledge the correlative nature of our data analysis, it is astonishing how clear and consistent the results are across different time frames and country sets. In certain large country samples the relationship between renewable electricity and CO2-emissions is up to seven times stronger than the corresponding relationship for nuclear.”

The above press release was released at the time of the report’s publication in Nature Energy on October 5, 2020. For more information, read and download Beyond Nuclear Talking Points #3: Does nuclear power effectively reduce carbon emissions?

June 7, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | 2 Comments

The transition to clean energy is held back by subsidies to the nuclear industry

Nuclear Subsidies May Be Slowing Transition to Clean Energy, Advocates Say, BY Leanna FirstAraiTruthout, 6 June 21,

The fight to define what counts as clean energy has grown more contentious as the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill takes shape. Many activists, scientists and lawmakers agree that nuclear energy — which provides one fifth of power in the U.S — is by definition not “clean” or renewable, given that spent fuel remains radioactive and dangerous for thousands of years…..  A group of staunch advocates say billions in state and federal subsidies that prop up the nuclear industry — payments that the Biden administration has signaled it may continue to support — may be slowing the transition to a truly clean energy economy……   Four days after Indian Point shuttered, on May 4, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a 20-year license renewal for two Dominion Energy reactors in Virginia, now slated to run until May 25, 2052. Half of the United States’ nuclear fleet of 93 remaining reactors will similarly be required to seek license extensions by 2040, or retire.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) supported the closure of Indian Point, Steve Clemmer, director of research and analysis for the organization’s climate and energy program, told Truthout, noting that other nuclear plants must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Based on data from a September 2019 presentation by a state task force, increases in energy efficiency and renewable generation spanning 2011-2021 were projected to not only replace but exceed Indian Point’s capacity. But Clemmer notes that according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), output by the shuttered reactor has ultimately been replaced by three new natural gas plants built over the past three years.


Clemmer said California is similarly projected to burn more natural gas when its last nuclear plant closes mid-decade, which would cumulatively raise global warming and air pollution emissions over the next 10 years. But, Clemmer added, it doesn’t have to be that way. “With sufficient planning and strong policies, existing nuclear plants like Diablo Canyon can be replaced with renewables and energy efficiency without allowing natural gas generation and heat-trapping emissions to increase,” he said. In the case of California, a February 2021 UCS analysis called for more rigorous emissions standards, and accelerating wind build-outs while slightly slowing solar and battery storage build-outs.

Elizabeth Moran, environmental policy director for the New York Public Interest Research Group characterized New York’s failure to replace Indian Point’s energy output with clean energy as “a total lack of planning.” Moran is among a group of clean energy advocates who have deemed New York’s ongoing reliance on both nuclear energy and natural gas as unnecessarily postponing the work required to achieve what’s laid out in the state’s climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. “These are bridges to nowhere,” Moran said. “They delay investment in what we truly need to be putting money towards, which is safe, clean, green renewable energy like solar, wind and geothermal.”

With Indian Point now closed, New York has four remaining nuclear reactors at three power stations upstate, all on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The plants — which are indirectly owned and operated by Exelon Corporation — receive millions in annual subsidy payments — a total of $7.6 billion to be paid from 2017 to 2029. That’s upwards of $1.6 million dollars per day, which Moran estimates shows up on ratepayers’ bills as about three dollars extra each payment period. New York residents pay among the highest rates for electricity in the U.S.

Under the subsidy system, which other states, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, have since considered and is currently under negotiation in Illinois, subsidies for “zero carbon” power, which the nuclear facilities qualify for, have far eclipsed financial support for wind and solar. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s latest financial status report, the state’s nuclear facilities received over $500 million in 2020, where renewable energy facilities received only $5 million.

Clean energy advocates highlight that ratepayers’ dollars would stretch further if spent supporting the most affordable energy options. According to a 2020 analysis by the asset management firm Lazard, each megawatt hour of nuclear power generated without subsidy payments cost $129-$198 in comparison with the price of generating the same amount of energy via wind power, estimated at $26-$54, or community solar power, at $63-94. Amory Lovins, founder of energy think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, explained in Forbes that curbing climate change requires saving the most carbon in the least amount of time, a calculus in which price plays a major role. “Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus, even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” Lovins wrote.

