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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Santa Maria de Garona plant in northern Spain to shut down

Spain will shut down country’s oldest nuclear plant http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/spain-shut-countrys-oldest-nuclear-plant-48966632 1 Aug 17The Spanish government says it’s closing the country’s oldest nuclear power station because of lack of support among political parties and companies involved to keep it open.

Energy Minister Alvaro Nadal said Tuesday the license for the Santa Maria de Garona plant in northern Spain would not be renewed as there was too much uncertainty surrounding the plant’s viability.

Production at the 46-year-old Garona was halted in 2012 when its operator, Nuclenor, objected to a new tax. Its board recently failed to reach agreement on keeping the plant open.

Environmentalists have long claimed that the plant is outdated, although Spain’s Nuclear Security Council this year said it could continue operating.

Spain has seven other nuclear reactors that produce some 20 percent of the country’s electricity.

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August 2, 2017 Posted by | politics, Spain | Leave a comment

Vulnerable to Climate Change – Murcia, Spain

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots  Global warming will not affect everyone equally. Here we look at seven key regions to see how each is tackling the consequences of climate change, Guardian, John Vidal, 23 June 17

“………Murcia, Spain

For Wolfgang Cramer, scientific director of the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology in Aix-en-Provence, France, climate change impacts are already visible not only in the vicinity of Murcia, but across much of the Mediterranean basin. If pledges to cut emissions are not met, catastrophe looms.

He and his colleague Joel Guiot, a paleoclimatologist, last year studied pollen locked in layers of sediment over the past 10,000 years and compared them with projections about climate and vegetation from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

If warming is allowed to rise to 2C, the scientists concluded, much of southern Spain and the Mediterranean basin could become desert. Their paper, published in Science, was shocking because it showed that even a small temperature increase could be enough to create ecological havoc in a very heavily populated region with relatively wealthy countries.

They warned that North African countries would see increased temperatures and drought that would drive the southern deserts further north; that deserts would expand in the Middle East, pushing temperate forests higher into the mountains; and that ecosystems not seen in the Mediterranean basin in more than 10,000 years could develop.

“We are more certain of the drying trend in the region than almost anywhere else on the planet. Temperatures have risen 1C globally but 1.4C in the Mediterranean region. The trend is for it to become ever warmer,” says Cramer.

Increasing temperature, he says, drives droughts. “More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means rising temperatures, less precipitation and then more drying that leads to desertification.”

Meanwhile, water stress, heat waves and an extended drought linked to climate change in the eastern Mediterranean has been widely implicated in the long Syrian war and an underlying driver of conflict in Middle East and North African countries.

The World Resources Institute concurred in 2015 that the Mediterranean basin was a climate hotspot when it placed 14 of the world’s 33 most water-stressed countries in 2040 in the Middle East and North Africa region. “Drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria’s general destabilisation,” it said.

The fast-growing, heavily populated region is climatically vulnerable, it concluded. The food supplies and the social balance of places like Palestine, Israel, Algeria, Lebanon and Jordan are all highly sensitive to even a small change in water supplies. As climate change intensifies, communities face grave threats from both droughts and floods.

The combined impact of many more people, higher temperatures and changing weather patterns on the region’s already scarce freshwater resources poses further potential for conflict. But optimists hope it could force compromise between competing states and water users. Rural areas already have no option but to switch to more efficient irrigation systems and drought tolerant crops, and urban areas are learning to conserve water…..

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/23/from-heatwaves-to-hurricanes-floods-to-famine-seven-climate-change-hotspots?CMP=share_btn_tw

June 24, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Spain | Leave a comment

A promising first: hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries

Battery storage paired with wind farm in ground-breaking Spanish trial, REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 30 May 2017


The first hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries

A world first hybrid renewables trial, pairing a grid-connected wind farm with lithium-ion battery storage and energy management software, has been switched on in Spain, in a bid to boost the integration of variable-generation renewables into electricity networks around the world.

The project, led by Spanish wind energy giant Acciona, will use in-house developed “simulation” software to control the battery storage systems at a specially developed hybrid power plant, which is located next to Acciona’s experimental wind farm at Barasoain (Navarra)…..http://reneweconomy.com.au/battery-storage-paired-with-wind-farm-in-ground-breaking-spanish-trial-69731/

May 31, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, renewable, Spain | Leave a comment

Almaraz nuclear incident sparks calls for probe, halt to storage plan

 Portugal news Online, BY TPN/ LUSA   12-04-2017   Environmental campaigners have called for an investigation into an unplanned stoppage at the nuclear plant at Almaraz, near the border with Portugal, while a member of the European parliament for Portugal’s governing Socialist Party said such incidents should prompt an “immediate halt” in the construction of a waste storage facility on the site.

“These incidents should prompt the Spanish authorities to immediately halt construction of the waste storage and to plan, in consultation with Portugal and the European Union, for the plant’s closure”, said EU MP Carlos Zorrinho, in a statement sent to Lusa News Agency.
While the incidents “are apparently without systemic risk (…) in the case of nuclear energy the precautionary principle and that of zero tolerance should apply”, he concluded.
Zorrinho’s comments came following an incident at the plant earlier this week, on Monday, when an unplanned stoppage occurred in one of the main pumps…….

In February, Spain and Portugal agreed to settle a dispute involving plans to build a nuclear waste storage facility at Almaraz with the help of European Union mediators.
That was after Portugal lodged a formal complaint because of Spain’s failure to carry out a full environmental impact study before advancing with the plan. http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/almaraz-nuclear-incident-sparks-calls-for-probe-halt-to-storage-plan/41642?utm_content=buffer6ac89&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Spain, wastes | Leave a comment

By 2100 Southern Spain headed to become a desert, with climate change

drought1Climate change rate to turn southern Spain to desert by 2100, report warns, Guardian, , 28 Oct 16 

Mediterranean ecosystems will change to a state unprecedented in the past 10,000 years unless temperature rises are held to within 1.5C, say scientists. Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned.

Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said.

The study, published in the journal Science, modelled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other.

Temperatures would rise nearly 5C globally under the worst case scenario by 2100, causing deserts to expand northwards across southern Spain and Sicily, and Mediterranean vegetation to replace deciduous forests.

Even if emissions are held to the level of pledges put forward ahead of the Paris deal, southern Europe would experience a “substantial” expansion of deserts. The level of change would be beyond anything the region’s ecosystems had experienced during the holocene, the geological epoch that started more than 10,000 years ago.

“The Med is very sensitive to climatic change, maybe much more than any other region in the world,” said lead author Joel Guiot of Aix-Marseille University. “A lot of people are living at the level of the sea, it also has a lot of troubles coming from migration. If we add additional problems due to climate change, it will be worse in the future.”

He said that while his study did not simulate what would happen to production of Mediterranean food staples such as olives, other research showed it was clear the changes would harm their production. Climate change has already warmed the region by more than the global average – 1.3C compared to 1C – since the industrial revolution.

The real impact on Mediterranean ecosystems, which are considered a hotspot of biodiversity, could be worse because the study did not look at other human impacts, such as forests being turned over to grow food……. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/climate-change-rate-to-turn-southern-spain-to-desert-by-2100-report-warns

October 29, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Spain | 3 Comments

Spain – the cradle of renewable energy

Spain aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy, company director says, ABC News 

October 24, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Spain | Leave a comment

Spain urgently wants explanation from Britain after nuclear submarine collision

exclamation-Smflag SpainSpain seeks ‘urgent’ answers from London after nuclear sub collision, Yahoo News, AFP on July 22, 2016 Madrid  – Spain said Thursday it had asked London for “urgent” explanations after a British nuclear submarine collided with a vessel off the coast of Gibraltar, forcing it to dock in the disputed territory.

The incident sparked environmental fears as well as concerns it could lead to yet another diplomatic row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back centuries after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.

The HMS Ambush submarine was submerged and carrying out a training exercise when it collided with an unspecified merchant vessel on Wednesday afternoon, damaging the front of its conning tower and forcing it to dock for checks in the overseas British territory on Spain’s southern tip known as “the Rock”.

