The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China looks to a second record breaking year in solar power installations

Renew Economy 18th Oct 2017, China is on track to install a record-smashing 50GW of solar PV in 2017,
with latest data showing that the nation has so far installed around 42GW,
taking its total installed PV capacity to around 120GW. According to the
latest report from Asia Europe Clean Energy Consultants (AECEA), China
needs to add just under 3GW of new solar in each remaining month of 2017 to
reach 50GW, and deliver a second consecutive record breaking year.


October 20, 2017 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

Japan’s solar powered smart communities

The Sun Rises on Japan’s Solar-Powered Smart Communities, Solar Magazine, By Andrew Burger – 16 Oct 17 

Smart communities fueled by solar energy and the latest in advanced energy storage and smart microgrid technologies are taking root and beginning to expand in Japan, part and parcel of a national drive to enhance energy resilience and independence. Strong political and “grass roots” public support for “green energy,” greater consumer choice and renewable energy self-generation has emerged in Japan in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which all but leveled Tokyo Electric Power’s Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, Japan | Leave a comment

‘Repowering’ wind farms as wind turbine efficiency leaps ahead

New wind turbine efficiency so great utilities ‘repowering’ farms early John Fitzgerald Weaver – Oct. 16th 2017   
Warren Buffett owned MidAmerican Energy is upgrading wind turbines in Iowa early in their lifetimes in order to take advantage of the newest innovations in gear boxes and blades. Since only small parts of the already developed wind farms need be upgraded – these moves will increase the profitability of the farms. Wind turbines are evolving at a fast enough pace that waiting for standard end of life (30 years) means leaving money on the table.

I estimate an additional $51M/year in revenue from MidAmerican’s repowering.

John Hensley, deputy director for industry data and analysis at the American Wind Energy Association, says 700MW of wind power has been repowered in the USA. MidAmerican stated that they’re upgrading 1,000MW of their 4,000MW of wind (in Iowa). Their project will take through 2020 to complete.

As the article above notes – Wind projects started before 2017 qualified for the full production tax credit of 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour. The credit falls to 80 percent of that for projects started in 2017; 60 percent for those started in 2018; and 40 percent for those started in 2019. Most of the life of these system upgrades will be long after the wind production credit diminishes.

Interestingly –

After refurbishing some of the turbines at the Diablo Winds project in the Altamont Pass in California, researchers found that the fatality rates fell by 54 percent for raptors and 66 percent for all birds.

MidAmerican estimates that repowering the farms would increase output from the turbines by 19-28%. Annually, wind farms lower in output by about 1.7% per year. The lifetime of a wind farm has historically been around 30 years.

Electrek’s Take

With capacity factors around 40% on the newest projects (33% on older projects) – combined with 1,000MW of upgraded hardware – there will be an additional 613 million kWh/year coming from these turbines. The average American home uses about 10,000kWh/year for comparison. If the average price of electricity in Iowa (before taxes) is around .0835¢/kWh, then that’s $51M a year in new revenue. If this 1GW of wind cost $1B to install – that’s an extra 5% return on investment per year after accounting for the cost of upgrades (roughly of course).

This expanding evolution – adding future revenue to projects via strategic plant repowering in an age of fast maturing hardware – changes operations and maintenance in renewable technology giving those building today’s utility-scale power plants an improved tool to lower up front pricing. These towers are being repowered in their 14th to 11th years (plus or minus a few depending on order). There is a spreadsheet inside of MidAmerican which did some calculus to determine when money earning and repowering cost curves intersected – and that intersection was when the new investment was acted on. Thirty years with a constant declining power output will now change to developers signing contracts with large manufacturers at time of original construction to upgrade hardware in 8 to 10 years. These contracts will depend on developers and finance houses trusting that these manufacturers can continue the technological march forward in an aggressive manner.

Repowering is an old concept – but it’s getting more headlines today in renewables because large number of systems are hitting that age and the burning pace of technological innovation.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Canada’s plan for replacing some U.S. nuclear power with renewable energy

Canada Aims To Solve U.S. Nuclear Woes

When New York state and Massachusetts retire three nuclear reactors between 2019 and 2021, the two states will lose a combined 2.7 gigawatts of carbon-free power. Both states want to replace that capacity with other forms of clean energy, in line with their ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the share of renewables in their energy mix.

Some thousand miles north, Hydro-Quebec, owned by the Quebec government, is struggling with stagnate demand at home, and as it expands its hydropower generation capacity, the company seeks to sell power to New York and Massachusetts.

