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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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atomic energy is not a bridging technology

German nuclear damage shows atomic and renewable power are unhappy bedfellows
By Dagmar Dehmer | Der Tagesspiegel | translated by Sam Morgan 5:38
- A Germany nuclear plant was damaged because its operators increased and decreased its output to respond to energy grid fluctuations. The incident supports the theory that nuclear and renewable energy generation are incompatible. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

The Brokdorf nuclear power station, located in northern Germany, was taken offline in February after maintenance showed its reactor’s fuel rods had begun to unexpectedly oxidise.

A regional nuclear supervisory body has now ruled that the plant can be booted back up but only in “safe mode”, according to Schleswig-Holstein’s energy transition minister.

State Minister for Energy Robert Habeck (Greens) added that the power plant’s output should not be increased or decreased at short notice to adapt to the supply of renewable energies on the electricity grid. The minister warned that “atomic energy is not a bridging technology”.

A 2011 study by Greenpeace also concluded that renewables and nuclear are not compatible and that fuel rod damage is a possible consequence....


Arguments Against Basic Income Are Straw Men

Timely topic considering the way ever increasing automation is hammering down the employment door...

Arguments Against Basic Income Are Straw Men
By Martin Ravallion Jul 16, 2017

There is much talk these days about the idea of a basic income. This is an untargeted transfer, set at the same level for all recipients within a domain. It is variously called ‘citizenship income’, ‘universal basic income’ or (my favourite) ‘basic income guarantee’ (BIG). The debate for and against the BIG idea spans the globe. A BIG is often contrasted with a set of targeted transfers that would fill all the poverty gaps.

Both sides of this debate have set up straw men.

Straw man 1: A BIG is too expensive

Critics of the BIG idea argue that it costs far too much to be considered seriously. Some BIG proposals have had scary price tags, but that misses the point. Most countries (including many poor countries) already spend public money on poverty reduction. If the same resources would be better spent fighting poverty using a BIG, then that’s what should be done. We can ask this question for any given level of the basic income......


Straw man 4: A BIG destroys incentives to work

This one is surprising, because a BIG would probably be the most non-distortionary policy imaginable. Nobody would be able to do anything to change how much they got. Granted, there would probably be a positive income effect on demand for leisure. As with all transfers, however, one must also consider impacts on other relevant constraints facing poor families, including uninsured risk and credit constraints. Transfers can help relax these constraints on employment. There is evidence that South Africa’s ‘older persons grant’ did this for recipient families (Ardington et al. 2009).

Incentive effects should not be ignored........


What then is the debate about?

I doubt if there will ever be a truly universal BIG in which everyone gets a fixed lump-sum. More likely we will see some form of a ‘state-contingent’ basic income, meaning that the transfer would be uniform within some category of households or type of people. It might be defined by where people live, their age, or employment status. This might not achieve the vision of a full citizenship income that advocates have wanted, but it can also help reduce the concerns about fine targeting.

But, wait a minute – a state-contingent basic income is nothing more than a targeted policy based on categorical poverty indicators, and so we have come full circle..........

More at http://wallstreetpit.com/113820-arguments-basic-income-straw-men/

How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the 1 Percent

Published on
Thursday, January 26, 2012
by Waging Nonviolence

How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’
by George Lakey

While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

Neither country is a utopia, as readers of the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbro will know. Critical left-wing authors such as these try to push Sweden and Norway to continue on the path toward more fully just societies. However, as an American activist who first encountered Norway as a student in 1959 and learned some of its language and culture, the achievements I found amazed me. I remember, for example, bicycling for hours through a small industrial city, looking in vain for substandard housing. Sometimes resisting the evidence of my eyes, I made up stories that “accounted for” the differences I saw: “small country,” “homogeneous,” “a value consensus.” I finally gave up imposing my frameworks on these countries and learned the real reason: their own histories.

