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Comments

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Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought

mdsolar Re:1-600 kilotons (97 comments)

Perhaps it is detector saturation.

1 hour ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

mdsolar Re:Energy inputs (256 comments)

The other energy cost is collecting carbon from sea water. That is not very high.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

mdsolar Re:Energy inputs (256 comments)

In this case no. This is a catalyzed reaction between hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen comes from electrolysis. The reaction is a more complete version of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... They try to go past methane. That reaction is exothermic so you should not need process heat to any great degree. The reaction won't be 100% efficient but if it is too inefficient the cost range can't make sense.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

mdsolar Re:So... (630 comments)

So... inside baseball....

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

mdsolar Re:Difficult to defend against (630 comments)

Seems like a barrage pattern might work pretty well to produce a focused sub crushing wave. It would work like a directional antenna.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

mdsolar Capturing another navy (630 comments)

Seems like a barrage should be able to form a wave that can capsize a boat. Go back in and salvage and you get an addition to your own navy. Our first naval battle did exactly that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

mdsolar Re:Intercontinental ballistic railgun emplacements (630 comments)

I think that is where the barrage helps. My guess is that a under a thousand rounds of these hitting in the same place could give you Barringer Crater. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... A spaced based system probably could not deliver in that way since you'd probably use rockets to get the mass to orbit instead of this more efficient method.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

mdsolar Intercontinental ballistic railgun emplacements (630 comments)

Intercontinental ballistic railgun emplacements may end up replacing nuclear ICBMs since a patterned barrage may be more effective, particularly for excavating bunkers to decapitate command and control. The ground penetration problem may soon be licked and the Iranian nuclear threat can be settled through negotiations from a position of strength. Nice work Dalgren!

about two weeks ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

mdsolar Re:Energy (256 comments)

So, Austin Energy is paying $0.05/kWh for solar. http://www.treehugger.com/rene... and that price is expected to fall by 2020 when the technology is expected to be available. So, say $0.02 per kWh. You need about 32 kWh to make a gallon of jet fuel at 100% efficiency so that comes to about $0.64/gallon. If you want to stay under $2/gallon, the process could have an efficiency as low as 32%. Since hydrolysis can be done at much higher efficiency, and catalyzed fuel production is exothermic, they'd have to have very poor CO2 capture efficiency to make this look like the dog you are claiming.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

mdsolar Re:Energy inputs (256 comments)

You can probably count on better than 10% efficient with the quoted cost range of $3-$6/gallon. With an energy cost of $0.1/kWh you are already in the quoted range at 100% efficiency.

about two weeks ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

mdsolar $3-$6/gallon (256 comments)

TFA: "The predicted cost of jet fuel using these technologies is in the range of $3-$6 per gallon, and with sufficient funding and partnerships, this approach could be commercially viable within the next seven to ten years. Pursuing remote land-based options would be the first step towards a future sea-based solution."

This cost range is an interesting number. That is the cost for parasiting off a naval reactor. But those reactors are built to be rugged before they are built to be cheap. It could be that if you were to use stranded offshore wind energy the cost would fall to $1/gallon or so, which would be below market value.

about two weeks ago
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Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

mdsolar BASIC (146 comments)

cause FOTRAN is hard --Barbie

about two weeks ago
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Most Expensive Aviation Search: $53 Million To Find Flight MH370

mdsolar Re:most expensive? (233 comments)

Good point. A lot of documentary costs too on that one. Another aspect is that there is more to throw at something like this now than in the past. China has been building its Navy and has more capabilities than it used to.

about three weeks ago
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Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds

mdsolar Re:Bogus (179 comments)

RCP2.6 can't be accomplished with nuclear power: http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C... The question, which you have misunderstood, was about subsidies. Coal is heavily subsidized in terms health costs of sulfur, mercury and particulate pollution. Natural gas is not. Is there a carbon subsidy? In the sense that we are suffering dangerous climate change now, there is. We are making extra payouts for crop insurance and flood insurance for example. But, when it comes to disposal, there is no need since cutting emissions also cuts the concentration below the dangerous threshold. So, there is no disposal subsidy.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Federal appeals court says EPA can force power plants to cut mercury emissions

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld regulations adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut mercury and other emissions from large power plants, a setback for states and energy trade groups that have been challenging Clean Air Act regulations during the Obama administration.

