Fukushima and the Art of Knowing

Fukushima and the Art of Knowing

What prompts someone to move halfway across the world, to work in a hospital near Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant? I can tell you.

It was first, because I didn’t know enough, and secondly, because I wanted to know more.

On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami, which triggered a nuclear accident. Four years later and 9,000 kilometers away, it was February 2015, I was a master’s student at the University of Edinburgh, and a guest lecture was about to begin by Japanese researchers on their work in Fukushima.

I knew there had been a nuclear accident in Fukushima. I assumed this had led to dangerous radiation levels and increases in cancers. I had never entertained the thought of visiting.

What happens next could be described as a clash between what I thought I knew and reality.

The researchers gave a series of presentations. They showed us what they had found in Fukushima; there were overwhelmingly low levels of internal and external radiation in residents,1,2 and a mass screening of babies and children revealed that none had detectable levels of internal radiation contamination.3 Yet, other health problems were emerging; in contrast to low levels of radiation, an increased burden of diseases unrelated to radiation, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and more, was being found.4,5 Particular health risks associated with evacuation were highlighted,5 including evidence that immediate evacuation of the elderly from nursing homes was associated with three times higher mortality risk that non-evacuation.6 It was presented to us that radiation may not be the biggest problem for Fukushima.

I was surprised. This appeared to be, in fact, the exact opposite of what one may think about Fukushima. This surely was not the Fukushima I had heard of or visualized, and my curiosity was piqued. I talked to the researchers and proposed an idea for further research. They, in turn, invited me to come to Fukushima to write my Master’s dissertation. I agreed.

In May 2015, I first arrived in Fukushima, and began research at Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital. I wrote my master’s dissertation, graduated, and then was offered a full-time job at the hospital, which is where I am today.

There are a lot of things I could write about, that I have learned from Fukushima. Yet one of the most unexpected parts of this experience has been the confrontation between what I thought I knew, and the reality which I found. There were few things in front of me in Fukushima that matched my original expectations, and I was struck by the feeling that I had been unaware of so much. Yet I also realized that the inaccurate ideas I previously held were surprisingly common. This has led me to think more than ever about what it means to ‘know’ something, in terms of both myself and others.

Because really, how do we know things? There’s not one answer.

Full Article

Well there is one good answer. The abundance of fauna and flora around the exploded Chernobyl reactor. Teaming with wildlife, reproducing at an alarming rate, evidently no lasting harm caused by radiation.

 Long-term census data reveal abundant wildlife populations at Chernobyl

 

 

Smart Grid technology absolutely not needed

Smart Grid technology absolutely not needed

The actual benefits of smart meters were also questioned at the conference, as several member states have done previously. Germany, for instance, has decided not to have a national roll-out plan at all, running counter to requirements laid out in EU legislation.

EU member states are required to implement smart meters under the 2009 Third Energy Package wherever it is cost-effective to do so, with the goal to replace 80% of electricity meters with smart meters by 2020.

The 80% target applies to both households and commercial buildings, a Commission spokesperson confirmed. The EU executive will publish in the next one to two years a report on smart meters “in the context of our regular monitoring exercise of the progress of members states,” the spokesperson said.

Progress had been sluggish across the bloc in installation of the equipment. And the countries that do have a commitment to smart meters, such as the UK, have run into hurdles in completing its roll-out because some meters would cease to work if a consumer decided to change energy supplier.

Markus Merkel, a senior advisor to the management board of German distribution system operator (DSO) EWE, told the Eurelectric conference that “there isn’t a positive business case” for smart meters in Germany.

PEI journal

If in the neat and tidy Germany it’s already not “a positive business case” for smart meters how about the rest of EU nations where most installations are so old and/or decrepit that it would be a total folly to waste money on those things rather than improving the infrastructure?

 

German Paradox

German Paradox

To illustrate his point he said Germany, the ‘high priest of this movement, had installed the equivalent of a million barrels of oil a day of renewable capacity, between solar and onshore wind.

