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July 27, 2013

World energy forecast to 2040

The EIA has a new energy forecast out to 2040.


They forecast world energy to go up about 56% but
* world electricity will go up 93%
* non-OECD will go up 90%
* nuclear energy will more than double

World electricity generation is set to grow by 93% from the 2010 level to 39,000 TWh by 2040, according to the EIA (International Energy Outlook 2013) - the statistical and analytical agency of the US Department of Energy. The fastest growing sources of world energy are renewables (including hydro, wind and solar) and nuclear power, each of which is expected to grow 2.5% annually between 2010 and 2040.



July 26, 2013

Replacement Glaciers

As the climate warms, glaciers shrink. That is a problem for those who rely on meltwater from them to irrigate their crops: farmers living in the valleys above Leh, in Jammu and Kashmir, for example. Most of the lower-lying glaciers in the area they inhabit have disappeared, and those at higher altitudes have retreated by as much 10km (6 miles). The meltwater that farmers need to irrigate their newly sown crops used to arrive in March or April. Now it does not come until June—too late to be of much use in a place with such a short growing season.Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer who lives in the area, thinks he has the answer: if the natural glaciers have gone, why not build artificial ones? That is what, for the past decade or so, he has been doing. Moreover, he has built the new glaciers in places where they will thaw at exactly the right time, and debouch their contents directly onto farmers’ fields.

Google has solved internet TV with the Chromecast $35 device

Google Iis offering Chromecast a $35 device for streaming to your TV.

Chromecast is a $35 dongle that plugs into an HDMI slot on your television, and its main purpose is to reduce the amount of time between wanting to watch a video on Netflix or YouTube and actually doing it. The big assumption with Chromecast is that when you’re on the couch, you already have a phone or tablet in your hands. Instead of reaching for a remote, all you have to do is open your Netflix or YouTube app, find the video you want to watch, and press a little “Cast” button to send the video to your television.

July 25, 2013

Open thread

Provide links to any articles and discuss topics of your choice



Train and plane accidents

So when Spain and France have rail accidents there are no people claiming ut beacuse of corruption in the construction of the system like after China s hugh speed rail accident.

The Spain and France accidents happened with high speed trains that were on the conventional rail part of the system.
The train in Spain was going at twice the speed limit fir that section of the track.

It was not due to privatization because both accidents were to government operators.

Like in the Asiana flight there could be a need to improve the automated systems and to provide some training for the vehicle operators.

July 24, 2013

Microsoft is not aging gracefully and Surface is like bad plastic surgery as Microsoft tries to look Young

The Washington post makes the case that Microsoft could follow the path of Digital Equipment. DEC failed to transition from minicomputers after ten years of attempts to become a player in personal computers


However, Microsoft can lose all of the home persobal computing market and still last at about half the size with just the Enterprise software.

Microsoft needs to determine how to reinvent themselves as IBM. IBM mastered high consulting and business solutions.

3D CMOS Memristor Circuits

There is work towards creating 3D CMOs memristor circuits

Maximum Number of Layers
• Each layer has N^2 cells.
• There are r^2– 1 cross points per cell.
• That gives us a total of N^2 * (r^2 – 1) cross points per layer.
• The double decoding scheme allows us to address up to N^4 locations
• Which means that we can (potentially) have up to N^2 /(r^2 – 1) crossbar layers.

If Successful, 3D Hybrids Can Achieve…..
• Unprecedente dmemory density
– Footprint of a nano‐device is 4F nano 2/K, for K vertically integrated crossbar layers
– Potentially up to 10^14 bits on a single 1‐cm^2 chip
• Enormous memory bandwidth
– Potentially up to 10^18 bits/second/cm2
• At manageable power dissipation
• With abundant redundancy for yield/reliability


Memristors will become 1000 times faster than flash and will provide petabit chips by 2024

HP used alternating layers of titanium dioxide and platinum to create memristors.

“Think of it as a series of cubes that are 2 to 3 nanometers (nm) on a side,” says R. Stanley Williams, the main Memristor Kanobe at HP Labs. Memory cells are created by connecting two adjacent wires with an electrical switch beneath the surface of the array. By adjusting the voltage applied to the cubes, scientists can open and close tiny electronic switches, storing data like traditional flash memory chips.

