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SOTU: Community Colleges, Employers To Train Workers For High-Paying Coding Jobs

mdsolar Protecting the one planet we've got (200 comments)

It is interesting that "pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay" is part of a speech that emphasizes keeping Earth habitable. This is opposite to the SF "Run Away! Run Away!" meme. Given how long space colonization will take, this is actually the reality. Earth must be preserved to have the time and investment available for an ambitious effort.

about a week ago
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Paris Terror Spurs Plan For Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants

mdsolar Perpetual security state (148 comments)

Nuclear power requires dense security, probably so much that it endangers the fundamentals of liberty.

about a week ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

mdsolar Re:This looks good (441 comments)

You are very rude.

about two weeks ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

mdsolar Re:This looks good (441 comments)

You are arguing against research conducted by a national laboratory. It is unlikely that a mere statement of your personal prejudice has any persuasive weight at all.

about two weeks ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

mdsolar Re:This looks good (441 comments)

RTFA It says exactly the opposite.

about two weeks ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

mdsolar Mistaken View (441 comments)

A high price would allow using the resource more slowly, but it does not support keeping it in the ground, in fact, just the opposite. It is clear that the only oil we can still burn is oil that cost very little to produce, so a cap on the price of oil is what is really what would work to keep from burning too much. http://www.nature.com/nature/j...

about two weeks ago
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An Open Letter To Everyone Tricked Into Fearing AI

mdsolar I'm Sorry Dave (227 comments)

I can't do that.

about two weeks ago
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Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

mdsolar Was (314 comments)

Since they failed to honor one of their extended warranties, they have been anathema for me.

about two weeks ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

mdsolar Re:Turning the other cheek (894 comments)

"But I tell you not to resist an evildoer. On the contrary, whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well." Matt. 5:39. I think you are correct, the Pope has made a mistake about what is expected of him. But, I think he has made a second mistake equating a verbal attack on a religion with a personal insult too. The personal insult is an opportunity to love your enemy and imitate Christ. The insult of a religion is much more a matter for leaving vengeance to God. In the case of the personal insult, throwing a punch is a failure to keep your temper and failing to be strong in serving God through love. It is a temporary lapse. The second case involves an extra step of appointing oneself God's instrument of vengeance. This is a prideful and much more intentional move. Pride is a much more damaging thing to succumb to compared to temper. Ultimately, this has little to do with freedom of expression and much to do with very different dangers to the soul of the person reacting to the expression. Freedom of expression has little to do with either example since it is governments which guarantee that. And, a charge of assault for the punch and murder and conspiracy for the vengeance turn out to be the practical responses of government, pretty much regardless of the occasion of the crimes.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

mdsolar Hand saw (790 comments)

Power tools are replacing hand tools pretty completely.

about three weeks ago
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Aircraft Responsible For 2.5% of Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions

mdsolar Fossil free jet fuel (232 comments)

Already there are military applications for fossil free jet fuel, and as the technology scales, this will likely make greater contributions to civilian applications. http://www.usatoday.com/story/...

about a month ago
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In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

mdsolar More doctors (435 comments)

The flood of retirement age MDs may bring house calls back.

about a month and a half ago
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US and Cuba To Hold Talks on Restoring Diplomatic Ties

mdsolar Cigars all around! (1 comments)

Oh, wait....

about a month and a half ago
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Romanian Officials Say Russia Finances European Fracking Protests

mdsolar Re: Strategic resource (155 comments)

What about "so we can benefit from our own low gas prices" don't you understand?

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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UMaine System Votes to Divest from Coal

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  2 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The University of Maine System Board of Trustees took a historic vote Monday by adopting a policy to divest all direct holdings from coal companies. Unity College in Unity, Maine was the first college in the country to divest from all fossil fuel holdings in 2012. But this marks the first time a public land grant institution or university system has taken a smaller step toward that goal.

  With stricter limits being placed on carbon emissions around the world, students, faculty, staff and alumni in the Divest UMaine Coalition have been pressing for this action for the past two years. Before the board's vote, students like Connor Scott asked the trustees to consider what makes the best environmental and financial sense in the face of climate change.

"In the long run staying invested in the fossil fuel industry, specifically ones like coal whose entire net worth has decreased over 75 percent, is more risky than taking the jump of starting the process of divestment now," Scott said."

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Taiwan President Supports Phasing Out Nuclear Power

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  3 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Taiwan should not arbitrarily abandon any energy options if it does not want to suffer from electricity shortages, President Ma Ying-jeou () told the National Energy Conference yesterday.

