Australian news, and some related international items

How good to have some positive, clean energy, news

a-cat-CANI do get  a little tired of publicising negative stuff – but that IS a necessity. There are an awful lot of marketing-pigs-troughsnouts at the trough of dirty energy funding .

It’s just good to remind ourselves of all the positive stuff that really is going on – renewable energy going ahead in leaps and bounds, whether it be large scale solar and wind projects, or small scale stuff – however tiny.

Sure the Australian government, and the Labor opposition, are in the grip of the dirty nuclear and coal lobbies, – but they can’t stop the world-wide popularity, and march forward of clean energy and climate change action.

So much good news in this area, so I’m happy to indulge myself this month in putting the focus on the good stuff.


March 2, 2016 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Solar thermal power push to keep jobs in Port Augusta

Solar-thermal-plant-CaliforTHE “dominoes” are lined up for Port Augusta to switch from coal-fired to solar thermal power generation and advocates are urging governments to summon the “political will” to secure the project….(subscribers only)

March 2, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission’s advisor EDF is in one hell of a mess

highly-recommendedEDF’s leaked Board Agenda: Zombie nuclear projects and ‘beyond the grave’ reactors Jonathon Porritt 29th February 2016 

Poster EDF menteur

French nuclear parastatal EDF is facing problem after problem – zombie nuclear projects in the UK, Finland, China and France, a fleet of ‘beyond the grave’ reactors, a dropping share price and its drooping credit rating. But is it really as bad as all that? Jonathon Porritt has exclusive access to the leaked Agenda of its latest board meeting. And the answer is – no. It’s even worse.

You seriously wouldn’t want to be a Director of EDF at the moment. The agenda for an average Board Meeting must be seriously gloomy on each and every occasion.

And thanks to an EDF mole (and to judge by the number of leaks to the French press and the UK’sFT there’s a lot of them) I can now state this as fact, not mere opinion.

An annotated copy of the Agenda items for their last meeting on 16th February mysterious showed up in my email today, helpfully summarised byAlexandre Perra, EDF’s Executive Committee Secretary.

Item 1: Existing EPR construction projects

1.1 Olkiluoto (Finland)
Continuing, horrendous cost overruns, leading to ongoing legal stand-off with Finnish partners. Already delayed by seven years, but (hopefully!) could be finished by 2018.

1.2 Flamanville (France)
Continuing, horrendous cost overruns. Already delayed by nine years, but (hopefully!) could be finished by 2018.

1.3 Taishan (China)
Serious problems with both reactors under construction, but, this being China, everything’s shrouded in secrecy. WARNING: This could be much worse than we currently understand.

1.4 Pressure vessels
Still waiting for final safety assessment from French regulators. WARNING: There could be really serious problems here, despite our best efforts to ‘work with’ the regulator.

1.5 Deadlines/UK Treasury
These deadlines are now CRITICAL – as in EXISTENTIAL.
UK Treasury’s loan guarantees are linked to Flamanville operating successfully. And if it is not working properly by 2020, loan guarantee will be completely withdrawn.

Item 2: New reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset

2.1 Final investment decision

Postponed again – for the eighth time. Still unable to raise the €23.3bn (£18bn), despite our Chinese backers agreeing last year to provide one-third of the total sum, and despite the UK Government offering all but limitless subsidies.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: The true cost is of course much closer to €31 (£24.5bn) taking into account both the cost of construction and the costs of finance. This has been recognised by the EU Commission.

Have just released new announcement: construction will now not start until 2019. We should know by then whether the EPR will ever produce any electricity, with Olkiluoto and Flamanville both due to come on stream in 2018.

2.2 Media strategy

Must keep up a good front: have blamed the latest delay on the Chinese New Year. Crucial that CEO maintains the line: “We estimate the investment decision is very close.”

‘Stop Hinkley Point’ protesters occupied our offices in Bridgewater yesterday. Need to handle with care. Negative coverage increasing all the time, and people have started to talk about our ‘zombie reactors‘ at Hinkley Point.

Regrettably, our cohort of ‘green ambassadors’ (led by renowned UK environmentalist George Monbiot) has fallen silent. Very few advocates now for EPR. Even the FT has now joined the ranks of the critics stating “Politically painful it may be, but the case for halting Hinkley Point C is becoming hard to refute.”