Under the subsidy system, which other states, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, have since considered and is currently under negotiation in Illinois, subsidies for “zero carbon” power, which the nuclear facilities qualify for, have far eclipsed financial support for wind and solar. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s latest financial status report, the state’s nuclear facilities received over $500 million in 2020, where renewable energy facilities received only $5 million.

Clean energy advocates highlight that ratepayers’ dollars would stretch further if spent supporting the most affordable energy options. According to a 2020 analysis by the asset management firm Lazard, each megawatt hour of nuclear power generated without subsidy payments cost $129-$198 in comparison with the price of generating the same amount of energy via wind power, estimated at $26-$54, or community solar power, at $63-94. Amory Lovins, founder of energy think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, explained in Forbes that curbing climate change requires saving the most carbon in the least amount of time, a calculus in which price plays a major role. “Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus, even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” Lovins wrote.

Energy policy analyst and activist Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear reinforced Lovins’s point. “Operating economically distressed and deteriorating nuclear power stations diverts critical resources and wastes what precious little time remains for deploying more carbon reduction quicker, more cost effectively,” he told Truthout. Gunter also suggested that replacing nuclear plants with efficiency upgrades to cut down on demand, and renewables, can be a one-to-three-year process. If the owners of the plants don’t give enough public notice about their closure, more natural gas may be burned, but that can be offset over the following years by other carbon-free substitutes, Gunter said.

Jessica Azulay is executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for a Green Economy. She told Truthout state regulators should find a way to end contracts with the nuclear plants earlier than planned, which would enable an accelerated phase-out and save consumers money. “We think that will be more advantageous than delaying the renewable energy transition until 2029 when the nuclear subsidies end.”

Energy policy analyst and activist Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear reinforced Lovins’s point. “Operating economically distressed and deteriorating nuclear power stations diverts critical resources and wastes what precious little time remains for deploying more carbon reduction quicker, more cost effectively,” he told Truthout. Gunter also suggested that replacing nuclear plants with efficiency upgrades to cut down on demand, and renewables, can be a one-to-three-year process. If the owners of the plants don’t give enough public notice about their closure, more natural gas may be burned, but that can be offset over the following years by other carbon-free substitutes, Gunter said.

Jessica Azulay is executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for a Green Economy. She told Truthout state regulators should find a way to end contracts with the nuclear plants earlier than planned, which would enable an accelerated phase-out and save consumers money. “We think that will be more advantageous than delaying the renewable energy transition until 2029 when the nuclear subsidies end.”

Activists who have dedicated decades to pushing for the closure of Indian Point, like Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, have said they are not aware of or planning efforts to shut down the state’s remaining nuclear plants ahead of schedule. Rather, helping to ensure a safe decommissioning process at Indian Point is already an all-hands-on-deck effort. “There’s a direct danger to the workers as they’re cutting equipment apart — radioactive dust and isotopes — and that can cause worker and community exposure,” Greene said.

Greene noted that activists are also pushing Congress to closely oversee the NRC, which she described as having a history of granting waivers and exemptions and not following their own safety regulations during decommissioning.

said, there’s still a lot of radioactive material to figure out what to do with. “That is the legacy of 40 years of generating electricity using nuclear power. It’s a very toxic and dangerous legacy with a lot of unanswered questions,” she said. “If we didn’t have all these other solutions, some of this risk might be worth undertaking, but we’ve got plenty of opportunity for renewable energy with storage and efficiency and that’s where we should be investing.” https://truthout.org/articles/nuclear-subsidies-may-be-slowing-transition-to-clean-energy-advocates-say/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=9c5e3c09-f9ca-446a-b9ad-869dd4d7b4c7

June 7, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

As electric vehicles take off, we’ll need to recycle their batteries



As electric vehicles take off, we’ll need to recycle their batteries
Electric car batteries contain critical minerals like cobalt and lithium. We’ll need to recycle them unless we want to keep mining the earth for new ones.As electric vehicles take off, we’ll need to recycle their batteries