“The ministry has asked the British embassy in Madrid for urgent explanations over the extent of the breakdown and all relevant information regarding the circumstances of this incident,” Spain’s foreign ministry said in a statement…….https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32104778/british-nuclear-submarine-docks-in-gibraltar-after-collision/#page1

July 22, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Spain | Leave a comment

UK submerged nuclear submarine collides with merchant vessel off Gibraltar

exclamation-Smsubmarine,-nuclear-underwatUK nuclear sub collides with merchant vessel off Gibraltar Rt.com 21 Jul, 2016 One of Britain’s newest Astute-class submarines has docked at Gibraltar after suffering a “glancing collision” with a merchant vessel, the UK Royal Navy announced, emphasizing that the HMS Ambush suffered “absolutely no damage” to her nuclear reactor

The incident happened at around 1:30pm local time on Wednesday, when HMS Ambush was “submerged and conducting a training exercise” off Gibraltar, the Royal Navy said in a statement.
The Astute class nuclear submarine suffered “some external damage”, with the Royal Navy reassuring the public that“absolutely no damage” had been inflicted on its nuclear reactor……https://www.rt.com/uk/352391-uk-nuclear-submarine-collision/#.V5AzHNfAKp8.facebook

July 22, 2016 Posted by | incidents, Spain, UK | Leave a comment

Spanish village scarred by American air crash, with 4 hydrogen nuclear bombs on board

Even Without Detonation, 4 Hydrogen Bombs From ’66 Scar Spanish Village NYT, By RAPHAEL MINDER JUNE 20, 2016 PALOMARES, Spain — José Manuel González Navarro, a mechanic, headed out of this seaside village on his motorbike one morning 50 years ago when he heard explosions overhead and looked up to see a ball of fire in the sky. Debris started to shower down, some “falling very slowly, like if a giant tree was shedding shiny metal leaves,” he recalled in an interview.

Mr. González Navarro turned around and sped home to check that his house was not hit. He later drove back to where he had seen debris land and found an undetonated bomb attached to a parachute. He cut off the straps of the parachute and took them home, along with some work tools and bolts that he found scattered on the ground.

“I was just thinking about what objects might prove useful,” he said. “I liked fishing, and those parachute straps, thin but very solid, were clearly perfect to be turned into a weight belt for diving.”

Like many in Palomares, Mr. González Navarro, now 71, figured he had witnessed a military air crash. But he was unaware that a United States Air Force bomber and a refueling jet collided, accidentally sending four hydrogen bombs hurtling toward Palomares. Although no warheads detonated, two of the bombs shattered, spreading plutonium over the village.

Whereas American service members are complaining that the hurried cleanup effort carried out by the military jeopardized their health, many in Palomares lament the damage the accident has done to their community.

“Living in a radioactive site that nobody really has wanted to clean has brought us a lot of bad publicity and has been something hanging over our head like a sword of Damocles,” said Juan José Pérez Celdrán, a former mayor of Palomares. For years after the crash, local tomatoes, lettuce and watermelons did not carry any Palomares label because of the stigma associated with the place.

And the cleanup effort continues half a century later.

In 1966, American troops removed about 5,000 barrels of contaminated soil after the accident and called the cleanup complete. But about a decade ago, the Spanish authorities found elevated levels of plutonium over 99 acres. Some of the areas of elevated radioactivity almost touched private homes, as well as fields and greenhouses. Scientists from Ciemat, the Spanish nuclear agency, fenced off the most hazardous sections and began pressuring the United States to remove about 65,000 cubic yards of radioactive soil — far more than was removed right after the accident……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/world/europe/spain-palomares-hydrogen-bombs.html?_r=1

June 22, 2016 Posted by | environment, Spain, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US plane with hydrogen bomb crashed in Spain: cleanup workers sick from plutonium exposure

plutonium_04radiation-warningDecades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPSJUNE 19, 2016Alarms sounded on United States Air Force bases in Spain and officers began packing all the low-ranking troops they could grab onto buses for a secret mission. There were cooks, grocery clerks and even musicians from the Air Force band.

It was a late winter night in 1966 and a fully loaded B-52 bomber on a Cold War nuclear patrol had collided with a refueling jet high over the Spanish coast, freeing four hydrogen bombs that went tumbling toward a farming village called Palomares, a patchwork of small fields and tile-roofed white houses in an out-of-the-way corner of Spain’s rugged southern coast that had changed little since Roman times.

exclamation-SmIt was one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history, and the United States wanted it cleaned up quickly and quietly. But if the men getting onto buses were told anything about the Air Force’s plan for them to clean up spilled radioactive material, it was usually, “Don’t worry.”

“There was no talk about radiation or plutonium or anything else,” said Frank B. Thompson, a then 22-year-old trombone player who spent days searching contaminated fields without protective equipment or even a change of clothes. “They told us it was safe, and we were dumb enough, I guess, to believe them.”

Mr. Thompson, 72, now has cancer in his liver, a lung and a kidney. He pays $2,200 a month for treatment that would be free at a Veterans Affairs hospital if the Air Force recognized him as a victim of radiation. But for 50 years, the Air Force has maintained that there was no harmful radiation at the crash site. It says the danger of contamination was minimal and strict safety measures ensured that all of the 1,600 troops who cleaned it up were protected.

Interviews with dozens of men like Mr. Thompson and details from never before published declassified documents tell a different story. Radiation near the bombs was so high it sent the military’s monitoring equipment off the scales. Troops spent months shoveling toxic dust, wearing little more protection than cotton fatigues. And when tests taken during the cleanup suggested men had alarmingly high plutonium contamination, the Air Force threw out the results, calling them “clearly unrealistic.”

In the decades since, the Air Force has purposefully kept radiation test results out of the men’s medical files and resisted calls to retest them, even when the calls came from one of the Air Force’s own studies.

Many men say they are suffering with the crippling effects of plutonium poisoning. Of 40 veterans who helped with the cleanup who The New York Times identified, 21 had cancer. Nine had died from it. It is impossible to connect individual cancers to a single exposure to radiation. And no formal mortality study has ever been done to determine whether there is an elevated incidence of disease. The only evidence the men have to rely on are anecdotes of friends they watched wither away.

“John Young, dead of cancer … Dudley Easton, cancer … Furmanksi, cancer,” said Larry L. Slone, 76, in an interview, laboring through tremors caused by a neurological disorder.

At the crash site, Mr. Slone, a military police officer at the time, said he was given a plastic bag and told to pick up radioactive fragments with his bare hands. “A couple times they checked me with a Geiger counter and it went clear off the scale,” he said. “But they never took my name, never followed up with me.”

Monitoring of the village in Spain has also been haphazard, declassified documents show. The United States promised to pay for a public health program to monitor the long-term effects of radiation there, but for decades provided little funding. Until the 1980s, Spanish scientists often relied on broken and outdated equipment, and lacked the resources to follow up on potential ramifications, including leukemia deaths in children. Today, several fenced-off areas are still contaminated, and the long-term health effect on villagers is poorly understood.

Many of the Americans who cleaned up after the bombs are trying to get full health care coverage and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the department relies on Air Force records, and since the Air Force records say no one was harmed in Palomares, the agency rejects claims again and again.

The Air Force also denies any harm was done to 500 other veterans who cleaned up a nearly identical crash in Thule, Greenland, in 1968. Those veterans tried to sue the Defense Department in 1995, but the case was dismissed because federal law shields the military from negligence claims by troops. All of the named plaintiffs have since died of cancer…….

“First they denied I was even there, then they denied there was any radiation,” said Ronald R. Howell, 71, who recently had a brain tumor removed. “I submit a claim, and they deny. I submit appeal, and they deny. Now I’m all out of appeals.” He sighed, then continued. “Pretty soon, we’ll all be dead and they will have succeeded at covering this whole thing up.”……

The Pentagon focused on finding the bomb lost in the ocean and largely ignored the danger of loose plutonium, the Air Force personnel at the site said. Troops traipsed needlessly through highly contaminated tomato fields with no safety gear. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html

June 20, 2016 Posted by | health, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Spain, USA | Leave a comment

America fails to monitor health of Spanish community affected by hydrogen bomb accident

Decades Later, Sickness Among Airmen After a Hydrogen Bomb Accident, NYT, by DAVE PHILIPPS JUNE 19, 2016 “……….Spain’s Monitoring

The United States promised to pay for long-term monitoring of health in the village, but for decades it provided only about 15 percent of funding, with Spain paying the rest, according to a declassified Department of Energy summary. Broken air-monitoring stations went unfixed and equipment was often old and unreliable. In the early 1970s, an Atomic Energy Commission scientist noted, the Spanish field monitoring team consisted of a lone graduate student.

Reports of two children dying of leukemia during that time went uninvestigated. The lead Spanish scientist monitoring the population told American counterparts in a 1976 memo that, in light of the leukemia cases, Palomares needed “some kind of medical surveillance of the population to keep watch for diseases or deaths.” None was created.

In the late 1990s, after years of pressure from Spain, the United States agreed to increase funding. New surveys of the village found extensive contamination that had gone undetected, including some areas where radiation was 20 times the permissible level for inhabited areas. In 2004, Spain quietly fenced off the most contaminated land near the bomb craters.

Since then, Spain has urged the United States to finish cleaning the site.

Because of the uneven monitoring, the effect on public health is far from clear. A small mortality study in 2005 found cancer rates had gone up in the village compared with similar villages in the region, but the author, Pedro Antonio Martínez Pinilla, an epidemiologist, cautioned that the results could be because of random error, and urged more study.

At that time, a United States Department of Energy scientist, Terry Hamilton, proposed another study, noting problems in Spain’s monitoring techniques. “It was clear the uptake of plutonium was poorly understood,” he said in an interview. The department did not approve his proposal…..

About a fifth of the plutonium spread in 1966 is still estimated to contaminate the area. After years of pressure, the United States agreed in 2015 to clean up the remaining plutonium, but there is no approved plan or timetable…….http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html

June 20, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, health, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Spain, USA | Leave a comment

Safety of Spain’s nuclear reactors is questioned by European Commission

European Commission concerned over Spain’s nuclear power stations http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2016/04/10/european-commission-concerned-over-spains-nuclear-power-stations/

Issues surrounding the safety of older reactors were raised by climate and energy commissioner Miguel Cañete

By Rob Horgan (Reporter 10 Apr, 2016  

CONCERNS over Spain’s nuclear power stations have been aired by the European Commission.

Issues surrounding the safety of older reactors were raised by climate and energy commissioner Miguel Cañete who claims there is a ‘lack of transparency’ when addressing safety issues at Spanish sites.

Cañete’s allegations were sparked after his request for information about a nuclear-waste storage facility in Bilbao was ignored.

“The Commission expects to receive this information under Article 41 of the Euratom treaty, which governs investment projects in this field,” said Arias Cañete. “To date, we haven’t received any communication referring to the possibility of installing a nuclear waste storage facility at the plant.”

Cañete added that Spain had ‘described various measures ensuring transparency’ in its 2014 report on the Nuclear Safety Directive but had failed to live up to its promises.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | safety, Spain | Leave a comment

Anniversary of a nuclear disaster in Spain

text-relevantThe day America dropped 4 nuclear bombs on Spain, [excellent photos] Daily Mail, 19 Jan 18  … but the disaster, 50 years ago, has been forgotten by all but its surviving victims 

  • On January 16 1966, a U.S. B-52 Stratofortress took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina 
  • Bombers were continually flown on 24-hour missions across the Atlantic, to provide the States’ nuclear capability 
  • It was a routine mission for the crew but then disaster struck over Palomares, Andalucia, as the aircraft refuelled
  • Four hydrogen bombs plummeted to earth at horrific speeds, which would have killed millions had they exploded 

By GUY WALTERS FOR THE DAILY MAIL18 January 2016   “……the B-52 had overshot and the boom had missed the fuel nozzle in the top of the plane. Instead, the boom had smashed into the bomber with such force that its left wing was ripped off.

Fire quickly spread up the fuel-filled boom and ignited all 30,000 gallons of the tanker’s kerosene, causing it to plummet to the ground. Meanwhile, the bomber started to break up, and the crew did their best to get out of the plane using parachutes.

As for the hydrogen bombs, there was nothing that could be done. In less than two minutes, they would be crashing into the Earth at an enormous speed — potentially destroying much of the regions of Andalucia and Murcia.

What in the name of God are doing, Pepé? Get away from there! This could be dangerous.
Pedro de la Torre Flores’ wife, Luisa

Hundreds of thousands of people could be about to die, and the nuclear fallout would have the capacity to kill millions more all over Europe — not just from radiation poisoning but from cancers for decades to come……..

The nuclear payloads of the four American B28 hydrogen bombs mercifully did not detonate when they landed, even though the conventional explosives in two of the bombs did explode, showering some 500 acres around the fishing village of Palomares with three kilograms of highly radioactive plutonium-239. Continue reading

January 19, 2016 Posted by | history, Reference, Spain, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

50 years later, USA will clean up site of nuclear bomb’s crash in Spain

exclamation-SmFlag-USAflag SpainPalomares nuclear crash: US agrees Spanish coast clean-up http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34569614 19 October 2015  Almost 50 years after four nuclear bombs fell on the Spanish coast after two US military planes collided, American officials have signed a deal to clean up contaminated land.

None of the bombs detonated in January 1966, but three fell around Palomares and a fourth was found on the sea bed.

Highly toxic plutonium was spread over a 200-hectare (490-acre) area.

On a visit to Madrid, Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to finalise a deal on disposing of contaminated soil.

Under the agreement in principle, signed by Mr Kerry and Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the US will remove the soil at Palomares to a site in the US.

Spanish media said the soil would be transported to a site in Nevada. The deal comes a few months before the 50th anniversary of the crash, one of the most serious nuclear incidents of the Cold War.

An earlier consignment of contaminated soil was shipped to a site in South Carolina shortly after the accident and buried in deep trenches.

But further analysis of soil in the area has been carried out in recent years, and the health of residents in the Palomares area is still being monitored.

      • On 17 January 1966, a US B-52 bomber carrying four 1.5 megaton bombs collided with a refuelling tanker some 31,000 feet above Palomares on Spain’s Mediterranean coast
      • The tanker crew and three people on board the bomber were killed
      • One bomb equipped with a parachute landed intact
      • Two bombs hit the ground at high speed, scattering plutonium
      • A fourth bomb landed five miles off shore and was later recovered by USS Petrel

“I looked up and saw this huge ball of fire, falling through the sky” – Spain waits for US to finish nuclear clean-up

October 23, 2015 Posted by | history, incidents, politics international, Spain, USA | Leave a comment

Spain’s solar thermal stations – 24 hour electricity provided

Even after dark, vast Spanish solar plant harnesses sun’s power

GUADIX, SPAIN | BY MARCELO DEL POZO  Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Frances Kerry , 1 OCT 15 In December this year the UN Climate Conference takes place in Paris. Ahead of the summit, we will release a series of stories, titled “Earthprints,” that show the ability of humans to impact change on the landscape of the planet. From sprawling urban growth to the construction of new islands, each site has profoundly changed in the last 30 years. Each story has accompanying NASA satellite images that show the scale of the change. (here)

Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.

The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol”, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.

solar thermal Andasol Spain

The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.

There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.

The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.

Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.

Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees C (752 F). That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.

At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.

That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity……..

Solar power has massive potential – one U.N. study estimated the world’s electricity needs could be generated by harvesting solar power from an area of the Sahara 800 km (500 miles) by 800 km.

And in 2014, a report by the International Energy Agency said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.

Capacity just from solar thermal plants like Andasol could expand to 1,000 gigawatts a year from 4 gigawatts at the end of 2013, the agency said…….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/01/us-climatechange-summit-earthprints-spai-idUSKCN0RV43O20151001

October 2, 2015 Posted by | renewable, Spain | Leave a comment