Addressing the two-day conference, which opened in Taipei yesterday, Ma agreed with calls for Taiwan to phase out nuclear power, but proposed doing so gradually and in a way that would not cause power shortages, increase electricity rates or violate the nation’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions."

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2014 one of the warmest years on record globally

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  3 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Provisional full-year global mean temperature figures show 2014 was one of the warmest years in a record dating back to 1850.

The HadCRUT4 dataset (compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit) shows last year was 0.56C (±0.1C*) above the long-term (1961-1990) average.

Nominally this ranks 2014 as the joint warmest year in the record, tied with 2010, but the uncertainty ranges mean it's not possible to definitively say which of several recent years was the warmest.

Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: "Uncertainties in the estimates of global temperature are larger than the differences between the warmest years. This limits what we can say about rankings of individual years.

"We can say with confidence that 2014 is one of ten warmest years in the series and that it adds to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last two decades.""

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Paris Terror Spurs Plan for Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Lawmakers in France want to create military zones around its 58 atomic reactors to boost security after this month’s Paris terror attacks and almost two dozen mystery drone flights over nuclear plants that have baffled authorities.

“There’s a legal void that needs to be plugged,” said Claude de Ganay, the opposition member of the National Assembly spearheading legislation to be considered by parliament on Feb. 5. The proposals would classify atomic energy sites as “highly sensitive military zones” under the control of the Ministry of Defense, according to an outline provided by de Ganay."

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Earth Protection Returns to NASA

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A press release announcing 2014 is the warmest year on record ends this way: "NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet."

Back in 2006, that language about protecting the Earth was dropped from NASA's mission statement. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07... Welcome back!"

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Why We Have to Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "When the fossil-fuel divestment movement first stirred on college campuses three years ago, you could almost hear Big Oil and Wall Street laughing. Crude prices were flirting with $100 a barrel, and domestic oil production, from Texas to North Dakota, was in the midst of a historic boom. But the quixotic campus campaign suddenly has the smell of smart money.

One of the biggest names in the history of Big Oil – the Rockefellers – announced last September that they would be purging the portfolio of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund of "risky" oil investments. And that risk has been underscored by the sudden collapse of the oil market. After cresting at more than $107 in mid-June, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate dipped below $50 a barrel in early January. The crash carries big costs: Goldman Sachs warned that nearly $1 trillion in planned oil-field investments would be unprofitable – even if oil were to stabilize at $70 per barrel."

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New Rules on Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "In President Obama’s latest move using executive authority to tackle climate change, administration officials will announce plans this week to impose new regulations on the oil and gas industry’s emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, according to a person familiar with Mr. Obama’s plans. The administration’s goal is to cut methane emissions from oil and gas production by up to 45 percent by 2025 from the levels recorded in 2012.

The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the proposed regulations this summer, and final regulations by 2016, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration had asked the person not to speak about the plan. The White House declined to comment on the effort.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions, and the rules would be the first to do so. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane, which leaks from oil and gas wells, accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but it is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on global warming."

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300 Stanford professors call for full fossil fuel divestment

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Some 300 professors from Stanford University, California, have called for the school to fully divest from the fossil fuels industry, arguing that the magnitude of climate change calls for a thorough commitment, not a partial solution.

In May last year, the board of trustees at the prestigious university decided not to make any more direct investments in coal mining companies, stating that the energy source is polluting and no longer necessary given the clean alternatives now available. The school also said it would divest from the holdings it currently owns in such firms.

However, professors at the university are now calling for the school to get rid of all fossil fuel investments.

A letter from the professors, which has been published in the Guardian, notes that companies currently own fossil fuel holdings sufficient to produce 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – five times the amount recommended if global warming is to remain with the 2C limit, past which scientists have warned that the effects of climate change will become more extreme and unpredictable."

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Top 10 Clean Energy Developments of 2014

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "2014 was an exciting year for clean energy. And we’re not just talking about Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room merging in a strategic alliance. Sure, that was exciting news, but there were many other remarkable clean energy developments that are helping bring us closer to a clean, prosperous, and secure energy future. Based on an informal poll of the RMI staff we list our top 10:

1. The U.S. and China sign climate accord
2. The EPA limits carbon emissions from power plants
3. New York and California get serious on regulatory transformation
4. Solar breaks records
5. Solar gets cheap
6. Batteries go mainstream
7. Universities go green
8. Net-zero buildings come of age
9. EVs are everywhere
10. Energy efficiency becomes “cool”"

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Comment period opens on Vermont Yankee report

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "During the next two months the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will accept public comments about a report outlining Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning plans.

