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Comments

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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Reprocessing? (218 comments)

That's not what the neutron detector at the Fukushima plant gate says. You wrote "the concentration of fissile material is far too low for it to go critical" which is incorrect.

3 hours ago
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Radioactive Wild Boars Still Roaming the Forests of Germany

mdsolar Wizards (123 comments)

The world blew up in a thousand atomic fireballs. The first blast was set off by five terrorists. It took two million years... for some of the radioactive clouds to allow some sun in. By then, only a handful of porcine survived. The rest of the pigs had changed into hideous mutants. These mutant species floundered in the bad areas... radioactive lands that never allowed them to become boars again... and made each birth a new disaster. http://www.springfieldspringfi...

4 hours ago
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Radioactive Wild Boars Still Roaming the Forests of Germany

mdsolar Spam (123 comments)

There has got to be a spam joke here someplace: In SOVIET Russia boars spam you.?.?

5 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Reprocessing? (218 comments)

What sort of neutrons do you suppose are involved in a meltdown? Self-moderation of the fuel is always a danger. You don't know what you are writing about.

5 hours ago
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Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

mdsolar The fix (331 comments)

The siren and lights should be on whenever the computer is on.

7 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Reprocessing? (218 comments)

The post has a mistake. The spent fuel can go critical.

7 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Just like the wheel. (218 comments)

Coal is one of the least radioactive minerals. It is mostly carbon and the carbon-14 is all decayed away.

8 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Reprocessing? (218 comments)

Spent fuel pools can go critical. The waste has a high enough concentration.

9 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Trains for people (218 comments)

A high speed rail link between Seattle and Savannah would link the two coasts in a new way and might overcome all the strange posturing which hurt single state projects during the recovery.

9 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:This actually makes sense (218 comments)

Putting all these specs out is a good way to waste money. On site waste treatment, for example, may change the requirements quite a lot. The correct approach to the waste is to not transport it until it is composed of stable isotopes. But even if we do store rather than transmute waste, would it not be best to make it unfailingly safe to transport? Lonsdaleite, while combustible, can be be formed by chemical vapor deposition, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... and might have the strength to solve some post vitrification isotope mobility issues as an inner casing protected from contact with the atmosphere. So, waste may end up as a much larger volume but much safer to transport and with much less stringent geological requirements so that it might be dumped in the Catskills or other less distant locations.

12 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Ride the train forever.... (218 comments)

Let me tell you the story Of a man named Charlie On a tragic and fateful day He put ten cents in his pocket, Kissed his wife and family Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie handed in his dime At the Kendall Square Station And he changed for Jamaica Plain When he got there the conductor told him, "One more nickel." Charlie could not get off that train.

Did he ever return, No he never returned And his fate is still unlearn'd He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston He's the man who never returned. http://www.mit.edu/~jdreed/t/c...

13 hours ago
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Since nuclear is (218 comments)

There were 38 rectors cancelled during construction in the US. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... That is money spent that does not show up costs for power. Now-a-days, utilities are charging ahead of power production then cancelling. Nice scam if you can get the state regulators to go along with it. Federal loan guarantees are ripe for abuse as well.

yesterday
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Data Fabrication (218 comments)

Yucca became impossible when USGS scientists fabricated data. Now, we can never really know about any of the other science done there. The whole thing has to start over and it can't be Yucca because the temptation would be too strong to try to use some study or other that has already been done. Back to the drawing board. Mississippi says it does not want it. http://www.sunherald.com/2014/...

yesterday
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (218 comments)

It seems pretty clear that the waste issue will be more, not less expensive. This is always the way with nuclear power. Fees should be quadrupled. It is not a gift at all. Operators have the public trust working with these materials, but their attitude hardly makes them seem to deserve that trust.

yesterday
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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, But Don't Know Where It Would Go

mdsolar Re:Since nuclear is "too cheap to meter"... (218 comments)

Nuclear seems unable to compete with natural gas and wind power. http://will.illinois.edu/nfs/R... So, the question is, will it be around to cover these costs at all? Waste is being generated without any fee being collected to clean it up now. Looks like it will be taxpayers footing the bill.

yesterday

Submissions

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Radioactive wild boar roaming the forests of Germany

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  8 hours ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Twenty-eight years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, its effects are still being felt as far away as Germany – in the form of radioactive wild boars.

Wild boars still roam the forests of Germany, where they are hunted for their meat, which is sold as a delicacy.

But in recent tests by the state government of Saxony, more than one in three boars were found to give off such high levels of radiation that they are unfit for human consumption.

Outside the hunting community, wild boar are seen as a menace by much of Germany society. Autobahns have to be closed when boar wander onto them, they sometimes enter towns and, in a famous case in 2010, a pack attacked a man in a wheelchair in Berlin.

But radioactive wild boars stir even darker fears.

  They are believed to be a legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, when a reactor at a nuclear power plant in then Soviet-ruled Ukraine exploded, releasing a massive quantity of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

Even though Saxony lies some 700 miles from Chernobyl, wind and rain carried the radioactivity across western Europe, and soil contamination was found even further away, in France.

Wild boar are thought to be particularly affected because they root through the soil for food, and feed on mushrooms and underground truffles that store radiation. Many mushrooms from the affected areas are also believed to be unfit for human consumption."

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Finland's nuclear plant start delayed again

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  10 hours ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Areva-Siemens, the consortium building Finland's biggest nuclear reactor, said on Monday the start date of the much delayed project will be pushed back to late 2018 — almost a decade later than originally planned.

Areva-Siemens blamed disagreements with its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) over the plant's automation system, the latest blow for a project that has been hit by repeated delays, soaring costs and disputes."

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Feds Want Nuclear Waste Train, but Nowhere to Go

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  yesterday

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The U.S. government is looking for trains to haul radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to disposal sites. Too bad those trains have nowhere to go.

Putting the cart before the horse, the U.S. Department of Energy recently asked companies for ideas on how the government should get the rail cars needed to haul 150-ton casks filled with used, radioactive nuclear fuel.