“Solar is working at 50,000 a barrels a day and 10 per cent utilisation, wind is at 70,000 barrels a day – 17 per cent utilisation – so that million barrel a day field is working at a 130,000 barrels a day. You cannot replace baseload with intermittent and promise the people it’s going to work.”

“The Germans were promised this would all be worthwhile because it would reduce carbon dramatically. Yet their carbon emissions per capita are 40 per cent above the UK, France and Italy.”

Source

Juggling numbers on renewables

Juggling numbers on renewables

image

 

Renewables at 23.7% sounds impressive, eh? But craftily, they include hydro, which accounts for two thirds of this figure. Ten years ago hydro was already supplying 16% of the world’s electricity, just the same as it is now.

We all know that adding much more hydro is not possible, and generally speaking is not sensible from either environmental or agricultural reasons.

And that leaves wind and solar, which produce less than 5%.

But when we look at total energy consumption, and not just electricity, the contribution from wind/solar becomes vanishingly small:

 

image

 

 

4) “The fact that we had 147GW of capacity, mainly of wind and solar is a clear indication that these technologies are cost competitive (with fossil fuels)”

This is simply self serving nonsense.

The only reason renewable capacity is increasing in developed countries is because they are heavily subsidised and/or fossil fuels are being regulated out of existence.

In the UK, for instance, the latest CfD auction has awarded 15-year, index linked prices to offshore wind farms of £126/MWh, which is three times the market price. Solar farms subsidies are not much less, getting guaranteed prices of £83/MWh.

Much more

Wind turbines on Galapagos replace millions of liters of diesel since 2007

Wind turbines on Galapagos replace millions of liters of diesel since 2007

But…

The release notes $10 million was spent on wind mills to save 2.3 million gallons of diesel. But the pump price for diesel in Ecuador is on the order of $0.29/gallon.

This means that $10 million was spent on windmills to save roughly $667,000 worth of diesel fuel. Such a bargain!

The media release is below.

###

Wind turbines on Galapagos replace millions of liters of diesel since 2007, meet 30 percent of energy needs

World’s top utilities hand over project keys, chart path for Ecuador’s famously biodiverse archipelago to meet 70 percent of fast-rising energy needs with renewables

GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE ELECTRICITY PARTNERSHIP

CREDIT: EOLICSA

A global renewable energy project on the Galapagos Islands — one of Earth’s most fragile and important ecological treasures — has helped avoid many tanker loads worth of risky diesel fuel imports since 2007, reduced the archipelago’s greenhouse gas emissions and preserved critically endangered species.

Now, after eight successful years, the project’s new operators are pursuing an ambitious expansion that would multiply the benefits of renewable energy for this remote, precious archipelago with a growing appetite for electricity.

A performance summary and recommendations for the expansion are contained in a new report by the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), a not-for-profit association of 11 of the world’s foremost electricity firms, which led and financed the $10 million project.

The project’s three 51-metre-tall wind turbines and two sets of solar panels have supplied, on average, 30% of the electricity consumed on San Cristóbal, the archipelago’s second-largest island in size and population, since it went into operation in October 2007.

During that time, it has displaced 8.7 million litres (2.3 million gallons) of diesel fuel and avoided 21,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, the GSEP report states. The achievements have led to awards from Power Engineering Magazine, World Energy Forum, and Energy Globe.

The proposed expansion could boost the renewable energy share to 70 per cent, en route to a hoped-for elimination of fossil fuels, the report states. It could also be a template for energy development elsewhere in the Galapagos chain — where renewable sources now account for 20% of electricity production — and elsewhere around the world.

Says Marco Salao Bravo, Executive President of ELECGALÁPAGOS S.A., the local utility that has accepted full ownership of the project: “Our team shall continue working in the implementation of current and future renewable energy projects to convert the Galapagos into a zero fossil fuels territory.”

The Galapagos, an archipelago of 19 islands in the Pacific Ocean 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, is home to an array of unique, exotic plant and animal species and famed as the site of Charles Darwin’s research of the evolution of species by natural selection.

Although most islands are uninhabited and protected from development, a few have growing populations, now 30,000 in all (up from 25,000 in 2010, with 33,000 forecast by 2020), economically supported by thriving tourism, which is capped at 200,000 annual visitors.