The nuclear power plant shut down on Dec. 29 after 42 years in operation.

The report, called a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report, includes the plans for decommissioning the facility, as well as cost estimates for the work.

According to a news release from the NRC, comments should be submitted by March 23.

The agency will also discuss the report and accept comments about it at a public meeting Thursday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Quality Inn on Putney Road in Brattleboro.

Written comments can be mailed to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 3WFN-06-A44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001. They can also be submitted online through www.regulations.gov using Docket No. 50-271."

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Where in the World Are the Fossil Fuels That Cannot Be Burned to Restrain Global

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. cannot burn much of the coal, oil and gas located within their national territories if the world wants to restrain global warming. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis aimed at determining what it will take to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius this century—a goal adopted during ongoing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"If we want to reach the two degree limit in the most cost-effective manner, over 80 percent of current coal, half of gas and one third of oil need to be classified as unburnable," said Christophe McGlade, a research associate at University College London's Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) and lead author of the report published in Nature on January 8, during a press conference. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) Those global restrictions apply even if technologies that can capture carbon dioxide and dispose of it become widespread over the next decade. "Rapid development of [carbon capture and storage] only allows you to produce very slightly more.""

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Pope Francis Could Tip Balance Against Fossil Fuels

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Six years ago, Pope Benedict XVI installed more than 1,000 solar panels on the Vatican’s audience hall, helping him earn him the sobriquet of the “Green Pope”.

Some time in the next few months, his successor Pope Francis may just go one step further. His actions could tip the balance against fossil fuels, as the world’s wealthiest institution takes on the world’s most powerful industry.

The signs have been building. In November, the Pope sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott urging him to address climate change and sustainability at the G20 summit – something Abbott had pointedly refused to do.

At Lima, the Pope sent another letter urging diplomats to agree on a strong deal to tackle climate change as UN negotiations drew to a close. In a message to Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, who led the discussions in Lima, Francis warned that “the time to find global solutions is running out.”

A group of Catholic Bishops went one step further, calling for an end to fossil fuel use, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern. The document, signed by bishops from all continents, insisted on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C relative to pre-industrial levels — a considerably more ambitious goal than the 2C ceiling that’s generally agreed on as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes truly dangerous."

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2014, the year... the divestment trend came of age

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "From the Rockefellers to Mark Carney, the carbon bubble hypothesis won some high-level supporters this year, cranking up ever more pressure on carbon-intensive business models.

Over the past year the carbon bubble hypothesis has moved from an intriguing theory that was gaining traction among environmentalists, to a mainstream business story that has commanded the attention of some of the world's largest investors and prompted growing numbers of businesses and individuals to divest from fossil fuel assets.

If oil industry cheerleaders have been relatively successful at dismissing the peak oil theory, arguing that a short-term strategic decision by the Saudi Arabian government to step up production somehow disproves the physical inevitability of oil production one day peaking, they have been much less effective at discrediting the carbon bubble analysis.

The reason the oil industry counter-attack against the carbon bubble argument has been so underwhelming is because the hypothesis is all but unanswerable. If the world is to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change fossil fuels reserves that are currently regarded as assets by energy firms need to stay in the ground. Even if carbon capture and storage proves successful and cost effective at scale in the next few decades many oil fields and coal seams will have to remain unexploited if the world is to meet its stated 2C temperature target."

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Climate Deal Would Commit Every Nation to Limiting Emissions

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month and a half ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Negotiators from around the globe reached a climate change agreement early Sunday that would, for the first time in history, commit every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions — yet would still fall far short of what is needed to stave off the dangerous and costly early impact of global warming.

The agreement reached by delegates from 196 countries establishes a framework for a climate change accord to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year. While United Nations officials had been scheduled to release the plan on Friday at noon, longstanding divisions between rich and poor countries kept them wrangling through Friday and Saturday nights to early Sunday.

The agreement requires every nation to put forward, over the next six months, a detailed domestic policy plan to limit its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, gas and oil. Those plans, which would be published on a United Nations website, would form the basis of the accord to be signed next December and enacted by 2020."