They won't be moving anytime soon. The latest government plans call for having an interim test storage site in 2021 and a long-term geologic depository in 2048.

No one knows where those sites will be, but the Obama administration is already thinking about contracts to develop, test and certify the necessary rail equipment."

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Western water rights and the NSA

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  2 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A perfect slashdot story, the NSA and Yucca Mountain rolled into one:

"Whenever I explain the OffNow Project to someone, they initially respond enthusiastically. Something to the effect of, “Wow! That’s cool! The federal government shouldn’t be spying on us!” But when I further explain that the idea behind OffNow includes shutting off state supplied resources to NSA facilities – like the water necessary to cool the super-computers at the Bluffdale, Utah spy facility – those same people get nervous. “Shutting off the water seems like an extreme move. Can we even do that?” they ask.

Yes, we can do that.

And it will work.

It’s been done before at a place called Yucca Mountain, Nevada....." The water rights case in Nevada is described here: http://www.law360.com/articles..."

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Particle physics to aid nuclear cleanup

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  3 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.... [M]uon tomography, is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don’t damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography.

“Everything around you is constantly being radiographed by muons,” says Christopher Morris, who leads the Los Alamos muon tomography team. “All you have to do is set some detectors above and below it, and measure the angles well enough to make a picture.”

By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team’s software creates a three-dimensional picture of what’s inside.... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core.

“When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn’t know about,” says Morris. “They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles.”

Based on that successful test, Toshiba signed an agreement with Los Alamos and later with Decision Sciences to design and manufacture muon-detector components for use at Fukushima Daiichi."

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Cooling canals at Turkey Point nuclear power plant still too hot

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  3 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Florida Power & Light needs millions more gallons of freshwater to manage cooling canals that keep two nuclear reactors at Turkey Point from overheating, company officials said in an emergency request to the South Florida Water Management District.

The hot canals do not pose a safety risk, federal regulators have said, but they have forced the utility to dial back operations over the scorching summer.

So with the heat showing no sign of easing, could brownouts be far off?

“We have record electricity demand and what we’re doing is taking proactive action to make sure we can effectively manage the situation in an environmentally responsible way while maintaining reliability for our customers,” said FPL spokesman Michael Waldron.

To cool the canals, the Water Management District on Thursday authorized pumping up to 100 million gallons of water a day from a nearby canal system, but only if it doesn’t take too much water stored for Everglades restoration. The canals carry freshwater to Biscayne Bay and tamp down salinity, which can fuel algae blooms and harm marine life.

The 100 million gallons would be in addition to 14 million gallons a day from the Floridan aquifer that water managers approved in June, after high temperatures threatened to shut down the reactors."

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New NRC rule supports indefinite storage of nuclear waste

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  5 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The five-member board that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday voted to end a two-year moratorium on issuing new power plant licenses.

The moratorium was in response to a June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that ordered the NRC to consider the possibility that the federal government may never take possession of the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at power plant sites scattered around the country.

In addition to lifting the moratorium, the five-member board also approved guidance replacing the Waste Confidence Rule.

"The previous Waste Confidence Rule determined that spent fuel could be safely stored on site for at least 60 years after a plant permanently ceased operations," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC.

In the new standard, Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule, NRC staff members reassessed three timeframes for the storage of spent fuel — 60 years, 100 years and indefinitely."

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Nuclear power: reliably unreliable

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  5 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "With wind power filling the energy gap left by shutdown nuclear reactors in the UK, and police investigating allegations of sabotage at a reactor in Belgium, the myth of "reliable" nuclear energy is being exposed like never before.

The nuclear industry tells us that nuclear power is a reliable energy source, that it offers "energy security". Tell that to Belgium and the UK who are seeing significant parts of their nuclear fleet shutdown.

It's been confirmed that the major damage that shut down Belgium's Doel 4 reactor was caused by sabotage. Meanwhile, cracks found in two other reactors – Tihange 2 and Doel 3 — means they may never reopen. The three reactors make up over half of the country's nuclear power output.

(Worryingly, there are 22 other reactors around the world that share the same design as Tihange 2 and Doel 3.)

In the UK, four nuclear reactors – at Heysham and Hartlepool – are out of action while defects are investigated.

There have previously been issues with nuclear power plants being closed in EU and USA at times of drought because of water shortages.

What fills the energy gap while these "reliable" nuclear reactors are shut down?

Belgium is having to rely on electricity from its neighbours. So much for nuclear power giving the country energy security.

In the UK, things are much more optimistic. Renewable energy has come to the rescue. "Demand is low at this time of year, and a lot of wind power is being generated right now," said the UK's National Grid. Electricity supplies have been unaffected....

Here we have yet more reasons to abandon nuclear power. It's not reliable and does not guarantee energy security. It's not your friend and is going to let you down sooner or later."

Link to Original Source
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Sydney University creates waves with investment ban on coal

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The University of Sydney has become the first institution of its type in Australia to halt further investments in coalmining, a move likely to send ripples through the funds industry.

On Monday, the university said it had halted investments in Whitehaven Coal, the miner developing the controversial Maules Creek open-cut coalmine, which is the largest such project in the country.

As part of a review being undertaken by the Mercer Group, however, Sydney University told Fairfax Media the bar on investments extended beyond Whitehaven.

"The university has issued an instruction to its Australian equities managers to make no further investments in the coal and consumable fuels subsector of the ASX," a spokeswoman for the university said.

The institution is yet to decide what to do with existing coal investments in its $1 billion portfolio, although divestment of its $900,000 holding in Whitehaven is one of "various options" being considered, she said.

The spokeswoman declined to detail the reason for stopping purchases of coal stocks, which other companies are affected and when the halt kicked in.

The current consultation "over our investment in coal and consumable fuels is part of our ongoing review to ensure we meet our responsibilities to students, staff and donors", the spokeswoman said."

Link to Original Source
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Fukushima court rules against nuclear operator in suicide suit

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A Japanese court has ruled that Fukushima nuclear operator Tokyo Electric was responsible for a woman's suicide after the March 2011 disaster and must pay compensation, in a landmark ruling that could set a precedent for other claims against the utility.

