Thursday, March 31, 2011

Solar, Wind, and Nuclear: South Africa’s New Electricity Plan

The New York Times Green blog has an article on;
The week after the quake and tsunami set off the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, South Africa’s cabinet ratified a controversial 20-year Integrated Resource Plan that calls for nuclear power to fuel nearly a quarter of the country’s new electricity production.

Monbiot Defend Himself, and Counter-attacks

In his latest blog entry, George Monbiot address reaction to his controversial refusal to oppose nuclear power.
Some Quotes:

“I did point out that most of the countries that might abandon nuclear power are likely to replace it not with renewables but with fossil fuel, and that this is a major change for the worse.”
“Even if you accept the official figure, Chinese coal mining alone kills as many people every week as the worst nuclear power accident in history – the Chernobyl explosion – has done in 25 years.”

Fukushima and a Brave, or Crazy, Reporter

Fukushima No. 1's scary shadow | The Japan Times Online

"Until March 11, visitors to the plant would have driven up to the reception center, which is surrounded by trees blocking it off from the six reactors. On the glass doors, two cartoon characters would have welcomed them inside for a talk by Tokyo Electric Power Co. on the 40-year-old plant's safety record.

The quake and tsunami broke the glass door and drove a crack through the wall sign advertising the center. While I'm photographing it, a security guard in a protective suit approaches. "You can't come here," he says. "Where is your suit?" I don't have one, I tell him. "You must leave the area.""

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Consideration of Nationalizing TEPCO

Nationalization of Tepco seen as possibility | The Japan Times Online

"Tepco is expected to face a huge damages bill in line with a law on compensation over nuclear plant accidents, but it remains unclear whether it will have the financial capacity to pay it. "Since the government has been promoting nuclear energy as official policy, it is necessary for it to ultimately take responsibility," Genba [national policy minister] said, indicating the government will step in to cover expenses that can't be handled by the utility."

Extensive European Study Refutes Super Grid's Clean Benefits

Pöyry: European 'super grid' useless, demand-side management better - POWER-GEN WorldWide

From the Article:
The impact of the weather on the generation of renewable energy is not only expected to lead to more unpredictable prices but will also see greater importance placed on thermal capacity to act as a back up, causing significant dilemmas for investors, the report has found.
These plants become more important to maintain system security, but will find themselves operating less and less, and hence becoming less profitable. However, in countries where hydro accounts for a significant percentage of renewable energy such as those in Scandinavia, there is much less of a requirement for thermal to provide back up support.
The report says: “We have little doubt that investors will face major challenges developing appropriate investment and divestment strategies to deal with this kind of future ahead. Thermal assets may be highly valuable if the market evolves in one direction, but they also face the strong possibility that the intermittency from wind and solar can create power stations that for most of the time do not make a profitable contribution.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

FIT's End Britain's Free Market

Back to the future: Britain?s 'free market' model ends in failure

Another Industry Executive Rejects New Generation Construction

Former TXU exec said cost too high to build new power plants | Electric Power News | Energy Central

Another speech has been given echoing the opinions of John Rowe noted here earlier this month. The thesis is that the current low natural gas pricing, and bountiful supply, are already driving down the price of electricity. With the profits of generators now more dependent on the price of natural gas than the performance of their existing assets, and demand not rebounding to pre-recession levels, there is no point in building anything - and if there was and it's profitability is going to depend on gas price anyway, it would be gas.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Engineering for the 1000 Year event:

The Japan Times Online today reports that "Signs of disaster were there to see"  There aren't many times that I feel like I live in the New World, but the article made me feel it:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nuclear News Out of Japan - The Canadians Cited as Contemptable There.

I won't pretend to be a nuclear expert, but there are a couple of reads from closer to Fukushima that may interest this blog's readers.
For data folks, the measurements updated regularly on pages at the MEXT site(Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan).  Curious amateurs, like me, can pretty quickly view different times and see their is a definite trend in the radiation measurements, in the air anyway.  Which is down.  It appears beyond ridiculous that there are North Americans ignorantly, or stupidly, worried about their own safety, given the trials people are undergoing in Japan.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Germany's Grid Expansion Studied

The German Energy Blog's latest entry begins:
"On Tuesday the Federal Association of the Electricity and Water Industry (BDEW) presented a study on the need for the expansion of the German distribution networks and the costs thereof in view of the integration of the expected new PV and wind power capacity until 2020."

