New energy minister? Not for long.

ImageIt’s always a bit nerve-wracking going on telly.

I quite enjoy it as it’s a bit like an exam.  You have to do your best to get your points across but these may or may not suit the presenter’s questions!

The news was that a Tory minister (for Energy) had spoken out against windfarms, “Enough is enough, etc”. But way to go on the misjudgement stakes!

Wind is just starting to take off!

From 2010 to 2011, renewable energy doubled in size in output – most of that is wind.  This September we passed the 5GW milestone.  5 Gigawatts – enough to power 4 or 5 million homes. Renewables now produce 10% of our electricity. The industry is starting to go exponential and expecting to create tens of thousands of jobs in the next decade, so it’s precisely the time when you  need consistency from government – with  everyone maintaining confidence – not energy ministers going off the reservation!

ImageBut if the coalition seriously wanted to be the greenest government ever …  then  they should:

  • raise our EU target from 15 % to 20%  (We negotiated it down to 15% but we’re already behind 18 other countries – including Greece and Spain –  they’ll be miles ahead in 8 years time!)
  • put the Feed-in-Tariff for microgeneration (small-scale, community) renewables back up.
  • And lower the interest rates on microgeneration loans  from 7% to 1% (Germany)

In Huddersfield, Green Councillors have been leading the way on renewables. In this case it’s solar panels – on people’s houses – giving them free electricity. They’ve done so much it’s 5% of UK TOTAL SOLAR CAPACITY! This goes hand in hand with serious insulation work too and they’ve created hundreds of jobs and now saved millions of pounds off people’s bills.

The insulation scheme has taken off round the country (other councils have copied it) and now the Green Party has a Green New Deal to create a million jobs (a real million, not the false-accounting million that Cameron declared last week).

Greenest government ever? We’re still waiting.

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Windpower provides 90,000 jobs – in Germany.

This Telegraph article has a lot to say on wind.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9319551/Britain-blows-hot-and-cold-on-wind-farms.html

Interesting that Germany has more individual, group and local ownership of turbines, compared to ours almost exclusively being major companies. It notes that it produces more wind power than us, albeit with less wind
resource.

Germany is the world’s third largest user of wind power, behind China and
the United States. Germany produces 29GW (2011). In 2011 we passed 5GW. The UK is the seventh country in the world to reach this capacity, so maybe we’re not such an Old Man of Europe on this issue. Germany’s population is 82 million compared to our 62 m. Wind power in Germany provides over 90,000
jobs… In the UK it’s 9,000 jobs. Denmark and particularly Spain are doing astoundingly well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_the_European_Union

Despite various attacks about blights on countryside and health scares, the
Telegraph points out that a recent ComRes poll states that a very healthy 68% of people support windfarms.

Last winter: 25,000 premature deaths

Caroline Lucas, Letter to Guardian, 2nd Dec

Dear Sir,

You rightly identify the failure of successive governments to tackle the national shame of ever more households struggling to heat their homes (Quarter of home now in fuel poverty – 02 December). This looks set to continue as fuel prices go up and government support for energy efficiency measures for the most vulnerable goes down.

Next year will be the first time in three decades that there has been no Treasury funded scheme for those in fuel poverty. Instead, the government is introducing a new energy company obligation (ECO) as part of its flagship Green Deal programme.

Earlier this year, Ministers assured me that this new Obligation would provide a “far greater level of resource” to tackle fuel poverty when it replaces the existing schemes, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and Warm Front. But just this week, those same Ministers were unable to answer my direct question on how the ECO’s pitiful £325m a year for fuel poor homes is “far greater” the 2010-11 Warm Front spending of £370m, or CERT’s spending of around £600m a year on vulnerable households.

This is not just a question of pounds and pence. Last winter, according the Office of National Statistics, there were over 25,000 premature deaths in this country because people could not keep warm in their homes. Government inaction to control the oligopoly of the big, profit hungry energy companies, or to help households to cut their bills, means that yet more lives could be lost unnecessarily this winter.

The Government is currently consulting on the Green Deal and its ECO proposals. I would urge anyone concerned about the fuel poor to respond to this consultation, to ensure that all homes are properly insulated and the scourge of fuel poverty is eradicated once and for all.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and Co-Chair of the Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency All Party Parliamentary Group

Fukushima, Aug report

 

Arnie Gunderson has proved himself a very reliable commentator compared to the lockdown in western media.   The problem is the Fukushima reactors are American and they’d rather not any negative publicity thanks.

So what’s he saying?

There’s a few reports claiming the core has melted through the concrete containment vessel and into ground. Arnie concludes there’s not enough evidence to tell yet.

Californian data has thrown up large amounts of Su35 since March. This is a radioactive isotope.  It indicates huge energy as it occurs only from environments with  400 BN neutrons per sq m.  So where’s it  from?

His Apr3   report  indic ated there had been incomplete shut downs and there were recurring chan reactions, “ongoing criticalities”.

In the US, the NRC staff briefed on Fukushima and told them the fuel pools had no major problems.

But fuel particles were found a mile or more from spent fuel pools!  Initially Arnie concluded these were from Unit 3 fuel pool, which had exploded depositing small pieces of fuel rod (plutonium) up to a mile away.

But this report is saying the containment was breached and caused these remote deposits. He thinks they’re wrong. But if reactors and containment have failed, they really need to look at US reactor design.

They’re now constructing a tent over Fukushima Unit 1. This will reduce site radiation but will only make the radiation airborne by releasing it through a chimney stack. It will mean less Caesium for workers but it’s only sending the radiation away.

The deposits of Caesium are extensive. The Japanese are now burning it.
In the US it would be classed as dangerous radiaoactive waste – you couldn’t burn it.

Japan is allowing 8000 disintegrations per second. They also allow blending – 24000 dints ps combined with two other items of waste with none,  gives you the required average of 8000 dps!

So ground material around Fukushima is now being airborne again through burning! This is recontaminating the areas they’ve only  just cleaned, recreating the disaster.

meanwhile radioactive rivers continue to contaminate the ocean.
Japan must recognise the tough and serious problem they have. Right now, the Japanese are worsening it, and making it more costly.

The “Single Issue” Party

A frightening number of left-leaning progressives dismiss the Green Party as a single issue party. By this, of course, they mean the environment – surely one of the most complex “single issues” ever!

The left is also known for being highly ideological and to split frequently on ideological lines. (It’s easier on the right; when ideology hinges on market advantage and material profit, life is much simpler). But the main leftist division, that of workers and bosses, leaves important things out of the equation such as the exploitation of the Earth (which we call “resources”) and the exploitation of labour abroad, which is often not given due weight and seen as another resource.

Hence the importance of internationalism, but where better to start than to adopt a global perspective in the first place?

Many leftists remain unaware of Marx’s writings on capitalist agriculture and soil ecology or on the changing human relationship with nature. Were he writing today I have no doubt he would be writing about species, oceans, air, rivers and forests under human-capitalist assault; let alone the human species itself with the capital-driven 16 million who die a year in a world of plenty. Just from greed.

The three major parties have all well and truly sold out to international capital and are determined to make our education, forests, pensions and health, its victims. Maybe the left should look more closely at Britain’s fourth biggest party.

In a way, we are all a single issue party. It’s called Life. It means living and allowing to live; it means looking after the balance which once we inherited and soon we will pass on. Or neglect it at our peril.

Fukushima is hanging on by its fingernails

 

In a recent interview, top physicist, Michio Kaku, underscored the warnings coming from top nuclear commentator Arnie Gunderson.

“Fukushima… is still a ticking time bomb… 3 months after the Indonesia tsunami there was a huge aftershock… If that happens here it will start all over again.”

“In the last 2 weeks everything we have been told about the accident has been turned upside down!!” Kaku said. This was no slight accident. We are now told there were not only meltdowns, there were 100% core melt in 3 reactors.

A supposedly safe 12 mile evacuation zone was set up. Now they’ve found 4 hotspots OUTSIDE the evacuation zone. Now 34,000 schoolchildren wear radiation badges going to school. Kindergarten kids, 4 years old, are going to school with radiation badges!

So how bad is it?

We tried to reconstruct the accident in our computers. We knew it was much more severe than they were telling us… They lied to us… they knew how much core melting was taking place… Within hours there were company quotes telling us it was safe. But it was like the keystone cops!! People were running around headless.

In reality, the workers there are exposed to a year’s worth of radiation in 10 minutes at a time. – For Chernobyl 600,000 workers were mobilised!! Each one worked for a few minutes. Each got a medal from Gorbachev!

How long will it take to clear up?

50 to 100 years! – Clean up hasn’t even started yet. Cold shutdown hasn’t happened yet! Cold shutdown is when the BOILING stops! This won’t happen till next year. There’s boiling water circulating there, leaking radiation into the environment and into gigantic vats. And they may have to dump this water in the ocean again with other major environmental consequences!

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima is worse than Chernobyl and therefore the worst nuclear disaster in history. Belatedly, it was declared a Level 7 nuclear emergency, 12 Apr, a month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2001. Right now Unit 1 is measuring its highest levels of radiation 4000 mSv since the earthquake.

Despite much flirting with the truth, Tepco, the company concerned, is having grave difficulty getting anything like control over the site – or admitting the scale. It only admitted last week that three out of six reactors at the nuclear plant suffered meltdowns within days of 11 March.

Lately a French NGO has discovered  that “the radioactive cloud from the stricken reactors reached France two days earlier than officially announced. In addition, the levels of radioactive iodine-131 were 20 times higher on 22 March than announced on 24 March, according to the NGO’s findings.” Perhaps this is unsurprising for a country that relies on nuclear for 80% of its energy needs. (UK is 5%).

The Fukushima Disaster has now led Japan to renounce future nuclear power  stations (it already has 54!) and Germany to undertake to rundown all its nuclear power by 2022. Contrarily, Saudi Arabia has made plans to order SIXTEEN reactors – someone has to keep the US nuclear business afloat!!

Radioactive isotopes are being found from California to New England, and tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water are affecting Japanese groundwater and flooding into Pacific Ocean currents. Japan has now ordered hundreds of steel containers to hold (future!) contaminated water.

A key commentator on the Fukushima disaster is Arnie Gunderson of Faire Winds. (Search Youtube)

In April he described the state of the plant’s 5 reactors (Units) after the first few weeks. (video, 13 Apr 2011)

Unit 3 – this suffered a large, serious explosion (a detonation with a shock wave faster than the speed of sound, as apposed to a deflagration with a  shock wave slower than sound). U3 had a much more massive explosion than U1 with fuel rod parts ejected up to TWO MILES away.

U4 – fuel rods are dry. fuel racks intact.

Uranium dust has been found in Hawaii and West Coast USA. Of decay isotopes, Plutonium has been found onsite, and Amarycium found in New England.
These transuranics, heavier than U, indicate the nuclear fuel has been volatilised (become a fine aerosol) at Fukushima and so able to travel vast distances.

A large portion of the building U4 is missing. Infra red shows a heat source still on the south side.

The fuel pool was probably the base of the explosion.

U1 – had a fire, a deflagration (not explosive).
U3 had an explosion. What caused it? H and O gases alone wouldn’t do it but could have created a smaller explosion which moved the nuclear fuel in the pool which then blew upwards.
Isotopes – information has yet to be made available.
And again in May (video, May 13 2011). That the situation is still called “unstable”, is an understatement.

Tepco, the company involved, reports the Unit 1 reactor core is uncovered, and  fuel has been damaged. New gauges installed show no water left in the reactor or the containment area. Tens of thousands of tonnes of water pumped onto the site have disappeared in these 2 months. This means major leakages into groundwater. U1 is dry and the nuclear reaction has probably melted through containment. It’s emitting a reported 70R an hour where 4-5 hours is deadly.

U2 – is leaking water like a sieve. Containment is leaking containment water. Cleansing is not possible at this scale. They are pumping in 100 tons of water a day but demineralisation cleanup only runs at 1-2 tons.

U3 – probably emitting warm steam now rather than a fire. The temperature is very high and the pressure very low. This means there’s no water and a severe cooling problem. H explosion still poss. U3 is a pile of rubble at this point. The fuel pool pictures are awful – showing large pieces of concrete, debris, etc, distorted fuel racks, the results of a violent explosion. The U3 explosion led to pieces of metal miles away (detonation). There are also high levels of  Iodine-131 in the pool, but after 60 days thisI should be gone. This indicates a sudden nuclear explosion (“prompt criticality”).

U4 – this building is tilting at the top and may collapse. The U4 pool racks appear ok.

U1 containment is leaking and filling trenches offsite. U2 is also leaking and filling trenches offsite. All 3 nuclear containments are leaking.

US regulatory body says it’s impossible for nuclear containment to leak. Obviously this is wrong.

There is lots of water loose in the vicinity. Measurements show the site has sunk maybe a foot. The concrete foundations must have cracked. Contaminated water must be making it into groundwater and probably also into the sewage system.

Distances 50-60km away from the reactor show contamination. At one high school soil is being stripped out. The high school requires students to wear masks and long-sleeve shirts! This school should be closed!

All reactors are emitting radiation. No plan in sight to stop this as yet.

JUNE: Arnie, June 3rd Interview

Unit 1: Had an explosion and a meltdown happened. A blob of nuclear lava has ended up on the bottom. Saltwater is being pumped in but the inside of this molten mass is 5000F! The concrete containment has cracks in it and water is leaving after directly touching the nuclear fuel. It’s carrying radioactive isotopes into the environment.

U2: also has a blob at the bottom of containment and treated as above. This can’t actually get any worse!

U3: Has also had a major explosion. May also not have melted through the concrete containment but some fuel may be lying on the bottom. A re-criticality may be occurring. High I131 levels indicate a reaction may be cycling – “breathing”, as its own heat grows it shuts the reaction down. There may be a tenth of the core doing this. ALSO, the saltwater and iron reaction means the reactor bottom may break, and the core may fall out suddenly (with a violent Hydrogen steam explosion).

Following March’s earthquake, a severe aftershock will mean U3 and U4 are in severe jeopardy. (In Indonesia there was a severe aftershock 3 months later). The units are also more unstable due to the tens of tons of extra water too.

U4: There was no active core as all the fuel has been in the pool since November. But the entire spent fuel pool is visible – it’s gone dry and lots of decay heat. One US study shows a dry pool could cause 187,000 fatalities. It could catch fire and the isotopes aerosolise.

It takes enormous amounts of water to cool the units, tens of tons an hour. Hundreds of thousands of tons of water contaminated with high radioactivity. “Not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination!”

Inside, the workers are working at 15 minutes at a time and getting their annual permitted dose while the Company has raised the dose to 250mSv as the annual limit (25 rem). In probability terms, 250 rem will kill you. But if 10 people get 25 rem one will develop a cancer…

We can expect ANOTHER YEAR or so before the cores COOL DOWN ENOUGH to entomb the mess in concrete for Units 1, 2 and 3. For Unit 4 the fuel is at the top, and you can’t lift it out – which you have to do with massive cranes – underwater!! They may have to build a building around the building! But note it took FOUR YEARS to get the fuel out of Three Mile Island.

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