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kristopher

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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 01:20 AM
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Nothing can compete with renewable energy

Nothing can compete with renewable energy, says top climate scientist
Prof John Schellnhuber says that if countries implement their pledges made for Paris climate summit it will give huge boost to wind, tidal and solar power


Damian Carrington @dpcarrington Monday 9 November 2015 08.06 ES

Climate scientist, Prof John Schellnhuber, has advised Angela Merkel and Pope Francis. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/CorbisT


Catastrophic global warming can be avoided with a deal at a crunch UN climate change summit in Paris this December because “ultimately nothing can compete with renewables”, according to one of the world’s most influential climate scientists.

Most countries have already made voluntary pledges to roll out clean energy and cut carbon emissions, and Prof John Schellnhuber said the best hope of making nations keep their promises was moral pressure.

Schellnhuber is a key member of the German delegation attending the Paris summit and has advised Angela Merkel and Pope Francis on climate change.

He said there was reason for optimism about the Paris talks, where at least 80 heads of state are expected. “That is a very telling thing - a sign of hope - because people at the top level do not want to be tainted by failure,” he said.

If a critical mass of big countries implement their pledges, he said in an interview with the Guardian, the move towards a global low-carbon economy would gain unstoppable momentum...

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/09/clean-energy-is-key-successful-climate-deal-in-paris-says-top-scientist


See also (Open Access) at journal Science
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/01/06/science.aam6284.full
The irreversible momentum of clean energy
Barack Obama


Email: press@who.eop.gov. After 20 January 2017: contact@obamaoffice44.org
Science 09 Jan 2017:

DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6284

Abstract

Private-sector incentives help drive decoupling of emissions and economic growth.
The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to human activity is increasing global average surface air temperatures, disrupting weather patterns, and acidifying the ocean (1). Left unchecked, the continued growth of GHG emissions could cause global average temperatures to increase by another 4°C or more by 2100 and by 1.5 to 2 times as much in many midcontinent and far northern locations (1). Although our understanding of the impacts of climate change is increasingly and disturbingly clear, there is still debate about the proper course for U.S. policy—a debate that is very much on display during the current presidential transition. But putting near-term politics aside, the mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean-energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue and that the economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow. This Policy Forum will focus on the four reasons I believe the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.



ECONOMIES GROW, EMISSIONS FALL... <snip>

PRIVATE-SECTOR EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS... <snip>

Market Forces in the Power Sector... <snip>

Global Momentum... <snip>

CONCLUSION

We have long known, on the basis of a massive scientific record, that the urgency of acting to mitigate climate change is real and cannot be ignored. In recent years, we have also seen that the economic case for action—and against inaction—is just as clear, the business case for clean energy is growing, and the trend toward a cleaner power sector can be sustained regardless of near-term federal policies.

Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community. Prudent U.S. policy over the next several decades would prioritize, among other actions, decarbonizing the U.S. energy system, storing carbon and reducing emissions within U.S. lands, and reducing non-CO2 emissions (23).

Of course, one of the great advantages of our system of government is that each president is able to chart his or her own policy course. And President-elect Donald Trump will have the opportunity to do so. The latest science and economics provide a helpful guide for what the future may bring, in many cases independent of near-term policy choices, when it comes to combatting climate change and transitioning to a clean-energy economy.


http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/01/06/science.aam6284.full

Top 10 Retractions of 2016

Top 10 Retractions of 2016
A look at this year’s most memorable retractions


By Retraction Watch | December 21, 2016

For the past few years, there has been one retraction per year that has really captured the world’s attention. In 2015, it was the retraction of a Science paper about gay marriage. The year before, it was the retraction of Nature papers on STAP stem cells. This year didn’t see nearly as many headline-grabbing retractions, although the story of the Karolinska Institute’s Paolo Macchiarini—who earned two expressions of concern (and was found guilty of misconduct in one paper this week)—garnered lots of press.

Still, 2016 has been the second consecutive year marked by more than 650 retractions. There has been heavy criticism of papers that touched on hot-button issues, plus some particularly curious cases in science publishing that made us scratch our heads. Here are our picks of the 10 most notable retractions of 2016, in no particular order.

1. In October, the Journal of Biological Chemistry retracted 19 papers coauthored by cancer biologist Jin Cheng, formerly at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. That’s something you don’t see every day. To learn more, we contacted Moffitt, who sent us a batch of email correspondence with the journal, which showed us it all began after Cheng asked to correct one paper. When he wouldn’t supply the journal with the raw data behind the figures in question, the journal took a second look at many of his other papers, and apparently didn’t like what it saw.