Then I began to learn that the Swedes and Norwegians paid a price for their standards of living through nonviolent struggle. There was a time when Scandinavian workers didn’t expect that the electoral arena could deliver the change they believed in. They realized that, with the 1 percent in charge, electoral “democracy” was stacked against them, so nonviolent direct action was needed to exert the power for change.

In both countries, the troops were called out to defend the 1 percent; people died...


Dem super delegate, in room full of health insurance execs, laughs off prospect of single payer

Democratic super delegate, in room full of health insurance execs, laughs off prospect of single payer.
Lee Fang; July 1 2017


Gephardt, who serves as a Democratic “superdelegate” responsible for choosing the party’s presidential nominee, was asked about the possibility of single payer at the Centene Corporation annual investor day conference at The Pierre, a ritzy five-star hotel in New York City.


“There is no way you could pass single payer in any intermediate future,” Gephardt declared. America, he added, has the “greatest health care system in the world, bar none.” And while single payer would provide universal coverage, there would be less quality and innovation without the “involvement of the private sector.”

The claim that single payer suppresses innovation is an old argument that does not stand up to scrutiny. Most medical innovation in the U.S. are already government funded, through universities receiving federal subsidies and grants, as well as through the National Institutes of Health. A single-payer insurance system, like Medicare, would simply negotiate for lower prices from providers, and would likely steer savings towards greater investments in research and development. Claims about lower quality care are also highly disputed, given that countries with single payer and tightly regulated universal health systems perform much higher than the U.S. in a range of health outcomes.


In the past, the health insurance industry has deployed sophisticated propaganda efforts to divide single-payer proponents and weaken any political support for the idea. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton once considered such a system, but wondered, “Is there any force on the face of the earth that would counter the money the insurance industry would spend to defeat it?”

Gephardt, notably, became a corporate lobbyist after serving as a populist Democratic lawmaker from Missouri. His clients have included Peabody Coal and Goldman Sachs, among others. He also serves on the board of Centene, receiving annual compensation of around $315,965 in cash and stock awards.


France's EDF reviews Hinkley Point nuclear power plant costs

France's EDF reviews Hinkley Point nuclear power plant costs
By RFI Issued on 26-06-2017

EDF is carrying out a "full review" of the costs and schedule of Britain's controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the French energy giant said on Monday.

The project to build Britain's first new nuclear plant in a generation, awarded to a French-Chinese consortium, has been dogged by controversies, with Britain's National Audit Office (NAO) warning on Friday that the government had committed to a "risky and expensive" deal.


France's Le Monde newspaper on Saturday said the "first conclusions" of the review pointed to building costs overrunning the 21 billion euros budget by one to three billion euros.

The NAO, which audits British public spending, said on Friday that the price guaranteed to EDF under the deal could add an extra €34 billion to energy bills of UK customers.


Quit defending Obamacare! Lets fix it by moving toward a single-payer system

SUNDAY, JUL 2, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Hey, Democrats: Quit defending Obamacare! Let’s fix it — by moving toward a single-payer system
Obamacare was a historic accomplishment. But single-payer or a "robust" public option are now achievable goals

I’ve spent my life in politics, and the health care bill Mitch McConnell appears so desperate to revive is the single worst piece of legislation I’ve ever read. I say “appears” because I still can’t quite believe he wants to pass it. Its actual enactment would threaten his Senate majority as surely as it would the health of tens of millions of Americans. McConnell’s judgment is so clouded by partisanship and ideology one can easily see how he’d be blind to the bill’s moral dimensions. What’s harder to accept is that so sly a political fox wouldn’t sniff the enormous risk.


This fight feels like a reprise of the Democrats’ 2016 presidential campaign, heavy on moralizing, light on detail. Now as then, the words Democrats live by — “Why take a chance?” and “Don’t scare the donors” — leave them precious little to say. Sixty percent of Americans favor single-payer health care. Zero percent of Democratic leaders in Congress stand with them. The only other practical way to cut costs is a public option. Democrats only whisper its name. Why risk getting lost in the policy weeds or ruffling the feathers of their sometime allies in the insurance industry?


