Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Here comes the sun

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2013

Rory Carroll, Guardian:

The creators of the world’s first solar-powered plane have announced it will fly across the United States in a coast-to-coast showcase of the experimental technology.

The Solar Impulse, which has a wingspan longer than a Boeing 747 but weighs less than a car, is due to take off from San Francisco in May and spend two months hop-scotching across US cities until ending its tour in New York in July.

The plane’s capabilities have advanced rapidly in recent years. It flew 26 hours non-stop in 2010 to show it could absorb enough solar energy during sunlight to continue during the night. In 2012 it flew 1,550 miles from Madrid to Morocco, crossing a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean, in 20 hours

Now if only the US were not so blind that it can’t even see the future.

Posted in energy, solar | 7 Comments »

Government? We don’t need no stinking government? (Solar edition)

Posted by Charles II on September 17, 2012

Via Ritholtz, an article by Dean Kuipers, LAT:

One of the holy grails of solar cell technology may have been found, with researchers at UCLA announcing they have created a new organic polymer that produces electricity, is nearly transparent and is more durable and malleable than silicon.

The applications are mind-boggling. Windows that produce electricity. Buildings wrapped in transparent solar cells. Laptops and phones – or even cars or planes – whose outer coverings act as chargers. It might even be sprayed on as a liquid. The promise of cheap and easy-to-apply site-generated solar electricity might now be a lot closer to reality.

Posted in energy, solar | 4 Comments »

“Who? Us?” –JP Morgan

Posted by Charles II on July 3, 2012

Interesting news is pouring out at holiday time.

Katarzyna Klimasinska, Bloomies:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is being investigated over potential power-market manipulation that inflated payments for electricity, according to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The FERC, which has pledged to combat manipulation of prices, began its probe after reports last year of bidding practices by JPMorgan that the California and Midwest grid operators deemed to be abusive, according to documents provided by the Washington-based agency.

“Three of the bidding techniques had together resulted in at least $73 million in improper payments,” the agency said in documents filed yesterday, citing estimates by the two system operators.

Morgan response: “Who? Us?”

Also under FERC investigation/scrutiny: Deutsche Bank, Constellation, Barclays.

Posted in banking, crimes, energy | 3 Comments »

The Fukushima next time

Posted by Charles II on March 7, 2012

It’s all very far away. Pay no attention. Build new plants near you. You are getting very sleeeeeepy:

Monticello Minneapolis, MN Nuclear Management Co. Routine testing of an emergency pump intended to prove that it was capable of performing its safety functions during an accident actually degraded the pump. The pump’s manufacturer recommended against running the pump at low speeds, but this recommendation was ignored during the tests.

Kinda lucky that they found out during testing that their policies and procedures would (predictably) lead to system failure. That’s one of the least serious incidents reported by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

More representative is this one:

Pilgrim Plymouth, MA When restarting the reactor after a refueling outage, workers overreacted to indications that the water inside the reactor was heating up too rapidly, and lost control of the reactor. The plant’s safety systems automatically kicked in to shut down the reactor.

In all, UCS reports 15 significant incidents during 2011.

Why are we building new plants instead of going full out to fix the ones we have?

Posted in energy, nukes | 6 Comments »

Pipe (bad) dream: the Fukushima meltdown

Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2011

David McNeill and Jake Adelstein, The London Independent:

The Independent has spoken to several workers at the [Fukushima nuclear] plant who recite the same story: serious damage, to piping and at least one of the reactors, occurred before the tsunami hit.

“Someone yelled that we all needed to evacuate. But I was severely alarmed because as I was leaving I was told and I could see that several pipes had cracked open, including what I believe were cold water supply pipes. That would mean that coolant couldn’t get to the reactor core. If you can’t sufficiently get the coolant to the core, it melts down….”

The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of Tepco: The Dark Empire, explains it this way: A government or industry admission “raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run. They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping.” Earthquakes, of course, are commonplace in Japan.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former nuclear plant designer, describes what occurred on 11 March as a loss-of-coolant accident. “The data that Tepco has made public shows a huge loss of coolant within the first few hours of the earthquake. It can’t be accounted for by the loss of electrical power. There was already so much damage to the cooling system that a meltdown was inevitable long before the tsunami came.”

Every single plant built on the Mark I design needs to be shut down. Same for every plant of any design built in an earthquake prone region. And it needs to be done now.

