Blowout Week 136

This week we feature the Greenland ice sheet, buried in which is the abandoned Camp Century U.S. Army base, a relic of the Cold War. Camp Century still houses, among other things, a nuclear reactor. What happens when climate change removes the overlying ice and exposes the “serious pollutants” –presumably nuclear waste – that Camp Century reportedly contains?


AGU:  Melting ice sheet could release frozen Cold War-era waste

Climate change could remobilize abandoned hazardous waste thought to be buried forever beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet, new research finds.

Camp Century, a U.S. military base built within the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War. When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall. But climate change has warmed the Arctic more than any other region on Earth, and a new study finds the portion of the ice sheet covering Camp Century could start to melt by the end of the century. If the ice melts, the camp’s infrastructure, as well as any remaining biological, chemical and radioactive waste, could re-enter the environment and potentially disrupt nearby ecosystems, according to the study’s authors. Determining who is responsible for cleaning up the waste could also lead to political disputes not considered before, according to the study’s authors.

Camp Century entrance. Image credit National Public Radio

Investors:  OPEC May Discuss Output Freeze Again; U.S. Oil Rigs Keep Rising

Now that Iran has gained more market share, some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are considering a production freeze after a similar effort failed in April, according to reports Friday. Venezuela, Ecuador and Kuwait want to bring a production freeze to the table, the Wall Street Journal reported, saying that a deal could be reached as early as Sept. 26 at the International Energy Forum in Algeria. Oil prices reversed lower as the Baker Hughes U.S. oil-rig count showed an increase of seven this week to 381, marking the sixth straight gain. Brent crude was down 0.8% to $43.92 per barrel, U.S. crude dropped 1% to $41.49. Iran was the major stumbling block to an agreement in April to freeze production at January levels. Iran’s production in January remained well below historic levels, as sanctions over its nuclear program had only just been lifted. Tehran has said it seeks to regain lost market share. But now Iran is pumping out 180,000 barrels a day above April levels and almost 600,000 barrels a day above levels right after sanctions were lifted, according to the Journal.

Poseidon01:  The United Nations: An Unconstrained Bureaucracy

Corruption, fraud, mismanagement, incompetence, the abuse of power, and abuse of funds and resources in various degrees characterize the public sector in general, but in the case of the United Nations these concerns are magnified manifold because this public sector is so far removed from the taxpayers that provide its funds that it operates in a an oversight vacuum with no accountability. The United Nations Convention against Corruption or UNCAC fights corruption in poor countries by promoting transparency, accountability and oversight. Yet, the UN is itself immune to these anti-corruption measures. The UN is not directly accountable to taxpayers. There is no independent oversight or audit of the UN. It is generally recognized that conventional public sector corruption is widespread in the United Nations.

Australian Financial Review:  Why changing market forced re-think on Hinkley

Less than three years ago the British government struck a deal with EDF, a French state-owned utility, to subsidise the first new nuclear power station built in Britain since 1995: Hinkley Point C on the Somerset coast. The agreement was hailed by David Cameron, the then-prime minister, as “brilliant news”. But a lot has changed since then—and not just the incumbent at 10 Downing Street On July 28th, hours after EDF’s board narrowly endorsed a decision to go ahead with the £18 billion ($24 billion) Hinkley Point investment, the new government of Theresa May unexpectedly slammed the brakes on, launching a review of the project that it says it will finish by the autumn. It is understood to want to probe a deal with China General Nuclear Power, a Chinese state behemoth, which had offered to stump up one-third of the price tag in exchange for permission to build a nuclear-power station of its own at Bradwell, in Essex. The delay is the clearest sign that Mrs May is rethinking the open-door industrial policies of her predecessor. Yet analysts say there is more to the delay than mere Sinophobia. Hinkley is “big and based on last-century technology, which is not what the UK’s power system needs for the future,” says Michael Grubb of University College London. A review of the assumptions prevailing when the government struck the deal reveals how flimsy the economic rationale was.

Environmental Leader:  China’s Research Into Thorium Will Have Implications for Nuclear Energy In the United States

In the periodic table, thorium rests just two spots away from uranium, which is the prevailing fuel used by today’s nuclear reactors. Once uranium is used as a fuel, it becomes highly radioactive. That waste is then cooled in spent fuel pools before is stored in above-ground, concrete-encased steel caskets. As the world learned from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident, that radioactive material could escape and do a lot of potential harm. Thorium, on the other hand, is also abundant in nature and can also be used to generate nuclear energy. But its proponents are saying that “molten salt reactors” that burn such fuels won’t “meltdown” because, unlike today’s high-pressured units, they are low-pressured and won’t vaporize. When used as a nuclear fuel, the whole cycle also produces less radioactive waste than does uranium. China has the most aggressive research program into molten salt reactors and thorium. They are referred to as fourth generation nuclear reactors, which it hopes to commercialize in 15 years. If it is able to do so, experts say that nuclear energy would be more efficient, cheaper and safer than today’s uranium-based reactors. India and Canada are also pursuing the technology.