The cool thing isn’t that these chips will be able to store double the amount of data (for their size) as current flash drive chips, but that these will be 1000x faster than current chips and will have a lot more integrity: current flash memory can be rewritten 100 000 times, whilst these could last for millions of rewrite cycles.

Stanley Williams believes its possible to stack ReRAM arrays on top of each other, skyscraper style, which could lead to greater improvements in volume and performance as mentioned previously.

“There’s no fundamental limit to the number of layers we can produce,” adds Williams. “We can get to petabit chips within about 10 years.”

July 23, 2013

Making CRISPR genome editing more effective and accurate and separately controlling genes with light

1. A new technology developed at MIT and the Broad Institute that can rapidly start or halt the expression of any gene of interest simply by shining light on the cells.

The work is based on a technique known as optogenetics, which uses proteins that change their function in response to light. In this case, the researchers adapted the light-sensitive proteins to either stimulate or suppress the expression of a specific target gene almost immediately after the light comes on.

“Cells have very dynamic gene expression happening on a fairly short timescale, but so far the methods that are used to perturb gene expression don’t even get close to those dynamics. To understand the functional impact of those gene-expression changes better, we have to be able to match the naturally occurring dynamics as closely as possible,” says Silvana Konermann, an MIT graduate student in brain and cognitive sciences.

The ability to precisely control the timing and duration of gene expression should make it much easier to figure out the roles of particular genes, especially those involved in learning and memory. The new system can also be used to study epigenetic modifications — chemical alterations of the proteins that surround DNA — which are also believed to play an important role in learning and memory.

2. CRISPR genome editing is being made more effective and accurate

Earlier this year, MIT researchers developed a way to easily and efficiently edit the genomes of living cells. Now, the researchers have discovered key factors that influence the accuracy of the system, an important step toward making it safer for potential use in humans, says Feng Zhang, leader of the research team.

With this technology, scientists can deliver or disrupt multiple genes at once, raising the possibility of treating human disease by targeting malfunctioning genes. To help with that process, Zhang’s team, led by graduate students Patrick Hsu and David Scott, has now created a computer model that can identify the best genetic sequences to target a given gene.

The genome-editing system, known as CRISPR, exploits a protein-RNA complex that bacteria use to defend themselves from infection. The complex includes short RNA sequences bound to an enzyme called Cas9, which slices DNA. These RNA sequences are designed to target specific locations in the genome; when they encounter a match, Cas9 cuts the DNA.

This approach can be used either to disrupt the function of a gene or to replace it with a new one. To replace the gene, the researchers must also add a DNA template for the new gene, which would be copied into the genome after the DNA is cut.

This technique offers a much faster and more efficient way to create transgenic mice, which are often used to study human disease. Current methods for creating such mice require adding small pieces of DNA to mouse embryonic cells. However, the process is inefficient and time-consuming.

With CRISPR, many genes are edited at once, and the entire process can be done in three weeks, says Zhang, who is a core member of the Broad Institute and MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. The system can also be used to create genetically modified cell lines for lab experiments much more efficiently.



Nature - DNA targeting specificity of RNA-guided Cas9 nucleases

Convert any bike into an electric bike in one minute

The Rubbee is a friction drive module for most standard bicycles on the market and can convert any standard bike into an electric bike in one minute. 25 km/h top speed and 25 km range make this a perfect solution for Your daily rides. Aluminium parts are CNC machined from aircraft-grade aluminium and an integrated battery management system makes sure that the battery pack is healthy for thousands of cycles.

The Kickstarter has raised 26,000 pounds out of 63000 pounds

Currently they will cost about US$1200-1500.

* You don't need to buy a whole electric bicycle if You want one
* You can switch between a regular bicycle and an electric in just a matter of seconds
* You don't have to carry a heavy and inconvenient battery pack or a whole bicycle to recharge it
* You can share it with Your family members and friends
* Your bicycle can be electric without any hassle that comes with regular conversion kits

Rubbee can be mounted in few simple steps:

1. Clamp it on the seat tube;

2. Remove the fixation pin to enable suppression system (You can leave it in if You want to ride around with Rubbee disengaged from the wheel);

3. Connect the throttle;

4. Press the ON/OFF button;

5. Just reverse the order to remove Rubbee from the bicycle.


How long lives might be extended beyond about 180 years of lifespan matters less than how quickly and how widely improved medicine can be adopted for societal impact analysis

There was a debate between PZ Myers, David Brin, Eliezer Yudkowski and Eneasz Brodski about immortality. Eliezer brought up the point about different levels of immortality and had 10,000 years as a lower bound of immortality. Many of the complaints from PZ Myer and David Brin were concerns about societal effects that might accompany the change to people living a lot longer.

I would point out that any radical life extension that extended healthy living to about 250 or 300 years of age would have the same societal effect for the next 100-120 years as any life extension beyond that level. The reason being is that the oldest people are now 115 years of age. If the extension or rejuvenation procedures are successful and people are enabled to live significantly longer, the people will still be adding years of life one year at a time. There would not be people living to an aged end of life for say the first 80% of the extended life or perhaps all but the last 20 years.

This also means that extending lives to about 160 to 180 years with a moderate amount of rejuvenation would have the same societal effect for the next 40 years.

The exact effect on individuals would vary depending upon how lives were extended. However, societally it would look the same as for a number of years and decades all of the people who received treatments.




July 22, 2013

Free Thought Blog - Immortality Debate with PZMyers, David Brin, Eliezer Yudkowsky and Eneasz Brodski

Eneasz Brodski starts with an initial discussion of his belief in the general goodness of immortality.

PZ Myers talks about information loss in systems. He also talks about how cells need to have death for the good of the population of cells. PZ makes arguments about the disadvantage of longer life for societies that have it. He considers those who would be immortal to be the equivalent of cancer cells. PZ also makes the case that wanting immortality is selfish.

NBF - The longer lived developed world (life expectancy 75-88) does not seem to be at a disadvantage to the less developed countries with life expectancy in the 40-60 year range.

David Brin talks about science fiction that relates to immortality. He talks about his main focus on avoiding messing the enlightenment diamond shaped social structure.

Eliezer talks about the different ranges for immortality. Living to 10,000 years, 1 billion years, the life of the universe, beyond the life of the universe. The first two seem like and maybe the third seem possible but the fourth one seems to have a lot more problems. Eliezer points out that countries might also be immortal and are collections of smaller units. PZ Myers case about it being good to make things more dynamic would suggest that countries should occasionally be wiped out (killed) to keep the system of countries dynamic. It is useful to test the biases in some statements and claims by applying the reverse condition or applying the rules on a different scale.

If it is not good to live longer, then why wouldn't it be better for everyone to live shorter lives. The Science Fiction example would be Logan's Run where everyone is killed at about the age of 30.




Dwave systems was featured on CNN in May 2013



Crowdfunding a plasma thruster for interplanetary cubesats

The CAT plasma thruster will propel a 5kg satellite into deep space, far beyond Earth orbit, at 1/1000th the cost of previous missions.

CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT) engine development: $200,000 Kickstarter. Has raised $42000 with 13 days to go
Funding from Kickstarter will be used to create a complete flight-qualified CubeSat with integrated CAT engine and tested as a final unit in the University of Michigan LVTF vacuum chamber.

Michigan University developers are working to complete and vacuum test a flight-qualified satellite with an integrated CAT. Through our existing partnerships with three NASA centers, the spacecraft will be launched into low Earth orbit and start its climb into deep space. The CAT engine is being developed at the University of Michigan’s Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory (PEPL). Our team also includes the state-of-the-art Michigan Exploration Laboratory (MXL), which has over six years of experience building and flying CubeSats.

Initial CAT engine testing will be performed in our lab on the ground and then in low Earth orbit (LEO) to validate the CAT engine's performance and physics models developed by our team. Once these tests are completed, we will perform a series of spiral-out flight maneuvers to climb to higher and higher altitudes in order to escape the Earth.