Apparently green energy supply is subject to the law of diminishing returns.

Investments were calculated on the basis of forecasts by the government for new PV and wind power installations until 2020.
However, a definitive cost estimate could not be made as the government used two different sets of figures, BDEW said. One the one hand, the government’s Energy Concept calculated with an installed capacity of 33.3 GW in 2020. If one took this estimate as a basis, some 195,000 km of power lines in the distribution network had to be built at a cost of up to EUR 13 billion.
In its 2010 reference scenario (BMU-Leitszenario), the Federal Environment Ministry, however, expected additional wind power and PV capacity of 51.8 GW. Based on this estimate, some 380,000 km of new distribution network power lines were needed, resulting in costs of up to EUR 27 billion.

New Study Shows Gas Loving Wind - Needs Subsidies to Love More of It

A new INGAA study puts some meat on the bones of the relationship between the natural gas industry and the wind industry.

I haven't read the study, but I did search the document for "capacity factor" and quickly found:

"This analysis concludes the average of 15.6 percent for the three capacity factors in Exhibit A4‐5 applies to all units that will be used to backup wind generation.  While perhaps on the high side, it is desirable to apply a higher‐than‐expected value to not understate the gas use for firming renewable generation in this analysis"

Exactly as I expected, and exactly the reason states 'investing' in wind trail states that aren't, in reducing emissions.  Investing in cleaner gas plants would always be a better utilization of funds ... but that isn't seen as the issue by industries that are increasingly geared not to efficiency in providing products and/or services, but in getting other people to pay for inefficient products and/or services.

The Executive Summary Section's final paragraph summarizes the point of the study; "Also unresolved is how all of the costs associated with firming generation will be recovered in the prices charged in power and electric transmission markets.  Electric power pricing should be structured in a way that ensures such costs can be recovered as a part of the price of electricity and in a manner that does not put gas‐fired backup at a disadvantage with other firming options."

I am skeptical that OCGT new-builds would provide cleaner peaking power than scrubbed up, co-fired, existing coal sites (specifically in Ontario).  I am certain the consumer would not value, from any perspective, the natural gas output (which we are probably paying about $100.MWh for), with hydro output (for which we currently pay under $40/MWh).  Problems with many generation sources, including nuclear, would be met by the development of cheaper storage options.  I'd speculate these 3 better options, cleaned-up existing units, hydro, and storage (which could be hydro) are the target of the reports concern about other sources being given preference over gas.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why We May Not Learn Much New About Radiation Risks From Fukushima

VPR News: Why We May Not Learn Much New About Radiation Risks From Fukushima

Richard Knox
, a reporter from Vermont Public Radio writes of his conversation with Evan Douple of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation
Vermont should be the most motivated area of the world to thoughtfully observe events in Japan (due to Vermont Yankee).

Spoiler alert - here's the end of the VPR article:

Given what you said about the impossibility of doing the kind of long-term study you mounted of the atom-bomb survivors, can we learn anything from the current episode?
On the basis of our current estimates, there shouldn't be measurable numbers of cancers. So you won't be able to count them, ever. But once the dose estimates are put together and extrapolated, you should be able to make a crude estimate of the health effects, based on the RERF data. And I think that estimate will surprise a lot of people.
And they'll be surprised because?
They're so low.

Nuclear Boy is Far Better than Godzilla

A blog entry at the Guardian today notes a cartoon from Japan that explains the Nuclear events at Fukushima in a manner that children, CBC staff, and reporters, might understand.
According to the Guardian, "...With several million YouTube views in Japanese and translated versions (above), the Nuclear boy cartoon has become possibly the world's most viewed ever."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From Greenpeace founder to nuclear defender

From Greenpeace founder to nuclear defender

IAEA: Power Restored to Most Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi :: POWER Magazine

IAEA: Power Restored to Most Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi :: POWER Magazine

AC power is now available at Units 1, 2, and 4 of the six-reactor quake- and tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, according to recent updates; however, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) still believes “the overall situation remains of serious concern.”