Bellona:  Russian nuclear officials attempt to bury construction mishap at Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant

Over the past three weeks, tentative news reports that a 330-ton reactor vessel fell from a height of 2 to 4 meters on July 10 in Belarus’s Northwest at Ostrovets, the site of the new Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant. Rosatom is the main contractor on the project. The vessel fell during an exercise geared toward installing it the next day in front of the media. Russian and Belarusian nuclear officials kept the incident under wraps for more than two weeks. The apparent coverup was concerning to Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s executive director and nuclear physicist. “Rosatom is involved in building of numerous NPP’s around the world,” he said. This incident could be an example of the safety culture among the construction workers at these nuclear power plants worldwide, and Is an indication that there could be an additional safety concerns when these reactors are put in operation.”

Sputnik News:  Rosatom Dismisses Rumors of Accident at Belarus’ Nuclear Power Plant

Media claimed that an accident occurred on the night of July 9 at the construction site of Belarus’s first nuclear power plant. “It is wrong to use misleading words like ‘hit the ground’ or ‘fell’ because the reactor was moving toward the ground at a pace below that of a pedestrian,” Rosatom’s First Deputy CEO for Operations Management Alexander Lokshin told re-porters. Lokshin said a subcontractor firm was relocating the reactor horizontally some 30 feet within the construction site with a crane when it malfunctioned. The massive cargo was left strapped to the crane for half an hour and tilted slowly to one side until it was handing diagonally from the sling and touched the ground. “As for the shell, there was no significant impact on it that would have changed its properties,” the senior nuclear official said, adding the maximum impact was 1.5 times weaker than what it is designed to withstand while in use. Lokshin said that the cargo had been strapped in violation of rules. The subcontractor has been punished and the workers responsible for moving the reactor on that night have been discharged for causing a delay in the assembly process.

Yahoo:  Ukraine strikes US nuclear fuel deal

Ukraine said Thursday it had reached an agreement with the US-based electric giant Westinghouse to build a nuclear fuel production unit that would help reduce its reliance on Russia. The former Soviet republic has been trying to sever all forms of dependence on its giant eastern neighbour since a bloody February 2014 pro-EU revolution drove the disdained Kremlin-backed president into self-imposed exile in Russia. About half of Ukraine’s energy is produced by nuclear power stations that still operate in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster that left thousands dead or dying. But 95 percent of the fuel for those plants comes from Russia — a dependence that Energy Minister Igor Nasalyk vowed to break. Nasalyk told reporters that his June visit to the United States had produced an agreement for Westinghouse’s Swedish nuclear production factory to build its own plant in Ukraine at an undisclosed future date. “We have agreed to diversify our sources of fuel delivery to nearly half of our nuclear blocks,” Nasalyk said. “And we agreed (for Westinghouse Electric Sweden) to construct a nuclear fuel production facility on the territory of Ukraine,” he added. Russia has repeatedly argued that the US fuel was unsafe for nuclear stations that were built in Ukraine by the Soviet Union under its own guidelines and standards. Ukraine has four nuclear power stations and 15 production blocks.

Canada Free Press:  China’s Coal Consumption Has Permanently Peaked

After more than tripling between 2000-2013, when China overtook the US as the world’s top greenhouse gas producer, coal production has been dropping: 2.9% in 2014, 3.6% in 2015, and a dramatic 9.7% in the first half of 2016, according to research published in Nature Geoscience. Another 9% of China’s coal capacity will be eliminated in the next few years with new mines banned and 4300 small, inefficient mines closing. And last year, China pledged to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants 60% by 2020. The causes: China’s economic growth has been cut by half and is moving toward a “consumer” service-based economy and away from heavy, energy-intensive industry. And pollution is so bad it’s become impossible to ignore, spurring government action. The impact of climate change has also become impossible to downplay, from severe droughts in the north to torrential floods in the south. Then there’s China’s outsized leadership on solar and wind, installing eye-popping amounts for years now. Newly raised targets are for an amazing 150-200 gigawatts (GW) of solar by 2020 (up from 70GW), and 250 GW of wind (up from 200GW). Since China’s promise is to peak emissions by 2030, this is way earlier than anyone expected. Now they could peak as early as 2020!

Guardian:  Adelaide charges ahead with world’s largest ‘virtual power plant’

Adelaide will be home to the world’s largest “virtual power plant” – AGL is rolling out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses, with backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena). AGL and Arena say the project will improve network security and dampen a volatile wholesale electricity price in South Australia. However, an energy expert says that at the current size, the system will have a minimal impact on network security or wholesale prices, but might pose a challenge to the revenues of companies that own the poles and wires. Offered to homes and businesses with solar systems, the $20m AGL project, backed with $5m from Arena, will operate like a 5MW peaking power plant, providing power to homes and businesses during periods at optimal times. The chief executive of AGL, Andy Vesey, told Guardian Australia: “The beauty of the project is it’s being done over 1,000 batteries, and that’s how we deliver an aggregate benefit to the grid itself. “But for the consumer, it will have the value of the battery. And it’s being priced at a way that a good investment decision could be made. We’re viewing that the average savings for someone who has rooftop solar right now would be $500 a year. It’s really a way of optimising the energy produced out of their solar panel.” The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.

