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Submission Summary: 4 pending, 609 declined, 172 accepted (785 total, 21.91% accepted)

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Submission + - Chemists develop promising cheap, sustainable battery for grid energy storage (sciencedaily.com)

mdsolar writes: Chemists at the University of Waterloo have developed a long-lasting zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries and could help enable communities to shift away from traditional power plants and into renewable solar and wind energy production.

Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the important discovery, which appears in the journal, Nature Energy.

The battery uses safe, non-flammable, non-toxic materials and a pH-neutral, water-based salt. It consists of a water-based electrolyte, a pillared vanadium oxide positive electrode and an inexpensive metallic zinc negative electrode. The battery generates electricity through a reversible process called intercalation, where positively-charged zinc ions are oxidized from the zinc metal negative electrode, travel through the electrolyte and insert between the layers of vanadium oxide nanosheets in the positive electrode. This drives the flow of electrons in the external circuit, creating an electrical current. The reverse process occurs on charge.

The cell represents the first demonstration of zinc ion intercalation in a solid state material that satisfies four vital criteria: high reversibility, rate and capacity and no zinc dendrite formation. It provides more than 1,000 cycles with 80 per cent capacity retention and an estimated energy density of 450 watt-hours per litre. Lithium-ion batteries also operate by intercalation--of lithium ions--but they typically use expensive, flammable, organic electrolytes.

Submission + - FBI Files Say China Firm Pushed U.S. Experts for Nuclear Secrets (bloomberg.com)

mdsolar writes: A state-owned Chinese power company under indictment in the U.S. pressed American nuclear consultants for years to hand over secret technologies and documents they weren’t supposed to disclose — and in some cases it got them, several of the consultants have told the FBI.
Summaries of the consultants’ interviews with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were filed this month in a federal court where the company, China General Nuclear Power Corp., has been charged with conspiring to steal nuclear technology.
The FBI documents surfaced shortly after the same company became a focus of concerns across the Atlantic: The U.K. last month delayed approval of the country’s biggest nuclear power station in a generation as questions swirled about whether China General Nuclear’s investment in the plant poses a security risk.

The filings provide a window into the tactics of CGN, China’s biggest nuclear power operator. One of the consultants said CGN employees asked for off-limits operational manuals to nuclear equipment and software, according to the interview summaries. Another said he was asked to provide proprietary temperature settings for material used to contain nuclear fuel. After he refused, he wasn’t offered more consulting jobs, he told the FBI.
Employees of CGN “frequently asked for documents which were proprietary or limited to restricted access,” according to a summary of one interview. In several instances, the company got what it wanted, according to the FBI documents.

Submission + - Pilgrim nuclear plant powered down after discovery of problem valve (patriotledger.com)

mdsolar writes: Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, already one step from being forced by federal regulators to close down based on poor performance, remained powered down for a third day Tuesday as crews tried to repair a malfunctioning valve designed to prevent radioactivity from leaking into the environment during a nuclear accident.

Patrick O'Brien, a spokesman for plant operator Entergy, said inspectors discovered during routine test last week that one of the valves was not closing fast enough. The plant had already been lowered to 47 percent power last Tuesday for maintenance and was powered down completely on Sunday to allow crews to repair the valve.

This is the second time in a year that a problem in the valve system has shut down the reactor. Critics say it is further evidence that parts are wearing out and not being replaced in time at the 44-year-old reactor because owner-operator Entergy Corp. plans to permanently shutter the plant in mid-2019.

“Even with increased federal oversight, repetitive failure of critical safety equipment is yet another serious warning that Pilgrim's ongoing degradation continues to threaten our region,” Diane Turco, co-founder of the watchdog group Cape Downwinders, wrote in an email. “Pilgrim is an accident waiting to happen. Closure should be now, not in 2019.”

Submission + - SPAM: Kuwait scraps nuclear power plans

mdsolar writes: Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water has reportedly scrapped plans to build a nuclear power plant citing cost concerns.

The country had planned to obtain a licence for the project from the United Nations.

Kuwait Times reports that the ministry decided to retract the plans because studies proved it was unfeasible and too expensive.

