Australian news, and some related international items

University of NSW students of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy

sunUniversity of NSW students reveal a tale of two career paths: coal mining and renewable energy October 5, 2015  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald “………Engineering students in UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy, meanwhile, have a different view on fossil fuels and careers.

“Coal does have a future,” said Oscar Wilkie, a soon-to-be bachelor’s degree graduate in solar energy engineering who will take up a $70,000-a-year post with Boston Consulting Group. “It’s not really a war, but in the long term, it’s going to diminish.”

Mr Wilkie wants to advance the integration of large-scale solar energy that he sees is inevitable as it becomes cheaper, and nations try to curb carbon emissions: “The next big challenge is: how are we going to finance this?”………

Years of uncertainty over Australia’s 2020 renewable energy targets – cut almost one-fifth in June by the Abbott government – has led to new investment in large clean energy projects all but drying up.

International trends have also been in flux. While China’s solar panel output has leapt, profit margins remain very thin. Investment in new techniques – which can translate into high-end design and research jobs in Australia – has been restrained since the global financial crisis, one UNSW scientist said………

For Jack Blackwell, who will move to Canberra early next year after he receives his Renewable Energy Engineering degree, says his skills will be needed as economies everywhere need to use all resources more wisely.

“Building energy efficiency – and roof-top solar [which] is taking off hugely – is steadily becoming more important in Australia, in step with the trends around the world,” Mr Blackwell said.

Students in the clean energy field see first-hand how fast the industry is changing.

“Lecturers are constantly updating the technology,” he said “There’s really good research going on that’s put straight into our courses.”………

October 7, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Perth’s water worries: how one of the driest cities is fighting climate change. 

Originally posted on jpratt27:

Perth the capital of Western Australia, is not only one of the most isolated cities in the world, it is also becoming one of the driest in Australia.

Since the gold rush of the 1890s, impressive engineering schemes have transported enough water to make Perth a city of lush lawns and eye-catching flowerbeds, to the surprise of some visitors.
But a drop in average annual rainfall in recent years, along with some truly dire climate change projections, have required government and business to focus on water security. Australia’s Climate Council estimates that water flow from rainfall into Perth’s dams has slumped by 80% since the 1970s, with precipitation in the south-west corner of Australia forecast to drop by up to 40% by the end of the century.
Coping with climate change

Last year, Perth’s dams received just 72.4bn litres of water – far less than the 300bn currently demanded by…

View original 731 more words

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today’s Royal Commission Hearings – on financial viability of nuclear operations

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINToday’s royal commission hearings are about the financial viability of enrichment, electricity and a waste dump.

Details here and video and transcripts will be available.
The most important one, the waste dump is at 10:30
Quantitative Analyses and Business Case for Radioactive Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities in South Australia (10:30am)
Quantitative analyses will be undertaken to determine engineering, procurement, construction and lifecycle operating and maintenance costs associated with the possible development of four different types of radioactive waste management facilities in South Australia. The scenarios to be considered are a surface/near-surface low level waste management facility, a tunnel low and intermediate level waste management facility, a centralised dry cask spent fuel storage facility and a deep geological disposal facility.
Presentation to be given by:
Mr Tim Johnson, Jacobs Engineering Group
Mr Nigel Sullivan, Jacobs Engineering Group

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

South Australia as radioactive trash dump our best nuclear bet – Kevin Scarce

Scarce blahNuclear power option years away: royal commissioner Kevin Scarce
OCTOBER 5, 2015 Michael Owen SA Bureau Chief Adelaide There is a decade of regulatory and legislative change required before any real work can begin on establishing a nuclear energy ­industry in Australia, royal commissioner Kevin Scarce says.

Those changes would ­require federal and state bipartisanship, meaning tangible economic benefits of expanding nuclear activity would not be ­apparent until at least 2030. We need to be realistic about what the opportunities will be,” Mr Scarce, a former South Australia governor, told The Australian. “If we do decide to participate (in the nuclear cycle), you’d want to grow some jobs, some ­expertise, and grow the technical know-how to go into other elements of ­nuclear — it has to have some economic benefits, and part of this royal commission is to look 10-15 years into the future and see what else is being developed to see if there is a need for nuclear in our power-generation mix.”