Curbed:  Off-Grid passive house in San Diego

A sculptural 17-foot-tall wind turbine hovers over Casa Aguila, the first Passive House in San Diego county. Able to go entirely off-grid, the home generates its own energy through the turbine and solar panels, and conserves power with a host of energy-efficient techniques. Built on the crest of a hill, the home’s wind turbine is expected to produce energy for at least 12 hours a day, while a set of solar panels that track the sun’s path are projected to generate roughly 44,000kWh each year. Additionally, the home’s appliances and LED lighting systems were selected for their supreme energy efficiency. The energy system of the 3,123-square-foot home was designed by Alliance Green Builders, a local contractor focused on eco-friendly, high-performance construction. With Casa Aguila, the company designed an air-tight structure with a high-tech ventilation system to maintain its thermal efficiency. These features mean the home can withstand Southern California’s colder nights and sweltering days without needing to constantly fire up a furnace or air conditioner. The home also harvests rainwater and contains a water treatment system enabling it to be used for indoor needs.

Casa Aguila: Image credit Vox-CDN

RenewEconomy:  More wind & solar? Not a problem

The Australian Energy Market Operator has shot down claims that Australia cannot accommodate any more wind and solar, saying that the challenge is not so much technical as how to design the appropriate market signals and regulation. “Rules and regulations that govern this industry have been designed in a different era,” said Frank Montiel, executive officer of markets at AEMO at a conference hosted by the Energy Networks Association in Brisbane on Wednesday. “So we need to adapt. We need to see where the new technical solutions may lie, and ensure that the framework is flexible enough to accommodate them.” The position of AEMO, whose job is to ensure the running of the national grid and that the lights stay on, will be reassuring to both the South Australian government and the renewable energy industry, which have come under extraordinary attack in recent weeks because of high wholesale market prices caused by soaring gas prices and repairs to the grid interconnector. The attacks have been led by the Murdoch media and fossil fuel lobbyists, but have also been echoed by many in the Coalition – at state and federal level – despite environment minister Josh Frydenberg saying that renewables were not to blame for the recent price spikes – in fact, he noted, the price spikes used to happen a lot more regularly before the build-out of wind and solar.

Irish Times:   Irish government feels the heat as cost of supporting renewable energy jumps

The Government is facing growing pressure to end a costly system of supports for the renewable energy industry that has drawn criticism from some major employers in the Republic, including Kerry Group and multinationals Microsoft and Intel. From next October, all homes and businesses in the State will be faced with an increase in their electricity bills when the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) raises its public service charge by €76 million to €400 million to cover the growing cost of supports for the wind industry. The extra charge, called the Public Service Obligation (PSO), is levied on all electricity users in the Republic. The cash raised sup-ports wind power, other renewable energy and peat-fired electricity genera-tors. As a result, the €400 million raised will be passed on to companies operating these plants, including State-owned ESB and rivals SSE Airtricity and Viridian. Government policy supports the development of renewable energy through a number of schemes, which guarantee prices to wind farms and other companies that generate electricity from “green” sources. This is be-cause, under EU directive, the State has to ensure that 16 per cent of all energy needs are met from renewables by 2020. To achieve that, 40 per cent of electricity has to come from these sources. Failure to meet the targets could result in heavy fines.

Silicon Valley Business Journal:  Apple gets permission to begin selling excess renewable energy

In a move that was expected, the iPhone and Mac maker received permission Thursday to begin selling energy generated at three solar installations and from its new campus being built in Cupertino. Apple and many other tech (and non-tech) companies have been investing in renewable energy to power their offices and data centers. Just like homeowners with solar, these businesses also generate excess power that they intend to sell back into the grid, but they need permission from federal regulators concerned that they could generate enough energy to impact prices. Apple applied for such permission in June, detailing that it could generate 18 megawatts of power from fuel cells and solar at its new headquarters in Cupertino, dubbed Cam-pus 2 but also known as “the spaceship.” The company also has deals to buy energy from two installations in Nevada and one in Monterey County capable of producing up to 200 additional megawatts. According to Bloomberg, Apple’s subsidiary, Apple Energy LLC, got the green light Thursday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and could start selling power as soon as Saturday.

Independent:  Climate change subsidy slashed by Government days after Brexit vote

A sudden, unexpected cut to a renewable energy subsidy by the Government in the days following the Brexit referendum result has been condemned by the industry and farmers. The decision was announced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) just days before it was abolished and came into force just three weeks later on 1 August. The Renewable Energy Association said investments in combined heat and power (CHP) projects totalling some £140m had been put at risk. Persuading people to invest in energy generation is largely reliant on providing a degree of certainty that there will be a return, with subsidies a key part of that picture, whether the power comes from renewable sources or fossil fuel plants. James Court, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said: “The abrupt cut in support significantly impacts the biomass CHP industry. “It is the suddenness and the lack of consultation that is the core issue here. Over £140m worth of investment is affected by this change, with a planned renewable energy capacity totalling 203 megawatts [MW] of heat and 20MW of power.”

