Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nuclear power and climate change – what now?

The nuclear power plant debacle in Japan in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami has complicated what already was a contentious

question: Should we look to nuclear power as a major component in solving the climate change problem?

The situation at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan is getting more manageable by the day, though the ultimate repair and cleanup will be a long-term project. The 24-hour news cycle has feasted on the public’s dread of radiation, relegating the deaths of tens of thousands in the earthquake and tsunami to almost a footnote on American cable news shows. Anti-nuclear crusaders have been trotted out with little regard for their qualifications, some resurrecting long-debunked tales of deaths and injuries at Three Mile Island (where nobody was even hurt, much less killed).

The predicted nuclear renaissance may founder temporarily in some countries because of these events, but the lessons that will be learned from Japan’s accident won’t stop the growth of nuclear power in the long run. It will only make future plants safer. Despite the dire warnings of Cassandras, nuclear power plants being built today are far safer than those at Fukushima, and the Generation IV reactors to come will be even better. The aged power plants at Fukushima that would likely have survived the tsunami intact if not for the woefully misjudged placement of their backup power supplies had been running as long as forty years, and were designed half a century ago. More >>>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, May 27, 2011

Renewable energy necessary for energy security

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, said that the government should fast track efforts to implement a national roadmap for renewable energy (RE) in order

to take advantage of new, clean technology and not lag behind as the world is making moves to invest heavily in RE.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), welcomed news that the Department of Energy (DOE) has completed a national roadmap for RE, saying that the development of a strong RE foundation would ultimately secure the energy supply of the country and end fossil fuel dependency.

DOE Undersecretary Josefina Asirit said that the National Renewable Energy Plan (NREP) will outline the policy framework for RE under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Angara, author of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which encourages local entrepreneurs to go into the development of the country's vast renewable energy resources, stated that other countries are making aggressive moves to invest in RE, and that the country might be left behind in terms of development if the government is unable to encourage the local development of RE. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wind power needs long-term policy support

Wind power needs to be and will likely be a key source of electricity in the near future (and already is in some places).

As legendary business leader Ted Turner said at the U.S. WINDPOWER conference in California yesterday, embracing renewable energy such as

wind, solar, geothermal is an “even more of an obvious business decision for him today than launching eventual cable giant CNN was in 1980.” Turner stated, “I’ve never seen anything more clear as the case for wind, solar, and geothermal.”

However, Turner and several others stated the clear need to provide wind power (and other renewables) with the same policy security that fossil fuels and nuclear have received for several decades. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Energy industry hopes to renew interest in smart grid

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- SmartMeters were supposed to be the first step toward a new kind of interconnected power network, called the

smart grid. However, concerns over health risks have stalled progress. Now there's an effort under way to get the smart grid moving again

SmartMeters have generated more opposition than PG&E ever expected.

"We never realized at the time that they would become so front and center to peoples' primary focus of concern," said PG&E Sr. Vice President Tom Bottorf.

They were designed to be an information gateway linking consumers to the power grid. Instead, health concerns surfaced, while talk of an interconnected smart grid faded.

"The critical thing is to bring them together and to have a different kind of dialogue under one roof," said Connectivity Week organizer Anto Budiardjo.

That's the goal of a conference this week at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Called "Connectivity Week," consumer advocates, environmental watchdogs, and utility companies hope to find common ground. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, May 23, 2011

IEA warns Merkel on nuclear decision

BERLIN, May 23 (UPI) -- Germany threatens European energy security by pressing ahead with its plan to drop nuclear power, the director of the

International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka has said.

Because Europe's energy market is increasingly connected, the German policy decision affects the entire continent, Tanaka said in an interview with the Financial Times Germany newspaper.

Berlin should come to a joint decision on nuclear power with its European partners, he said.

"Otherwise sustainability and supply security are sacrificed in the whole of Europe," said the head of the IEA, which has headquarters in Paris and advises 28 industrialized countries on energy security.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in March, at the height of the Japanese nuclear crisis, ordered comprehensive stress tests for all 17 German reactors and decided to shut down the seven oldest, most of them built during the 1970s, for at least three months.

Merkel, who in the fall of 2010 decided to prolong the use of nuclear power in Germany, said her government would look for ways to drop the energy source "as soon as possible."

She won't unveil a timeframe for the nuclear phase out in Germany until next month but it's widely expected that some of the reactors may not be coming back online.

Experts expect the government's new energy strategy, to be unveiled next month, to bank on renewables, efficient coal- and natural gas-fired power plants and a modernization of Germany's aging power grid, which is seen unfit to transport large amounts of renewable power through the country.