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was established by Labor Premier Jay Weatherill to look at South Australia’s ­involve­ment in the mining, enrichment, energy and storage ­phases in the life cycle of nuclear fuel, given the state has one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits and has been involved in uranium production for more than 25 years.

Mr Weatherill’s government is grappling with the worst unemployment rate of any state amid the decline of manufacturing. The Premier is keen to explore the economic benefits of a deeper ­involvement in the nuclear ­sector.

Mr Scarce said it might be that, given Australia’s energy ­demand was decreasing, coupled with an abundance of renewables, ­nuclear generators were not necessary. This would leave a ­nuclear waste dump as the most likely source of economic benefit.

toilet map South Australia 2

Mr Scarce said it was “absolutely” the case that there was a decade of bipartisan legislative and regulatory change that had to occur before any nuclear industry could be up and running. “One should not think that if we turn the switch on at the end of this royal commission after the government has had a look at it that benefits will be delivered within the decade — they won’t be,” he said.

“In order to provide the investment certainty that would be ­required, because of the length and cost of this industry, if you don’t have bipartisan support at both the state and federal level, an industry will not go anywhere.”

Mr Scarce said the state opposition had been very supportive, as had the government, which ­established the inquiry. However, there could be major hurdles under any future federal Labor government. A ­decision to change the ALP national platform opposing a ­nuclear industry has been delayed until after the release of the commission’s report, due on May 6.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has said there was no need for Australia to pursue nuclear energy because of the nation’s large coal and gas ­reserves, ­although he said nuclear energy would help cut carbon pollution.

Mr Scarce, who has visited several countries on fact-finding missions this year, will begin 30 days of public hearings until December.

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | 1 Comment

Nuclear safety regulations slacker in China: Bill Gates to export ‘new nuclear’ there

nuclear-marketing-crapBill Gates Making Progress On Next Generation Of Nuclear Power — In China, Forbes James Conca, 2 Oct 15, “…….Washington State exports more stuff to China than to any other nation. ……Now nuclear reactors will enter that list. Bill Gates’ nuclear power company, TerraPower, signed an agreement with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) allowing the two companies to collaborate on advanced nuclear technologies that address safety, environmental and cost issues. The MOU was signed by TerraPower CEO Lee McIntire and CNNC President Qian Zhimin, as Washington’s Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen and Bill Gates looked on……..

TerraPower’s version of this reactor is called the Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR), a liquid sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses depleted or natural uranium as fuel, and can even burn spent fuel from our old reactors.

TerraPower plans to build a 600 MWe plant first by the early 2020s, followed by a larger 1,150 MWe commercial plant……Unfortunately, the regulatory environment in America is so glacial that TerraPower and CNNC will build the first unit in China and then deploy commercial versions of this new reactor to global markets within fifteen years…..
TerraPower’s CTO, John Gilleland feels that, “They’re very serious. In some ways, they’re more serious than we are.” He knows that China believes in climate change and wants to reduce the smog that’s choking its cities and threatening their emerging health care system…….
Gates climate lie
It’s imperative that clean energy, like new nuclear, dominate that growth – not coal.

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA nuclear weapons industry behind China’s push for thorium nuclear reactors

The U.S. government lab behind China’s nuclear power push HONG text thoriumKONG |REUTERS  Dec 20, 2013 Scientists in Shanghai are attempting a breakthrough in nuclear energy: reactors powered by thorium, an alternative to uranium.

The project is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government body with close military ties that coordinates the country’s science-and-technology strategy. The academy has designated thorium as a priority for China’s top laboratories. The program has a budget of $350 million. And it’s being spearheaded by the influential son of a former Chinese president.

But even as China bulks up its military muscle through means ranging from espionage to heavy spending, it is pursuing this aspect of its technology game plan with the blessing – and the help – of the United States. China has enlisted a storied partner for its thorium push: Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The U.S. government institute produced the plutonium used for the Manhattan Project and laid important groundwork for the commercial and military use of nuclear power.

The Tennessee lab, as it happens, helped pioneer thorium reactors. The Pentagon and the energy industry later sidelined this technology in favor of uranium……..

Thorium’s chief allure is that it is a potentially far safer fuel for civilian power plants than is uranium. But the element also has possible military applications as an energy source in naval vessels. A U.S. congressman unsuccessfully sought to push the Pentagon to embrace the technology in 2009, and British naval officers are recommending a design for a thorium-fueled ship.