 Hydro-Quebec faces strong competition from wind and solar proposals in the two U.S. states. In addition, hydropower is a reliable baseload option, but environmentalists say it is destructive to rivers and to river and nearby forest habitats.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., is planned to cease operations on May 31, 2019, while the two operating units at the Indian Point Energy Center will close in 2020-2021, with the decision driven by sustained low wholesale energy prices.

The closing of the three reactors would mean that NY and Massachusetts will lose a total of 2.7 gigawatts of carbon-free power.

This year, both NY state and Massachusetts issued requests for proposals for clean energy projects. Massachusetts seeks renewable energy generation and renewable energy credits (RECs) of 9,450,000 MWh annually and seeks proposals for long-term contracts of 15–20 years to provide the distribution companies with clean energy generation. The state has received more than 40 bids, including proposals from Hydro-Quebec-led developments. Hydro-Quebec says it is proposing six options —either 100-percent hydropower or a hydro-wind supply blend — offered over one of three proposed new transmission lines.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

Futuristic solar powered car feeds energy back into the grid

Guardian 15th Oct 2017, A futuristic family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies
energy back to the grid has been hailed as “the future” as the annual
World Solar Challenge wrapped up in Australia. The innovative bi-annual
contest, first run in 1987, began in Darwin a week ago with 41 vehicles
setting off on a 3,000km (1,860-mile) trip through the heart of Australia
to Adelaide. A Dutch car, Nuna 9, won the race for the third-straight time,
crossing the finish line on Thursday after travelling at an average speed
of 81.2kmh (55.5 mph).

October 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, decentralised | Leave a comment

Scotland looking to a not for profit, publicly owned energy company

**Energy Policy – Scotland**, Energy Voice 11th Oct 2017

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has used her 2017 conference speech to announce
that the party is looking into plans for a not for profit, publicly owned
energy company. Ms Sturgeon confirmed that the pledge to explore the
option, which appeared in last year’s SNP manifesto, would be taken
forward. She said more details would be set out in the government’s
forthcoming energy strategy. She said: “Energy would be bought wholesale
or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to
customers as close to cost price as possible.

October 14, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Chinese government boosting storage capacity for renewable energy

China to boost energy storage capacity to fuel renewable power use, Reuters, OCTOBER 12, 2017 

 Reuters Staff, BEIJING,  – China aims to boost its large-scale energy storage capacity over the next decade, the government’s central planner said, in a major push to solve the problem of stranded power in the west of the country as Beijing promotes the use of more renewable power……..

October 14, 2017 Posted by | China, energy storage | Leave a comment

Puerto’s electrical system could be restored with solar panels and Tesla batteries – Elon Musk

Elon Musk says Tesla’s batteries could replace Puerto Rico’s electrical system   DANIELLE MUOIO  Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company’s batteries and solar panels could help restore electricity to Puerto Rico if residents and the government decide they want to pursue that option.

October 7, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

USA govt mandating that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider rewards to nuclear and coal plants

Donald Trump to reward ‘reliable’ coal, nuclear power plants, THE AUSTRALIAN , TIMOTHY PUKO, The Wall Street Journal

 The Trump administration is urging independent energy regulators to change how electricity is priced, proposing new rules that would bolster revenue for coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The Energy Department is mandating that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission consider new rules that would effectively raise power prices to pay more to plants considered more resilient. The department suggests nuclear and coal-fired plants as potential recipients, and charges FERC with tweaking electricity markets so they give more of a reward to plants that have at least three months of fuel on site and can run uninterrupted through extreme weather, disasters or other emergencies.

Nuclear and coal-burning technologies were probably the only ones able to meet the requirements, experts said. Under the proposal, eligible plants would get paid enough to cover their costs and a “fair return on equity” whenever they run, even though they sell into competitive markets.

FERC, which regulates wholesale power markets, is under no obligation to make these changes, only to consider them. FERC officials were reviewing the proposal, a spokeswoman said. Any changes made would likely be implemented by the grid operators that run deregulated power markets under FERC’s oversight.

This type of intervention from the Energy Department is rare, according to energy lawyers and analysts. It appeared the department hadn’t made a similar request since 1979 when, at the height of that decade’s oil crisis, it encouraged FERC to help transition the country to natural gas and away from fuel oil, said David Doot, a lawyer at Day Pitney, which has been researching the topic.

The move is the administration’s latest attempt to support fossil-fuel businesses. It has worked to roll back or delay rules its officials say were unwieldy and unfair attempts by the Obama administration to promote renewable power.