Posted in energy, environment, Japan, nukes | Comments Off

Japanese Wind Farms Unharmed By Quake or Tsunami, Putting Out Lots Of Power

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 18, 2011

http://www.nef.or.jp/english/new/present.html

Copyright New Energy Foundation (Japan)

The fledgling Japanese wind industry just passed a major, and unplanned, test — it’s not only survived the one-two punch of earthquake and tsunami, but done so without so much as a scratch:

I’ve been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake “battle proof design” came through with flying colors.

Mr. Ueda confirms that most Japanese wind turbines are fully operational. Indeed, he says that electric companies have asked wind farm owners to step up operations as much as possible in order to make up for shortages in the eastern part of the country…

The only wind farms that are offline because of the quake and tsunami are offline solely because of grid damage; the farms themselves are intact and capable of full operations once the grid is restored.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in energy, environment, Japan, nukes, wind power | 2 Comments »

New growth industry: lying for corporations

Posted by Charles II on March 4, 2011

As appalled as I have been by the increased willingness of politicians to outright lie, more concerning are five recent stories on how lying has started to permeate our entire nation… and two on how truthtelling, when it does not serve corporations, is punished. It’s those stories on truthtelling that deserve the most attention, because those show how much we have as a nation come to hate truth and embrace lies.

The first story, below, has to do with Astroturf phone calls to radio shows. The second is the lie that President Obama told regarding Raymond Davis, a CIA agent who was arrested for murder after the deaths of several Pakistanis–which the New York Times helped to cover up.

The third story has to do a recent George Monbiot column (also via Avedon) on how corporations are paying people to post comments in forums to support a corporate point of view:

After I wrote about online astroturfing in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them.

Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments. I’ll reveal more about what he told me when I’ve finished the investigation I’m working on.

It now seems that these operations are more widespread, more sophisticated and more automated than most of us had guessed. Emails obtained by political hackers from a US cyber-security firm called HBGary Federal suggest that a remarkable technological armoury is being deployed to drown out the voices of real people.

The fourth story, not strictly about corporations still fits the post because the line between the military and corporations has frayed to the point of non-existence, is that the US military used a psy-ops team to convince US Senators that the nation should pour more blood into Afghan soil:

MICHAEL HASTINGS: Sure. Psychological operations and information operations are essentially just ways to influence the population. Now, the key is, is that for IO and psy-ops you’re only supposed to do those on foreign populations, on the enemy. Now, there’s another branch, public affairs, which is—which you’re allowed to then use your information on the American population. The key difference is, is that in information operations and in psy-ops you’re allowed to lie, you’re allowed to mislead, where in public affairs, in theory, at least, you’re not supposed to do that. And by using information operations with—who know how to conduct psychological operations, in the process that would traditionally be held for public affairs, you’re corrupting the entire process. And, you know, one of the interesting things has been to see the reaction from the military.

Of course, I commend General Petraeus for launching an investigation, but what we also know from a series of anonymous leaks is that the military doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong here. And that, to me, is truly disturbing and what the actual bigger story is: this very aggressive effort that called what has been at the forefront from to tear down the wall between information and propaganda between public affairs and information operations, to say it’s one giant playing field now and to allow the Pentagon and the military to be able to target not just foreign populations with their propaganda, but target the U.S. populations, whether it’s on Facebook, on social networking sites, or visiting congressmen.

The fifth story is about how political appointees at the EPA–under Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama– have endangered and continue to endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans by suppressing evidence showing that dangerous levels of toxic radionuclides are being poured into city water systems due to illegal dumping of wastewater from natural gas “fracking”:

WALTER HANG: Well, the most important thing is that the natural gas industry has said all along that there’s never been a confirmed problem with horizontal hydrofracking in Marcellus Shale. They’ve said this practice has been used for decades, it’s safe, it’s not problematic. The first installment of the New York Times series basically brought to light that in the autumn of 2008, there was so much natural gas drilling wastewater being dumped into municipal treatment plants along the Monongahela River near Pittsburgh, and these plants were not designed, constructed or maintained in any way to take out the very high salt content, the toxic chemicals associated with petroleum, or the radioactive nucleotides. And so, this contamination was going into the river in such incredible volumes that essentially it impacted a 70-mile stretch of the river, and 850,000 people didn’t have any drinking water. Subsequent studies show that actually the water became brackish. They started to find salt-loving diatoms flourishing in the water.