Electric car batteries contain critical minerals like cobalt and lithium. We’ll need to recycle them unless we want to keep mining the earth for new ones.
BY MADELEINE STONE, 29 May 21 , When Ford unveiled the F-150 Lightning last week — an all-electric version of the best- selling vehicle in the United States—it was a big moment in the short history of electric cars. The 530-horsepower, 6,500-pound truck’s sticker price of just under $40,000 ($32,474 with a federal tax credit) drew comparisons to Ford’s Model T, the vehicle credited with making cars accessible to the middle class. In the first 48 hours after the battery-powered behemoth debuted, Ford received close to 45,000 pre-orders for it, equivalent to nearly 20 percent of all EVs registered in the U.S. last year……… (subscribers only)

June 1, 2021 Posted by | energy storage, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

How decentralised energy will massively reduce grid costs

How decentralised energy will massively reduce grid costs,

100% Renewables 30th May 2021

There’s lots of information being pumped out by the anti-renewables lobby about how renewable energy causes great increases in the costs of upgrading electricity networks, but in fact there’s a lot of ways in which decentralised energy will actually REDUCE network costs. A recent study from California emphasizes how the cheapest path to clean energy is a mixture of large renewable energy projects and small decentralised renewables (mainly solar pv) linked to battery storage systems. Solar pv-battery systems can exist as a mixture of domestic systems and larger ground-mounted systems.

There isn’t yet a similar study for the UK (the big energy companies who fund these things won’t want the truth leaking out!), but there’s logic to suggest that much the same thing might be the case in the UK. Sure, the UK isn’t as sunny as California, although in winter there’s a lot of wind power. But in any case the untold secret of a decentralised solar-plus-battery system is that the batteries will soak up electricity produced from whatever sources so as to even out the pressures on the electricity network. By reducing pressure on the electricity network both transmission and distribution network costs can be reduced.

Of course the rub is that these battery systems which will reduce network costs are themselves made economic by being associated with the solar pv systems – and the same things works the other way around. The solar pv systems are made more economic by being alongside the batteries. Indeed these sorts of systems are so cheap that they are being installed already in the UK at two levels without even any incentives for the Government.

First, as reported in the trade press, companies like Gridserve are doing solar pv-battery systems. The batteries can soak up energy from the solar panels when there is a lot of electricity being generated and electricity prices are low and then sell it back to the grid at other times of the day or night when electricity prices are higher.

This sort of ‘arbitrage’ trading can now also be done at the second, domestic household, level. An even quieter revolution is taking place as ordinary households can now install solar pv plus battery systems for costs that would have been regarded as fancifully low five years ago. One company called ‘Growatt‘ is currently offering a system comprising 5.5 kW of solar pv and a 6.5 kWh battery for less than £9000 (note: five or so years ago you could have been doing well just to get the solar pv for that price!). This system works best with a supplier like Octopus who offers a time-of-use tariff so that you can charge the batteries when it is cheapest to do so whether from the grid or the solar panels. Solar pv is used when buying electricity from the network is expensive and stored in the battery when network prices are cheap. Then the batteries can power consumption when prices are higher and it isn’t sunny enough to generate much solar pv.

Of course there’s also a novel energy storage company, Sunamp, that is offering the possibility the use solar pv to heat and store water. As they say: ‘SunampPV stores excess electricity from a Solar PV
array as heat. This delivers high flow rate hot water on demand, so that your instant water heater or combi boiler can operate much less, saving you money’

So, you’d expect the Government to be shouting about all of this and giving this nascent new decentralised energy industry a boost? No way! The Government will be told what is needed by the big energy companies who definitely want to keep decentralised energy a secret – especially as it gets in the way of their incessant demands for featherbedding, whether it is for capacity payment subsidies for large power stations or massive handouts to nuclear power plant.

June 1, 2021 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

Despite the Small Nuclear Reactor push from Bill Gates and the rest of the nuclear lobby, we already have the technologies to decarbonise our global economy.