In 2008, candidate Barack Obama backed a public option and opposed a mandate that would force people to purchase insurance. He observed drily, and correctly, that the main reason most people don’t buy health care is because they can’t afford it. His chief primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, promised the opposite: a mandate but no public option. Obama made other related promises, among them that he’d allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. He even vowed to let C-SPAN cameras into heretofore secret health care negotiations.

In office, Obama reversed himself. In early 2009, in meetings to which he forgot to invite C-SPAN, he made private pacts with leaders of the insurance and drug industries. He dropped negotiated drug prices and the public option, and picked up Clinton’s mandate. Experts said he needed it to pay for the whole thing. But it also guaranteed insurers permanent, expanded control of the “market.” According to his own analysts, he thus passed on the two greatest sources of savings in his entire plan.

The fatal flaw of the Affordable Care Act is that it costs too much....


Bill Curry was White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut. He is at work on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism.

McKinsey: Cheaper batteries present imminent threat of load defection for utilities

McKinsey: Cheaper batteries present imminent threat of load defection for utilities
AUTHOR Peter Maloney@TopFloorPower
June 30, 2017

Dive Brief:

Continued energy storage cost declines present a growing threat of disruption for utility business models, a new study from McKinsey & Co. finds.

The study reports energy storage is already economical for many commercial customers at today’s prices and that with the paring back of incentives such as net metering in many states, combining solar power with energy storage is beginning to be attractive for some households.

Continued cost declines are moving energy storage from niche applications, such as grid balancing, to broader uses such as replacing conventional power generators for reliability, providing power-quality services, and supporting renewables integration, according to McKinsey.

Dive Insight:

Energy storage prices are falling faster than anyone expected, with battery costs down to less than $230/kWh in 2016 from almost $1,000/kWh in 2010, McKinsey noted.

The cost declines are being driven by a growing market for consumer electronics and demand for electric vehicles. In addition, companies in Asia, Europe, and the United States are building large factories to scale up for expected demand for lithium-ion batteries...

McKinsey report in full:
June 2017
Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector
By David Frankel and Amy Wagner



net energy metering (NEM) refers to rules that allow excess power to be sold back to the grid at retail rates; and feed-in tariffs, which are guaranteed price adders for renewable power, have played an important role in expanding the global market for renewables. In the US states that have implemented such rules, NEM has proved to be a powerful incentive for consumers to install solar panels.

Would you like to learn more about our Electric Power & Natural Gas Practice?
Although it has been helpful for solar, NEM also has put utilities under pressure. It reduces demand because consumers make their own energy; that increases rates for the rest, as there are fewer bill payors to cover the fixed investment in the grid, which still provides backup reliability for the solar customers. The solar customers are paying for their own energy but not paying for the full reliability of being connected to the grid. The utilities’ response has been to design rates that reduce the incentive to install solar by moving to time-of-use pricing structures, implementing demand charges, or trying to reduce how much they pay customers for the electricity they produce that is exported to the grid.

However, in a low-cost storage environment, these rate structures are unlikely to be effective at mitigating load losses. This is because adding storage allows customers to shift solar generation away from exports to cover more of their own electricity needs; as a result, they continue to receive close to the full retail value of their solar generation. This presents a risk for widespread partial grid defection, in which customers choose to stay connected to the grid in order to have access to 24/7 reliability, but generate 80 to 90 percent of their own energy and use storage to optimize their solar for their own consumption.

We are already seeing this begin to play out in places where electricity costs are high and solar is widely available, such as Australia and Hawaii. On the horizon, it could occur in other solar-friendly markets, such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York (Exhibit 2). Many utility executives and industry experts thought the risk of load loss was overblown in the context of solar; the combination of solar plus storage, however, makes it much more difficult to defend against.