InsiderMedia:  Brexit blamed for renewable energy company bankruptcy

A Plymouth-headquartered renewable energy company has appointed administrators, blaming the EU referendum result and “difficult market conditions” for problems raising funds. Rame Energy specialises in wind and solar power projects with a particular focus on Chile where it has completed work for a number of copper and gold mines. It is listed on AIM having raised about £2.1m with an initial public offering in April 2014. In April this year, the company revealed plans to raise £2.8m through a private placing develop its portfolio of wind and solar projects in Chile. However, it was unable to complete this fundraising and has now entered administration. Andrew Beckingham and Colin Prescott of Leonard Curtis Recovery were appointed as joint administrators of Rame Energy plc yesterday (4 August 2016). The business said the failure to complete its fundraising was down to “difficult market conditions and the outcome of the UK referendum on exiting the European Union”. As a result of these issues, the directors concluded that the business could “no longer continue to trade on a solvent basis”. Rame Energy shares were suspended from trading on AIM on 1 July 2016 after it failed to published its results for the year to 31 December 2015.

Time:  Europe’s Last Wild River Is About to Get Dammed

The proposed 45-m (147 ft) Pocem dam near Kuta represents just one of nearly 1,400 new small and large hydroelectric projects planned across the Balkans, as countries like Albania, Serbia and Macedonia rush to cash in on a flood of investment in green energy. Globally, in 2015, both generating capacity and investment increased to an unprecedented level, reaching $286 billion, according to the Renewables Global Status Report. But as development moves ahead, the economic, social and even environmental drawbacks are casting a black shadow over the green boom. In the EU, 25.4 percent of primary energy production comes from renewables, reports EuroStat. Of that, hydropower makes up 16.5 percent, wind provides 11.1 percent and solar accounts for 6.1 percent. The wave of dam and small hydropower projects has received much of its funding from large multilateral development banks like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). And activists say those loans are sometimes based on shoddy environmental impact assessments. And in the case of some privately funded projects, concessions have been given as election year pork. Looking at the dates of past hydroelectric projects, Zamir Dedej, the director of the Albanian government’s National Agency of Protected Areas, says nearly all the projects were given as kickbacks for votes. “There is a lot of corruption inside of this process.”

Power Engineering International:  Davey calls for independent system operator to improve UK grid

The former UK energy secretary believes the Conservative government has severely neglected the country’s power grid development at the expense of renewables. His comments come in the same week as the National Grid released its 2016 Future Energy Scenarios report. Sir Ed Davey headed the energy portfolio in the last coalition government and he told Power Engineering International, “Since the May 2015 election, the Conservatives’ energy policy has been a disaster – especially for renewables and investment in the grid to facilitate renewables.” The Liberal Democrat, now chair of renewables firm Mongoose Energy, added that the government may need to look beyond National Grid in terms of coming up with pragmatic solutions to the UK’s energy issues. “The Conservative Government has to recognise the reality that our future electricity system will involve much more distributed power and plan policy for the grid accord-ingly,” he said. “That may require securing a system operator independent of National Grid and studying the implications of the probability of cheap practical storage technologies.”

Economist:  Hinkley Pointless

The “golden decade” of co-operation between Britain and China, launched last year as Xi Jinping banqueted at Buckingham Palace, seems to have lasted all of nine months. The centrepiece of the new partnership was a deal in which China would invest £6 billion ($8 billion) in a new French-built nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in south-west England, before building one of its own in the south-east (see page 21). Yet on July 28th, as the Hinkley project was due to receive final approval, Britain’s new government announced ominously that it was under review. Putting the brakes on Hinkley has tarnished the golden era with China, whose state-owned news agency complained about Britain’s “suspicious approach” (see article). It risks annoying France, which can complicate Britain’s exit from the EU. And Britain badly needs new sources of energy. Even so, scrapping the deal would be the right decision. Regardless of security worries about China, which are probably overblown, the Hinkley plan looks extraordinarily bad value for money. What’s more, as renewable sources of energy become more attractive, the days of big, “baseload” projects like Hinkley are numbered. Britain should pull out of the deal, and other countries should learn from its misadventure.

Reuters:  Ofgem Must Be Scrapped – UK Union for Energy Workers

GMB, the union for energy workers, has commented on proposals from Ofgem announced today that it claims will deliver “a more competitive and fairer energy market.” The UK energy regulator released the proposals in response to a report from the Competition and Markets Authority in June (Friday, 24th June 2016). Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for energy, said “Here we go again with more Ofgem tinkering over the pretence that a free market is possible in this sector. Ofgem should be abolished and the Government itself should take over responsibility for regulating the industry so both are accountable to Parliament. Government cannot duck taking the decisions needed to keep the lights on and ensure the decarbonisation of the sector. Government should also have powers to cap prices and limit profit levels and, where necessary, to finance and run power stations.”

