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Hybrid Generators for the Military Could Cut Fuel Use By 70%

17/04/2011 2 comments

hybrid-generators

This summer, frontline troops in Afghanistan will begin using two diesel-battery hybrid generators that could cut fuel use by 50 to 70 percent.

The diesel generators currently used at military camps waste a lot of energy because there’s no way to store excess power that’s being produced, but not used.  The new hybrid generators, built by Virginia-based Earl Energy, will not only satisfy energy needs for the camps, but store energy in a bank of lithium-ion batteries.

The diesel generators run until the batteries are fully charged and then the generators shut off and the batteries provide the power instead.  The new generators can provide the same amount of power from running for three to four hours as the old generators would by running 24 hours straight.

The new systems will each consist of an 18-kW diesel generator paired with a 40-kWh bank of batteries.  The system also features a 10-kW solar PV system to cut fuel use even further.

What’s even better is that from a cost perspective, the new systems aren’t that much more expensive to buy, costing over $100,000 each, while the same size diesel generator would cost from $80,000 – $100,000.  The systems are expected to pay for themselves in fuel savings within a year.

via MIT Tech Review Read more…

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Nuclear Industry Shows Their True Green Cards

11/04/2011 Comments off

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The fallout from Fukushima has had ripple effects in the nuclear industry across the world, but nowhere outside of Japan has the impact been so significant as in Germany. Here the ensuing frenzy has resulted in a moratorium on nuclear power plant permit extensions and the closure of seven nuclear plants. Now the nuclear power plant operators have fired a shot across the political bow: they have stopped supporting green energy.

Why is the German nuclear industry investing in green power? And why are they stopping now? The story starts in 2005, when the German conservative party, the CDU, promised to overturn a law by the socialist-green coalition to close down all nuclear power by 2021. The CDU won the national elections. To calm public protest, they negotiated a deal with the nuclear industry: The nuclear operators would invest a good percentage of the windfall profits from extending nuclear power plant permits in funds for the expansion of alternative energy. The nuclear investment was expected to boost green energy funds by €16.9 billion (US$24 billion) in total, approximately 300 million euros in 2011-2012 alone.

On Saturday 9 April, all nuclear operators — RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall and E.ON — announced they were stopping payments into the green energy fund. It is particularly interesting that the nuclear operators are not keeping a low profile during what was announced as merely a three month moratorium to review the planned permit extensions. On the one hand, the nuclear operators are within their rights. The windfall profits expected from permit extensions (subject to extensive safety reviews) have turned into sudden, unanticipated red ink as power plants have undergone politically ordered shutdowns. Thus, the monies earmarked for the green energy fund do not exist. (It should be noted that the nuclear operators intend to put the agreed payments into a collateral account until resolution of the issue.)

But the strategy may backfire. The peremptory and unilateral cessation of payments makes the investment fund look more like a political bargaining chip than ever. What was arguably a reasonable political strategy to use nuclear plants as a bridge to greener energy now lays in tattered disarray, exposed as politics pure rather than logical risk management and strategic energy planning.

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Germany’s 198-GW wind power potential can replace nuclear – study

08/04/2011 Comments off

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Image by twicepix via Flickr

Germany’s onshore wind energy potential alone can provide sufficient electricity supply enough to replace nuclear power.

This is according to the study of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology that was initiated by the German Wind Energy Association.

As of 2010, Germany ranks third in total global installed wind power capacity with around 27.2 gigawatts. This follows the United States with 40.2 GW and China with 44.7 GW.

According to the study, harnessing all the existing wind resource potential can yield 198 GW of installed capacity, which can provide up to 65 percent of the current electricity demand.

R.W.E. president Hermann Albers said the onshore wind energy can provide 390 terawatt-hours out of the current 600 terawatt-hours electricity consumption every year, showing the ability of wind energy to replace nuclear power.

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Few confident US ready for nuclear emergency

08/04/2011 Comments off

Image representing Associated Press as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

Most Americans doubt the U.S. government is prepared to respond to a nuclear emergency like the one in Japan, a new Associated PressGfK poll shows. But it also shows few Americans believe such an emergency would occur.