The civil suit by Mikio Watanabe claimed that Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (9501.T) (Tepco) was to blame for the July 2011 death of his wife, Hamako, 58, who doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire after falling into depression.

The district court in Fukushima ruled in favor of Watanabe, a court official told reporters. Kyodo news reported that Tepco was ordered to pay 49 million yen ($472,000) in compensation. Watanabe had sought about 91 million yen in damages.

The court decision is the latest blow for the utility, which was bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2012 and expects to spend more than $48 billion in compensation alone for the nuclear disaster.disaster.

The triple nuclear meltdowns forced more than 150,000 people from their homes, about a third of whom remain in temporary housing."

Link to Original Source
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Expert calls for closure of nuclear plant in California

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A senior federal nuclear expert is urging regulators to shut down California’s last operating nuclear plant until they can determine whether the facility’s twin reactors can withstand powerful shaking from any one of several nearby earthquake faults.

Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon’s lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant’s operation.

The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck’s analysis, no one knows whether the facility’s key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built.

Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, “challenges the presumption of nuclear safety.”

Peck’s July 2013 filing is part of an agency review in which employees can appeal a supervisor’s or agency ruling — a process that normally takes 60 to 120 days, but can be extended. The NRC, however, has not yet ruled. Spokeswoman Lara Uselding said in emails that the agency would have no comment on the document."

Link to Original Source
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Princeton nuclear fusion reactor will run again

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years.

But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

“We’re very excited and we’re all anxious to turn that machine back on,” said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL.

The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said."

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Spot ET's waste heat for chance to find alien life

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "RATHER than searching for aliens phoning home, scientists are looking for signs of the homes themselves. A new project proposing that galaxy-spanning alien civilisations should generate detectable heat has turned up a few dozen galaxies that hold promise as harbours for life.

The best-known technique used to search for tech-savvy aliens is eavesdropping on their communications with each other. But this approach assumes ET is chatty in channels we can hear.

The new approach, dubbed G-HAT for Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies, makes no assumptions about what alien civilisations may be like.

"This approach is very different," says Franck Marchis at the SETI Institute in California, who was not involved in the project. "I like it because it doesn't put any constraints on the origin of the civilisation or their willingness to communicate."

Instead, it utilises the laws of thermodynamics. All machines and living things give off heat, and that heat is visible as infrared radiation. The G-HAT team combed through the catalogue of images generated by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, which released an infrared map of the entire sky in 2012. A galaxy should emit about 10 per cent of its light in the mid-infrared range, says team leader Jason Wright at Pennsylvania State University. If it gives off much more, it could be being warmed by vast networks of alien technology – though it could also be a sign of more prosaic processes, such as rapid star formation or an actively feeding black hole at the galaxy's centre.

The team's preliminary survey suggests that such galaxies are rare, but they are out there. "We have found several dozen galaxies giving out a superlative amount of mid-infrared light," says Wright. About 50 of these are emitting more than half of their starlight in the mid-infrared, the team reports http://iopscience.iop.org/0004..."

Link to Original Source
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Greens demand State hand over Keystone docs

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "An environmental group is demanding the State Department fork over all of its communications over changes that were made to the final Keystone XL pipeline environmental impact review.

Friends of the Earth filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Monday over a correction the State Department made in its final environmental analysis on the controversial pipeline.

The change reflected a substantial increase in the number of deaths that could be caused if Keystone is rejected. The revision said that State now estimates 18 to 30 people would be killed each year from the increase in oil shipments by rail without construction of the pipeline. Earlier estimates had said six deaths but that was under a three-month period.

Friends of the Earth called the statistics "highly questionable" and wants to know what prompted the change. They are asking for all staff communications over a five-month span.

"More questionable still is what prompted the State Department to update these particular numbers while neglecting numbers that show how Keystone XL would catalyze an increase in emissions," said Luisa Abbot Galvao of Friends of the Earth.

In the final impact review, the department said Keystone XL would not significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, a finding that hasn't sat well with environmentalists.

Friends of the Earth wants all records between State's staff and lobbyists or other individuals representing pipeline developer TransCanada, and Environmental Resources Management, the contractor that worked on the final environmental review.

Its request asks for all of the communication, contracts or agreements made between State and TransCanada from January to June of this year.

It also asks for documents on the oil rail analysis, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation measures compiled in the same time period."

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Canada-to-NYC power line receives environmental approval

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The U.S. Department of Energy has completed its environmental review of a $2.2 billion project that will run a 330-mile electric line from Canada to New York City.

The 1,000-megawatt transmission cables will have a 5-inch diameter and run underwater or underground for the line’s entire length. The project, called the Champlain Hudson Power Express, will siphon hydro and wind-produced energy from the Canadian border to a converter station that will be built in Astoria, Queens, and feed into the Consolidated Edison system.

Transmission Developers Inc., the Albany-based company developing the project, claims the transmission line would reduce energy costs for customers by as much as $650 million per year, creating an average of 300 construction jobs over the four years it takes to build."

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Which Is More Scalable, Nuclear Energy Or Wind Energy?

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Summary: Empirically, wind energy is much more scalable than nuclear energy.

China is the true experiment for maximum scalability of nuclear vs wind. It has a tremendous gap between demand and generation. It can mostly ignore democracy and social license for nuclear. It is building both wind and nuclear as rapidly as possible. It has been on a crash course for both for about the same period of time. It has bypassed most of the regulatory red tape for nuclear.

So how is it doing?

        China turned on just over 16 GW of nameplate capacity of wind generation in 2013 according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

Over the four years of 2010 to 2014, China managed to put 4.7 GW of nuclear into operation at the Qinshan Phase II, Ling Ao Phase II, Ningde, Hongyanhe and Yangjiang plants. This is not their stated plans for nuclear, which had them building almost double this in 2013 alone and around 28 GW by 2015, but the actual plants put into production. The variance between the nuclear roadmap and nuclear reality in China is following the trajectory of nuclear buildout worldwide: delays, cost overruns, and unmet expectations."