As periodic water spraying of Units 2, 3, and 4 and the common spent fuel pool has continued, crews have restored power to some instrumentation in all units—with the exception of Unit 3. That unit’s main control room has lighting but no power to its equipment or instruments.

Among positive developments are that the pressure in the reactor pressure vessel and drywell of Unit 3 is stable, Graham Andrew, a special adviser to the IAEA director told the media today. However ...IAEA: Power Restored to Most Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi :: POWER Magazine

US nuclear regulator under fire for extending new license | Electric Power News

US nuclear regulator under fire for extending new license | Electric Power News | Energy Central

In 2009, The EIA reports CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Vermont at 6,583 metric tons. The next closest state is Idaho at 1,024,183 metric tons.

This single reactor, Vermont Yankee, provides over 70% of Vermont's electricity production (Vermont contracts heavily from Hydro Quebec to meet demand peaks).

NYISO inks power deal with Quebec

NYISO inks power deal with Quebec | Electric Power News | Energy Central

This actually relates to a number of stories on this blog.  The savings are reported as coming from, "reduced transmission congestion costs, better integration of renewable energy generated on the grid and lower overall operating costs."
A wider better connected grid.  And it isn't the only connection the NYISO has been pursuing:

NYISO officials said the increased power coming into the state from Quebec will likely benefit upstate New York the most. ...
Wind farms, most of which are located upstate, also pose problems because they produce electricity at night when the demand for power is the weakest. Bringing in electricity from out of state gives the grid operators more options in bringing supply to where it is needed the most...
The NYISO is also working on other plans to connect with other transmission control areas that could save customers $175 million annually.

This is all nice for the planet, and New York, and Quebec.  I'm in Ontario, and the situation for me appears to be:
1.  I am not better connected to the NYISO because nobody has the guts or the ambition to deal with the Caledonia uprising impacting a strengthened Ontario connection.
2.  I pay about 12 cent/kWh to wind suppliers who will sell much of it to Quebec at under 4 cents/kWh to fill their reservoirs until they can sell it to upstate NY at 6 cents/kWh
3.  Jurisdictions near the Chateaugay interface are preparing to market their cheap power supply to lure Ontario businesses south.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Experts: Japan's Nuclear Problems Could Greatly Affect Global Energy Policies | Electric Power News | Energy Central

Experts: Japan's Nuclear Problems Could Greatly Affect Global Energy Policies | Electric Power News | Energy Central

"If China and India said we are not going to build nuclear and burn more coal, we might as well not worry about what we do on fossil fuel consumption because it will not make any difference. We will have climate change. And I do not think people have realized the degree to which you are not going to replace the nuclear plants with wind and solar in the near future. So you are talking about a fundamental change. You would see upward pressure on petroleum prices and it just would not be good for the world economy"

NRC plans review as focus turns to nuclear fuel storage | Green Tech - CNET News

NRC plans review as focus turns to nuclear fuel storage | Green Tech - CNET News

Will one of the first actions resulting from Japan's struggles be accelerating the process developing a repository for long-term storage?

Yucca Mountain and DGR are likely to become active files in the near future.

San Francisco judge blocks climate change law - San Jose Mercury News

San Francisco judge blocks climate change law - San Jose Mercury News

Interesting - the case seems to centre around the assumption the pollution allowed by a cap-and-trade scheme will result in poor areas being disportionately polluted.. This is a claim made regarding green energy too (Texas wind as a wealth transfer scheme to poorer West Texas, as one example).

Twin Evils of Inflation and Surging Borrowing in UK - and the contributions are from ...