Much more, including discussion of how stacking the value derived from multiple uses of the same system works to make behind the meter storage more enticing. It includes a chart showing various applications for battery storage and the general value of those uses...

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works. And Elon Musk May Add 4 More

10 Battery Gigafactories Are Now in the Works. And Elon Musk May Add 4 More
Could a gigafactory glut lead to oversupply?

by Jason Deign
June 29, 2017

Gigafactory announcements have been trending in recent months, with plans for at least 10 new plants revealed in the last six months. Half a dozen have been planned in the last month alone.

In Germany, for example, the Daimler subsidiary Accumotive laid the foundation for a $550 million plant designed to take annual lithium-ion battery production from its current level of 80,000 units up to around 320,000.


The most aggressive gigafactory plans, however, remain with the company that came up with the concept. Tesla’s Elon Musk has said he will announce “probably four” new gigafactories this year. One has long been slated for Europe, and another has been confirmed to be in the works in Shanghai, China.

The recent announcements follow at least five gigafactory proposals put forward for Europe before the end of last year, including facilities in Sweden, Hungary and Poland. Not all the new plants will focus on lithium-ion batteries, though.

More at https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/10-battery-gigafactories-are-now-in-progress-and-musk-may-add-4-more?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

The top 10 trends transforming the electric power sector

The top 10 trends transforming the electric power sector
From the decline of coal power to the rise of energy storage, big changes are taking hold in the industry
Gavin Bade
Sept. 17, 2015
By now, it’s become cliché to suggest that the utility industry is on the brink of a massive transformation.

Analysts told us this would happen — the traditional electric utility model would be upended, and utilities would need to adjust their business models to operate in a new energy future. Now, with plummeting prices for renewables and energy storage, the finalization of the nation's first carbon regulations, and the proliferation of distributed energy resources, changes are taking hold faster than many expected. The electric sector is no longer simply anticipating a revolution — depending on where you are, it is embroiled in one today.

To help guide you through the uncertain waters of the industry, we have identified ten trendlines that are shaping the future of the power sector. The selection isn’t meant to be exhaustive, nor are we trying to rank one trend over another, but we hope the following list shows where we see the industry going.


8. Renewables reaching grid parity

For years, the primary argument against renewable energy was that it isn’t cost effective. Today, that line of reasoning is becoming increasingly obsolete. In many regions, wind and solar — especially at utility scale — are reaching grid parity and often pricing out more traditional generation resources.

For renewable energy observers, this trend isn’t new to 2015....

7. Utilities face growing load defection...


1. Utility business models are changing...


New Brattle study touts flexible grid, dismisses 'baseload' hype

New Brattle study touts flexible grid, dismisses 'baseload' hype

Robert Walton
June 27, 2017

Dive Brief:

A report prepared by the Brattle Group for the Natural Resources Defense Council outlines the myriad reasons some coal and nuclear plants are considering retirement and cautions against focusing on the plants' so-called "baseload" attributes.
Instead, Brattle's report suggests system planners focus on developing a framework that accurately defines and measures system needs and consider a wider range of resources to power the grid.

The new report is one of several released recently addressing the United States' grid operation, energy markets and power mix. They come ahead of a highly-anticipated study the U.S. Department of Energy is developing, addressing whether clean energy policies threatening reliability by forcing coal and nuclear plants offline.

Dive Insight:

While Brattle's report has suggestions for policymakers and extensive explanations of why older plants are struggling, the report's real mission is one of diction.

"Overall, this report explains that the use of the term 'baseload' generation is no longer helpful for purposes of planning and operating today’s electricity system," the authors wrote. "As some of the coal and nuclear plants face retirement decisions, focusing on their status as 'baseload' generation is not a useful perspective for ensuring the cost-effective and reliable supply of electricity."


more at: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-brattle-study-touts-flexible-grid-dismisses-baseload-hype/445880/
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