The ministry also said alternative energy sources like wind and solar power were more cost effective, according to the publication.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Nuclear's Glacial Pace

mdsolar writes: Climate change has forced us to rethink how we get electricity. Use of renewable sources like solar and wind is rapidly increasing, while nuclear, though long a reliable source of carbon-free electricity, is not. Meanwhile, a number of startups are promising cheap, safe, proliferation-resistant nuclear energy in the next decade (see “Fail-Safe Nuclear Power”).

Can these startups fulfill their promises? Outside of China, nuclear power is expanding nowhere. China has 21 new reactors under construction; Russia has nine, India six. The U.S. is bringing five new plants online, but since 2012, five other reactors have been retired, with seven more to be shuttered by 2019. California’s Diablo Canyon plant recently announced it will close by 2025. With other plants closing in Japan, Germany, and the U.K., more reactors may be decommissioned than built in the near future.

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Submission + - SPAM: New Mexico nuclear accidwnt ranks among the costliest in U.S. history

mdsolar writes: When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations.

The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste.

But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

The Feb. 14, 2014, accident is also complicating cleanup programs at about a dozen current and former nuclear weapons sites across the U.S. Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for the dump are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere, state officials said in interviews.

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Submission + - SPAM: Pro-nuclear countries making slower progress on climate targets

mdsolar writes: A strong national commitment to nuclear energy goes hand in hand with weak performance on climate change targets, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies have found.

A new study of European countries, published in the journal Climate Policy, shows that the most progress towards reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy sources – as set out in the EU’s 2020 Strategy – has been made by nations without nuclear energy or with plans to reduce it.

Conversely, pro-nuclear countries have been slower to implement wind, solar and hydropower technologies and to tackle emissions.

While it’s difficult to show a causal link, the researchers say the study casts significant doubts on nuclear energy as the answer to combating climate change.

“By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive.”

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Submission + - SPAM: TEPCO's 'ice wall' failing at Fukushima nuclear plant 1

mdsolar writes: Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s “frozen wall of earth” has failed to prevent groundwater from entering the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and the utility needs a new plan to address the problem, experts said.
An expert panel with the Nuclear Regulation Authority received a report from TEPCO on the current state of the project on Aug. 18. The experts said the ice wall project, almost in its fifth month, has shown little or no success.
“The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing,” said panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka, a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University. “They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plan.”

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: A World at War

mdsolar writes: We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.
BY BILL MCKIBBEN

In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”

In the Pacific this spring, the enemy staged a daring breakout across thousands of miles of ocean, waging a full-scale assault on the region’s coral reefs. In a matter of months, long stretches of formations like the Great Barrier Reef—dating back past the start of human civilization and visible from space—were reduced to white bone-yards.

Day after day, week after week, saboteurs behind our lines are unleashing a series of brilliant and overwhelming attacks. In the past few months alone, our foes have used a firestorm to force the total evacuation of a city of 90,000 in Canada, drought to ravage crops to the point where southern Africans are literally eating their seed corn, and floods to threaten the priceless repository of art in the Louvre. The enemy is even deploying biological weapons to spread psychological terror: The Zika virus, loaded like a bomb into a growing army of mosquitoes, has shrunk the heads of newborn babies across an entire continent; panicked health ministers in seven countries are now urging women not to get pregnant. And as in all conflicts, millions of refugees are fleeing the horrors of war, their numbers swelling daily as they’re forced to abandon their homes to escape famine and desolation and disease.

World War III is well and truly underway. And we are losing.

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Submission + - SPAM: July 2016 Was Earth's Warmest Month on Record

mdsolar writes: Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), operated by the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the global average July temperature was nearly one-fifth of a degree Celsius higher than previous July temperature records set in 2015 and in 2009. July was also 0.55 degrees Celsius higher than the July average for 1981-2010.

Compared to the July average, the south-central part of the United States including Texas and into northern Mexico were the most anomalously warm for North America.

Globally, portions of western Russia and the Southern Ocean were warmest compared to average.

In Russia, fires and an anthrax outbreak have been blamed on warmer than average temperatures.

Each of the last 12 months has been the warmest on record for their respective months. This is due to a combination of global climate variability and human activity according to C3S.

July is typically the warmest month of the year globally because the Northern Hemisphere has more land masses than the Southern Hemisphere.