And so, this is when basically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tried to recommend to the state of New York, don’t go forward with horizontal hydrofracking in New York, where there’s been a de facto moratorium against that practice for two-and-a-half years, until you deal with the wastewater hazards, until you safeguard New York City’s drinking water. And that’s when the recommendation came: no drilling in the watershed. And amazingly, they actually proposed to allow the drilling in the rest of upstate New York, so that the Department of Environmental Conservation could essentially get experience regulating this practice. But then none of those recommendations made it into the final document submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation. So this is an incredible revelation about how the EPA knew about these problems, didn’t tell New York, and that’s why we’re calling for these regulations to be withdrawn, the scope revised, so that, for the first time, this kind of practice can be adequately safeguarded.

See here, here, and here for the NYT on this issue.

As for the two whistleblowers, Bradley Manning is being held under conditions reminiscent of Abu Ghraib. Tim Christopher was just convicted for presenting bids on an illegal land auction of wilderness in an attempt to prevent the despoilation of these lands, even though he later raised the money to pay for his purchases.

We had hoped that when Barack Obama won office that not only would the bad policy of the Bush Administration end, but that the lying and abuse of truthtellers would cease.

It has not.

God spare America from this most deadly sin, the sin of hating the truth.

Posted in anti-truth, astroturf, Barack Obama, BushCo malfeasance, corporatists, corruption, energy, liars, military, propaganda | 2 Comments »

Good News From The Biomass Front

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 6, 2010

The Kreidermachers show how it’s done.

From the Sustainability page on their website:

Everything grown onsite – our family grows everything on the farm starting from seeds or small cuttings of plants, so there is no trucking of finished plants before you purchase them in our retail greenhouse. We have a special production greenhouse with open roof vents (below), so we don’t need to run fans to cool the greenhouse and plants get direct sun making them adapt faster when you take them home.

Water conservation – for several decades we’ve watered all the plants thru “ebb and flow” benching (below), which means we pump water into the bench, let the plants soak up the water and then drain the remainder back into a tub at the end of the bench to save for the next watering. Besides saving a lot of water, the plants stay healthier since the foliage isn’t getting wet (and susceptible to disease). For nearly the past decade, we’ve taken the next step by collecting rain water onsite and using it to water the plants. We also have rain collection barrels for customers to use at home.

Heating thru renewable energy sources – as everyone is concerned about the increasing cost of gas for their cars/trucks, we’ve been seeing even sharper increases in natural gas prices for heating the greenhouses over the past decade. Eric and Paul have changed the greenhouse heating to bio-mass boilers (above) and currently working on making our own pellets from native prairie grasses, corn stover, etc., which are better renewable energy sources. See Alternative Energy Solutions, LLC for more.

Natural liquid Daniels Fertilizer – everyone comments on how healthy our plants look. We credit some of that to the fact that for more than ten years we have used a liquid fertilizer that is much “friendlier” to plants. It’s a natural fertilizer, made from soybean extract, and thereby doesn’t burn the plant’s roots if it’s stressed. We also sell the Daniels Fertilizer in the retail for use at home.

Soil Mix made with renewable resources – we’ve been working for years to get the right mix of components to grow in, and in the past few years we’ve been primarily looking at alternatives to peat moss. Our soil mix (pictured below) is now primarily made with Coir (Coconut fiber) and Rice hulls. We also make a soil mix especially formulated for container gardening that can be purchased in our retail.

Organic pest & disease control – We don’t like having to spray chemicals anymore than our customers, so we’ve been experimenting with beneficial bugs and compost teas. We still need to do more work to understand how it all works, but so far it seems to be looking very promising. Customers are always asking for “safer” means of treating bugs and fungus on their plants at home. We have the best organic products on the market.

Bio-degradable pots & baskets – for a number of years we’ve used fiber hanging baskets and perennial pots, as well as Rice hull pots for the annuals. Both the fiber and rice hull pots will break down in a compost pile or landfill within 2-3 years, but unfortunately they don’t break down fast enough to leave the plants in them when you plant in the ground. Our goal, beyond getting rid of the use of plastics, is to find a pot that you can just put in the ground with your plant still in it and the roots will go right thru the pot. We’re getting closer this year with a new pot (pictured below) for the vegetables that has slits for the roots to grow right thru.

We’re never done searching for ways to improve the way we grow or “greener” ways to do it. We’ll be sure to keep updating on what we’re doing.

Posted in energy, environment, family values, farming, food, gardening, global food crisis, global warming, Good Causes, Good Things, Minnesota, sustainability | 3 Comments »

Good News For (And From) A Good Guy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 2, 2010

Jerome a Paris, aka Jerome Guillet, French energy banker and wind power developer, has some good news:

As you may remember, I created my own company earlier this year, after 15 years in the banking world, to help developers find money to build their renewable energy projects, in particular in the offshore wind sector where I’ve been involved in the past 5 years.