But environmentalists and other critics see the trend as a political effort to follow up a Trump presidential campaign heavy on promises to the fossil-fuel industry and denials of climate change. Some critics claimed it was a bailout for failing nuclear and coal businesses, and criticised the proposal for blocking out options like batteries and smart-grid technologies that also could increase reliability.

Nuclear and coal-fired plants have become an urgent target because dozens have closed nationwide and others are threatened. Those plants, often referred to as baseload, have been the country’s primary source of power for decades, raising questions about how reliably the nation’s grid would function if those plants shrink to become only a minor source of power……

The proposal gives few details and, if FERC follows through, it would set a new outline for market changes that would then be implemented by the grid operators it oversees. The proposal gives FERC about 60 days to act or issue its own proposal as an interim rule

October 2, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Now time for a clean power rebuild in Puerto Rico

Dirty energy is not only dirty, it is very expensive for an island. Nuclear power is expensive everywhere. Neither are resilient to extreme disaster.

Renewables are fast, clean, resilient, cheap — and getting cheaper every year. They are exactly what Puerto Rico’s grid needs.

Trump officials have no clue how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid. But we do., By Joe Romm on 29 September 2017 Think Progress With Puerto Rico’s dirty, costly electric grid wiped out by Hurricane Maria, now is the time for a clean power rebuild.

Microgrids built around cheap renewable power and battery storage are now the fastest and cheapest way to restore power — while at the same time building resilience into the grid against the next disaster.

That’s been proven by Florida after Hurricane Irma, Japan after the tsunami that caused the Fukushima meltdown, and India after recent monsoons.

Unfortunately, the anti-renewable Trump administration appears unlikely to pursue this winning strategy. Indeed, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday that small nuclear power plants being researched at national labs are the kind of “innovation” he’d like to “expedite” for Puerto Rico’s rebuild.

“Wouldn’t it make abundant good sense if we had small modular reactors that literally you could put in the back of C-17 [military cargo] aircraft, transport it to an area like Puerto Rico, and push it out the back end, crank it up, and plug it in?” he said at an event in Washington, D.C. for National Clean Energy Week. “Hopefully, we can expedite that.”

It would be quite an effort of expedition. Such small nuclear power plants are not expected to be commercialized until the mid-2020s, and even if they are, they are projected to be wildly expensive — just like current reactors — and not that small (650 tons). Nobody’s going to be “literally” putting one in a C-17 and pushing it out the back end on a small island ready to go.

The U.S. territory doesn’t have time for such political pipe dreams.

Right now, Puerto Rico’s desperate lack of power — for hospitals, water and sewage facilities, and air-conditioning in the sweltering heat — is at the center of the ongoing humanitarian crisis for the 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria destroyed 55 percent of the transmission towers that support high-voltage power lines and wrecked 90 percent of the distribution network, according to utility experts who have assessed the damage, Reuters reported.

Reuters put together this remarkable graphic on “power restoration after major U.S. hurricanes.”

But this tragedy does open an opportunity. The old grid was an antiquated, expensive, polluting disaster. Mired in debt, the local utility declared bankruptcy in July. (For a useful history, see the Huffington Post’s “Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy Doomed It To Dirty Electricity — And Now Darkness.”)

Only 2 percent of the sunny and windy Caribbean island’s electricity comes from renewables, while all the rest comes from fossil fuels. In 2016, an astounding 47 percent of electricity came from petroleum, especially from dirty, inefficient diesel generators. By comparison, the U.S. as a whole generates under 1 percent of its power from petroleum and 15 percent from renewables.

Bringing fuel to an island is expensive. The commercial price of electricity on Puerto Rico is an astounding 21.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 11 ¢/kwh for the mainland. The industrial price of electricity on the island is an unheard of 18 ¢/kwh, compared to 7 ¢/kwh for the mainland.

No wonder the utility is bankrupt, and the island is economically uncompetitive.

In terms of speed of recovery, nothing beats solar with storage. As Inside Climate News reported, Florida homes with solar panels and batteries that lost power from Irma in the early hours of Monday, September 11 were able to restore power in a few hours when the sun came up. Long before others, they could use lights, refrigerators, and wifi.

Coral Springs Florida used solar plus batteries to quickly restore 13 major traffic lights. Although it’s worth noting that solar homes without storage are out of luck in Florida. The utility, FPL, does not allow grid-connected systems without batteries to be used during an outage. And the state coderequires you to be connected to the grid even if you could be grid free.

Case studies from Japan, India, and Hawaii also make clear the only technologies that can simultaneously deliver the fastest, cheapest, cleanest, and most disaster-resilient rebuild possible are micro-grids built around renewables and storage.