Plasma thrusters have been used on satellites for decades but they have been large, bulky devices that weigh up to 10 kg (20 lbs) or more, suitable only for large satellites. Some examples include ion engines (Deep Space 1 and DAWN), Hall thrusters (SMART1, GEO-COMM sats), resistojets, and arcjets. The CAT design scales down previously demonstrated technology (see Hall Thrusters, VASIMR) to make it practical for CubeSats, with a thruster and power supply weight of less than 0.5 kg (1 lb). Most of the thruster components have been built and have been tested individually. With your help through Kickstarter, we will be assembling everything into one compact thruster unit for testing the integrated components in the lab, then in Earth orbit, and then interplanetary space far away from the gravitational pull of the Earth



The Michigan team says its system could fit inside one 10-centimeter-wide module of a three-unit CubeSat, and propel it at speeds of up to 10 kilometers per second. That would be enough to push the satellite at least a million kilometers from Earth, out of the planet’s gravitational grip.

Assuming the SkyCity Costs US$800 to 1.5 billion what are comparable projects in terms of costs elsewhere

The 202 story Skycity skyscraper has begun construction in China and it should be completed in April to July 2014. It is projected to cost $800 million to 1.5 billion.

Some people make a big deal about the construction of skyscrapers happening just before an economic crisis. They pick 11 such skyscrapers, yet thousands of skyscrapers have been built.

A recent study by Barr, Mizrach and Mundra (2011), entitled "Skyscraper Height and the Business Cycle: International Time Series Evidence" aims to see if there is, in fact, a correlation between skyscraper height and economic growth. The study looks at two types of data. First the paper looks at the announcement and completion dates of the world's tallest buildings and the peaks and troughs of the United States business cycle, as measured by the National Bureau of Economic Research. They find that there is virtually no relationship between the timing of record breaking buildings and the business cycle. Second, the authors investigate height and economic growth using the times series techniques of vector autoregression and cointegration tests. They investigate the time series relationship between the tallest building completed each year and the level of per capita GDP, for the United States, Canada, China and Hong Kong. The authors find that the two series are co-integrated, which means that they move together over time. That is to say, the tallest building completed each year in these countries does not systematically move away from the underlying income of the country, which provides evidence that, in general, skyscraper height is not fundamentally based on height competition among builders. Finally, the vector autoregression methods allow the authors to see if skyscraper height can predict changes in gross domestic product (GDP) (i.e., if height predict recessions). The authors find that height cannot, in fact, be used to predict changes in GDP. However, GDP can be used to predict changes in height. In other words, the study finds that extreme height is driven by rapid economic growth, but that height can not be used as an indicator of recessions.

The Central Subway is an extension of the Muni Metro light rail system in San Francisco, California, from the Caltrain commuter rail depot at 4th and King streets to Chinatown, with stops in South of Market (SoMa) and Union Square.

The budget to complete the Central Subway is $1.578 billion. The project is funded primarily through the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. In October 2012, the FTA approved a Full Funding Grant Agreement, the federal commitment of funding through New Starts, for the Central Subway for a total amount of $942.2 million. The Central Subway is also funded by the State of California, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the City and County of San Francisco.

Ground was broken for the Central Subway on February 9, 2010. It is expected to open to the public by 2019.

Due to the capital cost ($1.578 billion for the 1.7 mile light rail line), the Central Subway project has come under criticism from transit activists for what they consider to be poor cost-effectiveness. In particular, they note that Muni's own estimates show that the project would increase Muni ridership by less than 1% and yet by 2030 be adding $15.2 million a year to Muni's annual operating deficit.

With an average weekday ridership of 173,500 passengers as of 2012, Muni Metro is the United States' third-busiest light rail system after those of Boston and Los Angeles. The new Central Subway might increase ridership by 1700 passengers per day if Muni's own projections are correct.

South China Morning Post and Other Coverage of the Start of Sky City construction

A groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday for the world's tallest building in Changsha was greeted with praise from some mainland architects - and brickbats from others.

Some held serious safety concerns about the skyscraper, but others hailed it as a revolutionary work of prefabricated urban landscape.

The more than 200-storey structure will tower 838 metres above the Hunan provincial capital and be made entirely of factory-made modules that will be assembled by workers in seven months.

Yin Zhi , a professor of architecture at Tsinghua University and a senior adviser to the central government on urban planning, said that while "prefab" houses were common, a prefab skyscraper was "insane".

His biggest worry was safety. "What about wind? Or earthquakes? Or a fire?" he asked.

Broad Group, the developer, has been tight-lipped about the building, saying its structure was a trade secret, Yin said.

Broad released a 15-page presentation of the project on Saturday, saying that the building's structure had been tested in three wind tunnels on the mainland.


More Pictures from the Start of Construction for the Sky City Skyscraper

The Skyscrapercity forum has pictures from the China Broad Group 202 story building site. Site preparation has started and the actual assembly of the world's tallest building will take 7 months.

(H/T to readers Anthony Scalzi and phamnuwen for the additional information)

Chinese urban per capita area of ​​about 500 square meters
Sky City Urban per capita area of ​​only 4 square meters (including buildings surrounding land)
• construction area of ​​1.05 million square meters
The base is 9,000 square meters, floor Covering rate of 1%, significantly reducing construction
Building area

In the past, high-rise building energy consumption was much higher than conventional buildings but the Sky City will be the opposite. It will use a lot less energy
• 20 cm wall insulation (walls 70% decrease heat loss)
• quadruple glazing (windows 60% decrease heat loss)
• window shade (located at the outer glass inside, isolated heat)
• New air heat recovery (reducing ventilation heat loss 80%)
• CCHP (equal to the cooling and heating without energy)
• HVAC annual energy 90kWh/m2 (9 liters of oil equivalent)

More than 30 buildings have been built using the factory mass production (can be built) Broad Group method.



Currency appreciation is often ignored in relative projected sizes of economies in 2030

The Chinese currency Renminbi, or the yuan, has appreciated 34 percent against the U.S. dollar since the exchange rate reform began eight years ago. The yuan advanced some 20 percent against the euro during this period.

What seems likely to happen with the Chinese yuan versus the US dollar over the next 17 years and 27 years out to 2030 and 2040 ?

There was an analysis by Jonathan Anderson, an economist at UBS, a bank where he calculated the value added share of exports for China.

Headline figures show that China's exports surged from 20% of GDP in 2001 to almost 40% in 2007, which seems to suggest not only that exports are the main driver of growth, but also that China's economy would be hit much harder by an American downturn than it was during the previous recession in 2001.

Jonathan Anderson, an economist at UBS, a bank, has tried to estimate exports in value-added terms by stripping out imported components, and then converting the remaining domestic content into value-added terms by subtracting inputs purchased from other domestic sectors. At first glance, that second step seems odd: surely the materials which exporters buy from the rest of the economy should be included in any assessment of the importance of exports? But if purchases of domestic inputs were left in for exporters, the same thing would need to be done for all other sectors. That would make the denominator for the export ratio much bigger than GDP.

Once these adjustments are made, Mr Anderson reckons that the "true" export share is just under 10% of GDP (in 2007). That makes China slightly more exposed to exports than Japan, but nowhere near as export-led as Taiwan or Singapore.

Andy Rothman, China Macro Strategist for CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets wrote an analysis of China's economy.

Net exports accounted for 8.8 percent of China’s GDP in 2007, but fell to only 4 percent in 2010.

In 2013, China could be done to about 2% of GDP in net exports.

In 1958, 86% of urban workers in China were employed by state-owned firms. Between 1995 and 2001, the Communist Party laid off 46 million state-sector workers — equal to sacking the entire combined workforces of France and Italy in six years. As a result, the state’s share of urban employment fell to 28 percent in 2002, and now stands at 19 percent.

roughly 45 million of the 228 million workers employed in Chinese Industry work in the export sector.

That sounds like a lot, right? But there are 1.35 billion people in China, of which approximately 795 million are in the work force in some capacity. How do 45 million Chinese workers - manual laborers, for the most part, working in companies that operate on Foxconn's margins - produce $1 out of every $3 in China, as the share of GDP from export sales would indicate ? They don't.

Why? Because the export/GDP ratio didn't discount the imported materials ("churn"). It just lumps everything into "exports," regardless of where the materials actually came from. These "made in China" goods actually have very little in them that was made domestically in China.

China is shifting to ramping up domestic consumption. This will mean a stronger currency would be helpful.

China's shift to domestic consumption means that a stronger currency will mean citizens will be able to import oil and commodities at lower


July 21, 2013

Japan has given the LDP a landslide win. A win for nuclear restarts and economic restructuring

Japan appears to be on the verge of giving the LDP a landslide victory.


This is a win for Abenomics and nuclear reactor restarts.

The Japanese prime minister's ruling coalition has won a solid majority in the country's upper house elections, gaining control of both chambers of parliament.

Shinzo Abe's decisive win is being seen as a mandate to press ahead with difficult economic reforms - an endorsement for the Liberal Democratic Party's 'Abenomics' programme, which has helped spark a tentative economic recovery in Japan.

The LDP and its new coalition partner Komeito now have 135 of the 242 seats in the upper house, after winning 76 of the 121 seats that were contested this time around.

The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, has just 59.

Members serve six-year terms and elections are held for half of the seats every three years.

The landslide victory means both legislative chambers are now under government control until at least 2016, unblocking the bottleneck that has hampered legislation for the last six short-term leaders.

Fresh from his win in Sunday's polls, Mr Abe vowed to stay focused on reviving the stagnant economy during a news conference on Monday.

Could Indonesia surpass India on a nominal GDP basis ?

Indonesia's economy Gross Domestic Product stands at IDR 8,200 trillion, of which household consumption contributes around IDR 5,000 trillion.

The Exchange rate has been about 8500 to 10000 IDR to 1 USD. It did spike as high as 12000 to one in the financial crisis.

Indonesia seems to be on track for consistent GDP growth in the 6-7% per year range. The growth seems balanced and Indonesia has solid youthful demographics.

There are projections that India and Brazil will have larger economies than Japan and will be larger economies than Indonesia in 2030.

However, India and Brazil have had more problems with their economic growth recently. India could easily slip back to 3-5% GDP growth with a continually weakening currency.

India's economy is down to $1.68 trillion on an exchange basis now.

A reasonably possible scenario is where Indonesia has GDP growth that averages 2% per year more than India and where the Indonesian Rupiah strengthens to about 6000-9000 per US dollar while the India Rupi weakens by about 10% per year. Indonesia would then pass India's nominal GDP in about 8-15 years.


New York has a $20 billion plan for city development that would offset climate change

In June, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $20 billion plan to prepare for rising sea levels and hotter summers expected as a result of climate change in the coming decades.

The ambitious proposal - which could become the benchmark for other cities dealing with climate change - could reshape Lower Manhattan's waterfront, with the possible addition of a "Seaport City" out of the East Side.

The more than 400-page plan, which follows widespread destruction wreaked by Superstorm Sandy last year, included about 250 recommendations ranging from new floodwalls and storm barriers to upgrades of power and telecommunications infrastructures.

The plan also contained prosaic ideas, such as building up beaches and using sand dunes and plantings as natural buffers to storm surges flooding.

While some smaller provisions of the complex, long-term plan are already underway, others would require approval or action from the state or federal government.

In May, Jeroen Aerts, a professor of environmental risk management at the VU University in Amsterdam and an adviser to New York City co-authored a study on New York's flood defense options, had expected the mayor to propose a plan estimated at $11.6 billion.

"I think Bloomberg chose a more expensive solution because he wants to add value to the city. He wants to involve developers and private companies" Aerts said.


Report from China indicates that site preparation has started for the 202 story Broad Group Sky City Skyscraper

Broad Group of China has started onsite work for the "building as a city" Sky City skyscraper. It is desiged to have a total height of 838 meters which would be 10 meters taller the current world's tallest building the Burj Khalifa 10. On the evening of July 18 evening, Changsha Broad Group signed a "Sky City" construction contract. The total package price is 5.25 billion yuan. Broad Technology Group CEO Zhang Yue and the general manager of Tang Ying five innings chairman Lugui Qing attended. The Changsha City Sky will be built in the Hope Town Waterfront Park. It will hae underground reinforced concrete structure and an all-steel frame. It will have a total construction area of 1.2 million square meters. 30,000 people will work and live fully functional vertical city. On the afternoon of July 19 in Changsha Hope Town, the ambitious "Sky City" Lot has started construction.


Carnival of Space 311 - Mars Water Tracks and Spaceplane development in the UK

1. At the foot of the Red Planet’s giant volcano by ESA’s Mars Express



2. Water tracks in Antartica look similar to features on Mars

PSI.eru - Water tracks on Earth and Mars


Carnival of Nuclear Energy 166 - US energy regulations are not designed to efficiently save lives or the environment

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 166 is up at the Hiroshima Syndrome

If US energy policy was looking for the most cost effective clean energy to help the environment and prevent climate change risks for the next ten years then the 30MW restriction would be removed from new hydroelectric power.