Commonspace:  E.On Board to discuss viability of Scottish renewable investments

The executive board of the German energy group E.On will have an urgent session on Monday 8 August to investigate the viability of its onshore wind turbine investments in Scotland. The announcement was made in the weekly Germany business newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, which reported that the board will at the next meeting discuss the possibility of stopping its project in Scotland. Sources from the company told WirtschaftsWoche: “The political situation in Britain makes any investments uncomfortable and unstable.” In Scotland, the E.On construction which was due to start next year is part of onshore investments totalling around €4bn for 86 planned wind farm turbines. According to the statement in the German paper, E.On had initially wanted to invest a two-digit sum of billions over a longer period of time. The backdrop for the meeting has been the fallout over the changes in UK energy policy by the Westminster government which sees nuclear and shale as more profitable and efficient ways of plugging the UK’s energy gap over the next decade.

Power Engineering International:  Vattenfall lignite sale comes under EU state aid microscope

Attempts by Sweden’s state-owned power giant Vattenfall to offload its German lignite coal power operations appear to have been stalled at EU level, according to reports in Germany. A Vattenfall spokesperson told German media on Thursday that the sale to Czech utility EPH has been delayed and further reports from Germany today have stated that the European Commission is analysing the sale’s legality under state aid regulations. The Swedish government-controlled utility agreed to sell its lignite assets in Germany in April because it wants to focus on renewables and cut exposure to fossil fuels. EPH, which already operates other lignite mines and power stations in Germany, said it expects the unit to become profitable as the country winds down its nuclear industry over the next six years and electricity prices start to recover. Vattenfall sold the lignite operations for a symbolic price and will pay EPH a billion euro premium for the obligations of renaturalising former mines. That the deal is merely being delayed is not a view shared by all observers. Environmental law specialist ClientEarth have reacted to the news, with lawyer Ken Huestebeck telling Power Engineering International, “There has been a deplorable lack of transparency around the sale. The information we do have indicates EU state aid rules were not followed carefully enough. If this turns out to be true, it would be unlawful to close the deal.”

Energy Storage News:  Gaelectric awarded €8.3 million EU funding for CAES project

Irish energy storage firm Gaelectric has been awarded an additional €8.28 million in European Union (EU) funding for its compressed air energy storage (CAES) project in Northern Ireland. The funding comes from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Gaelectric’s 330MW CAES project, near the port town of Larne in Northern Ireland, will store energy in the form of compressed air in especially engineered caverns within geological salt deposits at depths of around 1.5 kilometres below ground level. On completion, the Larne facility will provide generation capacity of 330MW for periods of up to eight hours, enough to meet the electricity needs of over 200,000 homes, the company said. Gaelectric received a separate EU grant of €6.5 million for the work in July 2015, covering front-end engineering and design. The latest award is for the drilling of an appraisal well, and studies into the structure of the project.

Deutsche Welle:  Brexit raises questions on Scotland’s role as environmental champion

Yesterday, the government of Scotland unveiled figures showing that, were it an independent country, it would have achieved the second-highest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Western Europe over the past quarter century. The only country to beat it was Sweden. Of course, Scotland is not an independent country, and the actual country to come in second was the United Kingdom as a whole. But Scotland’s emissions reductions were far higher than the rest of the country. The Scottish government, controlled by the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), was keen to trumpet the impressive figures. “Scotland is a world leader in tackling climate change, and these figures reaffirm that Scotland continues to outperform the rest of the UK as a whole and punch above its weight in international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” declared Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham in a statement. But Scotland’s impressive development comes with a caveat – it was subsidised by the entire United Kingdom. Ed Davey, the former British minister for energy and climate change, said ahead of the 2014 referendum that the UK would not continue to support an independent Scottish state’s energy costs. In other words, an independent Scotland would have the natural resources to continue its renewables growth, but perhaps not the financial resources.

Reuters:  EDF boss knew Britain planned to delay $24 billion nuclear deal

EDF Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy knew the British government wanted to take more time to review the Hinkley Point nuclear contract before the French utility’s board voted to approve the investment, he said in a letter to top executives. Board members at their meeting on July 28 were not informed that Britain planned to delay its decision on the $24 billion project to build the power plant in England, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the proceedings. The board narrowly approved the project but hours later the government of new British Prime Minister Theresa May – which had been expected to sign contracts on July 29 – instead said it wanted to give the plans further consideration. It postponed its final decision until early autumn. In comments to reporters at French state-controlled EDF’s first-half earnings release on July 29, Levy – who is also chairman of the board – had said he had not been aware at the time of the board meeting that the British government wanted more time to review the contract. Levy said that late on July 27, the night before the board meeting, he had been informed that May wanted “a bit more time, without calling into question the project, and without specifying the date when the contract could be signed. When the board voted, on the afternoon of July 28, we (management) therefore knew that the ceremony would not take place the next day,” Levy wrote.