2. It’s every researcher’s worst nightmare: a manuscript gets rejected during peer review, then shows up later—published by one of the reviewers. Michael Dansinger of Tufts Medical Center took his heartache into his own hands, publishing a letter to the reviewer who stole his paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the journal that had originally rejected his manuscript during review. (The reviewer’s version of the paper—which contained the lifted work—was retracted in September.)

3. Does religious language belong in scientific papers? Not according to the backlash PLOS ONE received after ...

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/47813/title/Top-10-Retractions-of-2016/

LA Times article on recent Congressional action that is behind Trump's Nuclear tweet

Congress scrapped this one word from the law, opening the door to a space arms race

David Willman

By removing a single word from legislation governing the military, Congress has laid the groundwork for both a major shift in U.S. nuclear defense doctrine and a costly effort to field space-based weaponry.

Experts say the changes, approved by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, could aggravate tensions with Russia and China and prompt a renewed nuclear arms race. The bill awaits action by President Obama. The White House has not said what he will do.

For decades, America’s defense against nuclear attack has rested on twin pillars: The nation’s homeland missile defense system is designed to thwart a small-scale, or “limited,” attack by the likes of North Korea or Iran. As for the threat of a large-scale strike by China or Russia, the prospect of massive U.S. retaliation is supposed to deter both from ever launching missiles.

Central to this strategy was a one-word qualifier – “limited” -- used to define the mission of the homeland defense system. The language was carefully crafted to avoid reigniting an arms race among the superpowers.

Now, with virtually no public debate, bipartisan majorities in Congress have removed the word “limited” from the nation’s missile defense policy. They did so in giving final approval over the last month to the year-end defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act....
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-missile-defense-unlimited-20161221-snap-20161221-story.html


The Military Industrial Complex is not only alive and well, it fully intends to maintain it's stranglehold on the US Treasury.

Mercedes-Benz Launches a US Energy Storage Company

Mercedes-Benz Launches a US Energy Storage Company

by Julian Spector
November 03, 2016

...Parent company Daimler AG has created Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas, LLC to sell stationary storage of all sizes to the U.S. market. Like Tesla, this is a car company that developed electric vehicles (EVs) and then put its battery expertise to work in a stationary storage product.

...

Energy Americas will act as the U.S. counterpart to Germany's Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH. Both companies develop and sell batteries made by Daimler's wholly owned subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive. This company has been manufacturing lithium-ion battery systems for Mercedes-Benz electric cars, so the batteries have seen rigorous testing and are built for much more intensive use than most stationary systems ever see.

Mercedes isn't just dipping its tires into the electric mobility craze. By 2025, the company wants to sell 10 or more EV models, and it's investing 1 billion euros in scaling its battery production capacity. The company has bigger ideas than just cars, too -- it's envisioning an "electric mobility ecosystem" including automation, ride-sharing and home improvements like battery storage and EV chargers.

The residential market will be an early focus for the fledgling U.S. enterprise. The metallic gray modular system looks like a home appliance, stacks from 2.5 kilowatt-hours up to 20 kilowatt-hours and comes with a 10-year warranty. That goes on sale the first quarter of next year, as will larger commercial packages. Mercedes is looking for channel partners to distribute and install the systems.

Mercedes will also pursue utility-scale projects, and ...
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/mercedes-benz-launches-a-u.s.-energy-storage-company

Incentives Vs. Information: Why the Best Science isn’t Always Published

Incentives Vs. Information: Why the Best Science isn’t Always Published
October 22, 2016 SHELBY ROGERS

... the need for popular and cool research has even tampered with defining success in the sciences. Papers and findings get awards which lead to grant money which leads to more papers, and the cycle continues. However, the cycle can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in unintended consequences.

“The problem that we face is that the incentive system is focused almost entirely on getting research published, rather than on getting research right,” says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in an interview with Science News.

“Real evaluation of scientific quality is as hard as doing the science in the first place,” Nosek says. “So, just like everyone else, scientists use heuristics to evaluate each other’s work when they don’t have time to dig into it for a complete evaluation.”

Paul Smaldino, a cognitive scientist at University California Merced, put that theory to the test to determine if poor science wins out. Smaldino and Richard McElreath at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig created a simulation of a scientific “ecosystem.” Just like natural selection, the simulated labs that best met “success” parameters reproduced. The ones that didn’t simply died out.