When northeast India was ravaged by an unprecedented deluge this summer, causing widespread blackouts, buildings with solar roofs were able to keep the lights on, even after the sun set. DESI Power has been installing the solar across the region. Panels are mounted either on the roof or a few feet off the ground so they can survive flooding. The battery box is typically portable, so it can be can be moved in case of flood. “Despite the heavy flooding, we were pleasantly surprised to find that nearly 75 percent of our power systems remained functional,” DESI’s chief operating officer told NexusMedia. 

In less than a decade, more than half a million people in India who had lacked electricity now have off-grid solar. As one expert on distributed solar in the region said, “Solar power has changed people’s lives, improved their health and enhanced their livelihood opportunities while benefiting the environment.”

Japan has gone even further following the 2011 tsunami that caused the Fukushima meltdown. In what Reuters described last week as a “quiet energy revolution,” dozens of cities have gone off grid or built renewable micro-grids with the help of Japan’s “National Resilience Program,” which had $33 billion in funding this year.

Higashi Matsushima, a city of 40,000 that lost 75 percent of its homes and 1,100 people in the 2011 catastrophe, built microgrids and decentralized its power generation “to create a self-sustaining system” that can meet a quarter of its electricity demand.

Such a micro-grid can allow basic needs to be met even if the region suffers a cascading grid failure. The city “built its own independent transmission grid and solar generating panels as well as batteries to store power that can keep the city running for at least three days.”

As for cost, the Hawaiian island of Kauai now produces some 90 percent of its midday peak power from only solar and batteries. Tesla has a 20-year contractwith the island’s utility to provide power at 13.9 ¢/kwh. That compares with the utility’s electricity cost for diesel power of 15.5 ¢/kwh — and it’s nearly half the 27.7 ¢/kwh that Hawaiians paid last December for electricity.

Dirty energy is not only dirty, it is very expensive for an island. Nuclear power is expensive everywhere. Neither are resilient to extreme disaster.

Renewables are fast, clean, resilient, cheap — and getting cheaper every year. They are exactly what Puerto Rico’s grid needs.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Puerto Rico could go 100% renewable energy

Above – solar rooftop keep power going, in flooded Indian city 
In Maria’s Wake, Could Puerto Rico Go Totally Green?, Progressive, by Harvey Wasserman, September 28, 2017 The ecological and humanitarian destruction of Puerto Rico has left the world aghast. But there is a hopeful green-powered opportunity in this disaster that could vastly improve the island’s future while offering the world a critical showcase for a sane energy future.

By all accounts Hurricane Maria has leveled much of the island, and literally left it in the dark. Puerto Rico’s electrical grid has been extensively damaged, with no prospects for a return to conventionally generated and distributed power for months to come.

In response Donald Trump has scolded the island for it’s massive debt, and waited a full week after the storm hit to lift a shipping restriction requiring all incoming goods to be carried on US-flagged ships. (That restriction is largely responsible for the island’s economic problems in the first place.)

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is a state-owned operation that hosts a number of solar and wind farms, as well as a network of hydroelectric dams. But the bulk of its energy supply has come from heavy industrial oil, diesel and gas burners. It also burns coal imported from Colombia at a plant in Guyama.

The fossil burners themselves apparently were left mostly undamaged by Maria. But the delivery system, a traditional network of above-ground poles and wires, has essentially been obliterated……..

With solar panels and battery backups, every one of those hospitals could be energy self-sufficient. Throughout the U.S. such technology is now being applied at medical facilitiesdata processing and storage facilities, and other critical units.

According to Mark Sommer, a California-based energy expert, Puerto Rico could safeguard such critical facilities and far more quickly restore its power by letting go of the old paradigm of central-generated and distributed electricity, and moving instead to a decentralized network of green-based micro-grids.

Micro-grids are community-based networks that power smaller geographic and consumer areas than the big central grids like the one that served Puerto Rico. Mostly they are based on decentralized generation, including networks of roof-top solar panels. As Sommer puts it: “renewably powered microgrids are a relatively simple and already mature technology that can be deployed in months rather than years and once the initial investment is recovered deliver dramatically lower energy bills.”

Because Puerto Rico is mountainous and hosts many small, remote villages, the island’s best hope for a manageable energy future is with decentralized power production in self-sustaining neighborhoods. Built around small-scale wind and solar arrays, with battery backups protected from inevitable floods and hurricanes, Puerto Rico could protect its electricity supply from the next natural disaster while building up a healthy, low-cost energy economy……

Puerto Rico’s best hope for a safe, prosperous, sustainable energy future is to take control of its power supply with a mix of renewable generation, protected backup storage, and a decentralized, local-based network of community-owned microgrids.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

UK government intransigent – pursues Hinkley nuclear project despite rise of much cheaper offshore wind energy

Cheap Offshore Wind Won’t Make UK Give Up on Nuclear, Nukes to play “an important role for many years to come,” says the government. Greentech Media, by Jason Deign  September 29, 2017 A pricing record for offshore wind this month won’t change Britain’s nuclear plans, government sources confirmed.