News of a very high 4.4% inflation rate hit the UK this morning,

Why Fukushima Converted George Monbiot

Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power 
George Monbiot's latest shows he is not backing down on his assertions:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Electricity Cost Inflation in Europe

Here we go ...
In the week since Germany pulled capacity the long-term purchases have spiked over five $Euro/MWh ... and rates are not only rising in Britain, they are rising on dirty, dirty coal contracts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Accident – Why I stay in Tokyo « BraveNewClimate

Fukushima Nuclear Accident – Why I stay in Tokyo « BraveNewClimate

"Thousands have left Tokyo recently in a panic about the perceived radiation threat. If you ask any one of them to precisely articulate what the threat consists of, they will be unable to do so. This is because they actually don’t know, and because in fact there is no threat justifying departure, at least not from radioactivity..."

How not to run a power system

How not to run a power system - from the Ottawa Citizen

"A report by the Ontario Energy Board panel that monitors the electricity market says that $1.1 billion has been paid to companies not to produce or not to import power since the Ontario power market was created in 2002."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

George Monbiot - Voice of Reason

Atomised begins; "The nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan is bad enough; the nuclear disaster unfolding in China could be even worse. “What disaster?”, you ask. The decision today by the Chinese government to suspend approval of new atomic power plants. If this suspension were to become permanent, the power those plants would have produced is likely to be replaced by burning coal. While nuclear causes calamities when it goes wrong, coal causes calamities when it goes right, and coal goes right a lot more often than nuclear goes wrong. The only safe coal-fired plant is one which has broken down past the point of repair."

UK government unveils plans to slash solar feed-in tariffs | Environment |

UK government unveils plans to slash solar feed-in tariffs | Environment |

The latest news out of the UK: "
The government has unveiled plans to slash by almost 75% financial incentives for larger solar power schemes on the grounds the feed-in tariff (Fit) was in danger of being hijacked by City speculators.
Subsidies for 5 megawatt schemes such as Toyota's will be cut from 30.7p per kilowatt (kW) hour to as little as 8.5p – although schemes of up to 50kW for the average domestic homeowner will remain the same."

Watertown Daily Times | Report: lower electricity costs could lure Canadian industry

Watertown Daily Times | Report: lower electricity costs could lure Canadian industry

I've previously found Watertown notable for a Harry Chapin live album where he noted he spent a week there one afternoon - on the intro to "A Better Place To Be".

Maybe that will be the title for the ad campaign to lure Ontario manufacturers to an area where Ontario electricity is cheap.

Hydro One's Smart Communication with A Customer

I received this e-mail from Hydro One, my provider, last night:

Important Notice, Potential Postal Disruption
Dear Hydro One Customer,

In the event of a postal disruption, you are still responsible to keep your account current.  You can view your bills online at  All payments can be made online using internet banking or at any financial institution in Canada.
Hydro One

Thanks for that Hydro One - but, it has been years since I received a hard copy of a bill, so maybe you should have checked the customers you have e-mail addresses for to see if they were on eBilling with ePost.
I hate to point out the shortcomings of your customer service communications in this time where your service provider may be inconveniencing you through sudden service removal.  A couple of suggestions I have from the same situation with a different service provider.

Get a wood stove.
One of those Portable Car batteries with a couple of outlets that Canadian Tire sells can run a couple of items for several hours.  That probably is sufficient for most.
I have a generator.

I'm not sure what the parallel solutions in your situation would be.  Maybe you know some meter readers who have some free time to deliver bills.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Power companies paid millions not to generate elecrtricity

John Spears' article at the Star uncovers companies making money by playing the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and manipulating market rules - specifically the Congestion Management Settlement Credit (CMSC).
Mr. Spears digs deep for this breaking story with an unnamed watchdog on the trail of questionable practices that drive up the price of the Global Adjustment (now around $4 billion a year), and therefore, either directly, or indirectly, the price of electricity for all Ontario's consumers of electricity.  What Mr. Spears fails to write is that the issue was known 3 years ago, at the IESO.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Germany Renewable Could Contribute 40% of supply by 2020

BMU - English - Current Press Releases - Press release No.039/11 of 16.03.2011: Renewables\' contribution to energy supply in Germany continued to rise in 2010

Green Math ... The news release notes " the wind power yield of 36.5 billion kilowatt hours (KWh) was the lowest since 2006," and also that the share of renewables in meeting demand could surge suddenly.