Tanaka said Germany's energy security will suffer if it decides to shut down reactors. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, May 20, 2011

Government to develop Oil Shock Response Plan

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne yesterday agreed to develop an ‘Oil Shock Response Plan’, following a meeting with the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

The group, which was formed by Arup, B&Q, Buro Happold, Solarcentury, SSE, Stagecoach and Virgin, and campaigns for greater awareness of the economic threat presented by dwindling oil supplies, said that the meeting had proved “constructive” and had helped to advance the energy security dialogue.

Specifically, Huhne agreed that DECC and ITPOES would work together on peak oil threat assessment and contingency planning.

Details on the collaboration are yet to be agreed, but the group is expected to be tasked with modeling some of the impacts that could result if, as growing number of experts fear, global oil supplies peak within the next five years. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Summer Ahead

Despite the recent drop in oil prices, the outlook for the remainder of the year is not good. If the IEA numbers are correct the world is probably

burning more oil each day than is coming out of the ground, with the difference being made up from the 2.6 billion barrel stockpiles held by the OECD countries.

Every day brings new stories of coal, electric power and oil product shortages in some corner of the world. The climate too is not cooperating with significant crop failures imminent in many parts of the world and the water levels at numerous hydro dams, particularly in Asia, falling rapidly.
Behind much of oil's recent price drop is the concern among oil traders that economic growth was not going as well in the U.S. and China as had been hoped. In the case of the US this is probably not a bad concern as much of the so-called recovery that is supposed to be taking place is based on hype and selective interpretation of suspect economic statistics. In reality, there has been very little improvement in the US economy this year other than the lingering effects of 2009's $800 billion stimulus package.
This summer should prove interesting for the U.S. economy as Congress is starting to debate the debt ceiling and what are likely to be major cuts in federal spending in the next fiscal year or two. Whether cutting federal spending will help the economy grow or simply add to the scope and depth of the recession remains to be seen. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nuclear safety post-Fukushima: A victory for the public's right to know

How vulnerable are US nuclear reactors to the kind of disaster that is occurring at Fukushima Daiichi?

Considering that one in three Americans lives within 50 miles of a nuclear plant, the public deserves access to all information that can shed light on this question. Yet a straight answer has been difficult to obtain from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the nuclear industry. In the weeks following the accident, the NRC, rather than providing clear explanations, often resorted to its business-as-usual strategy: offering vague reassurances while muddying the waters with confusing bureaucrat-speak. And when all else failed, the NRC dropped a veil of secrecy over information that could cast doubt on -- or even contradict -- some of its public assertions.

This was evident when the NRC and the industry invoked the mysterious requirements known as "B5b" as a cure-all for the kinds of problems that led to the Fukushima crisis. B5b refers to a section of an NRC Order, issued in February 2002, describing the strategies that the NRC required nuclear plant licensees to develop after the September 11 attacks to "maintain or restore core cooling, containment, and spent fuel pool cooling capabilities under the circumstances associated with loss of large areas of the plant due to explosions or fire." The NRC decided to impose these rules instead of requiring nuclear plants to adopt measures that would help to prevent aircraft attacks on nuclear plants through means such as no-fly zones, anti-aircraft weapons, or construction of additional physical barriers. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

OAS Holds Workshop on Infrastructure Institutions for Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean

6 May 2011: A workshop co-organized by the Organization of American States (OAS) discussed the needs and challenges facing quality

infrastructure institutions, such as standardization, certification, accreditation, metrology and evaluation of compliance, in Latin America and the Caribbean, related to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Co-hosted by the hemispheric Organization, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) of Germany, and the National Metrology Institute, Normalização e Qualidade Industrial (INMETRO) of Brazil, and funded by the Government of Germany, the workshop convened from 3-6 May 2011, in Petrópolis, Brazil. The event aimed to define the work priority areas and the guidelines of a regional cooperation programme to promote sensitization and improvement of technical capacities of quality infrastructure institutions in the area of renewable energy. The results will inform a work programme to be further elaborated by OAS and PTB.

The workshop was attended by representatives of diverse national and international quality infrastructure institutions from the region, as well as international experts and representatives from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the Inter-American Metrology System (SIM), the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT), and the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC).