San Cristóbal, site of the provincial capital, is among the busiest islands with a bustling port and airport.

For decades, all of San Cristóbal’s electricity came from diesel-fuelled generating stations. That began to change in January 2001 when a tanker, the Jessica, struck a reef and spilled about 570,000 litres of diesel oil, threatening the irreplaceable heritage of plants, birds and marine life.

A fortuitous mix of wind and currents narrowly averted an environmental catastrophe, but the event launched an international effort to reduce San Cristóbal’s dependence on diesel fuel to generate electricity.

Centrepiece of the international response: The US $10 million San Cristóbal Wind Project, a public-private partnership between the Government of Ecuador, the UN Development Programme and the GSEP, with member companies American Electric Power and Germany’s RWE AG taking a lead role.

The funds went into a trust, which created an independent company, Eólica San Cristóbal S.A. – EOLICSA, to own and operate the project. On March 31, EOLICSA transferred ownership and control to the local utility, ELECGALÁPAGOS S.A.

Each of the three turbines, designed to operate at a very low wind speed, has a capacity of 800 kilowatts. Over the first eight years, they have functioned a remarkable 92% of the time, and produced more than 26 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

The project also includes two six-kilowatt solar installations that have generated 136,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, as well as new transmission lines and advanced control systems that let the renewable and diesel components work together efficiently.

The project also boasts several environmental successes.

Its license requires it to follow an Environmental Management Plan, a set of measures to protect unique bird populations, in particular the Galapagos petrel, which exists only on the archipelago and is listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The turbines were erected on a hill known as El Tropezón, an agricultural area distant from petrel nesting sites, and where there is little Galapagos Miconia, an endangered plant. In addition, the first three kilometres of a new 12-kilometre transmission line were buried to avoid interfering with Petrel flights between their nesting grounds and the sea, where they spend daylight hours fishing.

Also included is an effort, using poison, to reduce populations of invasive rats and feral cats, which arrived on the islands via visiting ships, and which eat petrel eggs and chicks. Furthermore, machetes are used to remove invasive plants, such as blackberry and guava, which crowd out the miconia and impair the nesting habitat.

The results: No petrels are known to have been injured during the eight years of wind turbine operations and nest monitoring reveals the pest controls are working. From 2012 to 2014, hatching success rates increased from 85 to 96%, reproductive success grew from 81 to 100%, and the petrel population appears to be growing.

There have, however, been challenges for the project over the first several years:

On the financial side, the price charged for electricity is fixed at a relatively low US $0.1282 per kilowatt-hour. As well, depressed global oil prices undermined Ecuador’s economy, causing ripples affecting the project.

The project is eligible to participate in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), created under the Kyoto Protocol climate change treaty. The CDM set up a market for Certified Emission Reduction certificates (CERs), each equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, which can be sold by countries that are below their emission targets to those that exceed them. The project sold 11,000 CERs, for a total of US $110,000, during its first four years, but because of low prices it has not participated in the market since then.

ELECGALÁPAGOS forecasts that, despite energy-conservation programs, electricity demand will rise by 60% from now to 2024, on top of a 275% increase realized since 2003. Consumption is spurred by the rising population, a new hospital and hotel, and other factors. A national attempt to reduce the use of fossil fuels through a shift from ovens fuelled by liquefied petroleum gas to electric induction models will add about 1.3 megawatts to annual demand on San Cristóbal.

Winds vary widely daily and from season to season, leading to large variations in renewable production.

The current low oil price has forced Ecuador’s government to reduce spending on all programs.

The report concludes that, with respect to energy on San Cristóbal, “a renewable penetration rate of at least 70 per cent may be achieved within a reasonable investment range.” And it offers a four-step plan:

Overhaul and fully automate the controls that mesh diesel and wind generation
Install more solar photovoltaic capacity
Add a fourth wind turbine unit at the existing wind park at El Tropezón hill
Install batteries to store electricity generated when winds are strong for dispatch when they are low. The project currently has no storage.
Adding enough storage capacity to make a significant impact would be expensive, says Luis Vintimilla, General Manager of Eólica San Cristóbal S.A., and precise cost estimates will be included in the upcoming feasibility study.