Not likely.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review & Outlook: Nuclear Overreactions -

Review & Outlook: Nuclear Overreactions -

Information Update From the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Information Updates - Comparison of Canadian CANDU Reactors to Japanese BWR Reactors

This article states, "In the even more unlikely event that EPS systems also become unavailable and all power is lost, all affected Canadian nuclear power reactors would safely shut down and stabilize using CANDU's convection cooling system design."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exelon CEO ... Sees No Need to Encourage New Supply

Atomic Insights Blog: Exelon CEO Thinks Electricity is Cheap and Clean Enough Already - Sees No Need to Encourage New Supply

Here's a response to Exelon's CEO... and a good one.

Energy Policy: Above All, Do No Harm

The title is from a speech by John Rowe, Chairman & CEO of Exelon Corp, to the American Enterprise Institute

Some quotes from the speech Tom Adams referenced at his blog today (I suggest the entire speech is worth the short investment in time):

Neither new nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, wind nor solar
are economic.  They are not economic because of energy prices, an excess of
generating capacity and very low load growth. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fantastic Article at

For Saving Energy, Like Real Estate, The Three Most Important Things Are Location, Location and Location
By Lloyd Alter of the Ryerson School For Interior Design

I struggled through writing out a rant today, and in cleaning it up lost all the points I was making on the problems Orillia's previous city council encountered trying to maintain a vibrant downtown as the car culture continued to dominate.

Well, this treehugger article notes:
  • Where you live is the most important determinant of how much gasoline you use;

It's Time ... For a New Television

That's all I got out of the Green Party of Canada's ad.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Earth Hour is Too Short - Bring on Climate Week

The Environment blog at the Guardian advises that, in Great Britain, "Climate Week is coming. If that means nothing to you, imagine a "supercharged national occasion that offers an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combat climate change"

It's a great story.  Climate Week has a big-time sponsor in RBS - which is apparently offending the, admittedly, easily offended because it's only been a little over 6 months since the Climate Day of Action opened with a protest of RBS and their complicity in funding the filthy black dirty oil.

The creator of Earth ... uhh ... Climate Week is quoted as defending RBS with:

"Looking specifically at RBS, the total portion of RBS loans which goes to the oil and gas industry makes up just 2.1% of their lending. And they have stated publicly that this percentage has been declining for the past three years. In fact their biggest single category of project finance is now wind technology."

No kidding.

Wind is the new black.

TheStar: What’s the return on $1 billion smart meter investment?

TheStar What’s the return on $1 billion smart meter investment?

The article could editorialize just a little.

Having the two payment options wouldn't drive up the cost of billing - it's a boolean entry on a computer (TOU or RPP).  But the reporter might want to investigate the IT spending that accompanied the $1 billion on the smart meters themselves

Thursday, March 3, 2011

If Baghdad Bob was in Ontario, he'd work at The Toronto Star

TheStar Cohn: A sniff test for Ontario’s green politicians

Mr. Cohn begins, "With elections in the air, green groups are seeing red in Ontario"
Indeed - but the groups he refers to as green really aren't - and the red they are seeing is financial losses as their scam, and it's sugar daddy premier, are sent packing. Parker Gallant, and others at Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), are keeping track of the few 'green' players, and tallying up the total gifted, from us, to the toadies in this 'green' grouping.

TheStar: Five steps to lower hydro bills — and votes

Andy Frame has contributed another article at The Toronto Star.  

I don't have a problem with any of his 5 suggestions - but suggestion #2 and #3 seem to be only accounting changes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

TheStar: Tories, Liberals clash over Caledonia hydro line

The article in The Toronto Star contains some fascinating logic from Minister Duguid.

Accusing the PC's of "trying to stir things up" in Caledonia by pointing out a $116 million transmission line has been held up - and parts of it laid down - since 2006.  Does he know it is 2011 - and that means it is 5 years after 2006?

According to the Star Duguid says the line isn't a priority because we don't need to import any power now due to increased self-sufficiency ... but "At a certain point in time we will want to build that line"
Planning on being less self-sufficient Minister?