Dave Elliott: The International Energy Institute’s new Global Energy
Roadmap sets a pathway to net zero carbon by 2050, with, by 2040, the
global electricity sector reaching net-zero emissions. It wants no
investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final
investment decisions for new unabated coal plants. And by 2035, it calls
for no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars. Instead it
looks to ‘the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and
efficient energy technologies, combined with a major global push to
accelerate innovation’.

For its part, on that issue, the IEA report
summary says ‘most of the global reductions in CO2 emissions between now
and 2030 in the net zero pathway come from technologies readily available
today. But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that
are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase’. So it says
‘this demands that governments quickly increase and reprioritise their
spending on research and development – as well as on demonstrating and
deploying clean energy technologies – putting them at the core of energy
and climate policy.

. Progress in the areas of advanced batteries,
electrolysers for hydrogen, and direct air capture and storage can be
particularly impactful’. U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry had already
relayed the suggestion that ‘50 percent of the reductions we have to make
to get to net zero are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet
have.’ And Bill Gates had claimed that that solar, wind and batteries
were not enough, so we need ‘miracle technologies’ to decarbonize our
global economy.

Commenting on this issue, Prof Mark Jacobson from Stanford
University said it all depends on what you mean by ‘new’. Yes, we need
to improve wind, solar, storage and transmission systems, but what was
really being hinted at in these statements was that we need other
completely new technologies- such as Small Modular Reactors, Carbon Capture
systems and such like. He says we don’t need them: ‘we have 95% of the
technologies we need today and the know-how to get the rest’:

Renew Extra 29th May 2021

https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/05/the-iea-set-out-way-ahead.html

May 31, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

The time to divest from Bitcoin is now

The time to divest from Bitcoin is now, Independent Australia, By John Quiggin | 29 May 2021  The rising price of cryptocurrencies is resulting in higher demands for electricity in order to produce them, writes Professor John Quiggin.

TWO RECENT DEVELOPMENTS in financial markets have big and directly opposed implications for the future of the global climate. On the one hand, financial institutions of all kinds are divesting from carbon-based fuels. On the other hand, they are increasingly embracing one of the most pointless and destructive trends of recent times — cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Let’s start with the good news. Not so long ago, divestment from coal mines and coal-fired power stations appeared a symbolic moral gesture, undertaken by socially-minded investors who were willing to narrow their investment options rather than profit from environmental destruction. As it turned out, the socially-minded investors did well, while the hardheads who kept coal miners and oil companies in their portfolios lost badly.  

Jumping forward to the present, divestment has become the norm, though the process has typically been made in a series of baby steps. At this point, nearly all financial institutions in developed market economies have limited their exposure to coal and indicated a strategy to end any association with thermal coal, used in power generation. (Alternatives to metallurgical coal, used in steelmaking, are in an early stage of development, unlike solar and wind electricity generation)………………….

The progress being made on divestment from coal contrasts sharply with the eager embrace of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Although they were once supposed to replace existing currencies as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrencies are now used only as a speculative asset and as a way of conducting illegal transactions like ransomware payments. 

The “proof of work” process by which Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are generated depends on “miners” competing to solve increasingly elaborate, but pointless, mathematical problems using specially designed computers and lots of electricity. The higher the price of Bitcoins, the more electricity it is worth burning to generate them.

Calculations a few years ago suggested that the electricity used in Bitcoin mining was comparable to the total demand of a small country like New Zealand. But as the price has risen, so has the demand on electricity resources, to the point where abandoned coal-fired power stations are being reopened. Even when Bitcoin is mined using renewable electricity, that electricity is diverted from other uses, which must then rely on coal-fired or gas-fired electricity.

As concerns have risen about the environmental damage caused by cryptocurrencies, attempts have been made to find “green” ways of producing them. Past efforts of this kind have failed, but perhaps these will succeed. However, we don’t have time to wait and see. Financial institutions need to divest from cryptocurrencies and financial regulators need to shut them down. When and if an environmentally safe version emerges, we can take another look.