Quality infrastructure institutions are a precondition for the production of safe and high quality products and services, including energy. They are made up of public and private institutions that provide the necessary services, such as standardization, measurement and evaluation, to guarantee quality and must be supported by a regulatory framework that promotes its proper functioning. The OAS underlines that quality infrastructure is fundamental in promoting competitiveness, innovation, access to markets, and consumer protection and therefore fundamental for sustainable economic development. [OAS Press Release] More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Saudi Sweet Oil Supply Too Low to Offset Libya, al-Husseini Says

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, won’t be able to produce enough low-sulfur blends to replace lost Libyan output for refiners in Europe,

said Sadad al-Husseini, a former Saudi Aramco executive.

The country doesn’t have enough Arab Super Light to create sufficient amounts of low-sulfur, or sweet, oil similar to Libya’s grades, al-Husseini, Aramco’s former executive vice president for exploration and development, said today by e-mail.

“Although the sulfur in the new Saudi blends is low, many Libyan crude types are lower still, I believe as low as 0.07 percent sulfur,” said al-Husseini, who runs Husseini Energy, an energy consultant.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on March 8 that Aramco had developed light, sweet blends with specifications matching crude normally supplied by fellow OPEC member Libya, where production has dwindled because of an armed rebellion. Libyan exports slumped to 450,000 barrels a day in March compared with 1.6 million barrels in January, before the conflict began, according to the International Energy Agency. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Renewable energy can power the world, says landmark IPCC study

UN's climate change science body says renewables supply, particularly solar power, can meet global demand.

Renewable energy could account for almost 80% of the world's energy supply within four decades - but only if governments pursue the policies needed to promote green power, according to a landmark report published on Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of the world's leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations, said that if the full range of renewable technologies were deployed, the world could keep greenhouse gas concentrations to less than 450 parts per million, the level scientists have predicted will be the limit of safety beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible.

Investing in renewables to the extent needed would cost only about 1% of global GDP annually, said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC.

Renewable energy is already growing fast – of the 300 gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity added globally between 2008 and 2009, about 140GW came from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, according to the report. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

India plans 37 billion investment to add 17000 MW clean energy capacity-by-2017

India plans to invest $37 billion to create 17,000 MW of renewable energy generation by 2017, the ministry for new & renewable energy has said. The

most of the projected investment would come mainly from the private sector.
The present installed renewable energy capacity in India is 20,000 MW which accounts for 11% of the total installed power capacity. The major share ofpower still comes from coal which accounts for 40% of the country’s energy usage.

The Indian government had quadrupled its renewable energy targets earlier this year as part of its national plan to reduce carbon intensity which aimedat installing 74.4 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and reduction in carbon emissions intensity by 20-25% of 2005 levels over the next decade.

In addition to meeting its energy needs, Indian government is targeting the investors from all over the world to develop globally competitive industries and technologies that can provide new opportunities for growth. The current ambitious goals for deployment of renewable energy are backed by thegovernment incentives and subsidies to encourage investments in renewable energy sector in India. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Independent coalition energy review backs more nuclear power

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has backed nuclear power as the best short term energy solution in a report called for in the formation of the

coalition Government. However the report's claims about nuclear have been attacked as 'optimistic' by renewable industry backers.

The Renewable Energy Review also calls for long term investment in renewable power recommending a share of around 30% by 2030 as 'appropriate'. It concludes nuclear power generation 'appears likely' to be the most cost-effective form of low-carbon power generation in the 2020s'. This the report says is 'justifying' significant investment despite safety concerns following recent events in Japan. More >>>

Location:George Town, Cayman Islands

Monday, May 9, 2011

Massive oil discovery offshore Cuba - Game changer in US Cuba Relations

Cuba is the only country in the world to have already learned how to live with the end of the age of oil. After the US oil embargo of Cuba, the country

had to fend for itself, creating an almost completely oil-free economy.

The blockaded nation went on to radically reinvent agriculture, and evolved a fix-it economy that rivaled that of the US during the Great Depression. Mechanics learned the skills needed to fix up the old 1950s cars that remained on the island, miraculously keeping them going on the occasional trickle of oil, for decades after they had become mere museum pieces in the US.

But now, in an ironic turn of events, nearly 5 billion barrels of oil is likely to be in the bedrock off Cuba’s north coast, according to US Geological Survey estimates. This will be enough to make the island a major energy player in the region, according to Ordons News. Cuba’s own geological studies find there might be as much as 20 billion barrels. Petrobras withdrew its plans to drill there recently, suggesting that the lower estimate is the more accurate figure. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

China is #2 Cleantech Producer, U.S. #17, New Report Finds

“Denmark earns the biggest share of its national revenue from producing windmills and other clean technologies, the United States is rapidly
expanding its clean-tech sector, but no country can match China’s pace of

growth, according to a new report obtained by The Associated Press,” the AP reported today.