If US energy policy was looking for cost effective ways to save lives lost to energy then soot control measures that would save lives at $10,000 per life saved would be applied to coal, natural gas and oil and the same cost/benefit regulations would be applied to nuclear power. Forcing nuclear energy to pay billions of dollars per life saved is a waste when tens of thousands of more lives can be saved by making fossil fuels safer.

An energy professional who has worked with nuclear power and hydro power describes why "energy policy experts" like Sovocol and Amory Lovins are wrong

Without the 30MW restriction on new subsidized hydro there would be no need for any new wind, solar, geothermal or biomass facilities for 7-10 years in the western USA

Often, those who claim such expertise have little education, experience or training in technical topics and have vested interests in promoting competitive technologies.

My cynicism of solar and wind advocates is best addressed by discussing the RPS issues regarding hydro generation. RPS legal limits for hydro facilities are set at 30 MW in every state in the US that has an RPS enacted. Anything below counts towards a utility’s renewable portfolio, anything above does not – even 1MW above is not allowed a waiver. There have been attempts to remove this restriction in California and Washington but some of the most vocal groups who oppose changing this restriction are the solar and wind advocacy groups. So is this debate about climate change or their preferred energy generation source?

Additionally at the utility I worked, the State RPS allowed a natural gas co-gen plant that was rated below 30MW’s to meet the renewable portfolio formula. So we were asked to begin to prepare a cost estimate about mothballing a perfectly good hydro facility that was slightly over 30MW’s and install a co-gen plant run by natural gas just to meet an arbitrary legal requirement. Thankfully for the rate payers, the management decided to begin to educate the politicians about how there were other solutions that could achieve the same goals without decommissioning hydro facilities before we spent too much time preparing the estimate.

Based on some initial assessments I was able to review before I moved to my new position, if the 30MW restriction was removed from all hydro facilities in the Western US there potentially wouldn’t be a need for any new wind, solar, geothermal or biomass facilities for about the next 7-10 years in the Western states. The near-term estimates for future electricity demand indicates those “renewable” facilities are under consideration primarily to meet the 20-30% RPS goal of the respective states, not because they are needed to meet expected power demands. So what may happen is a situation where functional non-nuclear facilities may be mothballed strictly to meet legal RPS requirements with the added complication of more natural gas being burned in peaking plants to maintain grid stability. These points were raised this past year when California began to reconsider the 30 MW hydro restriction. Hence there is a significant financial motivation for the solar and wind groups to resist the removal of this legal definition from the RPS statutes.

China feed in tariff price for nuclear energy will boost nuclear power in China while still providing globally competitive electricity prices

A price of RMB0.43 will be paid for each kilowatt-hour generated by new Chinese nuclear power plants, according to a ruling by the National Development and Reform Commission intended to incentivise construction. This equates to $70/MWh. Separately generators pay RMB0.0026/kWh ($4.2/MWh) for used fuel management. This it the cost of the nuclear power which EIA estimates at about $30-40 per MWh. This price to the suppliers is lower than the price of wind and energy feed in tariffs provided in European countries which can be several times higher to a little big higher (in the UK for large wind or hydro).

1 RMB or CNY (Chinese Yuan) is 0.1629 USD. 0.43 times that is 7 cents per kwh.

This price seems likely to greatly boost the amount of nuclear energy that will be constructed in China, while still leaving China with globally competitive electricity prices.

7 cents per kwh is a lower price than the price of electricity for most countries in the world Only some middle eastern and eastern european countries have lower prices.

Nuclear tariff 20% less than China Wind and 20% more than coal in China

As of August 2011 a China national feed-in tariff for solar projects was issued, and is about US$0.15 per kWh. The China wind tariffs per kilowatt hour are set at 0.51 yuan, 0.54 yuan, 0.58 yuan and 0.61 yuan. These represent a significant premium on the average rate of 0.34 yuan per kilowatt hour paid to coal-fired electricity generators.

The China feed in tariff is less than the tariffs for wind in Europe.