Smaldino and McElreath discovered that...
http://interestingengineering.com/incentives-vs-information-how-the-best-science-isnt-always-published/

National Bailout Of U.S. Nuclear Reactors Based On New York Approach Would Cost $280 Billion By 2030

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nirs-national-bailout-of-us-nuclear-reactors-based-on-new-york-approach-would-cost-280-billion-by-2030-300356839.html

NIRS: National Bailout Of U.S. Nuclear Reactors Based On New York Approach Would Cost $280 Billion By 2030
Not A Viable Climate Strategy: With More Than Half of US Reactors Expected to Be Uneconomical by 2020, $160 Billion Would Still Be Required for "Narrower" Subsidy Program; Huge Infusion of Support Would Crowd Out Renewables.


NEWS PROVIDED BY
Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Washington DC
Nov 03, 2016, 11:00 ET

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nuclear power started out in the United States with the promise it would be "too cheap to meter," but may end up being "too big to bail out." A new report by the nonprofit Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) finds that a national bailout of nuclear energy patterned on the model advanced this year in New York State would cost ratepayers and taxpayers more than $280 billion by 2030. Based on an independent analysis that over half of existing nuclear power in the U.S. will be unprofitable by 2020, a narrower bailout would still cost the U.S. $160 billion by 2030. In addition to enormous expense, NIRS found that one major side-effect of bailing out nuclear power on a large-scale basis would be the starving of renewable energy of needed capital.

Available online at http://bit.ly/too-big-to-bail-out-nuclear, the "Too Big to Bail Out: The Economic Costs of a National Nuclear Power Subsidy" report notes that since 2014 nuclear power companies have lobbied aggressively for new subsidies to benefit existing nuclear power stations in the U.S. So far, such proposals have only been adopted in one state (New York), and legal and regulatory challenges have resulted today in only one nuclear reactor receiving temporary financial support to date: the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in New York. A long-term, statewide subsidy policy recently adopted in New York, to be implemented beginning in April 2017, is now being touted as a model for other states and for national implementation. The total cost of the 12-year subsidy New York is offering to four reactors is substantial: an estimated $7.6 billion -- more than three times as much as the subsidies for new renewable energy sources ($2.44 billion by 2030) under the state's new standard.

How good a yardstick is New York in terms of what the industry wants for a broader bailout?

A recent draft report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends providing new and increased subsidies and incentives to promote the longevity of existing reactors and also the deployment of new reactors; the DOE report recommends subsidies amounting to $27/MWh, very close to those under the New York model. Relying upon the close symmetry between the New York State first-in-the-nation bailout scheme and the comparable DOE national subsidy recommendations, the NIRS report looks at both the cost of bailing out all reactors ($280 billion by 2030) and, more narrowly, the 56 percent of U.S. nuclear energy production that is expected to be uneconomical by 2020 ($160 billion by 2030). For comparison purposes, the smaller of the two bailout totals projected by NIRS is significantly more than the $128 billion invested in all new wind generation in the U.S. over the last 10 years.

Report author Tim Judson, executive director, NIRS, said: "Investing in aging nuclear plants diverts scarce consumer energy dollars from investments in new, zero-carbon energy resources. It puts utilities and regulators in the posture of investing in legacy infrastructure, rather than modernizing the grid. Analysis of the bailout scheme in New York State looking at social cost factors such as climate change shows that conventional renewable energy subsidies are at least four times as effective at mitigating CO2 emissions in the medium-term as nuclear subsidies and twice as cost-effective in the short-term. The bottom line is that renewable energy could be developed to replace or phase-out nuclear generation at far lower cost than nuclear could be subsidized."

Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Peter Bradford, currently adjunct professor on Nuclear Power and Public Policy, Vermont Law School, and former chair of the New York and Maine state utility regulatory commissions, said: "This report illustrates that the subsidies now being sought for nuclear units that are already massively subsidized may pay far too much for relatively little climate benefit. Worse still, they may slow the evolution of the electric industry to a less concentrated and more customer friendly form."

Other key findings in the NIRS report include the following:

- The U.S. would be bailing out a decidedly geriatric nuclear industry. Proposals to subsidize existing nuclear power plants are being driven by the declining economic viability of the nation's aging nuclear fleet. From 2002-2012, average operating costs for nuclear power plants rose by 50 percent, or about 4.5 percent per year, on average. The U.S. now has the oldest reactor fleet in the world, now averaging 35.6 years, with 37 percent older than their original licensed lifespan of 40 years; another 37 percent are between 31 and 40 years old.
- High industry operating costs are a key factor in nuclear's inability to compete. Since 2014, six more closures have been announced, and several more reactors have been named as potential closure candidates. The blame for nuclear's economic problems has been misplaced on lower electricity prices resulting from declining demand and the growth of lower-cost energy sources. If nuclear operating costs had not increased so dramatically over the last 15 years, reactors would neither be unprofitable nor would their owners require such large subsidies to ensure their continued operation.
- Nuclear is already heavily subsidized. The NIRS report points out that it is untrue for the industry to maintain that existing nuclear power stations are unsubsidized or even "under subsidized." Nearly all reactors were heavily subsidized by state and federal policies, from research and development, to favorable cost-recovery treatment by state utility commissions, to the $130 billion bailout (in 2016 dollars) for bad debts in the 1990s. The new proposed subsidies are for these same reactors, nearly half of which were sold or transferred effectively debt-free to merchant power generators between 1998 and 2004. The industry also benefits from federal and state policies that reduce or eliminate reactor owners' liability for environmental impacts, including nuclear accident insurance, nuclear waste management and disposal, reactor decommissioning and site cleanup, uranium mine and processing waste, and water consumption. A comprehensive study of nuclear power subsidies in 2011 concluded that the cost of financial supports to the nuclear industry has frequently exceeded the value of the electricity nuclear power plants produce.
- A nuclear bailout is not a good climate strategy. Nuclear subsidy costs would be incurred without, on their own, reducing carbon emissions. Maintaining existing reactors' operations does not, in and of itself, cut greenhouse gas emissions, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined in framing the Clean Power Plan. It would only hedge against possible increases in emissions, if fossil fuel generation were to increase due to reactor closures. This is consistent with the EPA's determination in issuing the Clean Power Plan regulation, which concluded that incentives for existing reactors were unwarranted to meet carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction goals.
- Nuclear plant retirements can ... and should … be handled like non-nuclear generator retirements. The NIRS report recommends, among other things, creating "proactive plans to replace or phase out nuclear, in concert with emissions reduction and renewable energy goals, and grid modernization initiatives. In this way, reactor closures may be treated similarly to reliability impacts of generator retirements, which involve a similar process: (1) independent evaluation of the likelihood and scale of grid impacts resulting from the plant closure; (2) evaluation of the availability, cost-effectiveness, and timeframe for alternatives, through resource planning, market-based processes, or procurement through open, competitive bidding; and (3) time-limited economic support for the incumbent generator only until more cost-effective alternatives can be identified and implemented."



ABOUT NIRS
2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of Nuclear Information and Resource Service. NIRS was founded to be the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues. http://www.nirs.org

EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available as of 4 p.m. ET on November 3, 2016 at http://bit.ly/2ff9xTK.



SOURCE Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Washington DC

Southern California SEIU Caucuses Call On AFL-CIO to Kick Out Police Union

THURSDAY, NOV 3, 2016
Southern California SEIU Caucuses Call On AFL-CIO to Kick Out Police Union
BY MARIO VASQUEZ


In July 2015, the University of California’s student-workers union, United Auto Workers (UAW) 2865, passed a resolution calling on the AFL-CIO to terminate the membership of the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA).

<snip>


The AFL-CIO did not officially comment on the resolution, but Carmen Berkley, the federation’s director of civil, human and women’s rights, told Buzzfeed’s Cora Lewis in January:
“We are not in the business of kicking people out of unions ... What we are in the business of is having conversations with our law enforcement brothers and sisters about how they can have different practices ... I do think there’s a lot of reconciliation that needs to happen between communities of color and law enforcement, and we want to be the bridge that helps them get there.”


When asked about Berkley’s remarks, Taiwo tells In These Times, “She’s posing the issue as if what it is—is there’s individual victims of police violence and individual perpetrators of police that need to sit down and have a mediation.”

“If what they’re for is protecting the ruling class, then it’s not an issue of mediation. It’s not an issue of reconciling individual differences or healing individual acts of violence,” Taiwo says. “It’s an issue of reconciling our union structures with what we’re trying to fight for as unions.”

Wallace says that as long as police side with “bosses” on the picket line and police unions “unequivocally the police murdering people” then they should not be members of labor organizations.

“They can defend themselves just fine. Their pensions aren’t challenged, their healthcare benefits aren’t cut, their raises continue to happen and ours are always on the chopping block,” Wallace says. “Ours are always in question and there’s a reason for that. It’s because they defend the wealthy.”