“China’s production of green technologies has grown by a remarkable 77 per cent a year, according to the report, which was commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and which will be unveiled on Monday at an industry conference in Amsterdam.”

The key findings and conclusions of the report, which compared cleantech production of 38 countries to GDP, are as follows:

Denmark leads the world in the percentage of its GDP that comes from cleantech production (3.1%)
China is 2nd at 1.4%, Germany 3rd, Brazil 4th, and the U.S. 17th (at 0.3%).
Obama’s cleantech policies have helped the U.S. and the U.S. cleantech industry has been growing 28%/year since 2008.
China’s growth in cleantech production is incomparable, however, and is clearly going to make China the cleantech world leader barring any radical, unexpected changes.
China’s cleantech growth is based in a clear understanding of the threats the world (and it) is facing as a result of climate change as well as an understanding that the cleantech industry is a growth driver that will help it tremendously in its economic ascent.
In flat dollar terms (not percentage of GDP), China is currently the world leader in cleantech production, bringing in $64 billion a year from it and the U.S. brings on $45 billion. More >>>

Location:George Town,Cayman Islands

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another way to store solar and wind energy

UK startup Isentropic Energy has proposed the simplest of thermal energy storage systems, according to Powermag. Two large containers of gas and

gravel, one hot (500C) and one cold (–160C) provide the temperature difference to operate a heat pump. Off-peak surplus wind power or solar energy is used to heat up the contents of the hot tank and to retain that temperature.

No refrigerants, chemicals or water are used, and it has no particular geographic requirement, unlike several energy storage ideas currently in pilot testing. It could be cheap at utility-scale – as little as $10/kWh (one time, to build it), according to the company’s chief technology officer, Jonathan Howes, and the overall operating efficiency of the energy storage process is claimed to be 72% to 80%. More >>>

The Peak Oil Crisis: Peak Oil Elasticity

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy announced that the average national price for regular gasoline in the U.S. was now $3.96 a

gallon. Don’t feel too bad though; last week the Kremlin banned gasoline and diesel exports from Russia to alleviate domestic shortages sending gasoline prices in Germany to a record $9.10 a gallon. Gasoline prices have been rising steadily since last October, and given that the summer driving season is still a few weeks away are likely to keep rising for at least a while longer.
One would think that with an increase in gasoline prices of over a dollar a gallon in the last year sales of gasoline would be slipping – and indeed they have, but not very much. With U.S. gasoline consumption running around 9 million b/d in last couple of years, consumption has only fallen by about 150,000 barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, compared with last year. Three years ago during a similar price spike, U.S. gasoline consumption fell by closer to 400,000 b/d. So far this year’s drop in consumption has not been enough to stem the rise in prices which in recent weeks have become more closely tied to the global supply/demand balance and the falling U.S. dollar.
More >>>

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gates: ‘Cute’ Tech Won’t Solve Planet’s Energy Woes

NEW YORK — Bill Gates has a simple plan for the future of energy: Don’t rely on the cute stuff. 

‘If we don’t have innovation in energy, we don’t have much at all.’
Sure, attaching solar panels to roofs, building windmills in backyards or deploying other small-scale energy technologies is a fine idea, Microsoft’s co-founder told a packed auditorium at the Wired Business Conference: Disruptive by Design.

Trouble is, they can’t significantly aide developing nations thirsty for cheap energy, he said.

“The solutions that work in the rich world don’t even close to solving the [energy] problem,” said Gates, interviewed by Wired Magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “If you’re interested in cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go. If you’re interested in solving the world’s energy problems, it’s things like big [solar projects] in the desert.” More >>>

Monday, May 2, 2011

Peak oil highlights need for a unified policy

The infrastructure Australia needs to respond to the world's dwindling oil supply is not the sort we are building. 

Peak oil is forcing its way to the top of the agenda with stark warnings from the International Energy Agency and others repeated on ABC radio and television this week, after an investigation by the Catalyst program.
Following up a similar program she made in 2005, journalist Jonica Newby gained a rare interview with IEA chief economist Fatih Birol, who said crude oil production peaked in 2006 and, in veiled terms, added that governments should have started working seriously on the problem a decade ago and warned of the threat of more oil wars.
Whereas five years ago the IEA expected total production - including oil from deep-sea drilling and unconventional sources such as tar sands - could rise to 120 million barrels a day by 2030, the agency now expects production will reach only 96 million barrels. And Birol reckons there are no guarantees it can be brought out of the ground in a timely fashion. Read more: