Archive for May, 2011

Solar Cheaper Than Fossil Fuel in 5 Yrs

Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co. (GE)

“If we can get solar at 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, which I’m hopeful that we will do, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to want to have solar at home,” Little said yesterday in an interview in Bloomberg’s Washington office. The 2009 average U.S. retail rate per kilowatt-hour for electricity ranges from 6.1 cents in Wyoming to 18.1 cents in Connecticut, according to Energy Information Administration data released in April.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, announced in April that it had boosted the efficiency of thin-film solar panels to a record 12.8 percent. Improving efficiency, or the amount of sunlight converted to electricity, would help reduce the costs without relying on subsidies.

The thin-film panels will be manufactured at a plant that GE intends to open in 2013. The company said in April that the factory will have about 400 employees and make enough panels each year to power about 80,000 homes.

Solar-panel makers from Arizona to Shanghai are expanding factories to add more cost savings that analysts say will sustain the industry’s expansion. Installations may increase by as much as 50 percent in 2011, worth about $140 billion, as cheaper panels and thin film make developers less dependent on government subsidies, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast.

The cost of solar cells, the main component in standard panels, has fallen 21 percent so far this year, and the cost of solar power is now about the same as the rate utilities charge for conventional power in the sunniest parts of California, Italy and Turkey, the London-based research company said.

Utilities need to have incentives to put in place devices that save energy, and Congress needs to provide greater certainty on tax policy surrounding renewable energy, Little said.

Climate change threat to nuclear power

Nuclear power is often touted as a solution to climate change, but Fukushima serves as a warning that far from solving the climate problem, nuclear power may be highly vulnerable to it…nuclear power plants are typically sited near large bodies of water, often seas or estuaries. It is this attachment to water that makes nuclear power vulnerable to climate change (Energy Policy, vol 39, p 318)…Nuclear regulators are already well aware of several safety issues, including flooding, loss of power, loss of communications, blockage of evacuation routes and equipment malfunction. Hurricanes pose the greatest threat….The final problem is droughts, which climate models predict will become longer and larger. Legal battles have already been fought in the US over scarce water resources in regions with nuclear power plants, including the Catawba river basin in the Carolinas and the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint river basin in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. These battles show us that adapting our systems – including nuclear power – to a reduced supply of water will not be easy…The bottom line is that if nuclear power is to be used to mitigate the effects of climate change, it must also be capable of adapting to them. There are serious doubts that it can.

Day 73 after the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns

May 23, 2011, now seventy three days since an earthquake and tsunumi ravaged the northeast coast of Japan on March 11th, killing thousands of people, making many more homeless and causing the meltdown of Fukushima Daichi reactors 1, 2 and 3.  Throughout the period of intense focus on Fukushima, the global media showed a determined resistance to considering what must be happening at the plants based on a logical analysis of events. Instead the media focus was on what could be proved to be true. There was not a whole lot of information, partly because the information was controlled by TEPCO, the owner of the plants, and, partly because the damage to the reactors was so severe that it was not possible to confirm that the meltdowns had taken place. Now that the facts are coming out, the media focus has gone elsewhere.

Read the rest of this entry »

Worldwide Nuclear Slowdown Continues – Technology Review

“…with nuclear on hold, governments are looking to accelerate renewable-energy development, and the latest cost estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Agency provide support for that position.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Nukes Party June 25

See the Party Flyer!!

5-23 NO NUKES PARTY FLYER – opens as a Word document

5-23 NO NUKES PARTY FLYER – opens as a pdf file

Handouts to Spread the Word!!

5-23 Party invitation to paste in e-mail – invitation to paste in email – opens in Word

5-23 Party flyer-4per – handout with 4 on a page – opens as a pdf

5/7/11 Rally at Plymouth Rock Against Pilgrim Nuke

Dear bivalves,
There will be a rally at Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, MA to oppose the relicensing of the Pilgrim nuclear power station on Saturday May 7 from 10 AM to 12 Noon. Beyond Nuclear is one of the speakers.
Organized by a new group Pilgrim: Make Us Safe Today (MUST). Maybe I will see you there and No Nukes,

Paul Gunter, Director
Reactor Oversight Project
Beyond Nuclear
6930 Carroll Avenue Suite 400
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Tel. 301 270 2209