Natural Gas Asia:  Sinopec’s Fuling Shale Gas Field Production Sees Sharp Jump

According to the production achieved is twice the level recorded during the same period of 2015. Till June 30, 2016, gas sales have reached 2.6 bcm and Sinopec said both production and sales have overshot the targets set. The first phase of Sinopec’s Fuling shale gas field in Chongqing went into production last year. Earlier this year, Sinopec announced it is aiming to produce 10 bcm of shale gas by 2020 from its Chongqing field. It further stated that the target is to have production capacity of 15 bcm by 2020. China is working on build-ing a substantial shale gas infrastructure. Despite many hurdles, the industry has managed to achieve significant progress in last few years. China’s recoverable shale gas reserves last year jumped 109 bcm to 130 bcm. Ministry of Land and Resources said country’s shale gas output reached 4.47 bcm in 2015, up almost 259 percent on year. However, last year’s production missed government’s target of 6.5 bcm.

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32 Responses to Blowout Week 136

  1. robertok06 says:

    “Camp Century still houses, among other things, a nuclear reactor”

    Are you sure??? As far as I understand, there is no reactor there, only mildly radioactive liquids/water with some contamination.
    Most of the danger comes from diesel fuel and PCB-type chemical.
    I think that most “climatologists”/wamists today do not have a lot to do, if they can waste their time looking at something as preposterous as this… scaring people with a non-news, the last of many “simulations” based on codes which are proven incorrect/highly approximate/completely wrong almost on a daily basis.

    It’s a shame… there are so many interesting and REAL things to study, in science, lots of scientific disciplines which are not funded as they should… and these good-for-nothing are even capable of publishing this sh*t?

    It’s a scandal.

    • robertok06 says:

      I’ve checked… there is no reactor. The total accumulated waste is estimated at 1.2 gigabecquerel, which is virtually nothing… it is what is emitted since oceans exist on earth, by a cube of seawater of 46 m side… if it ever ends up in the arctic ocean it will simply be diluted to levels which cannot harm living forms.

      • duffer70 says:

        Moreover, digging through to the original paper ( shows that all that’s being purported is “a transition in ice sheet surface mass balance at Camp Century *from net accumulation to net ablation* is plausible within the next 75 years”

        In other words, for at least the next several decades ice will continue to accumulate at the site. If it does switch to net ablation in 2070 or thereabouts, that melting will then have to work its way through dozens of metres of ice before becoming exposed: “Our inferred vertical advection rate profile suggests that solid and liquid wastes will reside at depths of 67 and 93 m, respectively, in 2090.”

        As you say, the diesel and PCBs appear a much more significant issue. It’s disgraceful that the beat-up reporting has focused on the near-negligible nuclear material.

      • Roger Andrews says:

        The reference to a nuclear reactor is contained in an article from U.S. National Public Radio. It reads as follows: Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there’s an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. Advertised as a research station, it was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles.

        A lot of people listen to NPR.

        • ROM says:

          Project Ice Worm of which Camp Century was to be the first established base some 300 kms inland from the Thule air force base was first built in 1959 and 1960.

          The very interesting American armed forces You tube video of the building of Camp Century can be found at various sites but this one will do;

          Or just google “Project Ice Worm”

          This video will just about tell you everything you might like to know about the establishment and living quarters of Camp Century

          The Camp was built by digging huge trenches into the snow cap and then roofing the trenches so snow again covered the network of tunnels and the buildings in those tunnels under the ice.

          The nuclear reactor, probably one of the nuclear submarine’s reactor types was transported across the ice and installed to provide power as Camp Century was built.

          Camp Century was abandoned by 1966 except for a half dozen ice cap researchers because of “Ice creep” .
          The ice pressure was deforming the tunnels leading to very heavy tunnel maintenance plus the Cold War missiles and the Cold War had moved on negating the need for the American armed forces to maintain the very expensive Camp Century in the harsh conditions of the high altitude Greenland Ice Cap.

          The reactor and all the radio active machinery was removed in its entirety before the Camp was abandoned.
          Sorry, but I can’t locate the personal story of one of the guys which I have read, who was involved in removing the reactor and its machinery in the mid 1960’s.

          The usual grossly over hyped claims about the nuclear debris at the abandoned Camp Century and the totally spurious claims that the melting Greenland Ice Cap will bring about the re-emergence of that those radiation waste hazards from Camp Century are to put it very politely, total BS.

          Camp Century as I posted above was only just buried beneath the surface of the ice.

          Like the “Lost Squadron” of WW2 which literally got lost while ferrying a squadron of fighters from America to Iceland and then along the ferry route onto Ireland and England, finally landed on the ice cap.
          An aircraft from that squadron was recovered from some 30 metres down a few years ago for restoration.

          Today Camp Century is at least 115 feet / 36 metres down and deep into the ice cap and getting deeper year by year as the yearly snowfalls slowly accumulate above it.

          There is going to have to be some damn good catastrophic ice melts on the Greenland Ice Cap over the next few decades for the remnants of Camp Century to ever make a reappearance or its there, slowly sinking ever deeper into the Ice Cap for all the time still to come.