In a further twist, despite the mounting strategic rivalry with China, there has been little or no protest in the United States over Oak Ridge’s nuclear-energy cooperation with China……..

Although it does not yield byproducts that can be readily used to make weapons, thorium does have military applications.

The fuel could be used to power Chinese navy surface warships, including a planned fleet of aircraft carriers. China’s nuclear submarine fleet has struggled with reactor reliability and safety, according to naval commentators, and thorium could eventually become an alternative.

Top British naval engineers last year proposed a design for a thorium reactor to power warships. Compact thorium power plants could also be used to supply reliable power to military bases and expeditionary forces.

Thorium also has military potential for the United States, experts say……..

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

#NuclearCommissionSAust – An Aboriginal group slams its processes

monetary compensation via Native Title is not the solution – don’t insult us by simply hying to buy our consent and silence our concerns


Extract  Why we are not satisfied with the way this Royal Commission  has been conducted:  Yaiinidlha Udnyu ngawarla wanggaanggu, wanhanga Yura Ngawarla wanggaanggu?
always in English, where’s the Yura Ngawarla (our first language)?
The issues of engagement are many. To date we have found the process of engagement used by
the Royal Conuuission to be very off putting as it’s been run in a real Udnyu (whitefella) way.

The lack of an intelpreter service means we are forced to try  and engage using English (or rely on the goodwill of caring community members), and often this means we cannot be part of the engagement process. Even a Plain English summary of the four papers would have been helpful, and more opportunity for people to give oral submissions in their first language with a translator to interpret. We say that govemment and industry have a moral and ethical obligation to include us as citizens of Australia, and as Traditional Owners of our Country. We suspect that many other Australians would have benefited from a Plain English version of the papers and this was suggested by many people who went to the first lot of community meetings held by Kevin Scarce and his team. Not everyone has good English literacy.

Requiring a JP’s signature is a barrier to participation and suggests that ordinary people cannot
be trusted; not everyone has easy access to a JP, and the timeline puts pressure on people to do
this. We feel this is likely to intimidate people and discourage many from participating.We strongly recommend that the Royal Commission do more work on the following issues:

  • Provide the public with better understanding of the health, cultural, and social impacts in other
    countries of an expanding nuclear industry (including public anxiety, contaminated areas, effects 0n public health);
  • Provide adequate resources to enable all Australians to be part of an informed process – put
    people before profit;
  • The lack of advertising, and very short notice on several occasions suggests that government and
    industry and not serious about wanting to engage with public opinion and don’t value our input.
  • Many people think this suggests the proposal is ‘a done deal’ and that it will go ahead anyway.
  • Timelines are short, information is hard to access, there is no interpreter service available, and
    the meetings have been very poorly advertised.
  • Engagement opportunities need to be fair and equitable (readily available to all people) and the Native Title interest is no more important than the wider community.
  • A closed and secretive approach makes engagement difficult for the average person on the street, and near impossible for Aboriginal people to participate.
  • Government continue to use an assimilatory process; they ignore us by refusing to translate
    information into our first language, and they make no effort to understand our views in our
    languages as the First Australians. The lack of a well-thought out engagement strategy tells us that our views are not important, that government and industry will do what they want regardless of public wishes.
  • Develop a compensation package for the likely economic impacts from the negative associations of nuclear industry on local and regional economy – ego Loss of prices in crops, housing, land, as a result of contamination threats, accidents and breaches of EPA regulations;
  • Develop actual measures to counter threats from terrorist organisations re: protection to avoid nuclear site attacks, and local capacity to deal with emergency situations;
  • Tell the public what risk management plans need to be developed for communities impacted by transportation along the travel routes – for example, who will respond to a truck accident and are they equipped to deal with it; Informed awareness among communities that live along the designated travel routes so they can make decisions about their future.
  • The nuclear industry must find ways to show respect for the rights of Traditional Owners who are concerned about or opposed to the nuclear industry – monetary compensation via Native Title is not the solution – don’t insult us by simply hying to buy our consent and silence our concerns;
  • water-radiationProvide means for ongoing and independent monitoring of dangerous levels of airbome and water-based contaminants in groundwater, along transportation routes, after accidents, and among food sources used by Aboriginal people ego Nguri, urdlu and warratyi varlu, awi. We have a right to measure and monitor levels of radiation like other people do in countries such as the USA. We know from the Kakadu mine in NT that there is a major problem there with water management that is yet to be resolved.

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

17 October – Sydney University – Dr Helen Caldicott on “South Australia as the Worlds’ Radioactive Waste Dump’


Make sure to RSVP to this amazing event! – go to the Sydney Democracy Network page 


Helen Caldicott will discuss the medical implications of converting South Australia into the world’s radioactive waste dump. The terms of reference for the Royal Commission into South Australia’s nuclear industry do not address health impacts for nuclear workers of the general public, despite the legacy health issues arising from nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining in the state.  What some have described as a Trojan Horse of the Commission is the search for a place to dump nuclear waste.  Industry advocates are seeing dollar signs, not danger signs or protest signs, in their sustained effort to target South Australia as an international nuclear waste repository


Caldicott-2013Dr Helen Caldicott 

Dr Helen Caldicott has devoted the last four decades to international campaigning to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and the necessary changes in human behaviour to stop environmental destruction.

In 1971, Dr Caldicott played a major role in Australia’s opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific; in 1975 she worked with the Australian trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, with particular reference to uranium mining.

Returning to Australia in 1987 from the US where she founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament WAND), Dr Caldicott ran for Federal Parliament as an independent. Defeating Charles Blunt, leader of the National Party, through preferential voting she ultimately lost the election by 600 votes out of 70,000 cast.

Dr Caldicott currently divides her time between Australia and the US where she lectures widely. In year 2001, she founded the US-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI), which became  Beyond Nuclear. Currently, Dr Caldicott is President of The Helen Caldicott Foundation/, which initiates symposiums and other educational projects  to inform the public and the media  of the dangers of nuclear power and weapons.

October 3, 2015 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

The week that has been in Australian nuclear and climate news

a-cat-CANLeading up to Paris Climate talks, the nuclear lobby is still going hard at spinning Lie No. 1 – that New Nuclear technology solves the radioactive trash problem.  But for October,  the focus is on Lie No. 2, – that ionising radiation is harmless, indeed , good for you.

Their favourite tactic is to confuse the public, by comparing the harmless Potassium K in bananas (of very low radioactive intensity), with man-made Cesium 137 and Strontium 90 (of very high radioactive intensity).  Their next favourite is to promote the quack theory of “hormesis” – the claim that ionising radiation is actually beneficial to health.

CLIMATE CHANGE.  Still possible to contain climate change: Paris UN conference will be critical.   Pope Francis’ US visit has triggered awareness of climate change as a moral issue.   Bank of England warns on climate change’s threat to global stability. Coming refugee crisis as sea levels rise on Pacific Islands.

South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission.  Analysis of the pro nuclear submissions shows that the major aim is to get South Australia to set up “New Generation” nuclear reactors. (yes, they’re the ones that still exist only on paper). The nuclear companies, not South Australia,  would pay the costs of setup – because Australia would pay them back later from the proceeds of importing radioactive trash. The Commission is paying lip service only to renewable energy as a”low carbon’ option.

Of course most of these submissions come from nuclear companies, from individuals connected to nuclear technology, and from a couple of wannabe famous South Australian politicians.

However, the nuclear front group The Breakthrough Institute also has a submission published.

Meanwhile, at the public hearing in Adelaide , October 1st,  Dr Arjun Makhijani explained the diseconomics of nuclear power, the irrelevance of it to climate action, (too slow), and the futility of the drive for Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Nuclear lobby aiming to overturn an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act ban

BHP and Toro energy look to climate action as the reason why  the uranium market ( now in doldrums) should have a ‘renaissance’, though, interestingly, BHP actually mentions the possibility of another nuclear disaster mucking things up for them. Toro’s Wiluna uranium project is now stalled indefinitely.

Renewable energyAustralian govt to promote battery storage, through Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Australia world top in household solar panel installations. Canberra school Amaroo to get benefits from ACT’s largest rooftop solar system.

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

PODCAST: Into An Uncertain Future: Containment of Radioactivity

podcastSmradioactive-showjRadioactive Show, 26/9/15: Into An Uncertain Future: Containment of Radioactivity

… features Tauto Sansbury (2015 NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award) reporting back on a meeting between 16 Traditional Owner groups in South Australia and the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission. Followed up by some recordings from a panel discussion at the Environmental Film Festival’s Melbourne screening of the documentary on radiation and nuclear waste, ‘Containment’, featuring Dave Sweeney (Nuclear Free campaigner with ACF and Dr.Margaret Beavis (President of MAPW).

Download program (28 min) at

(The radioactive show airs on 3cr 855 am (Melbourne) at 10am Saturdays and repeated at 6am Tuesdays, broadcast nationally on Tuesdays at 12 noon on the Community Radio Network and podcast on the 3cr website Find the Radioactive Show on Facebook:

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Coming refugee crisis as sea levels rise on Pacific Islands

antnuke-relevantFiji PM Warns Of Syria-Style Refugee Crisis If Rich Nations Don’t Do More On Climate, Thom Mitchell,  New Matilda, 2 Oct 15  Frank Bainimarama has taken aim at advanced nations for ignoring the plight of Pacific Islanders in pursuit of short-term economic growth. Thom Mitchell reports.

The Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has hit out at developing nations for their “unacceptable” progress in reducing carbon emissions as part of a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, in which he warned of a humanitarian refugee crisis on the scale of the current migration out of Syria if more is not done.

The talks come as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop seeks a place for Australia on the UN Security and Human Rights Councils, but Bainimarama warned that developed nations like Australia are not listening to the voice of Pacific Island nations, whose human rights are threatened by rising seas and hostile weather patterns.
Kiribati 15
“It is simply not acceptable for advanced economies to build a high standard of living on the degradation of the earth and the seas,” Bainimarama said.

The choices we face may be politically difficult in the short run, but the consequences we are already seeing – environmental degradation, unbearable heat, drought, powerful tropical storms and unpredictable weather patterns – are simply unacceptable,” he said.

“[Fiji] plans to move some 45 villages to higher ground, and we have already started.

“We have committed to resettle people from other low-lying, South Pacific Island States that face the prospect of being swallowed up by the rising ocean and falling inexorably to oblivion.

“Should that happen, the people of those Island States would be refugees as desperate and lost as the hundreds of thousands fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq,” he said.

As New Matilda reported in June, experts in migration law, like those at the University of New South Wales’Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, are already warning that the “disasters on steroids” climate change will bring is likely to create a need for special refugee visas.

It is clear by now that international pledges nations have made through the United Nations climate change process will not be enough to keep the global rise in temperature to less than two degrees, which is the level accepted as ‘safe’ by Australia and around 200 other nations:

October 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

When the nuclear financial chickens come home to roost

highly-recommendedWhen the party’s over … the financial spectre at the end of nuclear power  Ecologist,  Dr Ian Fairlie 1st October 2015  There are two rules about the end costs of nuclear power, writes Ian Fairlie. It’s far more than you ever knew. scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKAnd whatever sum of money was ever set aside, it’s nowhere near enough. Germany understands this. That’s why it refused to let E.ON spin off its nuclear liabilities into a hands-off company. But the UK, it seems, has lost the ability to learn from its nuclear mistakes.

Nuclear power has a wide spectrum of disadvantages.

One is that when reactors are shut down for good, a host of financial liabilities continue with no income flow from the sale of nuclear electricity to pay for them.

And enormous new liabilities for decommissioning and final disposal commence at the same time……

So what exactly are the liabilities?

The long term costs of nuclear power

Spent fuel. First is the managing of thousands of tonnes of spent fuel amassed over reactor lifetimes. The adjective ‘spent’ is perhaps misleading, as the fuel will remain extremely radioactive for decades, and progressively less radioactive for centuries……

Care, maintenance, defueling. Initially, nuclear utilities will be responsible for the continued cooling, care and maintenance of the final load of fuel in the reactor for about 5 years after closure. Then defueling takes another ~5 years.

Waste management and monitoring. Then utilities will have to carefully manage their still hot (both thermal and radioactive) spent fuel for a period of approximately 60 years either in ponds or in dry stores. After the initial 60 years of careful management, they will continue to be responsible for monitoring their cooling spent fuel for possibly up to another 240 years……..

Governments and nuclear enthusiasts have assured the public that final waste repositories are nigh. But they have been saying this since the start of nuclear power in the 1950s, with little to show for it. We should be prepared to accept the inconvenient truths that there is unlikely to be such a method for the long-term foreseeable future and that there may, in fact, be no such method.

