The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday gave Xcel Energy permission to operate its Monticello nuclear power plant for 20 years past its original license expiration in 2010.
The plant now is cleared to stay in business until Sept. 8, 2030.
The article gives a number of details about recertification process and concerns of some regarding the safety of nuclear power facilities.
My opinion: ain't nothing safe 'bout nothing. Nuclear power certainly is dangerous, but you don't see me working a coal mine either.
I haven't found any sources discussing the election and what the results mean for renewable energy. This is a tricky one, because although renewable energy policy can be aggressive under either party (Democrat Governor Rendell in PA or Republican Governor Schwarzenegger in CA for examples). I firmly believe this is a bipartisan issue.
To avoid the severest of global warming consequences, scientists tell us we have about 10 years to make aggressive changes to our energy policy and how we do business. This includes energy standards and other initiatives, where government sets the rules of the market and the businesses play the game. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have recognized global warming as a national security and economic threat, but they need to take action NOW.
Signs point to Congress enacting some sort of tax or fee or restriction on carbon dioxide in the near future, and with over 20 states already having renewable electricity standards, a federal goal for renewable energy should not be a foreign concept to many in Congress.
If we're serious about pulling out of Iraq (either immediately or with a more gradual timeline), then talking about energy policy in the same breath is a great opportunity. We need our energy use to be as efficient as possible, and wean ourselves off this absurd overdependence on fossil fuels and start harnessing our own renewable energy options. Government needs to set the rules for this burgeoning clean energy market (like making the Production Tax Credit for wind permanent, for Pete's sake) so capitalism can figure out how to get us toward our end goal a more efficient, clean, and secure energy system for the 21st century.
The Star Tribune recently ran "Xcel plans to tap wind, water for power needs." The story discusses Xcel's plan to expand its wind and hydro generation portfolio in the coming years to meet rising demand for electricity.
The utility believes that in going green for additional energy, it will eventually save customers big regulatory charges. Xcel is assuming that the government someday will impose a tax or other cost on carbon dioxide emissions, to the tune of $9 a ton. Saving 41 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, therefore, could spare customers hundreds of millions of dollars by 2033 if the government hammers polluters as much as Xcel anticipates.
Left totally unsaid is whether Xcel is actually going beyond the wind mandates it has from the Legislature following the deal it made in order to expand storage at the Prairie Island nuclear plant. Xcel must add hundreds of Megawatts from wind generation to its portfolio in the coming years.
I'm glad Xcel is adding hydro as baseload rather than additional coal but I suspect they are getting a better price from the hydro than coal. I don't know if the hydro beats coal outright or if only the expected carbon tax makes the hydro cheaper.
Nonetheless, this article seems somewhat misleading.
Article in International Herald Tribune on changing public opinion in Australia regarding climate change -- "Parched in Australia: Drought changes views on warming." Australia is in the midst of a four-year drought that is affecting crop and livestock prices and is also making people concerned that when they turn on a tap, water will not be there. A survey done by a group in Sydney found that Australians ranked global warming as the third highest threat facing them currently (after international terrorism and nuclear proliferation), and nearly 70% of respondents thought Australia should take immediate steps to respond to climate change, even if these steps had significant cost. Apparently this is also reaching the politicians within Australia, so perhaps we will see some actions as well.
conversations will take place: The first conversation, focused upon risk, policy, and carbon capture and sequestration deployment will occur at the Humphrey Institute from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in the Wilkins Room (215). The second, focused upon specific geological considerations and technical aspects of carbon capture and sequestration, will take place from 4-5 p.m. with the Geology Department at 121 Pillsbury Hall.
2:30-3:30 in Wilkins Room (215) of Humphrey Institute, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis
4:00 - 5:00 at 121 Pillsbury Hall
Julio received his B.S and M.S. degrees from M.I.T., followed by a Ph.D. at the Univ. So. California. After graduation, he worked for five years as a senior research scientist in Houston, first at Exxon and later ExxonMobil. He next worked as a research scientist at the Univ. of Maryland, affiliated with
the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) at the Univ. of Maryland, and the Colorado Energy Research
Institute at Colorado School of Mines. In his new appointment as head of the Carbon Management Program for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he leads initiatives and research into carbon capture, carbon storage, and underground coal gasification. In this role, he hassubmitted Congressional testimony for the US Senate and California Assembly, published in Foreign Affairs and the New York Times, and worked with the EPA, USGS, and Dept. of Energy. His research interests include carbon sequestration, underground coal gasification, deep-water
depositional systems, basin & range tectonics and sedimentation, paleoclimatology, sequence stratigraphy, and landslide physics. A native of Rhode Island, he has worked in CA, WA, UT, WY, CO, Spain, Ireland, the North
Sea, Nigeria, Angola, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, and Australia.
Greenland is losing 100 billion tons per year of ice, according to a BBC article, "Gravity satellites see ice loss." Apparently this is not contributing much to sea level rises - something like 0.3 mm per year - but it is still worrisome and an indicator of global warming.