<snip>
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/19593/southern_california_seiu_caucuses_call_on_afl-cio_to_kick_out_police_union

Justice Delayed — New Sources of Carbon Pollution and the Clean Power Plan

Justice Delayed — New Sources of Carbon Pollution and the Clean Power Plan
October 27, 2016
By Joel B. Stronberg


...On Oct. 13, plaintiffs challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to issue New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) offered oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of North Dakota, et. al. v USEPA, et. al. Don’t be fooled by the name; the challengers in this instance are basically the same crew of states, industry and organizations challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants in the Clean Power Plan case West Virginia v EPA.

Technically the latest challenge is not a direct shot at the CPP. Finalized last August by EPA, the new source standards limit carbon emissions from four types of electric generating units (EGUs): new and modified fossil steam EGUs; reconstructed EGUs; and, new combined-cycle combustion turbines.

The two rules, however, are inextricably linked in the Clean Air Act (CAA/Act). According to the Act, EPA can neither require existing generating units under section 111(d) to meet stricter requirements than new units nor can they regulate existing sources before new or modified plants under section 111(b).

Stated simply, EPA is prohibited by the Act from regulating existing plants before new/modified ones. Practically speaking, even if the limits under 111(d) are found constitutional, a successful challenge of the NSPS would prevent EPA from ever enforcing the CPP.

Plaintiffs’ Argument


......
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/10/justice-delayed-new-sources-of-carbon-pollution-and-the-clean-power-plan.html

Florida utilities spend $43 million since Jan. 2015 to limit rooftop solar

Florida utilities spend millions to make case to limit rooftop solar
BY MARY ELLEN KLAS Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Lost in the tumultuous presidential election and the down-ballot fears, something big has been happening quietly in Florida this year: Electric companies have dropped $29.3 million into political campaigns.

Since January 2015, $20 million of the industry’s profits went to finance and promote Amendment 1, the ballot initiative that attempts to frustrate the expansion of consumer-owned rooftop solar in Florida. And another $9.3 million more went to fuel the campaigns of a select group of powerful legislative leaders in an effort to prepare for a prolonged war against rooftop solar. (Note this number is updated after a significant miscalculation of the total in initial reports.)

The bulk of the money is being used to promote Amendment 1 but, if that effort fails, the industry is also investing heavily into the Legislature to create favorable conditions in Florida, as utilities have in other states, to push back against the proliferation of rooftop solar. (The money the companies are allowed to use to finance campaigns does not come directly from consumer bills but from utility company profits, which are guaranteed as regulated monopolies.)

In other states, that effort has included attempts to make solar less economically feasible by reducing the amount the utility spends to reimburse customers for generating excess electricity to the grid through “net metering,” imposing new fees on solar users and pre-empting local governments from opening the door to more solar competition. 

Former Florida U.S. Sen. Bob Graham blasted the amendment on Tuesday as “deceptive” and unneeded...


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article111832342.html

Solar: Advanced Module Technologies Moving onto the Main Stage

Advanced Module Technologies Moving onto the Main Stage
October 31, 2016
By Roberto Labastida

....

...The main players in the market have been announcing small capacity expansions since early 2014, but these announcements have soared since November 2015. As they expand capacity, manufacturers are starting to introduce new technologies that could differentiate them from the competition.

The dramatic reduction in solar module prices during the past few years has exposed the importance of the balance-of-system (BOS) costs. Module and inverter manufacturers are increasingly finding themselves squeezed by the growing number of grid requirements, customer demands for increased functionality, and the need for solar to keep reducing costs to achieve grid parity in most of the world.

According to the latest U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2016 report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, non-equipment-related costs were $1.91/W, while the module plus inverter cost was only $0.85/W for a residential installation in the U.S. in 2015. For utility-scale projects, these costs vary significantly depending on the size of the installation, but non-hardware-related costs usually represent between 45 percent and 55 percent of the final cost of a project.

Manufacturers have targeted high-efficiency module technologies that allow them to keep module prices similar to current levels while simultaneously reducing other costs in the value chain. Passivated emitter rear cell (p-type PERC or simply PERC) modules and negative type (n-type) semiconductor modules have been the favored technologies for capacity expansion.

Tough Market to Test the Value of New Technologies


...
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/10/advanced-module-technologies-moving-onto-the-main-stage.html



See also
PERC Solar Cell Technology Gaining Ground in 2014

Passivated emitter rear contact solar cells are at 20% efficiency today—but price premiums are steep.


by Jade Jones
August 14, 2014

Over the course of the last year, progress in the manufacturing of passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) solar cells has begun to reveal the full technological and commercial potential of this new cell architecture. There have been developments in equipment and manufacturing processes, as well as research, summarized in the following graphic....
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/PERC-Solar-Cell-Technology-Gaining-Ground-in-2014
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