John Quiggin is Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland. His new book, The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic, will be published by Yale University Press in late 2021……………   https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-time-to-divest-from-bitcoin-is-now,15137

May 29, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | 1 Comment

A world based on 100% renewable energy by 2035 is technically and economically feasible

Renew Extra 22nd May 2021, Dave Elliott: 100% renewable energy ‘is possible by 2035’. A world based on 100% renewable energy is possible, and we are able to transform the energy system fast enough to avoid the climate catastrophe!’ So says the Joint declaration of the global 100% renewable energy strategy group.

Set up initially by a core of 7 leading climate and energy scientists, including Prof. Mark Jacobson from Stanford in the USA, and Prof Christopher Breyer from LUT in Finland, and then backed by 40 other scientists, it claims that ‘a 100% renewable electricity supply is possible by 2030, and with substantial political will around the world, 100% renewable energy is also technically and economically feasible across all other sectors by 2035.

A 100% RE system will be more cost effective than will a future system based primarily on fossil and nuclear power. The
transformation to 100% renewables will boost the global economy, create millions more jobs than lost, and substantially reduce health problems and mortality due to pollution’.

https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/05/100-renewable-energy-is-possible-by-2035.html

May 24, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Renewable energy cheated in uneasy coalition with Exelon nuclear, in Illinois

How Pay-to-Play Politics and an Uneasy Coalition of Nuclear and Renewable Energy Led to a Flawed Illinois Law, Inside Climate News

State lawmakers are running out of time to fix 2016 clean energy legislation.

By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News and Brett Chase, Chicago Sun-TimesMay 21, 2021This article is the result of a partnership between Inside Climate News and the Chicago Sun-Times.

CHICAGO—Just over five years ago, the Illinois Legislature passed a plan that aimed to build a solar power industry from scratch while saving thousands of jobs at two struggling nuclear plants.

The Future Energy Jobs Act brought together environmental groups, the owner of the nuclear plants—Exelon Corp., unions and consumer advocates. The result was a plan marrying nuclear subsidies with support for renewable energy that purported to create tens of thousands of solar power jobs as well as put the state on track to move away from fossil fuels and meet its pre-existing target of having 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

But the law sputtered from the start and now state leaders are racing to meet a May 31 legislative deadline to fix some of its biggest problems, like the impending loss of more than $300 million in funding for renewable energy programs. 

But the law sputtered from the start and now state leaders are racing to meet a May 31 legislative deadline to fix some of its biggest problems, like the impending loss of more than $300 million in funding for renewable energy programs. The 2025 target is far out of reach, the jobs expectations went unmet and the solar industry is laying off workers as promised funding dries up. 

Exelon emerged as a clear winner, receiving $2.3 billion in ratepayer-funded subsidies over a decade for its two plants. It is now demanding even more money and threatening to close two other nuclear plants if it doesn’t get it.

“Exelon continues to get $235 million a year, while the solar support has been stripped away,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center and a critic of the state’s nuclear bailout. “Illinois could’ve been a Midwest solar energy leader.”

Making the current scramble even more complicated is a federal bribery probe of Exelon and its Chicago utility subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison. Prosecutors say ComEd gave cash, jobs and contracts to associates of former House Speaker Michael Madigan with the hope he would shape the legislation to the company’s liking.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said that Exelon will not dictate the terms of the current debate over how to fix the state’s energy law. But the company and its close allies in organized labor nonetheless have immense power in the Legislature.

Exelon is seeking subsidies for its four Illinois nuclear plants that didn’t get help in the 2016 law, and is saying that the Byron and Dresden nuclear plants will close without this aid.

Meanwhile, solar companies are laying off workers following the abrupt end of incentive funding tied to the 2016 law.

Supporters of the law talked about a boom in solar jobs, but the actual gains have been modest. Illinois went from 3,480 solar jobs in 2015, the 14th highest number in the country, to 5,259 jobs in 2020, which ranked 13th, according to the Solar Foundation.