The decision by a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means that coal- and oil-fired plants must purchase scrubbers and other equipment to prevent 91 percent of mercury from being released into the air during the burning of coal.... The Department of Energy forecasts that capacity retirements will reach 60,000 [megawatts]""

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Under Revised Quake Estimates, Dozens of Nuclear Reactors Face Problems

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States, including the operator of Indian Point 2, in Buchanan, N.Y., have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face, according to industry experts.

As a result, the reactors’ owners will be required to undertake extensive analyses of their structures and components. Those are generally sturdier than assumed in licensing documents, but owners of some plants may be forced to make physical changes, and are likely to spend about $5 million each just for the analysis."

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MH370: Chinese patrol ship detects pulse signal

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A Chinese search ship has detected an electronic pulse in an area of the southern Indian Ocean where it is believed the missing Malaysian Airlines plane crashed, state media has announced.

"Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 searching for flight MH370 discovered a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5kHz per second in south Indian Ocean waters Saturday," the official news agency, Xinhua, said.

The single-sentence story is the first potentially positive sign in the race against time to find the Malaysian aircraft's black box. But there is as yet no indication of whether the pulse is in fact connected to the plane, and no wreckage has been found in the area despite a massive international hunt."

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Most expensive aviation search: $53 million to find flight MH370

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The search and investigation into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is already the most expensive in aviation history, figures released to Fairfax Media suggest.

The snippets of costings provide only a small snapshot but the $US50 million ($54 million) spent on the two-year probe into Air France Flight 447 — the previous record — appears to have been easily surpassed after just four weeks....

The biggest expense in the search has involved ships, satellites, planes and submarines deployed first in the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits, and then in the remote reaches of the southern Indian Ocean."

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Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""On Friday, the Vermont Public Service Board voted to authorize Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operators of the Vermont Yankee electricity generating station at 546 Governor Hunt Rd. in Vernon, to close down their nuclear power plant by the end of this year. Because Entergy planned to shut the Vermont nuclear plant down prior to its licensed end-term, the board was required to approve the shutdown....
Entergy has reserved just over $600 million to date for decommissioning the Vermont nuclear plant, according to the Department of Public Service. This amount will not be adequate to meet the costs of full deconstruction, estimated at more than $1 billion according to the company’s 2012 Decommissioning Cost Analysis report.""

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IPCC WG2 report now out

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The report from Working Group II of the IPCC is out now and is getting headlines like: Worst Is Yet to Come. But the really new thing about the report is the inclusion of a feasible low emissions mitigation pathway in the modelling. We've never really been treated to an exploration of what technology could do to help us, but now that has started (somehow that slipped past the Saudis). In the summary for Policy Makers, http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images... Figure SPM.5 shows how mitigation could avoid species extinction. Figure SPM.4 puts everything nicely on the same scale and shows that even with a scenario with substantial future emissions, RCP 2.6, but feasible reduction from present levels, things can be kept from getting worse. So, the headlines may be missing the newest thing in the report."
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Technocrat James Schlesinger Is Dead at 85

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "James Schlesinger who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford and as the first Secretary of Energy under President Carter passed away on Thursday in Baltimore at the age of 85. Schlesinger is perhaps the most technocratic person to reach such high office. He had a keen awareness of the connection between energy supply and national defense and as Administrator of the Economic Regulatory Administration, brought our Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan into existence. http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/12000/1... The existence of such a plan along with our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Schlesinger also brought into being, have been a bulwark against further oil embargoes and essentially broke OPEC for a period of more than a decade. The NYT has an obituary that covers more of his career."
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Nine officers removed, one resigns in Air Force cheating probe

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The head of the nuclear missile wing at a base in Montana resigned on Thursday and nine officers were removed from their jobs over a test-cheating scandal that involved 91 missile launch officers, the Air Force said.

Lieutenant General Stephen Wilson, head of the Air Force's Global Strike Command, said Colonel Robert Stanley, commander of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, had resigned on Thursday and would retire from the service.

The nine other officers, mainly colonels and lieutenant colonels, were removed from their positions of command at the Montana base that is home to a third of the nation's nearly 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles. They will be reassigned to staff jobs and face discipline ranging from reprimands to courts martial for failures of leadership."

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Yes, Obama Really Is Worried About a Manhattan Nuke

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""The president was accused of changing a difficult subject when he said a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan was more of a threat to the U.S. than Russia, but the President is actually laser-focused on non-proliferation and nuclear security issues.

President Obama invoked a bracing image responding to a question about the threat Russia poses to America while speaking at a nuclear-security summit in Brussels on Tuesday.

Russia’s actions “don’t pose the No. 1 national-security threat to the United States,” Obama said in the Hague, the Netherlands. “I continue to be much more concerned, when it comes to our security, with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”

Yikes! Does Obama really think there’s a serious chance that Manhattan could get nuked?

He almost certainly does.""

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How British satellite company Inmarsat tracked down MH370

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that, based on satellite data analysis from UK company Inmarsat, Malayian Airlines flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and no one on board survived....

"Effectually we looked at the doppler effect, which is the change in frequency, due to the movement of a satellite in its orbit. What that then gave us was a predicted path for the northerly route and a predicted path the southerly route," explained Chris McLaughlin, senior vice president of external affairs at Inmarsat.

"What we discovered was a correlation with the southerly route and not with the northern route after the final turn that the aircraft made, so we could be as close to certain as anybody could be in that situation that it went south."

"Where we then went was to work out where the last ping was, knowing that the aircraft still had some fuel, but that it would have run out before the next automated ping. We don't know what speed the aircraft was flying at, but we assumed about 450 knots."

Inmarsat passed the relevant analysis to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) yesterday. The cause of the crash remains a mystery."

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New analysis of Immarsat indicates MH370 lost West of Perth

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has announced that British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have confirmed that the flight of Malaysian Airlines MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

He said that Immarsat, the company that indicated the plane flew along northern and southern corridors, have managed to trace its final flight path. [u]sing sophisticated technology.

"Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370's flight path."

He said that MAS, together with AAIB, determined that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean West of Perth,

"With deep sadness and regret, that according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," he said."

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New Information Narrows Missing Airliner's Flight Path

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""In a case that is swirling with uncertainties, a few pieces of evidence have stood apart for seeming reliability. Among them was the revelation last Saturday by Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak that his country’s investigators, in collaboration with U.S. authorities, had analyzed an electronic ping that MH370 had broadcast to the Inmarsat satellite at 8:11 a.m. on the morning of the disappearance. Based on this data, the investigators had determined that at that moment MH370 must have been somewhere along one of two broad arcs: one which passed through Central Asia, and the other of which covered a swath of largely empty Indian Ocean, far to the south.

The revelation left a burning question unresolved: what about the six earlier pings, which had been exchanged between the aircraft and the satellite about once per hour? Could any position data be deduced from them?

Today, Inmarsat revealed some crucial information. “The ping timings got longer,” Inmarsat spokesman Chris McLaughlin stated via email. That is to say, at each stage of its journey, the aircraft got progressively farther away from the geostationary satellite’s position, located over a spot on the equator south of Pakistan, and never changed its heading in a direction that took it closer—at least for very long.""

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Newly Detected Objects Draw Searchers for Malaysian Plane

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said on Thursday that satellite imagery had detected floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean that might be parts of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished on March 8. But he and an Australian rescue organizer both counseled caution about the sighting.

“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr. Abbott told Australia’s Parliament in Canberra, the national capital. “Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”

Mr. Abbott said an Orion surveillance plane from the Australian Air Force would fly to the area off the coast of Western Australia and arrive later Thursday. Three more aircraft would follow, he said. Mr. Abbott said he had told Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, of the developments.""

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Detection of gravitational wave signature in cosmic microwave background

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Alan Guth's cosmological theory of inflation solves a number of problems in cosmology. Now it is getting new observational support:

"On Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. Guth was correct.

Inflation has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years, though many, including Dr. Guth, wondered whether it could ever be proved.

If corroborated, Dr. Kovac’s work will stand as a landmark in science comparable to the recent discovery of dark energy pushing the universe apart, or of the Big Bang itself. It would open vast realms of time and space and energy to science and speculation.""

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As Exelon threatens to shut nuclear plants, Illinois town fears fallout

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month and a half ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""CLINTON, Ill.—

— Exelon's six nuclear power plants in Illinois have failed to turn a profit over the last five years, and the 27-year-old plant here is the most vulnerable for closing, a Chicago Tribune analysis has found.

Chicago-based Exelon, parent of Commonwealth Edison, and the nation's largest operator of nuclear power plants, said last month that unless market conditions improve, it will announce plant closings by the end of this year.""

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Nuclear accident near misses down to 14 in 2013 from 18 the year before

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month and a half ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Safety problems that triggered extra inspections or oversight by regulators declined again last year at U.S. nuclear power plants.

But a nuclear watchdog group said Thursday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to be marred by inconsistent enforcement and safety lapses in overseeing America’s 100 nuclear power plants.

“Like Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic character Dr. Jekyll, the NRC is plagued by a split personality,” said David Lochbaum, the Chattanooga-based director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Nuclear Safety Project. “In many cases, the agency does an admirable job protecting the public and industry workers by enforcing safety regulations. But the agency too often turns into Mr. Hyde, and that kind of behavior could lead to a serious accident.”....
Last year, there were 14 instances at 10 nuclear plants that prompted extra NRC inspections and oversight, which Lochbaum termed “near misses.” That was the smallest number since the Union of Concerned Scientists began tracking such events in 2010.

“While both the number and severity of near-misses dropped in 2013 compared with events from 2010 to 2012, it is far from time to declare victory and reallocate resources and attention elsewhere,” Lochbaum said.""

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Indian Point cleanup estimate 'unrealistic,' A.G. says

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 1 month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Federal regulators and Entergy are ignoring lessons from the Fukushima disaster in Japan and relying on "entirely unrealistic and unreasonable" assumptions about what would happen if there was a severe accident at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, according to the state attorney general.

Those include determining the region could be decontaminated within 90 days, which, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office said, would require 1.5 million workers. It also said the cleanup's price tag in a worst-case scenario could top $1 trillion, seven times more than Entergy has estimated."

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US NRC expects application to extend nuclear licenses beyond 60 years

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Officials of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear power industry expect the first application to be filed with the agency in 2018 or 2019 for a license renewal to operate a power reactor or reactors beyond 60 years.

At a Nuclear Energy Institute forum in Washington Tuesday, neither NRC nor industry officials named specific plants considered likely to apply, and it was not clear from their remarks if any nuclear operator has yet volunteered to be the first to apply."

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Why The Economics Don't Favor Nuclear Power In America

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""From 2011 through 2013, as the overwhelming majority of the new reactors that had been proposed as part of the “Nuclear Renaissance” were abandoned or delayed, the industry blamed low natural gas prices. In 2013, when five old reactors were retired early, and today with many old reactors being considered for early retirement, the industry blames low wholesale prices that result from a market that is distorted by the entry of subsidized wind power.

The irony in these complaints is that for fifty years the selection of generating capacity has been rigged in favor of nuclear power with socialized accident insurance and waste management costs, forced purchase of overpriced power, and advanced recovery of construction costs. Nuclear advocates complaining about policies that balance things out a bit to give other generation resources a decent chance of delivering electricity would be laughably hypocritical, if it weren’t so important. In fact, if the playing field were actually level, nuclear would be in even more trouble than it is.""

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14 in '14: Rash of unplanned nuclear reactor shutdowns this year

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Winter is the time when nuclear power ought to be at its best. Cooling water is not lacking which sometimes troubles summer operations. Electricity demand is high in the northern states, and with cold weather emergencies, an "extra reliable" power source ought to be appreciated. But starting with the troubled Indian Point reactor in NY on January 6 this year, there has been a rash of unplanned shutdowns of nuclear power reactors. Beaver Valley in PA went down the same day, while Fort Calhoun in NE had an ice blocked sluice gate on the 9th. The next day, Robinson in SC shutdown while on the 17th, Monticello in NM led both Harris in NC and Comanche Peak in TX on the 18th in going dark. In MD, Calvert Cliffs' double shutdown on the 22nd is causing grave concern at the NRC as it paints a history of carelessness and January closed out with two more shutdowns at Millstone in CT and Salem in NJ. Already this month two reactors have shutdown, one at Diablo Canyon in CA and twice now at North Anna in VA on first on the 2nd and then on the 9th of February.

While the nuclear power industry has been jaw boning about fuel supply diversity and some strain had been put on natural gas supply infrastructure in the Northeast with this winter's weather, does demonstrating nuclear unreliability like this really support their ideas or would a few more domestic natural gas pipe lines and under-river electric transmission lines down from Quebec be better investments in keeping warm in the winter?"

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Journals

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Lessons not Learned

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 6 months 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 7 months 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 8 months 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 3 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 6 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 6 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 7 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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