Nevertheless, the disaster has turned more Americans against new nuclear power plants. The poll found that 60 percent of Americans oppose building more nuclear power plants. That’s up from 48 percent who opposed it in an AP-Stanford University Poll in November 2009.

The Associated Press-GfK poll comes as Japan continues to struggle with a nuclear crisis caused by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has leaked radiation into the environment and radioactive water gushed into the Pacific Ocean. Japan was rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning Thursday, but officials reported no immediate sign of new problems.

The poll finds that about a fourth of those surveyed were highly confident that the U.S. government is prepared to handle a nuclear emergency, while almost three-fourths were only somewhat or not confident.

But many people doubt such an emergency will happen in this country.

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Tokyo Electric Says Radioactive Water Still Leaking Into Sea

03/04/2011 1 comment

Four Unstable Fukushima Daiichi Reactors Will Be Shut Down Permanently

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radioactive water is draining into the sea from a power cable storage pit at its stricken nuclear plant, and it will try using a special polymer to stop the leak later today.

Work to inject the polymer through a pipe connected to the pit will start this afternoon after appropriate checks, Naoki Tsunoda, a company spokesman, said by phone. Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, also said it had found the bodies of two workers at the plant that have been missing since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

fukushima, japan, fukushima daiichi, nuclear power plant, nuclear power, japan nuclear crisis, japan nuclear emergency, fukushima reactors, fukushima reactor stability, shut down power plant, shut down reactors, japan shut down reactors

Tokyo Electric Power Co. — or TEPCO as it is commonly known — has said that it is likely to completely shut down the four unstable nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that were damaged after the March 11th earthquake and ensuing tsunamis. The reactors have caused a nation-wide nuclear crisis after they were unable to be stabilized and now officials are saying that in addition to shutting down the reactors, their containment will be a very long process.  fukushima, japan, fukushima daiichi, nuclear power plant, nuclear power, japan nuclear crisis, japan nuclear emergency, fukushima reactors, fukushima reactor stability, shut down power plant, shut down reactors, japan shut down reactors

Tokyo Electric also plans to start infusing nitrogen gas into the reactors today to reduce the threat of a hydrogen explosion, and is connecting power cables to cooling pumps as it tries to contain the spread of radiation and avert a meltdown at the plant.

“The water-absorbent polymer has never been used before in these cases so I’m not sure whether this works well or not,” said Suh Kune Yull, a professor of Nuclear Energy System Engineering at Seoul National University. “It may not be easy as the leaking pit is very wide.”

Radiation in contaminated seawater near the Fukushima Dai- Ichi plant was measured at more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour, Tepco said yesterday in a statement. Exposure to that level for an hour would trigger nausea, and four hours might lead to death within two months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The level of radiation may not affect the seawater and fish, which are moving, but it’s enough to contaminate sea algae and clams near the plant if Japan fails to block the leak soon,” Suh said by phone from Seoul.

Bodies Found

The two male workers found today had been performing maintenance in the basement of the No. 4 reactor at the plant on the day of the disaster, Tepco said today on a news conference streamed over the Internet. The latest deaths bring to seven the number of workers killed at Tokyo Electric’s two nuclear power complexes in Fukushima, including five employees of sub- contractors whose deaths were confirmed on March 12 and 14.

The total number of dead and missing from the disaster in Japan was 27,481 as of 10 a.m. Tokyo time today.

It may take several months to stop the emission of radioactive material, Goshi Hosono, a lawmaker in the Democratic Party of Japan in the ruling coalition, told reporters. Hosono is an envoy between the government and Tepco.

Radiation Levels

A company executive said earlier today he isn’t optimistic about the prospect of containing damage at the Fukushima Dai- Ichi nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor.

“I don’t know if we can ever enter the No. 3 reactor building again,” Hikaru Kuroda, the company’s chief of nuclear facility management, said at a press conference.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency yesterday ordered Tepco to increase monitoring of seawater near the No. 2 reactor after the leaks led to a rise in radiation, agency Deputy Director Hidehiko Nishiyama said. Above-normal levels of radioactive iodine were detected in seawater 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the plant, the agency said.