While there were few new solar jobs, there has been a surge in the small-scale solar projects the law was designed to encourage, with more than 20,000 projects completed. But solar remains a blip in Illinois’ energy landscape, providing less than 1 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2020.

Solar and wind energy have grown in Illinois, but renewable sources are only about 7.5 percent of the state’s electricity consumption, which is far short of the pace needed to reach the target of 25 percent by 2025…….

While there were few new solar jobs, there has been a surge in the small-scale solar projects the law was designed to encourage, with more than 20,000 projects completed. But solar remains a blip in Illinois’ energy landscape, providing less than 1 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2020.

Solar and wind energy have grown in Illinois, but renewable sources are only about 7.5 percent of the state’s electricity consumption, which is far short of the pace needed to reach the target of 25 percent by 2025……..

A Nuclear Bailout Takes Shape

In 2016, Exelon was threatening to close the Clinton and Quad Cities power plants and wanted the Illinois General Assembly to pass a law that would require local utilities, including ComEd, to charge consumers for a 10-year subsidy for the plants.

The idea had the strong backing of Exelon’s allies in organized labor, but it was difficult to get lawmakers to agree to raise utility bills.

At the same time, environmental groups, clean energy business groups and environmental justice advocates had their own proposals.

Madigan, a Democrat who was the longtime speaker of the House, made clear that any clean energy proposals needed to go through Exelon and get added to their nuclear bailout, according to those closely involved with the process. Madigan, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

“Being able to pass clean energy legislation was conditioned by the speaker to reach agreement with ComEd and Exelon and labor,” said Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, which led the push for renewable energy provisions.

Walling, whose group represents more than 90 environmental and community groups across Illinois, said the political reality forced the environmental advocates to work with Exelon.

Pat Quinn, a Democrat who was governor from 2009 until he lost his bid for re-election in 2014, said the process was unseemly but typical for Exelon.

Exelon wanted “the renewable people to literally crawl to them,” Quinn said. “As long as they could hold up the renewables and the progressive stuff, they’d get more for themselves.”

Federal prosecutors later said that Exelon subsidiary ComEd’s actions at that time were more than just hardball politics. The company was part of a pay-to-play environment for energy legislation in the state, with ComEd giving cash, contracts and jobs to people connected to Madigan, according to a federal complaint. The investigation has led to indictments and a deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd.

ComEd’s Breymaier said the company has “substantially strengthened oversight and controls of its lobbying and hiring,” among other steps to prevent actions like those described by prosecutors…………  https://insideclimatenews.org/news/21052021/how-pay-to-play-politics-and-an-uneasy-coalition-of-nuclear-and-renewable-energy-led-to-a-flawed-illinois-law/

May 22, 2021 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

We already have 95% of the technologies and know how to slash emissions, remove air pollution and provide energy security and jobs

No, we don’t need ‘miracle technologies’ to slash emissions — we already have 95 percent, The Hill 20th May 2021, Mark Jacobson: We have 95 percent of the technologies we need today and the know-how to get the rest to address both energy and non-energy emissions.


As such, no miracle technology, particularly carbon capture, direct air capture, modern bioenergy or modern nuclear power, is needed. By implementing only clean, renewable WWS energy and storage and implementing non-energy strategies, we will address not only climate, but also the 7 million annual air pollution deaths worldwide and energy insecurity.

None of the “miracle technologies” addresses all three. We and 17 other research groups have shown that we can do it with renewables alone worldwide and in the 50 United States. Such a transition reduces energy costs, and land requirements while creating jobs.

The key is to deploy, deploy, deploy existing clean, renewable, safe technologies as fast as possible.

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry recently stated, “I am told by scientists that 50 percent of the reductions we have to make to get to net zero are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have.” This comment echoes recent statements by Bill Gates that solar, wind and batteries are not enough, so we need “miracle technologies” to decarbonize our global economy. They also mimic statements in a 2021 International Energy Agency report that, “in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phase.” One might argue that, in all three cases, “new technologies” means improved existing technologies, such as improved
batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, etc.