(NASA GISTEMP confirms today)

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Submission + - SPAM: Trump campaign chair failed to register as a Russian agent

mdsolar writes: “Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from (Viktor) Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials,” Andrew E. Kramer, Mike McIntire and Barry Meier report from Kiev. “In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.”

“Before he fled to Russia two years ago, Mr. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions relied heavily on the advice of Mr. Manafort and his firm, who helped them win several elections,” the story notes. “During that period, Mr. Manafort never registered as a foreign agent with the United States Justice Department — as required of those seeking to influence American policy on behalf of foreign clients

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Submission + - SPAM: Subsidizing Nuclear Will Only Make Our Grid Problems Worse 1

mdsolar writes: While low natural gas prices are something to celebrate for consumers, the mood among the owners of America’s nuclear power fleet is not so cheerful as low energy prices threaten their bottom line. In turn, the owners of nuclear plants are threatening to shut down unless the government (and ultimately the ratepayer) steps in to close the shortfall. They have even announced plant closings to show they mean business.

Ordinarily, this kind of thing might be left solely up to markets to sort out. But with nuclear accounting for almost 60% of the carbon-free electricity in the United States, it’s fair to say that losing nuclear plants make it a lot tougher to meet goals to avoid catastrophic climate change. So there is a compelling case that there is a public interest at stake with the potential closure of these plants.

The result: a high-stakes game of chicken is playing out between producers, consumers, and state regulatory commissions in capitols across the country to keep these plants open. New York made history last week when it decided it couldn’t do without nuclear and gave in to providing subsidies. The news came just a couple months after California decided the opposite—putting all its chips into renewables. Illinois continues to wrestle with the very same decision but has yet to place its bet.

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Submission + - SPAM: Holy Grail of energy policy in sight as battery technology smashes the old order 3

mdsolar writes: The world's next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away. Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point.

The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the 'Holy Grail' of energy policy.

You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming "drastic improvements" that can slash storage costs by 80pc to 90pc and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order.

“Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely "decarbonised" by the middle of the century.

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Submission + - SPAM: Chinese City Backs Down on Proposed Nuclear Fuel Plant After Protests

mdsolar writes: Bowing to days of passionate street protests, a city government in eastern China said Wednesday that it had halted any plans to build a nuclear fuel plant there. The reversal was the latest indication of how public distrust could hold back China’s ambitious plans for expanding its nuclear power industry.

The government of Lianyungang, a city near the coast of Jiangsu Province, announced the retreat in a terse message online. “The people’s government of Lianyungang has decided to suspend preliminary work for selecting a site for the nuclear cycle project,” it read, referring to a proposed plant for reprocessing used fuel from nuclear plants.

No reason was given, but it appeared clear enough. In recent days, residents have taken to the streets to oppose any decision to build the plant nearby. The main urban area of Lianyungang is just 20 miles southwest of a large and growing nuclear power plant on the coast, but the idea of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility also being built in the area seemed to push public unease to a new height.

A 21-year-old Lianyungang resident with the surname Tang said Wednesday that demonstrators had been chanting “Oppose nuclear waste, defend our home.” Like other people contacted there, she did not want her full name used, citing fear of reprisal for talking to reporters.

“Nobody wants this kind of thing built in their own home,” Ms. Tang said.

China’s authoritarian leaders are wary of local protests escalating into broader challenges to their power. But local governments have often given ground in the face of growing public opposition to chemical plants, waste incinerators and other potential sources of pollution. Now proposed nuclear projects are also becoming increasingly troublesome.

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Submission + - SPAM: China to UK: 'golden' ties at crucial juncture over nuclear delay

mdsolar writes: China has cautioned Britain against closing the door to Chinese money and said relations were at a crucial juncture after Prime Minister Theresa May delayed signing off on a $24 billion nuclear power project.

In China's sternest warning to date over May's surprise decision to review the building of Britain's first nuclear plant in decades, Beijing's ambassador to London said that Britain could face power shortages unless May approved the Franco-Chinese deal.

"The China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more," Liu Xiaoming wrote in the Financial Times.

"I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point — and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly."

The comments signal deep frustration in Beijing at May's move to delay, her most striking corporate intervention since winning power in the political turmoil which followed Britain's June 23 referendum to leave the European Union.

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