Item 3: Extending the life of our UK reactors

3.1 Some good-ish news: we’ve negotiated extensions for four of our eight reactors in the UK: Heysham 1 and Hartlepool, through to 2024, and Heysham 2 and Torness through to 2030. There will be a significant financial outlay here, which has not yet been properly accounted for, but still relatively ‘small beer’ (as the English say) when looking at our overall finances.

3.2 The longer we keep these reactors ticking over, more or less safely, the better it will be. As soon as they come offstream, all the liabilities associated with decommissioning kick in. Reminder to the Board: managing our rising liabilities is now our most critical priority!

Item 4: Extending the life of our French reactors

Current operating fleet: 58 reactors. The Board has already signed off on a major life extension programme, with an estimate of €55bn of costs. Recent external assessments have put total costs at €100bn. Crucial to hold the line in the media at €55bn. In reality, we have no idea what the total outlay will be.

Item 5: Energy Transition Law (France)

5.1 This now represents A MAJOR RISK, with a direct mandate from our principal shareholder (the French Government) that the country must reduce its dependence on nuclear generation from 75% to 50% of total electricity demand by 2025.

5.2 The Cour des Comptes (state Audit Office) has just issued a new report challenging our long-held expectation that demand for electricity in France will continue to grow significantly through to 2025. If they are right, the energy transition law will mean:

  • Worst-case scenario: 20 reactors (35% of the fleet) will need to close.
  • Best-case scenario: 17 reactors (29% of the fleet) will need to close.

5.3 Lobbying relevant Ministers and Prime Minister to amend the Energy Transition Law now a TOP PRIORITY.

tem 6: Financial position

  • Current share price: down 50% on January 2015 position.
  • Current market cap: €22.5 (symbolically and very uncomfortably, less than the total projected costs of the Hinkley Point project).
  • Our €37bn net debt load also dwarfs our €18.5bn market capitalisation.
  • Current credit rating still at risk. Standard & Poors and Moody’s both looking wobbly.
  • Growing concern about perceived splits on the Board, especially as regards increasingly forceful hostility from our Trade Union representatives to Hinkley Point.

Merde alors! And now the FT reports that they have two EDF sources telling them that the final investment decision will be delayed until 2017! Nous sommes trahis! It will be soon! Very very soon! Call security!

The Champagne has lost its fizz

See what I mean? Not exactly a cheery occasion, even with the best of French lunches, and it must be a bit like that Board meeting after Board meeting.

So now shift the focus to London, to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Imagine for a moment the Permanent Secretary, metaphorically shitting himself as the single biggest element in the UK’s future electricity supply slides, slowly but ever more inexorably, down the pan. Wouldn’t he just love to get access to the (real) Minutes of EDF’s Board meetings!

The implications of all this for the UK couldn’t possibly be more severe. Initially, Hinkley Point was meant to be on stream by 2025, generating a whacking great 7% of total electricity supply. Earlier delays meant that this had already slipped to 2030. Now that the start date has slipped again, to 2019, at the earliest, that 2030 date looks insanely optimistic.

And that’s just the start. EDF’s meltdown at Hinkley Point is already having a significant knock-on impact on other would-be nuclear prospects in the UK – with Horizon, NuGen and even China General Nuclear Corporation beginning to get cold feet.

If Hinkley Point does go down the pan, a project that has been given every conceivable financial inducement by both the UK and the French Government, who the hell is going to invest in different but equally dodgy reactor designs?

If the Permanent Secretary isn’t shitting himself about such a state of affairs, one has to ask where he’s getting his metaphorical Imodium from.



Jonathon Porritt is Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, and a writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. He is also Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, and is involved in the work of many NGOs and charities as Patron, Chair or Special Adviser.

This blog was originally published on Jonathon’s website.

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oman Ama community group to Canberra to reject nuclear waste dump plan

Protest-No!Qld group rejects nuclear dump plan Brisbane [AAP], EchoNet 1 Mar 16  Representatives from a tiny Queensland town have travelled to Canberra to voice concerns about being on a shortlist for nuclear waste dump sites.

Oman Ama, west of Warwick, was in November named as one of six potential dump sites identified by the federal government, which began a four-month consultation period…….