          Photos and some interesting comments from American army personnel who worked and lived at Camp Century and the Thule Air Force base at the site below.

          “Inside the Army’s Secret Cold War Ice Base”

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    South Australia and Ireland are increasing their electricity prices as the percentage of wind electricity increases. Haven’t they heard that wind power is cheap?
    Gaelectric project was initially listed as costing 263 Euros and providing 200MW for up to 6 hours, so supplying those homes with 1kW over the 6 hours. That seems to be the ‘renewable industry’ view of acceptable. What of large shops and industry? What effect does the compression/expansion have on the costs? I doubt the recovery is as high as 75%.
    They claim to be developing 2 other similar projects (England and Netherlands) as well as a project utilising Tesla batteries en masse. I won’t be investing in them.

    • robertok06 says:

      ” I won’t be investing in them.”

      … actually… you should.

      Because the green spin will find a way to “incentivize” them sufficiently so that the savvy investor/saviour of the planet will be rewarded in 7-10 years, and after that is all fresh, juicy bucks coming in every month. Like for photovoltaics in the rush years.

  3. Does anyone have any information on how much the completed Gaelectric CAES system will cost? It’s already received €15 million in grants and as far as I can tell not a shovelful of earth has yet been turned.

    • robertok06 says:

      About costs, it depends on where it is done, basically… if you start from scratch with no “hole” in the ground available, and hard granite to dig then I bet it is going to cost a fortune… but the main problem in my humble opinion is that… I’ve read this on a PhD thesis on this subject…
      “Best expected efficiency of a hypothetical CAES system is determined to be 34% using currently achievable efficiencies and 63% considering 100% efficient compression and expansion.”

      … so at least 37% losses… non negligible… and to this one should add the losses due to the transport from the distant sources, a few % on top of that.

      • Graeme No.3 says:

        To compress efficiently they need to remove a lot of heat; in other words they are not going to be anywhere near 100% efficient. If they save that heat it would come in handy for the expansion phase. I think that 34% looks a more likely figure.
        As for the effect on cost 100 units in equals
        159 at 63%
        167 at 60%
        222 at 45%
        294 at 34%
        Great news consumers! Your already expensive electricity will become 3 times more expensive with this scheme. If you believe that you could be the next Lib-Dem Energy Minister.

        • Greg Kaan says:

          Don’t worry Graeme, that can be solved by increasing the overbuild. Since the energy itself is free, inefficiency doesn’t matter. 😉

          South Australia should have plenty of caverns to build some of these CAES systems to supplement the 5MW/7MWh of residential batteries being deployed over the next 18 months for the non-existent issue of integrating wind and solar,

  4. Jan Ebenholtz says:

    Well I think that the sea level raise will make this a non-issue 2100. People will have a lot more serious issues to deal with. But ofcourse the military should clean up. I thought the melting of the Greenland land ice was the big thing not what is revealed when the ice melts.
    Best regards.
    Jan Ebenholtz

    • robertok06 says:

      “Well I think that the sea level raise will make this a non-issue 2100”


      Even the sea level rise will be a non issue in 2100… at (less than) 3 mm/year the ocean/seas of the planet will be something like 3×84=252 mm higher.

      More details here:

      … 4 papers cited and commented in the article plus 3 additional ones cited by one commenter, Kenneth.

      Catstrophic anthropic global warming, CAGW, is baloney… possibly the biggest scientific scam of all history of mankind.


      • Jan Ebenholtz says:

        Climate change is for real. That is why we need nuclear plants. Increasing greenhouse gases have a varming effect regardless your personal views.

        • Javier says:

          Climate change is for real, but the melting of Greenland is not.

          Every year it snows over Greenland more than it melts, and as a consequence over 90% of Greenland is gaining ice, not losing it, and that includes Camp Century. You can see for yourself how Greenland gains ice every year in the Surface Mass Budget of the Greenland Ice Sheet page of the Danish Meteorological Institute:

          So how does Greenland contribute to sea level rise? Because it is thought that Greenland loses more ice that it gains, not through ice melting, but through iceberg calving. Based on GRACE satellites measurements most scientists believe that Greenland is losing ~ 200 Gt of ice every year. However this is just an estimate that could be quite wrong because of incorrect glacial isostatic adjustment.

          This article here defends that it is only 104 Gt/year:

          Wu, Xiaoping, et al. “Simultaneous estimation of global present-day water transport and glacial isostatic adjustment.” Nature Geoscience 3.9 (2010): 642-646.
          “According to our estimates, mass losses between 2002 and 2008 in Greenland, Alaska/Yukon and West Antarctica are 104±23, 101±23 and 64±32 Gt yr−1, respectively. Our estimates of glacial isostatic adjustment indicate a large geocentre velocity of −0.72±0.06 mm yr−1 in the polar direction. We conclude that a significant revision of the present estimates of glacial isostatic adjustments and land–ocean water exchange is required.”

