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If Amazon forest catches fire, world climate will be in even bigger trouble

Why we should all worry about the Amazon catching on fire this year, WP, By Chris Mooney July 12 When you Google “Amazon fires,” the first thing you encounter is a tablet device. But in the coming months, if scientific forecasts prove correct, that may change.

Researchers are increasingly concerned that the Amazon rain forest — the world’s largest tropical forest, a huge repository of carbon and a vital cycler of water into rainfall across much of South America — will soon burn in a way that has not been seen in many years.

The reason is the lingering effect of the recent El Nino event. Forecasts from NASA and the University of California-Irvine, and from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society suggest that because of how El Nino reduced precipitation in the region earlier this year, the Amazon is far drier than usual, and primed to burn once the dry season reaches its height this summer (the fire season runs from June through November with a September peak).

According to the NASA/U.C. Irvine forecast, the Amazon is currently “far drier than 2005 and 2010 — the last years when the region experienced drought.” The years 2005 and 2010 also saw major blazes in the Amazon.

Indeed, the NASA/U.C. Irvine researchers shared data suggesting that the storage of water in the Amazon in March of 2016, as measured by NASA’s twin GRACE satellites (which detect gravitational anomalies at the Earth’s surface), is far lower now than it was in March during these prior years.

“We have the possibility of killing hundreds of thousands of trees in the Amazon in 2016, if you let these fires start,” says Paulo Brando, an Amazon fire expert at the Woods Hole Research Center and Ipam (the Amazon Environmental Research Institute).

If these forecasts are verified, there will be a great deal at stake. It isn’t just that huge, dangerous clouds of smoke could reach major urban areas ranging from Manaus to Rio. It’s that the fires risk helping to tip the Amazon into a new state that scientists fear — one in which it will be drier, store less carbon, cycle less water and generate less rainfall.

That would be disastrous for the Earth’s climate overall. The Amazon alone stores an enormous amount of carbon,  120 billion tons worth. Put that stuff in the atmosphere and the result would be justly termed catastrophic………

It is important to note that so far, what we are looking at are bad fire forecasts for this summer in the Amazon — but not a catastrophe at this point. The forecasts may not be realized. (That happens!) And the forecasts could also drive at least some action in Brazil and other Amazon countries to take steps to prevent people from starting fires, blunting the potential consequences of drought.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that scientists continue to talk about the Amazon in the same way they talk about, say, West Antarctica or the overturning circulation of the Atlantic Ocean — as a delicate system that we could tip, with enormous consequences. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/12/the-ultimate-forest-fire-whatll-happen-when-the-amazon-burns/

July 15, 2016 Posted by | Brazil, climate change, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

Tropical countries need solar power, more than free cooling

text-relevantTropical sites need solar power, not free cooling, Data Center Dynamics 24 March 2016 By Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira  Free cooling can improve some measures of efficiency, but tropical countries may be better off looking at where their power comes from

solar _photovoltaic_cells-wide

The importance of data centers to the average citizen should not be underestimated. They are vital for even the most common daily function – from a simple internet search to a bank transaction. Their importance can even extend to, for example, the monitoring of the electricity delivered to one’s home.

But data centers are accused of being environmental villains due to their exorbitant consumption of energy, so reducing their environmental impact is vital. In this context, photovoltaic generation is an interesting alternative to free cooling, and especially suitable for tropical regions such as Brazil.

Using the wrong metricEcological footprint (ecofootprint), according to WWF Global, is connected to the impact of human activities, measured according to the production area and the amount of water needed to produce goods and assimilate the waste produced.

Data center efficiency is usually rated by PUE, a parameter conceptualized by the US, the EU and Japan to establish a single metric to assess the energy efficiency of data centers. The concept is not new, because the relationship between useful energy and invested energy is used in many other processes.

The calculation of this indicator is based on the relationship between the energy consumption by the installation as a whole (total energy) and the energy consumption exclusively by IT equipment (IT energy). Like any indicator, PUE may be called into question, but it remains a useful metric nonetheless.

It did not take long for the cooling system to be considered the greatest enemy of PUE; as a consequence, its efficiency has become closely related to its reduction. There is nothing more tempting than getting something for free; for instance, a data center that could potentially be cooled by nothing more than the forces of nature. Since this is not possible, the solution is to decrease a good percentage of energy consumed by central chilled water, taking advantage of free cooling, thus decreasing PUE………

Free energy, not free coolingThe concept of free energy emerges as an alternative to free cooling, on the grounds that it is more suitable to the Brazilian reality and to other countries with similar weather. It is related to power generation using any renewable energy source that has been obtained directly from nature through an environmentally sustainable process. This solution, as well as free cooling, aims to improve data center effectiveness and reduce the ecofootprint from data centers in general. Because of the distributed generation and the ability of interaction between the minigeneration and the energy provider, free energy has become a feasible concept.

Taking photovoltaic power as an example of free energy, when data centers are transformed into generation plants, they may apply this energy to the grid and offset it – not only from an energy standpoint but also economic. Once the concept of free energy is settled, it is inserted into another new term – EcoPUE – bringing a new idea for calculating PUE that is now even more environmentally friendly and presents a sustainable aspect, where the reduction of energy consumption in the data center is linked to the subtraction of the energy generated by the photovoltaic generation system. This renewable generated energy is called ‘free energy.’

Use what works

The increased demand for processing and storage of data, together with the environmental problems caused by high energy consumption, are forcing data centers in Brazil, and elsewhere, to seek more technological solutions and become increasingly green, using energy more efficiently and sustainably while providing a quality service to customers

. A combination of existing technology and techniques, along with new government legislation in Brazil, are now in place, so significant improvements have already been achieved. As an alternative to free cooling, the use of photovoltaics is increasingly being seen as a viable option in countries with a high solar radiation index – like Brazil – where renewable energy can be obtained for free from the natural resources available on the planet.

The concept of EcoPUE demonstrates that greater efficiency from a data center can be enforced with the use of photovoltaic generation, thus reducing their environmental footprint.

Paulo Cesar de Resende Pereira is director of Fox Engenharia e Consultoria in Brazil

This article is translated from the Portuguese-language section of the latest magazine at Datacenterdynamics.es    http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/power-cooling/tropical-sites-need-solar-power-not-free-cooling/95907.fullarticle

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Brazil, renewable | Leave a comment

Corruption and mismanagement stall Brazil’s nuclear programme

13a47-corruptionflag-BrazilTurbulent Times for Brazil’s Nuclear Projects, Carnegie Foundation, TOGZHAN KASSENOVA October 29, 2015 “……….Othon was at the heart of Brazil’s nuclear program during the military government that lasted until 1985, and he remained indispensable for the decades that followed. In 2005, he became the chief executive of Eletronuclear, an operator of nuclear power plants and a subsidiary of Eletrobras, a state-controlled power company. Eletronuclear operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants—Angra 1 and Angra 2—and is building a third plant in the picturesque region of Angra dos Reis, not far from Rio de Janeiro. Work on Angra 3 began in 1984. But after two years and the amassing of 70 percent of the equipment at the site, construction was suspended. Only after twenty-four years, in 2010, did construction resume on Angra 3.

The corruption charges against Othon stemmed from the construction of Angra 3. It was while he headed Eletronuclear that Othon was accused of receiving bribes from companies vying for Eletronuclear’s contracts. He was arrested on July 28 as part of an operation called Radioactivity, the sixteenth stage in Operation Car Wash.

Othon is currently accused of receiving 4.8 million Brazilian reais (or approximately $1.2 million) in bribes through Aratec Engenharia, a company he owned. Brazilian media report that Othon’s company accepted payments for the development of turbines that generate electricity using river flow.

Othon’s arrest is not the only nuclear dimension of Brazil’s corruption scandal. Marcelo Odebrecht, whose eponymous company is Brazil’s largest construction conglomerate, was arrested on corruption charges in June. His company is accused of paying bribes to Petrobras executives to gain lucrative contracts, overcharging Petrobras for construction projects, and siphoning off illegal profits to politicians who, in turn, facilitated the conglomerate’s operations.

Odebrecht is one of the largest companies in South America. With operations in 21 countries and a workforce of 168,000, the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized U.S. city, it has been involved in major infrastructure projects in places as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Angola.

Odebrecht is the main contractor for Brazil’s nuclear submarine program. In 2009, when Brazil and France signed a cooperation agreement to build five submarines—four conventional and one nuclear—together, Odebrecht received a contract worth $1.9 billion to construct a new naval shipyard in Itaguaí. In 2013, Brazil’s then president Dilma Rousseff attended the shipyard’s inauguration ceremony. With Odebrecht’s CEO under arrest, the immediate future of the company is uncertain.

Brazil’s Nuclear Ambitions   ………..

Funding was pouring steadily into the nuclear submarine program. Since 2009, Brazil has spent $3.2 billion to build a submarine shipyard and a naval base. Brazil’s leaders promoted the program as one that would once again prove Brazil’s technological might—just as Embraer planes did decades earlier.

In 2010, construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant resumed, and while the government never touted nuclear energy as its priority, commitments were made to build up to four to eight new nuclear power plants.

Five years later, a very different Brazil has emerged. Foreign policy, let alone nuclear diplomacy, has decreased significantly on the ladder of Brazilian government priorities. Unlike Lula, President Dilma from the very beginning was less inclined to invest in an active foreign policy. Now she is too preoccupied with domestic problems to spend time on diplomacy. With her approval ratings hovering at 8 percent, foreign policy is unlikely to become a priority for the current government in the near future. The possibility that the government will actively pay attention to matters of global nuclear politics is even less likely.

National fiscal limitations and now the problems with Odebrecht will potentially slow down the nuclear submarine program. The broader challenges in Brazil’s energy sector, economic problems, and the investigation of Angra 3 contractors means that nuclear power plant construction might be further delayed. As a result of an ongoing corruption investigation, Eletronuclear suspended contracts with two Brazilian consortiums slated to work on certain parts of the construction process….http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/10/29/turbulent-times-for-brazil-s-nuclear-projects/ikk6

October 29, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Former head of Brazil’s nuclear company will face trial

Judge accepts charges filed against former head of Brazil nuclear power firm Fox News, 3 Sept 15 SAO PAULO –  A federal judge Thursday accepted the charges filed by prosecutors against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva will face trial for allegedly taking 4.5 million reals ($1.22 million) in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Judge Sergio Fernando Moro said in a statement that he also accepted the charges filed against 14 others, including Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter, Ana Cristina Toniolo…….http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/09/03/judge-accepts-charges-filed-against-former-head-brazil-nuclear-power-firm/

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Police asks prosecutors to charge former head of Brazil’s nuclear power on corruption

corruptionPolice ask that charges be filed against former head of Brazil’s nuclear power company http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/08/28/police-ask-that-charges-be-filed-against-former-head-brazil-nuclear-power/ SAO PAULO –  Police say they have asked prosecutors to file charges against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.

A federal police spokesman who was not authorized to be quoted by name said late Thursday that the department wants prosecutors to charge Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva with money laundering and corruption for allegedly taking as much as $10 million in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Da Silva was taken into custody in late July and one week later stepped down as Eletronuclear’s chief executive officer.

The spokesman said the department also wants charges filed against Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter Ana Cristina Toniolo for their suspected roles in the scheme. Da Silva, his daughter and Barra have denied any wrongdoing.

During Brazil’s military regime from 1964-1985, the retired navy admiral and nuclear engineer headed Brazil’s secret program to master the technology needed to transform uranium into fuel to generate electric power in nuclear plants. Da Silva also oversaw the ongoing project to build a nuclear powered submarine.

The request for charges to be filed come as police and prosecutors try to determine whether a kickback scheme engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras extends to other state firms, including electric utilities company Eletrobras, of which Eletronuclear is a subsidiary.

Prosecutors have said the scheme involved roughly $2 billion in bribes and other illegal funds. Some of that money was allegedly funneled back to the ruling Workers’ Party and its allies’ campaign coffers. It also allegedly included the payment of bribes to Petrobras executives in return for inflated contracts.

For Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning, the Eletronuclear case shows that Petrobras-like corruption and kickback schemes are “probably present in other state-run companies.”

“Schemes like these have long been part of our culture and I think other similar schemes start emerging all over the place”, Barros said  “My big fear is that the armed forces may start feeling uneasy,” he added, without elaborating.

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Corruption scandal may halt Brazil’s nuclear power programme

corruptionIldo Sauer, a nuclear physicist who worked under Pinheiro in the late 1980s, says Brazil’s nuclear program is too expensive and has been co-opted by politicians and major construction and engineering firms.

“The problem is the lobbyists who see nuclear as a chance to build expensive megaprojects with little regard for cost,” said Sauer, a former head of natural gas at Petrobras. “It’s no longer about science or energy. It’s about politics and money, and that brings corruption.

Brazil Nuclear Leader’s Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions Reuters, VOA, July 30, 2015  RIO DE JANEIRO— The arrest of the longtime head of Brazil’s nuclear energy utility on corruption charges could disrupt a plan to revive Brazilian nuclear ambitions whose roots go back to its atomic-bomb program in the 1980s. Continue reading

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Brazil becoming world’s top market for biopower

Brazil To Overtake US As Leading Market In Renewable Energy Metric By @DionRabouin IBT, on November 16 2014  Brazil will surpass the United States as the world’s top market for biopower, research firm GlobalDatareported. The U.S. remains the world’s global biopower leader for now, but Brazil is expected to increase its countrywide biopower installed capacity from 11.51 gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to an estimated 17.1 GW by 2018, to become the world’s premier market.

Biopower, also known as biomass power or bioenergy, is the use of any organic material to generate electricity. The U.S. has long been the global leader, but the report suggests outdated infrastructure and a bloated existing capacity that has saturated the market will lead to Americans being overtaken in four years’ time……http://www.ibtimes.com/brazil-overtake-us-leading-market-renewable-energy-metric-1724500

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Brazil, renewable | Leave a comment

Brazil cools on nuclear power plans; favors wind

Brazil will probably scale down its plans for new nuclear plants due to safety concerns following the 2011 radiation leak in Japan and pick up some of the slack with a “revolution” in wind power, the head of the government’s energy planning agency said.
http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/69772

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Brazil, renewable | Leave a comment

Brazil’s wind farms bring cheapest electricity prices

Wind farms set record low generation prices, SMH, December 16, 2012 Four energy developers agreed to sell power from 10 proposed wind farms in Brazil at the cheapest rates ever.

Enerfin Sociedad de Energia SA, Renova Energia SA, EGP- Serra Azul and Bioenergy Geradora de Energia Ltda. won contracts to sell electricity to distributors for an average price of 87.94 reais ($41) a megawatt-hour, Brazil’s national energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica said in an e-mail yesterday. (Australian wholesale prices are about $50 per megawatt-hour, including the $23 carbon tax per tonne.)

“This is definitely the cheapest wind energy in the world,” Maria Gabriela da Rocha Oliveira, a Sao Paulo-based analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a telephone interview. It’s 12 per cent lower than the August 2011 auction that yielded an average price of 99.58 reais a megawatt-hour. That was the lowest price in the world for wind power then and the least expensive power in Brazil, beating natural gas and hydroelectricity…..  http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/wind-farms-set-record-low-generation-prices-20121216-2bh4z.html#ixzz2FLfka1Ga

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, business and costs, renewable | 1 Comment

Areas of naturally high radiation have also higher cancer rates

2004 Study: Two of Brazil’s High Background Radiation Areas Have Higher Cancer Mortality Via : http://ex-skf.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/2004-study-two-of-brazils-high.html quote:  APRIL 14, 2012

I have been told numerous times that “People in naturally high background radiation areas in the world suffer no ill effect from the high radiation.” I just stumbled upon one study in 2004 on such areas in Brazil.

Conclusion of this particular study: Cancer mortality in “Poços de Caldas, and Guarapari is higher than would be expected for their respective reference population”, whereas “cancer mortality for the Araxá population is lower than would be expected”.

International Congress Series
Volume 1276, Pages 3-468 (February 2005)
Link http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/05315131/1276

High Levels of Natural Radiation and Radon Areas: Radiation Dose and Health Effects, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on High Levels of Natural Radiation and Radon Areas, Osaka, Japan
6–10 September 2004… http://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/2004-study-two-of-brazils-high-background-radiation-areas-have-higher-cancer-mortality/

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, health | Leave a comment

Brazil ditches nuclear reactor plans, in favour of renewable energy and gas

Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants Google News 10 May (AFP) BRASILIA — Brazil said Wednesday it has shelved plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030….. “The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas,” Energy ministry’s executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann said in remarks released by the ministry Wednesday. “The 2021 plan, as far as I know, will not consider nuclear power stations either, ” he added, ….

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, business and costs | 1 Comment

Brazil postpones its nuclear power project

Brazil delays nuclear plans after Japan disaster RIO DE JANEIRO (MarketWatch)  Feb. 8, 2012, — Brazil’s plans to build four new nuclear power plants have been delayed by about 18 months following last year’s accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, an official of Brazilian state-owned nuclear power company Eletronuclear said Wednesday….

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, politics | Leave a comment

Brazil’s nuclear plans a cash cow for France and a weapons worry

Brazil’s nuclear plans stir up debate, RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Brazil’s nuclear program, including its ambitious moves to develop a nuclear-powered submarine with French help, is stirring debate that puts focus on the Latin American country’s long-term aims in the field.

Both Brazil and Argentina began developing nuclear capabilities while under military rule. While Argentina has expanded its nuclear power generation capacity Brazil has gone into nuclear fuel processing and hopes to deploy the technology into a nuclear-powered submarine it plans to build with French help.

Agreements for the joint defense production program are in place but, as the implementation nears, questions are being asked about its nuclear component. French President Nicolas Sarkozy spearheaded a marketing drive that secured France much needed cash in a deal that includes the supply and joint construction of four diesel-electric submarines and a fifth nuclear-powered submarine….. Brazil has an advanced nuclear program dating to the 1950s that has drawn support at various stages from France, Germany and the United States. ….

Brazilian analysts who disagree with the nuclear bomb thesis say a program that includes deployment of nuclear power in weapons wouldn’t pass congressional approval or win public endorsement….  http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2011/11/30/Brazils-nuclear-plans-stir-up-debate/UPI-27811322687019/#ixzz1fJnQZ2Ij

December 1, 2011 Posted by | Brazil, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarines for Brazil

Brazil to build nuclear submarines which will dramatically alter balance of power in South America, By DAILY MAIL REPORTER 17th July 2011,  The Brazilian government has started work on a submarine programme which will include the construction of South America’s first nuclear subs.

The move will boost Brazil’s claim to be the strongest force in the region, and strengthen the country’s military assertiveness….http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2015731/Brazil-build-nuclear-submarines-dramatically-alter-balance-power-South-America.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

July 19, 2011 Posted by | Brazil, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Financial problems stall new nuclear projects in Brazil

“These nuclear projects take a long time to get off the drawing board and generate a lot of controversy, so they’ll likely be last in line to receive financing,”

Brazil’s Plans For Nuclear Energy May Face Financing Problem,  WSJ.com By Paulo Winterstein, Dow Jones Newswires; AUGUST 16, 2010SAO PAULO, Brazil –Brazil’s plan to build at least five nuclear power plants over the next two decades may run into a financing problem as federal budget constraints limit spending by government-controlled utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (ELET6.BR, EBR). Continue reading

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Brazil, business and costs | , , , | Leave a comment

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