Members of the group Friends of Oman Ama will meet with two of Mr Frydenberg’s advisors on Tuesday, believing their questions about the process have not been adequately answered. ‘There’s some real damage happening – in family, friends, there’s division in the community’, spokesman Mark Russell told AAP.

‘The degree of harm and hurt is only going to be exacerbated as this process goes on.’ Mr Russell said the government was yet to clarify how it would measure “community acceptance”.‘We have no way of identifying where the goalposts are,’ he said.

‘It’s a very murky area, but it’s a key part of the process – because (the minister) is pinning his approach on this to the consultation factor.’

Oman Ama is a potential site because one land holder expressed an interest to an offer of “four times” the retail value of his property, Mr Russell said. He said residents were not concerned about the owner’s decision, but the way in which the government had begun the process based on one landowner’s interest.

Other property owners were worried about the financial impact and had spoken to bank managers, real estate agents and insurance brokers, Mr Russell added.

‘They have been told if you get a radioactive waste management facility in your area, your land values are most likely to depreciate’, he said……

March 2, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Queensland, wastes | Leave a comment

Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg would not meet Communities from outback sites designated for nuclear waste dump

Frydenberg radiationResidents ‘disappointed’ Minister Josh Frydenberg failed to meet them over nuclear waste dump concerns, ABC News, By Leah MacLennan and Natalie Whiting, 1 Mar 16  South Australian residents campaigning against a nuclear waste dump being set up in their communities have taken their fight to Canberra.

The Federal Government has a shortlist of six sites for the facility, which would house medium- and low-level waste, much of it from nuclear medicine. Representatives from all six communities have travelled to Canberra, where they have met with government advisers, but have not been able to meet Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

Three of the proposed sites are in South Australia,with two near the Eyre Peninsula town of Kimba.

Kimba farmer Peter Woolford travelled for two days to get to Canberra and said he was disappointed the Minister did not make time to meet with the group. “I think it’s certainly a lack of respect that’s been shown to a lot of us at the moment,” Mr Woolford said………

The group is concerned about the impact a dump could have on the environment, agriculture and land values. Andyamathanya woman from the Flinders Ranges, Regina MacKenzie, said one of the proposed sites has archaeological and spiritual significance for her people. “What little we have left, let us preserve it. Let us take it for the future,” Ms MacKenzie said.

“We’re fighting for our survival, not only our survival but our spiritual survival as well as Aboriginal people.”

Community consultation on the proposed sites will end on March 11….

March 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Communities fight Turnbull government nuclear waste dump plan

Aboriginal woman Regina Mackenzie said the proposed Barndioota site in the Flinders Ranges threatened important cultural heritage sites. “There was no consultation whatsoever … we just feel it’s an attack on our belief system,” she said.

Greens nuclear spokesman senator Scott Ludlam said communities were told the dump would not be built if locals largely objected. “There’s strong opposition in all six communities [and] the government needs to abandon this idea,” he said.

heartland.Nuclear waste dump: Sleepless nights, tears and stress as communities fight Turnbull government plan, SMH  March 1, 2016 –  Environment and immigration correspondent   When Peter Woolford’s son died in a motorbike accident 12 years ago, the rural community of Kimba united to help the farmer and his wife through their personal cataclysm.

But that was then. Now, old friends in the community no longer speak, and people on the streets of the South Australian town are afraid to talk about the issue that has driven a wedge between neighbours: a proposed nuclear waste dump.

Cortlinye, near Kimba, is one of six sites across Australia the federal government has shortlisted to host the nation’s first permanent nuclear dump for low-level and intermediate waste.

The others are at Sallys Flat near Hill End in NSW, Hale in the Northern Territory, Pinkawillinie and Barndioota in South Australia and Oman Ama in Queensland.

If sites are approved, landowners who volunteered their property would receive up to four times the value of their land, and the community would receive about $10 million for infrastructure or services.

But this fight is “not about money”, said Mr Woolford, who was in Canberra on Tuesday with waste dump opponents from the other five communities to voice their concern. They say Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg refused to meet them, however they met other senior officials. Continue reading

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Solar energy to the grid: New South Wales’ Moree solar farm in operation

text-relevantMoree solar farm starts feeding energy into grid ABC New England  By Kelly Fuller The largest single-axis tracking solar farm in the country is now feeding energy back into the grid from Moree in New South Wales.

