Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Germany's Poorly Calculated Gamble on Renewable Energy

The Wall Street Journal has an article today (subscription) which reminded me of an article I'd read last week.
I've altered the WSJ article because I'm a poor gambler who knows some good ones - meaning people who know what facts they can, study the game, control their emotions and play the odds/stats.
Germany didn't gamble like that.

Germany's Expensive Gamble on Renewable Energy: Companies Worry Cost of Plan to Trim Nuclear, Fossil Fuels Will Undermine Competitiveness | Wall Street Journal (subscription)
...many companies, economists and even Germany's neighbors worry that the enormous cost to replace a currently working system will undermine the country's industrial base and weigh on the entire European economy. Germany's second-quarter GDP decline of 0.6%, reported earlier this month, put a damper on overall euro-zone growth, leaving it flat for the quarter.
Average electricity prices for companies have jumped 60% over the past five years because of costs passed along as part of government subsidies of renewable energy producers. Prices are now more than double those in the U.S.

Cooperation deal advances South Korea's fast reactor development

PGSFR = Prototype Generation-IV Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor

Cooperation deal to develop advanced reactor | World Nuclear News:
From source article: "GSFR's reactor system.
It is a pool-type reactor where a small core as well as
the pumps and heat exchangers of the primary
circuit are immersed in a pool of sodium coolant.
A secondary circuit develops steam and drives a
turbine-generator set (Image: KAERI)"
South Korean designers have secured help from Argonne National Laboratory to develop an advanced reactor, which is partly based on America's successful EBR-II prototype. A 150 MWe sodium-cooled demonstration unit is slated for 2028.
The prototype would produce 150 MWe for the grid, but its main purpose is to demonstrate its fuel: PGSFR is to use metal fuel pins composed of low-enriched uranium and zirconium, and it can be subsequently reloaded with fuel that also contains transuranic elements produced in other reactors during power generation and which are usually treated as waste. According to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) datasheet, the objective of the PGSFR project is to test the performance of this fuel, and show PGSFR's ability to transmute the transuranics.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Harmful revisionist narratives emerging for Ontario's electricity policies

I noticed the first revisionist article on August 6th; Daniel Gross' How Ontario Won the War on Coal ("It didn't even need a carbon tax of cap and trade"). Most of the column was innocuous, but I found one statement to be harmfully wrong:
The dominance of a single party dedicated to a legislative goal was the precondition for Ontario to phase out coal.
Ontario did not have a "war" on coal, it had a policy on coal-fired electricity generation.

Ontario did not have only one party dedicated to the legislative goal - in fact it was a recommendation from the final report of an all party "Select committee on Alternative Fuel Sources", in June 2002, during the rule of another party, that, "...the Ontario government shall mandate the closure of all remaining coal or oil-fired generating stations by 2015."

Discarding the reality of consensus with the silly "single party" hero, and "war", narratives, is the opposite of helpful in getting coal-fired generation reduced/eliminated in other jurisdictions.

New England relying more on natural gas along with hydroelectric imports from Canada

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has a quick post today on the displacement of coal and oil-fired generation with natural gas and imports, primarily from Canada.

New England relying more on natural gas along with hydroelectric imports from Canada - Today in Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):
Electric operators in New England have been both generating more electricity from natural gas and importing more hydroelectric generation from Quebec over the past decade. These two sources of electricity are displacing the use of coal and oil as generation fuels in New England.
Image from

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Greenjacked: environmental action derailed

Geoff Russell has an e-book out, titled, GreenJacked!: The derailing of environmental action on climate change. I'd tweet him (@csiroperfidy), but then he'd just respond he'd prefer I put a review on Amazon. I don't write book reviews, and this one would be rather sycophantic - which I also tend not to write.

image from Wade Allison's Energy Prices, the Climate and the Nuclear Bubble
A very brief review for those who know me well.

I bought the e-book, which itself is like getting blood from a stone.

And the review for those who know me and give me books: I read this one - right until the end.

If you are open to a reasoned argument for why fear of radiation exists, why it is grossly exaggerated, and not virulently opposed to learning some of the many things you do that are far more likely to cause your cancer than radiation, Russell's little book is an accessible entry into the subject.

As a carnivore, I'll suggest you get Joe Jackson's Everything Gives you Cancer going through your head before Russell informs you of some things worse than the radiation levels around, for instance, Fukushima. One example; "wurst is the worst."

Get Greenjacked

Not willing to shed ~$4 for an e-book?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

EPA rule not a boon for nuclear

Details of the U.S. EPA's proposed scheme to reduce emissions from electricity generation are starting to be examined, and the regulations of the United States of America are looking like they are intended to do exactly what regulations written by Natural Resources Defense Council would be expected to - and it isn't to hit carbon targets business as usual looks likely to hit regardless.

EPA rule not such a boon for nuclear after all -- utilities
While the draft rule makes an effort to preserve at-risk nuclear, it merely assumes that new projects that are currently under way will go forward -- baking those reductions in to state targets for Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. Those states all have new nuclear facilities under construction and face tougher standards than are assigned to other states in their region -- 39 percent, 44 percent and 51 percent, respectively, by 2030. 
Diverse policy group. picture from New York Times
At a conference last week in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), Larry Monroe, Southern Co.'s senior vice president of research and environmental affairs, said his company thought it was positioning itself for easier compliance with eventual EPA greenhouse gas standards eight years ago when subsidiary Georgia Power partnered with other Georgia-based utilities on the nation's first new nuclear construction in three decades. 
Instead, EPA simply assigned Georgia a tougher standard that assumed those megawatt-hours were already available -- effectively not giving the state credit for bringing them online. But the state would still have to attain that target if the units were scuttled.
"It did not help us, it actually penalized the state of Georgia," he said."
Read Jean Chemnick's entire article

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Exporting more U.S. Coal can lower global emissions?