However, he adds, with support commensurate to the international value of the Galapagos, 70% energy from renewable sources is feasible in the intermediate term en route to the ultimate goal of zero fossil fuel use.

GSEP has agreed to fund an evaluation, led by German utility RWE, of a phase 2 expansion of the project involving the organization. RWE will assess the feasibility of options to further increase the share of renewables on San Cristobal and to deploy innovative energy solutions such as advanced integrated technology portfolios consisting of wind, solar PV and battery storage.

Source

No Bloomberg, Germany Did Not Get All Its Power From Renewables

No Bloomberg, Germany Did Not Get All Its Power From Renewables

Events like this highlight that eventually we may need to start curtailing because of market-wide oversupply,” said Monne Depraetere, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “In the long-run, that may provide a case to build technologies that can manage this oversupply — for example more interconnectors or energy storage.”

Renewables were only able to meet demand because of Germany’s strong export capability, the analyst said. Even when solar and wind peaked, conventional power plants were still supplying 7.7 gigawatts.

Merkel’s unprecedented shift to clean energy has squeezed margins at coal and gas plants while driving up costs for consumers in Europe’s biggest power market. The increased flows of clean energy have also put pressure on the grid to the point that the country is considering excluding certain regions from future onshore wind power auctions if local grids are already struggling to keep up with large volumes of renewable energy supplies.

“If Germany was an island, with no export cables, this would be technically impossible because you always need to have some thermal generation running as a back up supply for when the wind or solar drops off,” Depraetere said.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

h/t Stewgreen

image

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-16/germany-just-got-almost-all-of-its-power-from-renewable-energy

Bloomberg ran this headline last week:

  • Wind, solar, biomass and hydro met demand on Sunday afternoon

  • Angela Merkel’s Energiewende is squeezing coal and gas margins

Clean power supplied almost all of Germany’s power demand for the first time on Sunday, marking a milestone for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Energiewende” policy to boost renewables while phasing out nuclear and fossil fuels.

Solar and wind power peaked at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday, allowing renewables to supply 45.5 gigawatts as demand was 45.8 gigawatts, according to provisional data by Agora Energiewende, a research institute in Berlin. Power prices turned negative during several 15-minute periods yesterday, dropping as low as minus 50 euros ($57) a megawatt-hour, according to data from Epex Spot.

image

Germany’s power supply by hour

Source: Agora Energiewende

Countries around Europe are building increasing amounts of renewable capacity in order to reduce their carbon emissions…

View original post 295 more words

Bad news for rooftop solar panels

Bad news for rooftop solar panels

 

Optical losses

In order to achieve optimum performance, it is necessary “to select the appropriate tracking system. Otherwise,” added Fabienne Sallaberry, “the collector would sustain significant optical losses due to the inadequate focussing of the solar radiation, irrespective of the quality of the device components and its manufacturing process”.

That is why the author of the thesis has focused her research on calculating the errors due to the solar trackers. To do this, initially she conducted some of her own tests to evaluate these mechanical devices. The, she resorted to computer-based simulation techniques and to experimental observations to produce an optical characterisation of various solar collectors that use optical concentration. “It is about determining how far their performance depends on the errors of their solar trackers,” she pointed out. “It should be highlighted that a high degree of agreement was observed between the theoretical results provided by the simulation program and the experimental ones”.

In a third phase, she calculated the long-term optical losses caused by the solar tracking system. “The impact of the maximum tracking error on the optical performance has been determined for various collectors and different tracking systems,” said the PhD holder.

Finally, this thesis indicates the sections included in the international standards (in particular the ISO 9806 standard for testing and certifying solar thermal collectors) that need to be revised in order to determine the influence of solar tracking on the overall performance of the collectors. In this respect, Fabienne Sallaberry has put forward improvements that would need to be included in a future procedure on the standardized testing of solar trackers for solar thermal collectors.

http://www.unavarra.es/actualidad/noticias?contentId=220486