About 10 centimeters (4 inches) to 20 centimeters of radioactive water was found in the leaking pit, which is 1.2 meters by 1.9 meters across and 2 meters deep, and had a crack about 20 centimeters wide, Takashi Kurita, a company spokesman, told reporters at a briefing at Tepco’s Tokyo headquarters.

Tokyo Electric tried to plug the crack by filling the pit near reactor No. 2 with concrete yesterday, Junichi Matsumoto, another company official, said at a later press conference. Water in the pit was found to have 10,000 times the normal level of toxic iodine 131, he said. Kyodo News first reported the leak yesterday.

Offering Help

The pit is at a different site from the trenches where the company found contaminated water earlier, Susumu Tsuzuki, a Tepco nuclear facility maintenance official, told reporters.

General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt will meet officials from Tepco as the utility struggles to stabilize its damaged reactors, designed by the U.S. company.

Immelt is traveling to Japan “to meet with employees, partners and customers including Tepco,” Deirdre Latour, a GE spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. Reactors at the crippled plant are based on a four-decade-old design from Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE.

“If they’re meeting now, it’s probably to discuss how to cool the reactors quickly, or how to scrap them, as Tepco doesn’t have the technology to do this,” said Jeffrey Bor, head of the economics department at the Chinese Culture University in Taipei and a former vice president of the International Association for Energy Economics. Taiwan operates six nuclear power reactors.

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We probably have no choice but to scrap reactors 1 to 4 if we look at their conditions objectively

03/04/2011 Comments off

fukushima, japan, fukushima daiichi, nuclear power plant, nuclear power, japan nuclear crisis, japan nuclear emergency, fukushima reactors, fukushima reactor stability, shut down power plant, shut down reactors, japan shut down reactors

Tokyo Electric Power Co. — or TEPCO as it is commonly known — has said that it is likely to completely shut down the four unstable nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that were damaged after the March 11th earthquake and ensuing tsunamis. The reactors have caused a nation-wide nuclear crisis after they were unable to be stabilized and now officials are saying that in addition to shutting down the reactors, their containment will be a very long process. 

fukushima, japan, fukushima daiichi, nuclear power plant, nuclear power, japan nuclear crisis, japan nuclear emergency, fukushima reactors, fukushima reactor stability, shut down power plant, shut down reactors, japan shut down reactors

We probably have no choice but to scrap reactors 1 to 4 if we look at their conditions objectively,” Tsunehisa Katsumata, TEPCO’s chairman said. ”We apologize for causing the public anxiety, worry and trouble due to the explosions at reactor buildings and the release of radioactive materials,” he added. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a news conference that four reactors was not enough. He believes that all six reactors at the 40 year old plant should be shut down, adding, “it is very clear looking at the social circumstances.”

Katsumata responded to the government’s call for all reactors to be shut down by saying that the “basic functions have been retained” at Fukushima Dailchi reactors numbers 5 and 6. The country of Japan called a nuclear emergency soon after the reactors were damaged and since then tens of thousands of citizens have been evacuated from the surrounding areas because of fear of radiation poisoning. Reactors numbers 1, 2 and 3 are believed to have suffered damage that reaches into their cores and the number four reactor lost cooling capabilities and it is also thought that a pool containing spent fuel rods is also overheating.

Due to the overwhelming cost of the disaster, TEPCO is now facing a financing crisis that could cripple the company, but they are pushing forward. ”By consulting with the government, we will work hard to avoid experiencing fund shortages because we are coming up short no matter how much money we have due to mounting fuel and restoration costs,” Katsumata told the public while his company works to make sure they have enough fuel to provide power to the areas affected. Via Gizmodo

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100% Renewable Energy Possible by 2030

27/03/2011 4 comments

 

renewables
A new study published in the journal Energy Policy says that we could achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, and not just U.S., but the world.  The study says that we have access to all the necessary technology, but strong political would have to exist for it to happen.

So, how can we get to 100 percent renewables by 2030?  Well, to be exact, the study says we’ll need:

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