Solar farm Moree

The solar farm is led by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and has been funded with assistance of a $102 million grant from Australian Renewable Energy Agency and $47 million in debt financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

At full capacity the project is expected to generate 140,000 megawatt hours per annum, or the equivalent energy to supply the needs of 15,000 homes.

The company’s country manager Cameron Gamsworthy said feeding energy back into the grid was a significant step in the project’s development.

“It’s absolutely a major milestone. We’re now generating clean, renewable energy for the country,” he said. “[We are] looking forward to getting the project fully commissioned over the course of the next month.”

The farm’s 222,000 panels are expected to have a life of 30 years, and the company hopes the project will be at full capacity in a month’s time.

Mr Gamsworthy said FRV was considering other projects in the region.

Farm solar is the future

While the Moree project is unique, a University of New England academic said there was a growing demand for solar energy, particularly among rural communities.

“Farmers are getting more and more hungry for mobile technology that can be distributed around the farm,” said Professor David Lamb, from the university’s Smart Farm. “It could be a little water bore pump or some sort of gate alarm system or a trough monitor,” he said. “All of these technologies are going to need solar themselves because we obviously don’t want powerlines running around farms.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are literally thousands of little solar panels balancing on the back seat of old tractors that are used to keep the battery alive while it is left out in the weather for the next start.”At the end of the day the solar panel is becoming the set of pliers on a farm — you see them everywhere you look.”

Professor Lamb said the university was putting up ‘smart trees’ around the Smart Farm. “We literally have little sensors in the trees showing the amount of water these guys suck out of the ground, and each and every one of these trees has their own solar panel,” he said.

“[It] is quite ironic when you consider that trees are one of the most efficient harvesters of solar energy that we know.”

March 2, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s great opportunities in renewable energy

King Island is emblematic of the challenges and opportunities facing the state. It is blessed with natural resources, but punished by its relative remoteness and lack of economies of scale. It has been a perfect testing ground for renewable technology, and has led to the Hydro exporting novel approaches to overseas markets. The project has already avoided the use of 18 million litres of diesel, and saved more than $24 million.

map-tasmania-wind.1Tassie must look to future in renewables, February 29, 2016, ROSALIE WOODRUFF, Mercury “……… The Paris climate agreement sends a clear message to governments and investors that the age of fossil fuels is finished. There is a momentum around renewable energy generation, pushed by an urgency to respond to global warming and an explosion of new technology.

From crisis comes opportunity. The Greens are focused on the long-term task of transitioning Australia away from dependence on fossil fuels. The future is clearly in renewable energy generation, for pragmatism and prosperity.

We have released the Greens Energy Strategy, a blueprint for how the state can get started immediately on setting the business conditions we need to attract medium to large-scale renewable projects.

Our target is for Tasmania to be self-sufficient in clean electricity generation by 2022, and to be net exporters to the mainland. This is achievable. Continue reading

March 2, 2016 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | 1 Comment

Leonardo Di Caprio – Climate Change Champion

Di Caprio, LeonardoHow Leonardo DiCaprio became one of the world’s top climate change champions, Guardian. , 1 Mar 16 The Oscar-winning actor’s environmental activism may not quite stretch back to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape but he has steadily schooled himself on the oceans and climate change since the 1990s

Leonardo DiCaprio was a climate champion long before the actor wrapped himself in an animal carcass, vomited up raw bison liver, and risked hypothermia for his Oscar-winning role in Revenant.

DiCaprio used his acceptance speech for best actor to urge a global audience to reject the “politics of greed”, and support leaders willing to take action against climate change.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating,” the actor said.

The Oscars was probably the biggest audience to date for DiCaprio’s activism – but campaigners who have worked with the actor said he has been steeped in the issue for years, and is desperate about the need for action.

Over the last few years, DiCaprio has steadily donated his celebrity – and at least $30m in funding according to his foundation – to help advance the United Nations climate negotiations, protect coral reefs and tigers, and spread public awareness about the dangers of climate change.

The actor has become a fixture at events focused on global challenges since 2014, dropping in at the Davos economic forum to pick up an award last January, and holding a private chat on the sidelines with Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general, on the sidelines of the Paris climate negotiations last December.