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Global Warming to Make European Heat Waves 'Commonplace' by 2040s

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "In June 2003, a high-pressure weather system took hold over Western Europe and hovered there for weeks, bringing warm tropical air to the region and making that summer the hottest since at least 1540, the year King Henry VIII discarded his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

Temperatures were about 2.3 degrees Celsius, or 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit, above average that summer, contributing to perhaps 70,000 additional deaths and hitting the elderly particularly hard. The heat was a factor in the outbreak of forest fires and in lower than usual crop yields. It caused Alpine glaciers to shrink at a rate double that seen in the previous record summer five years earlier.

Now, three scientists from the Met Office, the British weather agency, have concluded that human-caused global warming is going to make European summer heat waves “commonplace” by the 2040s.

Their findings, published on Monday in the online journal Nature Climate Change, suggest that once every five years, Europe is likely to experience “a very hot summer,” in which temperatures are about 1.6 degrees Celsius, or 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit, above the 1961-90 average. This is up from a probability, just a decade ago, that such events would occur only once every 52 years, a 10-fold increase."

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New Mexico levies $54M against US for violations at nuclear repository

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "New Mexico on Saturday levied more than $54 million in penalties against the US Department of Energy for numerous violations that resulted in the indefinite closure of the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository.

The state Environment Department delivered a pair of compliance orders to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, marking the state’s largest penalty ever imposed on the agency. Together, the orders outline more than 30 state permit violations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico and at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The orders and the civil penalties that come with them are just the beginning of possible financial sanctions the Energy Department could face in New Mexico. The state says it’s continuing to investigate and more fines are possible.

The focus has been on a canister of waste from Los Alamos that ruptured in one of WIPP’s storage rooms in February. More than 20 workers were contaminated and the facility was forced to close, putting in jeopardy efforts around the country to clean up tons of Cold War-era waste."

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Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight to Court

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A group of Harvard students, frustrated by the university’s refusal to shed fossil fuel stocks from its investment portfolios, is looking beyond protests and resolutions to a new form of pressure: the courts.

The seven law students and undergraduates filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts against the president and fellows of Harvard College, among others, for what they call “mismanagement of charitable funds.” The 11-page complaint, with 167 pages of supporting exhibits, asks the court to compel divestment on behalf of the students and “future generations.”"

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Longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship indicted - See more at: http://www.wv

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 3 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Don Blankenship, the longtime chief executive officer of Massey Energy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he violated federal mine safety laws at the company’s Upper Big Branch Mine prior to an April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

A federal grand jury in Charleston charged Blankenship with conspiring to cause routine and willful violations of mandatory federal mine safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch between Jan. 1, 2008, and April 9, 2010, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said.

The four-count indictment, filed in U.S. District Court, also alleges that Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to cover up mine safety violations and hinder federal enforcement efforts by providing advance warning of government inspections. The indictment also alleges that, after the explosion, Blankenship made false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about Massey’s safety practices before the explosion."

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Drones spotted over seven French nuclear sites

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "France’s state-run power firm Électricité de France (EDF) on Wednesday said unidentified drones had flown over seven nuclear plants this month, leading it to file a complaint with the police.

The unmanned aircraft did not harm “the safety or the operation” of the power plants, EDF said, adding that the first drone was spotted on 5 October above a plant in deconstruction in eastern Creys-Malville.

More drone activity followed at other nuclear power sites across the country between 13 October and 20 October, usually at night or early in the morning, EDF said, adding that it had notified the police each time.

Greenpeace, whose activists have in the past staged protests at nuclear plants in France, denied any involvement in the mysterious pilotless flight activity.

But the environmental group expressed concern at the apparent evidence of “a large-scale operation”, noting that drone activity was detected at four sites on the same day in 19 October – at Bugey in the east, Gravelines and Chooz in the north and Nogent-sur-Seine in north-central France."

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Partial Solar Eclipse 2014 Arrives Thursday

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 3 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""It's already been a big week for skywatchers, and more celestial fun is on the horizon.

On Tuesday, skywatchers were treated to the annual Orionid meteor shower. And now a spooky partial solar eclipse will darken skies for viewers across North America on Thursday, Oct. 23.

A partial solar eclipse occurs when the new moon passes in front of the sun, casting a shadow on Earth and blocking a portion of the sun from view.

The eclipse will be visible in the late afternoon between the East and West Coast of the U.S., as far north as the Arctic, and as far south as Mexico."

If you can be in an area with dappled sunlight, you may notice the individual spots of light are no longer round during the eclipse."

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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  |  about a year ago

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  |  more than 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  |  about 8 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  |  about 8 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  |  about 8 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  |  about 8 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  |  about 8 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  |  about 8 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  |  about 8 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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