However, hidden in the recent U.S. economic revitalization proposal is a call to fund CO2 capture and storage, CO2 direct air capture and small modular nuclear reactors. Similarly, Gates has funded and argued for these technologies plus modern bioenergy, and the IEA report explicitly proposes the use of all four technologies for a decarbonized world. Ironically, the IEA acknowledges, “all the technologies needed to achieve the necessary deep cuts in global emissions by 2030 already exist.” But astonishingly, they then say that those technologies and their improvements are not enough to reach 2050 goals.

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/554605-no-we-dont-need-miracle-technologies-to-slash-emissions-we-already

May 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | Leave a comment

Tesla’s Bitcoin about-face is a warning for cryptocurrencies that ignore climate change

Don’t be lulled into thinking that Elon Musk is some sort of expeert on environmrent. He plans to continue with Bitcoin, as well as with a multitude of rockets and space satellites – all mpowered by – guess what” plutonium and other forms of nuclear energy

Tesla’s Bitcoin about-face is a warning for cryptocurrencies that ignore climate change, The ConversationJohn Hawkins, Senior Lecturer, Canberra School of Politics, Economics and Society and NATSEM, University of Canberra  17 May 21

 Over the weekend, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk suggested his company could sell off its Bitcoin holdings, sending the cryptocurrency plummeting.

It followed Musk’s announcement earlier this month that his company would no longer accept Bitcoin in payment for its electric cars, due to the fossil fuels needed to create the digital currency.

Bitcoin is created via high-powered computers solving complex mathematical equations. These computers use a lot of electricity, which is often generated by fossil fuels. Tesla’s about-face is a blow to Bitcoin, the value of which jumped when Tesla got on board.

Tesla’s stance is a big winner for both the climate, and the company’s “green” reputation. The development has also shone the spotlight further onto the carbon footprint of cryptocurrency – an issue that will not go away soon.

how, exactly, is Bitcoin – and many other cryptocurrencies – bad for the environment?

It all comes down to the energy used to create it. Before a Bitcoin transaction takes place, the person spending the coin must be verified as the valid owner. And once the transaction is complete it must be digitally recorded in a database known as a “blockchain” ledger.

Unlike a traditional bank where transactions are centrally verified and recorded, Bitcoin’s ledger comprises a distributed database of users. They verify transactions by running complex mathematical problems through high-powered computers. The first user to solve the calculation and add it to the blockchain is rewarded with Bitcoin. The process is termed “mining”.

Over time, the Bitcoin system increases the complexity of the problems as more computing power is applied to them. In the early days mining could be done by geeks in their bedrooms using home computers. Now it mostly done using vast rooms full of very expensive specialised equipment, which only companies can afford.

The process uses a lot of energy. The University of Cambridge recently estimated Bitcoin used more electricity each year than the entire economies of Argentina or Sweden.

Some of this electricity comes from renewables. But analyses suggest most Bitcoin mining occurs in China, and the main power source is coal. A recent study in Nature concluded Bitcoin operations in China are on track to produce 130 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2024 – more than the entire economy of the Czech Republic……….   https://theconversation.com/teslas-bitcoin-about-face-is-a-warning-for-cryptocurrencies-that-ignore-climate-change-160928

May 18, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | Leave a comment

Weatherwatch: does nuclear power really keep the lights on?

Weatherwatch: does nuclear power really keep the lights on?    With nuclear fading away, Britain must learn how to carefully manage renewable energy https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/may/15/weatherwatch-does-nuclear-power-really-keep-the-lights-on, Paul BrownSat 15 May 2021 1

The nuclear industry is fond of telling us the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow, as if people living in Britain did not already know that. But the point atomic enthusiasts are making is that wind and solar electricity generation is not reliable, while nuclear will keep the lights on.

But things are a bit more complicated than that. This is partly because large-scale batteries, pump storage in reservoirs and other ways of topping up electricity supplies mean that baseload power provided by nuclear reactors is no longer needed. Another reason is that nuclear output is falling while renewables get ever stronger.