Does anyone know whether the aggregate of sea level changes will cause problems with plate tectonics? I am wondering whether the extra weight will shift the plates and cause changes - perhaps more volcanic activity, etc.
Apparently Britain does not have the natural gas crunches that the United States -- gas traders start giving it away. As one executive noted, "There is simply too much gas flowing into the UK." Odd.
Caveat: this story is from early October -- I am behind on my posting
Interesting article in the BBC on "How would road charging work?" This article explains a new program being floated by the British government that would (I think) be similar to smart toll lanes -- drivers pay a changing rate based on how congested the roads are, in order for drivers to begin to understand the true cost of driving. This system is different from the congestion pricing used in London, which is a flat fee for entering specific parts of the city.
If you have any interest in what it takes to get oil out of the Gulf of Mexico, the NY Times has a story for you.
To picture the challenge, imagine flying above New York City at 30,000 feet and aiming a drill tip the size of a coffee can at the pitcher’s mound in Yankee Stadium. Then imagine doing it in the dark, at $100 million a go.
Even after hitting pay dirt, it will take another decade and billions of dollars to transform oil from these ultra-deep reserves into gasoline. Some of the technology to pump the sludge from these depths, at these pressures and temperatures, has not yet been developed; only about a dozen ships can drill wells that deep, and no one knows for sure how much oil is down there.
This certainly gives a greater window into the expense of oil discovery.
The New York Times reports that the International Energy Agency estimates China will surpass the US in greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, a decade or so before previous predictions.
This quote from a Chinese official nicely sums up the issue:
“You cannot tell people who are struggling to earn enough to eat that they need to reduce their emissions,” said Lu Xuedu, the deputy director general of Chinese Office of Global Environmental Affairs, at a conference two weeks ago.
I'm so not going to apologize for that headline. It is the highlight of my day thus far.
CNN Money has an article discussing last month's BOOM in fuel inefficient car sales. You give Americans a couple of weeks of respite from (relatively) high gas prices and they return to 15 mpg.
Sales of big pickup trucks and SUVs went through the roof - doubling from the year before in some cases. Sales of small, fuel-efficient cars, meanwhile, remained stagnant. It is as if all that moaning and groaning about price gouging by oil companies never happened.
Why exactly should American auto manufacturers start producing more efficient vehicles? It seems that the market is clearly showing a preference for vehicles that have terrible fuel efficiency. With the American business obsession with short term gains over long term longevity, we should not be surprised at their lack of progress toward fuel-efficient vehicles.
Renewable Energy Access is reporting that the first closed-loop ethanol plant using manure and methane to distill the ethanol will begin operations next month. So it's not exactly fossil free since the electricity for the plant and the agricultural inputs for the corn are fossil-based, but it's getting there, i.e. no natural gas for distillation. They plan to build 15 more plants like it.
An ethanol plant in Luverne reported earlier in the year that it is aiming to be the first cellulistic plant in the US, not by traditional fermentation and distillation methods, but by gasifying corn stover, skipping the whole issue with breaking down cellulose into usable sugars.
Walmart announced that it is releasing a packaging scorecard that evaluates the packaging in its merchandise for, among other things, greenhouse gasses and renewable energy content. The full list of metrics is below:
- 15% will be based on GHG / CO2 per ton of Production
- 15% will be based on Material Value
- 15% will be based on Product / Package Ratio
- 15% will be based on Cube Utilization
- 10% will be based on Transportation
- 10% will be based on Recycled Content
- 10% will be based on Recovery Value
- 5% will be based on Renewable Energy
- 5% will be based on Innovation
Walmart has a seemingly modest goal of reducing packaging across its global supply chain by 5% by 2013.
It's good to see the world's largest retailer take steps to reduce its environmental footprint, however modest. This is creating a precedent for other companies to infuse sustainability in their corporate culture. The danger is that sustainability becomes just another PR tool. Environmental groups must applaud these efforts, but continue to push for more sustainability.
Various news outlets are reporting that the Iron Range Biomass Energy Project is nearing completion and will begin test burns in November:
"Making Biomass a Reality" Mesabi Daily News, 10.30.06
"Bring on Biomass" Hibbing Daily Tribune, 10.31.06
"Iron Range biomass projects unveiled" StarTribune, 10.31.06
The $82 million project with the cities of Virginia and Hibbing has a 20 yr contract with Xcel Energy for 35 megawatts, to fulfill in part, the Biomass Mandate from the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant compromise from 1994. Notably, 25% of the fuel must come from closed-loop biomass, aka tree farms specifically grown for this project. The project will also provide district heating for the two cities. Word on the street is that the electricity contract is in excess of 10 cents/kWh.
General Motors is building a prototype for a home hydrogen refueling unit in hope of selling fuel-cell cars by 2011. According to USA Today, the unit, which would make hydrogen using either electricity or sunlight, would help sidestep one of the most vexing problems surrounding the creation of the pollution-free, alternative-power cars: "how to persuade oil companies to invest in expensive new hydrogen stations that would compete with their core product, gasoline." More on GM Refueler.