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Navy Expels 34 Sailors in Nuclear Cheating Scandal

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A Navy investigation of a seven-year long cheating ring in one of its most renowned training schools has resulted in the expulsion of 34 sailors from the Navy and another 10 sailors remain under investigation, the service announced today. The investigation, begun when a sailor tipped off authorities in February, found more than 76 senior enlisted staff instructors (E-6s and E-7s) at the Naval Nuclear Power School (NNPS) in Goose Creek, S.C. had participated in a system to cheat on the classified engineering watch supervisor (EWS) qualification.

The Petty Officers and Chiefs — assigned to the nearby Moored Training Ship 626 (the former USS Daniel Webster) Staff Training Group — created a network of thumb drives, CDs and emails known as the “Pencil File” aligned to the five versions of the EWS test, according to the Navy’s report of the investigation dated March 15 and released on Wednesday.

Due to their positions, the sailors knew which version of the test would be scheduled and pass out the so called, “Pencil Number” to the cheaters.

The Navy adjudicated 68 cases at Admiral’s Mast and found 36 sailors at the unit had been involved.

“Punishment was suspended for two of the 36 sailors based on their minimal involvement and their strong potential for rehabilitation,” according to the report. The remaining 34 had their security clearances stripped and were booted from the service.

A total of 78 personnel were found to have cheated on the EWS exam over the seven year period."

Link to Original Source
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Tuberculosis Is Newer Than What Was Thought

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "After a remarkable analysis of bacterial DNA from 1,000-year-old mummies, scientists have proposed a new hypothesis for how tuberculosis arose and spread around the world.

The disease originated less than 6,000 years ago in Africa, they say, and took a surprising route to reach the New World: it was carried across the Atlantic by seals.

The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, has already provoked strong reactions from other scientists.

“This is a landmark paper that challenges our previous ideas about the origins of tuberculosis,” said Terry Brown, a professor of biomolecular archaeology at the University of Manchester. “At the moment, I’m still in the astonished stage over this.”"

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Presley writes Obama, others to oppose putting nuclear waste in state

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley reached out to President Barack Obama, Mississippi’s congressional delegation and other Washington leaders in an attempt to block any federal government attempts to dispose of the nation’s nuclear waste on Mississippi soil, according to a release from his office.

n a letter sent today, Presley shared copies of recent unanimously passed PSC resolutions opposing the siting of a permanent nuclear waste disposal site in Mississippi and requesting refunds for the $80 million paid by Mississippi residents for a failed government storage facility in Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Presley writes that he enclosed the resolutions “in the hope that they will present you with an accurate account of Mississippi nuclear waste storage policy and correct any impression you may have been given that Mississippi would welcome the nation’s waste.”

He said testimony by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz naming Mississippi as a top contender to replace Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site prompted him to write the letter. Assistant Energey Secretary Peter Lyons called Mississippi "the most public of potential hosts to express interest in taking high level waste," Presley said.

"They need to know the Public Service Commission is against that harebrained scheme," he said."

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Nuclear regulator hacked 3 times in 3 years

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Unspecified foreigners and a third unknown person or group are to blame for three computer hacks over the past three years at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to a new report.

The body that governs America's nuclear power providers said in an internal investigation that two of the hacks are suspected to have come from unnamed foreign countries, the news site Nextgov reported based on a Freedom of Information Act request. The source of the third hack could not be identified because the logs of the incident had been destroyed, the report said.

Hackers, often sponsored by foreign governments, have targeted the US more frequently in recent years. A report (PDF) on attacks against government computers noted that there was a 35 percent increase between 2010 and 2013.

Intruders used common hacking techniques to get at the NRC's computers. One attack linked to a foreign country or individual involved phishing emails that coerced NRC employees into submitting their login credentials. The second one linked to a foreign government or individual used spearphishing, or emails targeted at specific NRC employees, to convince them to click a link that led to a malware site hosted on Microsoft's cloud storage site SkyDrive, now called OneDrive.

The third attack involved breaking into the personal account of a NRC employee. After sending a malicious PDF attachment to 16 other NRC employees, one person was infected with malware."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Lessons not Learned

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a year ago Lessons Learned is a sad but effective way to reduce accidents and fatalities. Taking the time to investigate accidents, find their causes and eliminate the occasions of future accidents may be the most profound way to show respect for accident victims. But these days, we don't seem to care. The National Transportation Safety Board has halted accident investigations. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has posted no fatalgrams for three consecutive coal mining fatalities. One occurred in Wyoming where accident investigation can be especially effective in preventing future accidents.

Accidents are preventable, but only if we find out what is causing them and make appropriate changes. If a recall does not get issued because a dangerous defect is not identified owing to lack of accident investigations, that means needless deaths.

Delayed medical research and lost lab mouse genetic lines probably mean the same thing. But failure to honor the victims of accidents with full investigations that might bring some meaning to an otherwise senseless tragedy seems especially callous.

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Shutting down the right to petition

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a year ago The Bill of Rights includes a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. When the government has erred, the people must demand redress. But what happens when the government makes a mistake, and then shuts down the petition process?

That is exactly what is happening now at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

"Last year, a federal appeals court sided with the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, which argued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrongly assumed spent reactor fuel eventually would move to a permanent waste repository, even though the Obama administration canceled the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada."

Previously, the courts had ruled that Yucca Mountain would not work, and data fabrication by government scientists had put into question the ability of the Department of Energy to even manage such a project.

As a result, the NRC is not allowed to issue licenses for nuclear power plants until it clears up this mistake, though is seem happy to give up on proper procedure and allow nuclear power plants to operate without a license.

So, now the people are supposed to have their say, exercising their right to petition their government through the public comment period. But the NRC is closing up its ears, cancelling public meetings and shutting down our constitutional right.