          So the error could be by a factor of two. In any case at this rate Greenland will take several thousands of years to melt. But of course no guarantees that the rate will continue even a few decades more. Between 1940-1975 Glaciers in Greenland were growing and they could do so again in the near future.

          Most climate scientists are not at all alarmed by sea level rise or ice melt. However the media loves to play the alarmist card and give voice to a few alarmist scientists. You are being played.

        • robertok06 says:

          “Climate change is for real. ”

          Yes, of course, and it has been going on since the end of the last glaciation.

        • robertok06 says:

          Yeah!… it’s melting… too bad that the melting was caused by this:

          … a geophysical process, which happend tens of millions of years ago, certainly not CAGW.

  5. A C Osborn says:

    “Economist: Hinkley Pointless

    What’s more, as renewable sources of energy become more attractive, the days of big, “baseload” projects like Hinkley are numbered. Britain should pull out of the deal, and other countries should learn from its misadventure.”

    Renewables more attractive, they should come and read Euan’s posts, they have drunk the Kool Aid.

    • JerryC says:

      I’m fascinated by this seemingly widespread notion that baseload power won’t be needed anymore once we’ve built enough windmills. What are these people smoking?

      • robertok06 says:

        Well… it’s easy.
        You just install 100 m2 of heavily incentivized (and paid by others) PV on the roof of you villa to charge up the batteries of your defiscalized 100+ grand Tesla/BMW/Porsche and use the surplus to store it in even more incentivized Tesla lithium batteries.
        Your vacation is going to take place using PV-propelled airplanes (like the 130 million dollar Solar Impulse II), of course.

        It’s Dreamland at its best. 🙂

      • It’s even easier than that. All you have to do is believe the fiction that the wind is always blowing somewhere. So if you connect to somewhere (with a smart grid connection, of course) you will always have wind power at your disposal.

        • Rob says:

          Rodger / Euan
          Has Energy Matter done a piece on Smart grids
          It’s all I hear get rid of base load for a demand side response

          • A post entitled “How smart is a smart grid?” would indeed have a certain cachet. The problem is that I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what a smart grid consists of or exactly how it’s supposed to overcome the intermittency problem. Maybe someone could give me some guidance on this.

          • gweberbv says:


            a heat pump that fills or depletes a storage (can be a water tank or a building) according to the ratio of renewables production versus demand would be a good example how a ‘smart grid’ could mitigate effects of intermittency.
            In Germany you can get a 500 bucks refund if you install a heat pump which has an interface to communicate with the grid (operator) together with a tank of a certain size. To make a significant effect, of course you need millions of such devices.

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    Casa Aguila, the first Passive House in San Diego county

    They have just redefined the word “passive,” I think.

    A link to photos during an open house:

    Food & wine look nice. House too!

    Nowhere could I find a cost of this thing.
    It is a case of: If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.

    Building it and learning from it are all good things; compare to the “fuel-free” Solar Impulse flight or the current “ship of vodka fools” in the Arctic Ocean, the Polar Ocean Challenge.

    • gweberbv says:

      I guess the extra money compared to an identical house but without offgrid ability and less energy efficiency is somewhere near 100000 bucks. If you scrap the nano-size wind turbine, the 40 kWh battery and use a fixed PV system instead of a tracker, costs might be down to 50.000 or less.

  7. Tobyglyn says:

    From: Yahoo: Ukraine strikes US nuclear fuel deal

    “the 1986 Chernobyl disaster that left thousands dead or dying.”

    Wow, that sounds terrifying!

    Although this :

    “Within three months of the Chernobyl accident, a total of 31 people died from radiation exposure or other direct effects of the disaster, according to the NRC, UNSCEAR and other sources. More than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer may eventually be linked to radiation exposure in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, though the precise number of cases that are directly caused by the Chernobyl accident is difficult (if not impossible) to ascertain.

    Surprisingly, the overall rate of cancer deaths and other health effects related to Chernobyl’s radiation leak is lower than was initially feared. “The majority of the five million residents living in contaminated areas … received very small radiation doses comparable to natural background levels (0.1 rem per year),” according to an NRC report. “Today the available evidence does not strongly connect the accident to radiation-induced increases of leukemia or solid cancer, other than thyroid cancer.”

    Some experts have claimed that unsubstantiated fear of radiation poisoning led to greater suffering than the actual disaster. For example, many doctors throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union advised pregnant women to undergo abortions to avoid bearing children with birth defects or other disorders, though the actual level of radiation exposure these women experienced were too low to cause any problems. Even the United Nations published a report on the effects of the Chernobyl accident that was so “full of unsubstantiated statements that have no support in scientific assessments,” according to the chairman of UNSCEAR, that it was eventually dismissed by most authorities.”

    less so.

  8. Syltty says:

    Pls do not use Sputnik. It is just platform to ditribure russian disinformation. You can’t trust on anything it publishes.

    “On the Internet, there are also several websites distributing Russian propaganda. These include Sputnik News, the blog of Johan Bäckman, Finnbay, Verkkomedia, and, for example. There are a lot more disinformative websites in English and Russian.”

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