Well, I’m pleased to announce that the first transaction to happen with my new company’s help was signed last week last week.

Here’s what happened:

C-Power NV, a Belgian wind farm developer, signed a $1.16 billion loan agreement for its Thornton Bank wind power project off the nation’s coast, the largest ever for the offshore industry.

A group of seven commercial banks will provide non-recourse construction financing together with the Danish export credit agency Eksport Kredit Fonden, its German counterpart Euler Hermes Kreditversicherungs AG and the European Investment Bank, according to a statement released today by C-Power.

“While offshore wind asset finance will not anytime soon be characterized by frequent project financings, this deal is the closest the sector has to a template,” Charlie Hodges, a wind industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in London.

Posted in energy, Good Causes, Good Things, wind power | Comments Off

News in the awl and gas bidness

Posted by Charles II on November 24, 2010

This penny stock, which is in danger of not making it (and taking a few hundred of my dollars down with it), has an interesting technology to deal with pollution of water by fraccing:

To drill for natural gas in unconventional shale plays, a well must be hydraulically fractured or “fraced” to stimulate the flow of natural gas from the reservoir. An energy company will use between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 gallons of clean water for each well that they frac. Hydraulic fracturing is used to create additional permeability in a producing formation to allow gas to flow more easily to the wellbore. In order to produce natural gas from shale, the wells must be injected with large volumes of clean water, frac sand, and frac fluids, to drive the gas to the surface. The conventional method of creating frac fluid was to treat pond water with chemicals and additives, such as biocides and scale inhibitors which eliminate aerobic and anaerobic bacteria from the pond water. The chemicals, besides being expensive, create problems down the wellbore including scaling and corrosion which reduce well productivity.

Once the frac flowback and produced water resurfaces, operators are forced to deal with the wastewater. This wastewater is typically contaminated with salts, heavy metals and hydrocarbons. The conventional methods of handling the frac flowback were to dispose of the water either with deep hole injection wells or in evaporation ponds. These methods require extensive trucking of the water which is expensive and wasteful. Many of the leading drilling companies are turning to recycling their frac flowback and produced waters in order to reduce water consumption, control their costs for clean water, and reduce their environmental impact. The Ecosphere Ozonix® technology is the right solution and is positioned to meet the growing demand….

The Company’s patented Ecosphere Ozonix® process is designed to treat frac flowback and produced waters with highly concentrated ozone, electro precipitation, and ultrasonic transducers. The Ecosphere Ozonix® technology combines ozone, hydrodynamic cavitation, acoustic cavitation, and electro-chemical decomposition in a reaction vessel to cost-effectively treat contaminated water without adding chemicals. Since late 2007, we have tested our Ecosphere Ozonix® process on a variety of industrial wastewaters. Ecosphere’s initial use of this technology is to create a “closed loop” system providing a chemical-free total water management solution to exploration and production companies drilling for natural gas in unconventional shale plays.

EcosFrac™ and EcosBrine™

Our EcosFrac™ and EcosBrine™ systems use hydrodynamic and acoustic cavitations to create nano-sized bubbles that create hydroxyl radicals to oxidize organics and heavy metals in industrial wastewaters. The process results in the creation of EcosBrine™ fracturing fluid. EcosBrine™ is a clean high chloride floatback water that is blended at the frac site with surface water. The EcosBrine™ frac fluid has a negative scaling index that does not allow bacteria to re-grow and helps to keep micro pores open, which increases gas production. When the EcosBrine™ is added to pond, flowback or produced water, it creates a very effective fracturing solution. The EcosBrine™ frac fluid can be reused on the front end of the frac site (mixed with the chemical free frac liquid and friction reducers) to create completions fluid going down hole.

I hope they make it, and not for the sake of the few hundred I would lose. Like it or not (and I don’t) fraccing is with us and polluting more water by the day. The idea of using ozone as an alternative to the alphabet soup of chemicals that is currently used to make shale permeable and keep it that way is attractive. They also treat industrial wastewater and oil pollution such as happened in the Gulf. They are endorsed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Regrettably, their directors include Bush crony Joe Allbaugh, but the awl bidness is such that it’s almost a certainty that some grifter will be on the board.

Posted in Busheviks, energy, environment, Oil | 1 Comment »