Why do utilities have to manage their spent fuel for so long? The period of 300 years is derived from 10 half-lives of the 2 main dangerous radioisotopes, caesium-137 and strontium-90: both have ~30 year half-lives. A period of 10 half-lives reduces the radioactivity of the nuclear fuel by a factor of about 1,000 2, in this case 10 x 30 = 300 years.

Reactor hulks. Here the main nuclides of concern in reactor metalwork are cobalt-60 and iron-55, both with ~5 year half-lives. Applying the 10 half-life rule, means nuclear utilities will have look after the reactor hulks for at least 50 years. If it is found that their concrete containments are severely contaminated with tritium (hydrogen-3) with a half-life of 12 years, then about 10 x 12 = 120 years will be needed instead……..

Final nuclear waste repository. Finding a long term safe home for nuclear waste is the most expensive headache. There are no operating repositories in the world, and only one planned prototype repository (in Sweden). Such final nuclear waste dumps – if they are ever built – will not only be highly expensive but remain very contentious in all nuclear power countries.

Schemes for paying for nuclear wastes

The German Government has apparently proposed a deal to put nuclear liabilities (ie both spent fuel and decommissioning) in a trust, funded jointly by German nuclear utilities. This sounds a rational idea, but there’s something already like that for spent fuel in the US and its experience is discouraging 3…….



Will they ever learn? …

At the end of nuclear, onerous financial chickens come home to roost for nuclear utilities – and the squabbling begins as to who is going to carry the can. ……

In a nutshell, the problem is that a coal-fired or gas-fired power station can be decommissioned and dismantled in a few years, but nuclear reactors and their fuels could well take centuries. This means that nuclear end costs will inevitably be very large and remain contentious in all nuclear power countries.



October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spain’s desert solar thermal plant – Australia could do this

antnuke-relevantEven after dark, vast Spanish solar plant harnesses sun’s power

GUADIX, SPAIN | BY MARCELO DEL POZO  Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Frances Kerry , 1 OCT 15 In December this year the UN Climate Conference takes place in Paris. Ahead of the summit, we will release a series of stories, titled “Earthprints,” that show the ability of humans to impact change on the landscape of the planet. From sprawling urban growth to the construction of new islands, each site has profoundly changed in the last 30 years. Each story has accompanying NASA satellite images that show the scale of the change. (here)

Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.

The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol”, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.

solar thermal Andasol Spain

The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.

There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.

The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.

Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.

Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees C (752 F). That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.

At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.

That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity……..

Solar power has massive potential – one U.N. study estimated the world’s electricity needs could be generated by harvesting solar power from an area of the Sahara 800 km (500 miles) by 800 km.

And in 2014, a report by the International Energy Agency said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.

Capacity just from solar thermal plants like Andasol could expand to 1,000 gigawatts a year from 4 gigawatts at the end of 2013, the agency said……..

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry conference’s gloom about future prospects

Flag-USAradiation-sign-sadState Impact Pennsylvania reports, Oct 2 2015,  “….. industry leaders at the “Nuclear Matters” conference in Pittsburgh this week said they were disappointed in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s landmark carbon regulation for the power sector……..Industry executives complained about the competition from cheap natural gas, and about a suite of new regulations, imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions after the the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

“With the current market as it exists now, we are competing, but we’re not winning,” said Sam Belcher, President and Chief Nuclear Officer for FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, which operates three plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania……..

Larry Lindsey, a former economic policy assistant to George W. Bush and a speaker at the event, said the industry also suffered from the public’s and politicians’ “irrational fear” of the industry……”

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK Labour’s shock – Jeremy Corbyn, a man of principle

Corbyn, Jeremyflag-UKThere must be something wrong with Jeremy Corbyn if he doesn’t want to cause a nuclear holocaust, Independent, It’s such a shame Labour didn’t elect somebody more moderate who would be willing to press the button, such as Kim Jong-un Mark Steel  @mrmarksteel  1 October 2015

It’s such a shame Labour didn’t elect somebody more moderate who would be willing to press the button, such as Kim Jong-un …. Corbyn revealed himself as a danger to us all by saying quietly “no”, in response to a calm and measured radio presenter yelling “Would you be prepared to press the button?” at him.

Continue reading

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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