Is America ready to focus on Canada's main dirty energy export to the rest of the world?

Will coal exports abroad offset hard-won carbon reductions at home? | Energy Institute at HAAS
...Stanford economist and Energy Institute affiliate Frank Wolak puts forward a different view. Frank and co-authors have been analyzing the likely emissions impacts of expanding U.S. coal exports to Asia using an economic model of global coal markets. This research is finding that increasing domestic coal exports to China could reduce GHG emissions. The basic argument is as follows. Because China has very little natural gas-fired generation and highly inelastic demand for coal, U.S. exports of coal to China will substitute for other coal. Selling U.S. coal to China could raise coal prices in the U.S. and Europe (a major importer of U.S. coal). In both of these regions there is flexible natural gas fired capacity capable of substituting for coal in the production of electricity. This fuel switching would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Ahhhh ... what?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sun, wind and drain: the Economist looks at electricity generation values

An article in the Economist is bringing a lot of attention to the values of various energy generation sources when carbon emission reductions are valued.
Nuclear shines.
The article doesn't cover new ground, but it's a nice refresher that may bring facts to a broader audience.

Free exchange: Sun, wind and drain | The Economist:
To determine the overall cost or benefit, though, the cost of the fossil-fuel plants that have to be kept hanging around for the times when solar and wind plants stand idle must also be factored in. Mr Frank calls these “avoided capacity costs”—costs that would not have been incurred had the green-energy plants not been built. Thus a 1MW wind farm running at about 25% of capacity can replace only about 0.23MW of a coal plant running at 90% of capacity. Solar farms run at only about 15% of capacity, so they can replace even less. Seven solar plants or four wind farms would thus be needed to produce the same amount of electricity over time as a similar-sized coal-fired plant. And all that extra solar and wind capacity is expensive. 
Image from Sun, wind and drain
A levelised playing field 
If all the costs and benefits are totted up using Mr Frank’s calculation, solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. It costs $189,000 to replace 1MW per year of power from coal. Wind is the next most expensive. Hydropower provides a modest net benefit. But the most cost-effective zero-emission technology is nuclear power. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The new CANDU attitude, and agreements

Some positive news for the CANadian Deuterium Uranium reactor (CANDU), and some hope for better news through new marketing to develop new markets.

China signs Candu deals with Romania and Argentina | World Nuclear News:
Two Chinese nuclear utilities have signed agreements that would see them cooperate in the construction and financing of new Candu units at Romania's Cernavoda plant and at Argentina's Atucha plant.
China Nuclear Power Engineering Co (CNPEC) has signed a "binding and exclusive" cooperation agreement with Candu Energy Inc for the construction of two more reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania.
The agreement, signed in Vancouver yesterday, follows a letter of intent signed by CNPEC's parent company China General Nuclear (CGN) and Romanian national nuclear company Nuclearelectrica last November for investment in and development of Cernavoda units 3 and 4.
Cernavoda is home to two operating Candu 6 pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) supplied by Candu Energy's predecessor, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), and built by a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo. Unit 1 started up in 1996, but work was suspended on a further four units in 1991. Unit 2 was subsequently completed and has been in operation since 2007. The two reactors currently generated almost 20% of Romania's electricity. continue reading at WNN
The story is a good one for the CANDU reactor and a very well earned reward for the excellent performance of Romania's existing reactors at Cernavoda. While the CANDUs located outside of Canada have strong records in both build-times, and adherence to budgets, the excellent performance is particularly apparent in Romania where only CANDU reactors are in service, and where the anti-nuclear World Nuclear Report indicates some of the world's best load factors are achieved.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Power providers ask regulators to scale back energy-efficiency deals.Toronto spurs on wasteful spending...

A recent article out of Florida reminded me I hadn't called out the Toronto Star on the ignorance of a June 18th editorial.

Power providers ask Florida regulators to scale back energy-efficiency deals:
TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s biggest electric providers are asking state regulators this week to let them scale back energy-efficiency programs — such as rebates for installing solar panels and power-saving appliances — that they say have become expensive and benefit few customers.
But conservationists argue that dramatically reducing energy-efficiency programs will only result in higher monthly bills for customers as the utilities eventually will need to build more natural-gas and nuclear power plants.
On Monday, Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power Co. and JEA in Jacksonville began presenting testimony to the Florida Public Service Commission that they should be allowed to roll back energy-efficiency goals, as demand for the conservation programs has declined.
“We think it’s in the best interest of our 1.7 million customers to reduce that energy conservation goal and let us look at programs that could benefit the whole entire customer base,” Duke spokesman Sterling Ivey said. “It could be a community solar offering versus a rebate to an individual to put a solar panel on a roof, perhaps we can build a community solar array that all our customers pay into it and all would benefit.”
The entire article could be of interest to people well beyond Florida’s borders as the issues are being experienced in many jurisdictions.
The mixing of solar panel incentives in with conservation jargon is reasonable, but probably should have been explained (see Why Aren’t We Talking About Net Energy Metering for LEDs?)

From my Ontario, and petty, perspective, it’s notable that the request to shield ratepayers from the unnecessary spending comes from the company that is essentially Nextera, which currently has ~260MW of wind capacity coming online in Ontario at contracted prices they would have vehemently opposed in their home market.