While it may be a fair point brought up by "Janet Phelan Kotra, who worked for the commission for more than 28 years and served as project manager for the waste confidence issue for 14 years, [when she] said the proposed new rule is improperly based on the idea that the commission has confidence in the safety of long-term storage at reactor sites rather than on confidence that a permanent repository will become available in a reasonable time frame." Telling everyone else to just shut up seems like a violation of a very primary right.

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Is Indian Point Next to Close?

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  1 year,19 hours

Nuclear power plants are retiring early all over the country and planned power uprates are being canceled. With the recent decision to close Vermont Yankee, it comes to five closed reactors and five canceled uprates.

Now Entergy, the troubled owner of Indian Point close to New York City, is issuing denials that it will close Indian Point just as it had until so recently issued denials that it would close Vermont Yankee.

A second law suit has been filed against Energy by security employees saying the Indian Point plant is vulnerable to attack. And with the checkered history of violations by Entergy on this score, it seems likely that the coverups described in the suit have been occurring as per usual. Vermont Yankee was on the list of the ten most likely to retire early constructed by analyst Mark Cooper (linked above).

  • Palisades (Repair impending, local opposition)
  • Ft. Calhoun (Outage, poor performance)
  • Nine Mile Point (Site size saves it, existing contract))
  • Fitzpatrick (High cost but offset by high market clearing price)
  • Ginna (Single unit with negative margin, existing contract)
  • Oyster Creek (Already set to retire early)
  • Vt. Yankee (Tax and local opposition)
  • Millstone (Tax reasons)
  • Clinton (Selling into tough market)
  • Indian Point (License extension, local opposition)

So is Indian Point. I'd guess that chances are better than nine to one that it will be next.
 

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Fossil Fuel Use Cuts Body's Internal Radiation Burden

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 2 years ago Many discussions of nuclear power on slashdot are polluted by references to completely bogus calculations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory web site that claim that coal power plants emit more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants. This is completely bogus because when coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils. You might as well say that a bulldozer pushing clay soil around is releasing radiation into the environment. Why? Because the uranium in coal comes from the soil out of which the primaeval forest grew. When the coal is burned, you just get the soil components back. It always seemed curious that a national laboratory, even one so captured by the nuclear industry, would be yanking everyone's chain like that, making such preposterous claims. It could just be stupidity. But....

One thing about fossil fuels is that they have been isolated from the atmosphere for a very long time. That means that the carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray impacts with nitrogen nuclei in the atmosphere that they originally contained has pretty much decayed away. So, when fossil fuels are burned, carbon-14 in the atmosphere is diluted with respect to carbon-12 in the atmosphere. But that diluted mix is just where our food comes from, and since we are what we eat, we end up with less carbon-14 in our bodies. If we were to instantaneously double the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon-14 in our bodies would go down by half. This would cut the beta decay rate from carbon-14 in our bodies by half and the combined beta decay rate from potasium-40 and carbon-14 by about 12%. If we subsequently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to control the climate, carbon-14 would be removed together with carbon-12 and the internal radiation burden in our bodies would remain low for thousands of years as carbon-14 production would catch up on a timescale similar to the decay timescale for carbon-14 (5700 years).

Now, potasium-40 decays are more energetic than carbon-14 decays but carbon-14 in incorporated in DNA and thus decays may have a greater chance of inducing mutations, the apparent origin of cancers.

Nuclear power use, on the other hand, only increases radiation exposure, it does not decrease it. And it does so for long long after there has been any benefit from the power generation. While there are immediate cancer risks in the chemical components emitted from coal, gasoline or diesel burning, those risks are incurred by those benefiting from the fuel use and are not transmitted down the ages. The long term cancer legacy, in fact, is reduced cancer risk owing to reduced internal radiation burden.

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Fossil fuel use cuts body's internal radiation burden

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 2 years ago Many discussions of nuclear power on slashdot are polluted by references to completely bogus calculations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory web site that claim that coal power plants emit more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants. This is completely bogus because when coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils. You might as well say that a bulldozer pushing clay soil around is releasing radiation into the environment. Why? Because the uranium in coal comes from the soil out of which the primaeval forest grew. When the coal is burned, you just get the soil components back. It always seemed curious that a national laboratory, even one so captured by the nuclear industry, would be yanking everyone's chain like that, making such preposterous claims. It could just be stupidity. But....

One thing about fossil fuels is that they have been isolated from the atmosphere for a very long time. That means that the carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray impacts with nitrogen nuclei in the atmosphere that they originally contained has pretty much decayed away. So, when fossil fuels are burned, carbon-14 in the atmosphere is diluted with respect to carbon-12 in the atmosphere. But that diluted mix is just where our food comes from, and since we are what we eat, we end up with less carbon-14 in our bodies. If we were to instantaneously double the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon-14 in our bodies would go down by half. This would cut the beta decay rate from carbon-14 in our bodies by half and the combined beta decay rate from potasium-40 and carbon-14 by about 12%. If we subsequently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to control the climate, carbon-14 would be removed together with carbon-12 and the internal radiation burden in our bodies would remain low for thousands of years as carbon-14 production would catch up on a timescale similar to the decay timescale for carbon-14 (5700 years).

Now, potasium-40 decays are more energetic than carbon-14 decays but carbon-14 in incorporated in DNA and thus decays may have a greater chance of inducing mutations, the apparent origin of cancers.

Nuclear power use, on the other hand, only increases radiation exposure, it does not decrease it. And it does so for long long after there has been any benefit from the power generation. While there are be immediate cancer risks in the chemical components emitted from coal, gasoline or diesel burning, those risks are incurred by those benefiting from the fuel use and are not transmitted down the ages. The long term cancer legacy, in fact, is reduced cancer risk owing to reduced internal radiation burden.