“We need a diverse energy mix to ensure that demand for energy can always be met, and both nuclear and renewables will play an important role in this for many years to come,” a spokesperson for the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said.

The statement follows widespread speculation about the future of the U.K.’s new nuclear program in the wake of an auction that saw offshore wind prices drop to just £57.50 (USD $76.34) per megawatt-hour.

That’s almost 38 percent below what the U.K. government has agreed to pay for nuclear generation at Hinkley Point C, a contentious 3.2-gigawatt plant slated for construction in Somerset, southwest England.

The project, which has already been criticized for increasing costs, was called into question after the renewables auction result, which awarded 11 competitive projects that ranged from offshore wind to waste-to-energy conversion.

As renewable energy becomes more affordable, the government’s decision on the new nuclear project may come under additional scrutiny,” Bloomberg reported.

Since Hinkley Point C was approved in September 2015, developer Électricité de France has increased the cost estimate for the project from £18 billion ($24 billion) to more than £20 billion ($27 billion), said Bloomberg.

In contrast, said Giles Dickson, CEO of industry body WindEurope: “Offshore wind has now shown it provides excellent value for taxpayers’ money.”

“In light of these latest price reductions, we call on the U.K. and other European governments to make ambitious commitments on future deployment volumes for offshore wind. To sustain these cost reductions, the industry needs to be able to plan ahead,” said Dickson.

Caught off-guard by the auction result, the nuclear industry hit back against the narrative…….

It remains to be seen whether Hinkley Point C will make it into that [energy] mix. The project, based on a French design which has seen cost and schedule overruns in France and Finland, has been beset by other problems.

This month, workers threatened to walk out over a pay dispute. And the BBC slammed plans to dump potentially radioactive waste from dredging works near Hinkley Point’s two existing reactors.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

European Commission to invest €222 to promote Europe’s transition to clean energy

European Commission 28th Sept 2017, The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222
million from the EU budget to support Europe’s transition to more
sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the
Environment and Climate Action. The EU funding will mobilise additional
investments leading to a total of €379 million going towards 139 new
projects in 20 Member States.

September 30, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

British govt reveals a new record for renewable energy generation

Independent 28th Sept 2017, Nearly a third of all UK electricity came from renewable sources in the
second three months of this year, setting a new record for clean energy
generation, the Government has revealed. Wind, solar and other forms of
low-carbon power were responsible for 29.8 per cent of the total amount of
electricity generated in the UK, beating the previous record of 26.9 per
cent set in the first three months of 2017.

In a statement, the Government said: “Renewables’ share of electricity generation was a record 29.8
per cent in [the second quarter of] 2017, up 4.4 percentage points on the
share in [the second quarter of] 2016, reflecting both increased wind
capacity and wind speeds, as well as lower overall electricity generation.
“Onshore wind generation increased by 50 per cent, the highest increase
across the technologies, … while offshore wind rose by 22 per cent.
“Generation from biodegradable waste was up 30 per cent, due to much
increased capacity.”

September 30, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

France to invest 20 billion euros in energy transition from nuclear to renewables

Reuters Staff, PARIS (Reuters) 27 Sept 17, – The French government plans to invest 20 billion euros in an energy transition plan, including 9 billion euros towards improved energy efficiency, 7 billion for renewables and 4 billion to precipitate the switch to cleaner vehicles.

The environment-related investments, drafted by economist Jean Pisani-Ferry and presented by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday, are part of a 57 billion-euro investment plan to run from 2018 to 2022.

Buildings are responsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, so the government plans a 9 billion-euro thermal insulation programme that will focus on low-income housing and government buildings, the government said in a statement.

 “The number of badly insulated low-income housing and social housing will be divided by two, and a quarter of government buildings will be renovated in line with environmental norms,” it said.

The programme aims at financing the renovation of 75,000 dwellings per year, or 375,000 over the government’s five-year term.

The government will also invest 7 billion euros ($8.31 billion) to boost the growth of French renewable energies by 70 percent over the next five years.

Investments will include research and innovation to combat climate change, and will speed up France’s transition to low carbon and greater energy efficiency……

September 30, 2017 Posted by | France, politics, renewable | Leave a comment