DiCaprio marched with 400,000 through the streets of Manhattan and addressed the United Nations about the dangers of climate change in 2014, and has had private tutorials in climate science from some of the world’s best researchers.

Other actors – notably Mark Ruffalo, the best supporting actor nominee on Sunday – are avowed climate campaigners, and other wealthy individuals give to environmental causes. But DiCaprio operates at a different level of fame, campaigners said.

“There are many foundations and non-governmental organisations interested in oceans and many do great work. He has a megaphone that nobody else on the planet has. He is so respected and admired and influential all around the world from the general public to head of state, so when he says something people listen,” said Enric Sala, explorer-in-residence for National Geographic, who has worked with DiCaprio……….

The actor is currently at work on a climate change documentary that took him to Baffin Island in the Arctic last summer – and by DiCaprio’s own account that is highly unlikely to be the end of his activism.

“I am consumed by this,” DiCaprio told Rolling Stone last January. “There isn’t a couple of hours a day where I’m not thinking about it. It’s this slow burn. It’s not ‘aliens invading our planet next week and we have to get up and fight to defend our country,’ but it’s this inevitable thing, and it’s so terrifying.”

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

London gets world’s largest floating solar farm

text-relevantWorld’s biggest floating solar farm powers up outside London Five years in planning and due to be finished in early March, more than 23,000 solar panels will be floated on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Heathrow and used to generate power for local water treatment plants, Guardian,   29 Feb 16 On a vast manmade lake on the outskirts of London, work is nearing completion on what will soon be Europe’s largest floating solar power farm – and will briefly be the world’s biggest.

solar floating farm London

But few are likely to see the 23,000 solar panels on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, which is invisible to all but Heathrow passengers and a few flats in neighbouring estates.

“This will be the biggest floating solar farm in the world for a time – others are under construction,” said Angus Berry, energy manager for Thames Water, which owns the site. “We are leading the way, but we hope that others will follow, in the UK and abroad.”

Five years in planning and due to be finished in early March, the £6m project will generate enough electricity to power the utility’s local water treatment plants for decades. The energy will help provide clean drinking water to a populace of close to 10 million people in greater London and the south-east of England, a huge and often unrecognised drain on electricity, rather than nearby homes.

Why put solar panels on water? The answer, according to Berry, is that the water is there, and might as well be used for this purpose. Floating panels, covering only about 6% of the reservoir, will have no impact on the ecosystem, he says……..

A similar floating solar farm with around half the capacity of the Thames Water project is being built by water company United Utilities on a reservoir near Manchester. Construction of an even bigger farm – at 13.7MW more than twice the QEII farm – is underway on a reservoir in land-scarce Japanand due to finish in 2018.

Putting solar panels on the water for the QEII scheme has not required planning permission, though big arrays of similar panels on land require official sanction. The government has decided to ban farmers who put solar arrays on agricultural land from receiving EU subsidies for the land.

More than 23,000 solar panels will be floated by developer Lightsource Renewable Energy at the reservoir near Walton-on-Thames, representing 6.3MW of capacity, or enough to generate the equivalent electricity consumption of about 1,800 homes………

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New hope to Clean Energy ­Finance Corporation

logo CEFCNew hope to clean energy body
The Turnbull government is leaving open the prospect of keeping the Clean Energy ­Finance Corporation alive….(subscribers only)

March 2, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The power of “small solar” to help the developing world

text-relevantThe developing world faces a silent killer. Could a $1 solar light help?, Guardian, Morgan Meaker, 1 March 16  A Filipino social enterprise is bringing cheap solar lighting to more than 20 countries helping improve safety, reduce air pollution and cut energy costs. E very day at around 6pm, 40 families living in a remote corner of Andhra Pradesh in southeast India – a 6km walk from the nearest road – would be swallowed by darkness. With no access to electricity, sunset was a non-negotiable curfew – going outside was dangerous, people couldn’t cook and children were unable to do their homework.

This changed in April 2015 when Liter of Light, a project that transforms plastic bottles into simple solar lights, introduced solar-powered street lamps to the villages. “Some of the children had never seen [artificial] light in their lives,” says Pankaj Dixit, co-founder of Liter of Light’s Bangalore branch in India. “They said we had added four hours to their lives every day.”

solar lights Philippines

Projects brought in from overseas have been criticised for creating dependency, but while India has a target of 100% village electrification by 2018, there is still a significant access gap that these cheap solar lights could help address.