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Mitigating deep oil spills

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A mile below the surface of the ocean, conditions are different. The pressure of the water increases the boiling point of the water above the autoignition temperature of crude oil. Water could act as a sort of diesel chamber at that depth. With an oil spill plume rising from the ocean floor, mixing enough air from the surface into the oil could consume the oil completely in a self-sustaining reaction. Heat from the reaction would heat the surrounding water and turbulence would provide complete mixing of the oil and air, oxidizing the oil to carbon dioxide and water. Getting the air to the sea floor might be accomplished with off-the-shelf equipment. Electric air compressors could be arranged in stages down to the bottom each stage feeding a standard fire hose within its tolerance, with pressure increasing from stage to stage to balance the water pressure at the stage depth. Electric power might be supplied from a naval vessel. Once air can be introduced to the oil plume, a standard flare can initiate the reaction. Hot complete combustion at the bottom of the ocean may have greater environmental benefits compared with incomplete combustion at the ocean surface. Because off-the-shelf equipment is involved, this response might be faster than other responses.

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Vermont Senate Debate on Entergy Video

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Video streaming of the Vermont Senate Debate on Vermont Yankee is here: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?NoCache=1&Dato=20100224&Kategori=NEWS03&Lopenr=100224011&Ref=AR&template=mogulus

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Slashdot Stalker Replies

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Apparently there are limits even to replying to replies to your own journal entry. So, this is to say welcome to my journal stalker. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1561690

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VT Nuclear Expert on DemocracyNow

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A slashdot stalker has been pestering me about dry cooling so I've used up my replies for now. For those following the Vermont Yankee saga, Arnie Gundersen is on DemocracyNow! today providing details. http://www.democracynow.org/

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Tuppence in the Sun

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 7 years ago Mr. Dawes Sr. If you invest your tuppence wisely in the bank, safe and sound, soon that tuppence, safely invested in the bank, will compound! And you'll achieve that sense of conquest, as your affluence expands! In the hands of the directors, who invest as propriety demands!

The lyrics to the song that follows this bit of wisdom in the musical Mary Poppins can be found here. The next song, Step In Time is much more energetic and it is perhaps understandable that a song about compound interest would fail to catch on.

We are seeing a lack of propriety these days in a number of financial transactions. The slicing and dicing of risk seems to have led to a questions of what value many securities have if any at all. But, if you want to take on projects that extend over a substantial period of time, credit markets are likely to be a part of what you do.

One thing we need to do is transform how we get energy and a number of options include long term components. Nuclear power, for example, extends so far into a climatically uncertain future that it is seeking extra help with finance through federal loan guaranties.

While renewable energy is forever, its implementation can be taken in 10 to 25 year chunks so it fits much better with standard lending terms. Further, risk is low so while raising capital though venture mechanisms can happen, it is also attractive to banks, especially since renewable energy equipment can serve as insured collateral. This is why so much of the financing for renewable energy is coming from institutions like Credit Lyonnais and Morgan Stanley especially in the commercial sector. In the residential sector, solar power equipment is being rolled into mortgages for new home construction while installers for existing homes are getting savvy at helping customers find financing through secured credit based on increased equity.

But, what if you want to follow the commercial sector model of separating ownership of the equipment from the use of the equipment in the residential sector. Individually financing each deal, as might work for supplying Walmart with solar power, becomes time consuming and thus expensive. What is needed is an aggregate instrument. One way that aggregation has been used with propriety is the securitization of leases. CVS, for example, financed its eastern expansion based on the security provided by the fact that it had property leases to conduct its business. This brought them lower cost financing since the aggregated leases were more secure than individual leases.

One way to secure low cost credit to allow the long term use of solar power on homes is to secure the credit on the basis of an aggregate of rental contracts which assure repayment of the debt. So long as those contracts are sufficiently attractive that few of them are likely to be broken (they save customers money) then you have a low risk security that does not require high interest. This is the form of financing that Citizenre (discussed here in February) has adopted for its solar power equipment rental business. Shaving the cost of financing puts it in a better competitive position than attempting to work out deal-by-deal financing, so much so, that it can afford to ignore state-level rebates available to individual purchasers of solar power equipment.

There is certainly room for venture capital in the solar power business, especially for high risk new technology development. But, for deployment of proven technology, the model being adopted in the commercial sector using more traditional financing leads to cost savings that are important for market competitiveness. Carrying this over to the residential market, with its much larger roof space resource, will likely rebalance the solar market towards an acceleration of its current 30% annual growth.

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Energy storage options

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The closets of fossil energy are crammed full of skeletons. It is long past time to clean them out and as it turns out, renewable energy may need the storage space, not for skeletons, but rather to smooth the transition to full conversion to renewable energy.

Two newspaper articles are out talking about storage of renewable energy. Both articles fail to notice that the US grid already runs on about 20% stored renewable energy through hydroelectric power. About 24 GW of that capacity can run backwards rather than just throttle so we already have quite a lot of what we might need. And, the articles don't notice that distributed renewable power is not very intermittent. The wind is always blowing somewhere and clouds rarely cover all of a continent. The trick is to shuttle the power from where it is produced to where it is needed. If you have enough capacity to meet the peak use, then you don't really care about storing the extra power you don't need when you are using less, you just find something fun and interesting to do with it. Remember, renewable energy is extravagant. Think of the amazing fecundity and diversity of a rain forest. It is about prosperity not scarcity.

But, before we get to the point where we produce more energy than we use most of the time, methods of storage can help to retire fossil energy plants more quickly. So, lets just list the kinds of storage that are covered in the articles and on the Real Energy blog so we know a few of the options. We'll organize it in the types of energy physicists like to use.

Thermal:

Hot or cold, thermal storage adds a certain amount of extra time to use the energy. In some cases like the high thermal mass house, you are just avoiding using energy that you don't really need. The daily fluctuations of external temperature are not important with good insulation and a high heat capacity. In one article ice is used to shift electricity use from day time to night time and also save on over-all use while in the another, molten salts are used to keep solar energy for use at night. You can see how these might work together.

Chemical:

Batteries have the potential for large scale storage and are mentioned in both articles. The anticipated sizes run up to 6 MWh. The batteries mention in the article are not exactly flow batteries which are also used together with wind farms and run up to 12 MWh. The blog also looked at using ammonia as a chemical storage method and producing hydrogen for later use is also a chemical method though it experiences high thermal loses. Aluminum can also be used for chemical storage and used to produce hydrogen on demand.

Mechanical:

Here we have two choices, potential energy or kinetic energy. Both articles mention gas pressure storage, essentially a form of of potential energy similar to damming a river. The size of the facility mentioned is about 100 MW and presumably can run for a day or two. About half the energy comes from compressed air and half from natural gas. One article mentions flywheels which store kinetic energy. In this case the flywheel stores 18 MWs or 5 kWh. One can reduce the tensile strength requirements for a flywheel and increase its capacity by usinging a magenetic track. Then the strength requirements are compressive and much simpler.

Electrical:

Capacitors are used to store power when very large currents pulses are needed as for example in inertial confinement fusion. These capacitors store about 3 kWh. Super capacitors are less bulky and are being developed for transportation applications.

Magnetic:

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage is used in some applications with capacities moving toward 20 MWh.

Electromagnetic:

For very high energy density, excited nuclear states might be used. This is actually a new listing, but not very practical just now.

The complaint in the articles is that power storage adds cost to the the electric power distribution system. But, pretty clearly, the decreasing cost of renewable energy is making storage more attractive to utilities. Thermal storage in solar plants that work with thermal energy anyway is a natural extension to their capabilities. Similarly, those that work using chemical energy are designed to store energy from the beginning. It is clear that flywheel and magnetic storage are already being used for power conditioning. Very shortly, the cost of renewable power will drop well below the cost of other sources. For wind, it is already the cheapest way to produce power in many places. As it turns out, once we're ready to chase the skeletons our of the fossil energy closet, we'll be able to put in a great new closet organizer with slots for all kinds of storage that will make the dumping of the fossils all the more rapid. Energy storage is not an Achilles' heel for renewable energy, but rather a stepping stone to full deployment. Daniel Arvizu should know better.

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An Air of Leadership

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The US negotiated the Montreal Protocol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Protocol in the 1980's to control chlorofluorocarbons which had been shown to disrupt the Earth's ozone layer, allowing ultraviolet radiation to penetrate to ground level. This treaty has, until recently, been considered one of the most successful international treaties ever made. Control of these chemicals has reduced the rate of destruction of the ozone layer, preserving both health and the productivity of agriculture.

The Montreal Protocol was taken an a model for the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases which cause global warming. The problem of greenhouse gases is considered to be more difficult because the mechanism of replacement of chloroflurocarbons needed to make the Montreal Protocol work is not so clearly available for the most important greenhouse gas, CO2. Further, there was a large disparity in the level of greenhouse gas emissions between developed and developing countries and reducing greenhouse gas emissions was thought to impact economic development. So, developing countries were left out of the first round on emissions reductions and had no responsibility, on their own, to limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but rather were to be a testing ground for the efforts of developed nations to assist in economic development while also helping to avoid some of the worst emissions.

While the US negotiated this treaty, there were clear indications that it could not be ratified without stronger commitments from developing countries. In essence, the US negotiated in bad faith.

Now, the problem of economic development is catching up with the Montreal Protocol as well. The substituted materials worked when the demand for them was limited largely to the developed nations, but now economic development has brought in a larger pool of demand http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/business/23cool.html. The substitute chemicals, while better, do not bode well with a much increased load. The solution for this problem may well end up being further substitution such as magnetic refrigeration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_refrigeration. But the fact of the problem raises another issue. If the Montreal Protocol needs revision, who can provide the leadership to bring this about?

US leadership was crucial to both the Montreal and the Kyoto Protocols but US credibility now lies in shambles because in never intended to implement the second protocol. Yet, the US has most at risk should the first protocol not succeed since mid-latitude food production will be at risk. I would suggest that it is time to end the patronizing attitude that divides the world into developed and developing countries and admit that leadership could come from those who have been left out. China is already taking a lead on renewable energy http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/33389.html, and perhaps India could bring us together again on ozone depletion. Hey, Ross, what's that great whooshing sound?

It's everyone else filling the vacuum we've left in credibility space.

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Follow the money

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The NYT is reporting that the recent job loss in Silicon Valley is turning around. The reason: clean energy technology http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/technology/29valley.html?_r=1&ref=science&oref=slogin. From the article:

After five years of job losses, Silicon Valley is hiring again. The turnaround coincides with a huge increase of investment in the emerging category of clean environment technology.

Now, slashdoters have certainly beat them to market in the residential sector http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users-selling-solar.html but the larger commercial sector is wide open. The bandwagon is rolling owing to economic realities. The article also covers some Silicon Valley Blight issues.

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Your opinion could be paid for by ExxonMobil

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago As material from the web site of Sen. James Inhofe makes Slashdot's front page http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/18/0421242 in what is basically an ad hominum attach on a Weather Channel meteorologist, the tactics of ExxonMobil in using smoke, mirrors and hot air http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf to slow our response to global warming is revealed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. From the Executive Summary:

In an effort to deceive the public about the reality of global warming, ExxonMobil has underwritten the most sophisticated and most successful disinformation campaign since the tobacco industry misled the public about the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease.

It goes on to say that information laundering was used to attempt to confuse the public.

If you don't know that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being fed to you, how can you be sure your opinion is your own?

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Slashdot is a lobbyist

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago I've come across this site http://www.grassrootsfreedom.com/ which hopes to stop the lobbying reform, which is part of the first 100 hours package the democrats are passing, from applying to normal political organizing. Basically, you'd have to report to the government if you asked people to contact their representatives. So, on issues like net neutrality, or GPL'd software or intelectual property slashdot might be considered a lobbyist. The National Review http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDUxMzM5NmNiMjFkMThhMjgzZjhmMDkyZGVmYzBhZjk is up in arms as are a number of conservative groups that organize letter writing campaigns. Should slasdot organize a letter writing campaign about this?

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Internet radio

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Michael and Justine Willis Toms have been broadcasting for years on public radio and shortwave. Their program, New Dimensions, consists of hour long interviews in depth with people from all over the map. When I was in Hawaii I made time for two programs, both on the radio. One was a series of lectures by Alan Watts and the other was New Dimensions. When I came back to the East Coast, I missed those left coast salients into Hawaii's placid culture. Google helped me get back a bit of that when I found New Dimensions streamed at http://www.newdimensions.org/ with a program every week.

Recently, New Dimensions has expanded it's on line offering with a rotation of 6 programs, refreshed every week. This is called NDIR, New Dimensions Internet Radio. At the same time it has required a registration for the previous free offer of the program of the week. As I am writing, an interview with David Bohm ends and Larry Dossey begins. Later the Dali Lama will be followed by the pretty funny Swami Beyondananda. You can check it out at http://www.newdimensions.org/ndir-pop.html.

Now, why is this a slashdot topic? Real Player is very annoying. It does not work well as a radio. Especially, is does not have a timed off switch. So, because New Dimensions is something you want to listen to when you actually have the time to listen, and one of those times might be just before you go to sleep, here is a bash script to shut it down after an hour. This works with Fedora Core 6. It is crude, and it will mess with you're use of crontab so I've tied it to the gnome-cromagnon.png icon in it's applet launcher. Enjoy adding functionality to the intentionally broken Real Player.

date --date='1 hour' +%M' '%H' '%d' '%m' '%a' kill -9 ' > ctab2
ps x | grep real | grep Sl > ctab3
read realproc realprocext < ctab3
read killtime < ctab2
echo $killtime $realproc > ctab
crontab ctab

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American Interests in the Middle East

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago American vital interests in the Middle East, cited in the President's speech last night http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/us/11ptext.html are really two fold. The first is that uninterrupted oil supplies be available and the second that theocratic states not become so powerful that they pose a challenge to our position as the only superpower. Our military presence in the region is related to the first interest while our support of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and a number of smaller Arab states is related to the second. They are also intertwined in the sense that our support of those states enables our military presence in the region through bases and ports which support logistics.

The strategic picture changes substantially if our interests change. The ability of theocraticists to imagine a strategically significant state is enabled by the presence of ready cash available through the sale of oil at prices much higher than the cost of production. Saudi oil income is easily diverted to theocratically minded organizations while Iranian oil income is already attached to such a system. In Iraq, oil revenues, such as they are, are also available to those who are sympathetic to the theocratic movement both legitimately and through massive corruption. In short, the theocratic movement is well funded because there is such a large cash flow to skim.

Changing this situation by eliminating our use of Middle East oil can only help. Oil is a global market, so eliminating our use of Middle East oil really means eliminating our use of oil altogether. Taking US demand for oil out of the market reduces the price of oil to much closer to its cost of production which is going up in the Middle East as more elaborate extraction methods are needed. The cartel structure for Middle East oil sales would have a hard time surviving a market with slim profit margins since production quotas would be difficult to allocate.

If America has no demand for oil, then our interests in maintaining the flow of Middle East oil devolve to support of our allies' needs for such a flow. However, our most important allies are already committed to reducing their use of fossil fuels generally (apologies to those down under) so it is not so hard to envision a world where the free navigation of the waters near the Middle East are of little strategic importance.

The technology is available now to eliminate our use of oil and to save money at the same time, so it seems like a strategic approach to the Middle East and Iraq would be preferable to the tactical approach the President is advocating.

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Why Renewables Displace Nukes First

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Renewable energy is intermittent. Solar is in the day time, wind is available when it is available. But, one fine sunny cool breezy day our renewable capacity is going to meet total demand. What is a regulator to do? The renewables will be too dispersed to tell them to shutdown. All the rapid response generating capacity will already be shutdown because the renewables are free and who wants to compete with that. Hydro is in the middle of a mandated water allocation flow.

So, rather than blow the grid, the regulators will call the nuclear plant and tell it to go off line. But to do that, it has to shut down so it won't be up again for three days. A week later it happens again, and so it goes that spring and the next fall and all of a sudden, the cost of operation of the reactor just went through the roof. The nuclear industry whines about base load and all that but shortly the economics take over and that plant is decommissioned because it just isn't flexible enough to work in a renewables dominated grid.

At this point, or a little sooner, it is realized that what we really need is energy storage, fast in to handle over production, and slow out as a reservoir to handle night time. Any thoughts on what that technology would look like would be appreciated.

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Solar Power the Amway Way

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 6 years ago Solar photovoltaic power is competitive with retail electricity. If you could borrow at 3% and your electric bill were about $200 per month, you could buy a $30K solar PV system that produced all your power usage over the course of a year for the same amount that you pay for electricity now with a 30 year loan. This works in the states that have net metering laws. http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/markets/netmetering.shtml

But, borrowing at 3% is little difficult to come by. Another way to look at it is that at today's retail rates for electricity, you get a 3% return on investment in a solar PV system. You'll get a higher effective rate of return if electric rates go up. This ties into inflation which might make borrowing even at a higher rate (than 3%) make sense but I'm not going to try to calculate that.

That said, venture capital has been moving into the solar PV market because solar is competitive at the retail level. One example where FedEx went solar is here http://www.powerlight.com/success/fedex.php.

At the corporate level that's fine. Big systems and big deals with risk management and all that. At the residential level, things are a lot slower. Enter a new player: http://www.citizenre.com/ which plans on renting solar PV systems to home owners for what their utility currently charges them for electricity. Their model for coming to market is like that of Amway: Multilevel marketing. They plan to begin installing in the Fall of this year (2007) and they are signing up customers now through a word-of-mouth campaign. How far will this go? I'm not sure, but they've doubled their customer base in a very short time (about a week) and they are approaching 3000 contracts now. That could be 3 million contracts in ten weeks if the viral marketing model works. I doubt that this can happen for practical reasons like server overload and the ability to build production facilities fast enough, but the eventual number of customers is not so unrealistic.

Another limit is the amount of net metering that states will allow as a percentage of total energy use. In Maryland, it looks like there is an out for the utilities at 34.7 MW of capacity http://www.energy.state.md.us/programs/renewable/solargrant/netmetering_statute.pdf which is not a lot.

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