Output of electricity over a year is measured in terawatt hours (TWh). In 2020, generation from nuclear was 50.3TWh, down 11% from 2019, partly because of cracks and rust in ageing reactors. Renewable output reached a record high of 120.3TWh.

Significantly, 2020 nuclear generation was 13TWh less than in 1989, when nuclear provided 20% of the nation’s electricity, and wind and solar contributions were hardly measurable.

Even with the massive station Hinkley Point C being built in Somerset, nuclear power is fading away. To keep the lights on we will have to increasingly learn to carefully manage the power produced by our unreliable weather.

May 18, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Despite Germany’s nuclear phaseout, the secure supply of electricity in Germany will remain guaranteed at the current high level for the foreseeable future.




Renew Economy 16th May 2021
Germany’s target of achieving greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045 has a
very important sub-goal: The expansion of renewable energy capacity to
provide green power for transport, heating and making hydrogen. But running
such an integrated energy system on fluctuating renewables alone will
require not just more wind turbines and solar panels, but a power network
that ensures the delicate balance of supply and demand at all times, while
conventional capacities are shut down.

So far, the power supply in Germany
remains one of the most reliable in the world. The government and grid
operators are confident it will stay this way despite the challenges of
electrifying the nation and experts highlight the importance of European
power grid integration. But others predict that the country will soon be in
need of back-up capacity. Germany’s conventional power generation
capacity is beginning to dwindle. In December 2022, the country will have
over 23 gigawatts (GW) less nuclear power capacity than ten years ago. In a
reply to parliamentarians, it wrote in March 2021:

“All analyses of
supply security known to the federal government and carried out in
accordance with the latest scientific findings come to the conclusion that
the secure supply of electricity in Germany will remain guaranteed at the
current high level for the foreseeable future. The analyses also take into
account the phase-out of nuclear energy and the end of coal-fired power
generation.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/shutting-down-nuclear-and-coal-can-germany-keep-the-lights-on/

May 18, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, Germany | Leave a comment

Both Germany and Britain are decarbonising while nuclear production is greatly reducing

Nuclear Phase-Out – UK & Germany**

Even-handed analysis of data from Germany and the UK indicates that it is
still easily possible to dramatically reduce carbon emissions whilst
greatly reducing the amount of energy coming from nuclear power.

One thing not usually appreciated in the arguments about the impact of nuclear power
plant retirements in Germany is that in reality much the same process has
occurred, for different reasons, in the UK.

In both Germany and the UK the
falling proportion of electricity coming from nuclear power has gone along
with dramatic reductions in carbon emissions from electricity in both
countries.

Peering through the fog of the current debate one would almost
think that ‘pro-nuclear’ UK was busy cutting its carbon emissions by
increasing nuclear output whilst ‘anti-nuclear’ Germany was busy
increasing them, or at least not reducing them, by its phase-out policy.


Yet nothing of the sort has been happening. Both the cases of Germany and
the UK knock the pro-nuclear arguments on the head that say that increases
in renewable energy cannot reduce carbon emissions without maintaining
nuclear production. Clearly they can!

100% Renewables 16th May 2021

May 18, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, Germany, UK | Leave a comment

If Bitcoin is virtual, why are there environmental concerns?

Why does Elon Musk say Bitcoin is bad for the environment?  ABC, By Jordan Hayne, 14 May 21,

……………If Bitcoin is virtual, why are there environmental concerns?

The issue is that all these computer farms working overtime to mine bitcoin use up a lot of real-world energy.The grunt work of adding to the block chain has computers run guessing games involving an astronomically large number of guesses each second.

To be more precise, the network is currently estimated as being able to handle 176,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 176 quintillion) computations every single second.

All those numbers are energy intensive, so the power consumption of the Bitcoin network is huge. 

According to the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance, the estimated annualised consumption of electricity by the Bitcoin network is 149.6 terawatt hours and growing.

That’s more than countries like Sweden, Pakistan and Malaysia, and about 61 per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption…. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-14/why-is-bitcoin-bad-for-the-environment-elon-musk/100139280

May 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | Leave a comment