More than 1.5 billion people worldwide face darkness, candlelight or the toxic fumes that escape from kerosene lamps – known as the silent killer. Liter of Light is trying to tackle this at a local level by putting up lights in slums, remote rural areas, refugee camps and also areas that have been devastated by natural disasters such as typhoons.

Light in a plastic bottle

Founded in 2011, the social enterprise is run by the My Shelter Foundation, a Philippines-based NGO founded by social entrepreneur and actor Illac Diaz.

Liter of Light’s solar-powered lights are in 20 countries (including India, Pakistan, Kenya and Brazil) and in 650,000 homes around the world so far, according to Diaz. Its considers itself a global movement – with volunteers tending to work independently of the Philippines branch……..

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Continued pro nuclear attacks on renewable energy, despite Royal Commission’s findings

What we’re reading: Nuclear vs wind and solar  By  on 29 February 2016    Dick Smith plays his nuclear card, again

Dick Smith has spoken up again about his preference for nuclear power, despite the recent initial findings of the nuclear royal commission that the technology is way too expensive for Australia, and the Australian government findings that it’s at least twice the cost of wind and solar.

Smith, who promoted nuclear in a recent TV series, made his case when arguing against the proposed Mt Emerald wind farm in north Queensland, using the old myth about the need for more “baseload generation”.

We’re going to address the “baseload generation” myth later this week, and why it is the last resort of the coal industry and the nuclear idealists. The main point is that Australia already has about 7,000MW more “baseload” than it needs..Murdoch media and renewable blackouts!

The Murdoch media continues its campaign against wind and solar, with the Advertiser’s political editor Daniel Wills tweeting last week that the “lights could go out” when the coal-fired power station at Port Augusta is closed in May.

Wills linked to a story he wrote, quoting the head of the SA council of social services, who said that Adelaide suburbs could be blacked out for “weeks at a time” when the coal generator was shut.

No fear-mongering there, then. And obviously no reference to the report by the grid operator, the Australian Energy Market Operator, who said there was no danger to security or reliability from the closure of coal generation.

Coaliton’s ex oil industry energy spokesman utters the predictable

The South Australian opposition party, the Coalition, is maintaining its attack on renewable energy. In the above article, Wills quotes Coalition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan saying that the state government should “stop approving new wind farms” if they were going to threaten supply reliability.

Van Holst Pellekaan has been a long-term critic of renewables. On his own blog, the former BP executive blames wind power for causing surges in power prices, even though this has been dismissed before as a furphy.

March 2, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


financial-disaster-1In general, the more experience accumulated with a given technology, the less it costs to build. This has been dramatically illustrated with the falling costs of wind and solar power. Nuclear, however has bucked the trend, instead demonstrating a sort of “negative learning curve” over time.

Dan Levitan, 29 Feb16 “………….Mark Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, has published state-specific plans showing how 100-percent renewables penetration would be achievable. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, published its “Renewable Electricity Futures Study” in 2012 and explained a clear path to 80 percent penetration in the U.S. Others have shown similar routes forward.

When it comes to any energy source, it is cost that sits at the root of the discussion. Nuclear proponents argue that there are impediments to having a grid entirely run on renewables. Buongiorno, for example, says that the intermittency of solar and wind can realistically only be addressed by adding large amounts of electricity storage (in the form of large batteries or other newer tech such as compressed air) to the grid, and that would change the ongoing “renewable prices are plummeting” narrative.

“When I hear people say ‘Oh, the costs are coming down,’ the costs for generation may be coming down, but if installing that capacity forces me to have energy storage, you have to add those costs,” he says. Think of it like buying a car: The baseline price sounds okay, but it’s all the options and add-ons that’ll get you. Buongiorno says he expects the costs of nuclear construction will come down, and that when storage costs for renewables are factored in, nuclear — with its reliable, 24/7 output — starts to look much more attractive as an alternative.

Billions and Billions

When it comes to any energy source, it is cost that sits at the root of the discussion. Adding more nuclear to the grid could reduce some of the burden on renewables and storage, but the economics of nuclear itself could prove an insurmountable roadblock. Continue reading

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment