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To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power

Four climate scientists, three of whom have published in peer-reviewed literature on energy issues (a sampler from Wigley, Hansen and Caldeira), are pressing the case for environmental groups to embrace the need for a new generation of nuclear power plants in a letter they distributed overnight to a variety of organizations and journalists.Here’s the text of the letter, by Kenneth Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, James E. Hansen of Columbia University and Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Adelaide*:

“To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power:

As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.

At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer. We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.

Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels. No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology.

We ask you and your organization to demonstrate its real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy.
Sincerely,
Dr. Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Atmospheric Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist, Columbia University Earth Institute
Dr. Tom Wigley, Climate Scientist, University of East Anglia and the National Center for Atmospheric Research”

Source for article.

TVA seeks public input on energy needs

The Tennessee Valley Authority is gathering public input on a long-range plan for the type and mix of energy sources it needs to provide power to the region.

Finding the right mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydro-electric, renewable energy and efficiency programs is the goal of the 18-month-long planning process, TVA Vice President Joe Hoagland said. “It takes a very long, strategic look at the assets TVA needs to provide low-cost electricity for the people in the Tennessee Valley,” Hoagland said in an interview.

The direction TVA takes will ultimately affect how much residents pay for electricity, and the federal utility is embarking on the planning process at a time when it faces scrutiny from a variety of interest groups.

TVA is spending more than $1 billion to install new pollution controls at its coal-fired power plant in Gallatin. Environmental groups sued TVA for not fully studying alternatives, including retiring the aging facility.

Conservation groups and the solar industry in Tennessee have criticized TVA for not doing enough to support that renewable resource. They say TVA’s small-scale solar program is stifling the industry because it sets a cap on solar power far below demand. Some of the solar installation companies have to look outside the state for work. Our polysilicon manufacturers have laid off their work force. The on-again, off-again opportunities for solar installations are killing the solar businesses in Tennessee.

I attended the first meeting along with 15 other people. Promises of answers to questions have not been received by those that asked questions which the moderator could not answer.

Hoagland said gathering input helps TVA understand what the public and other stakeholders consider important. The “Integrated Resource Plan” looks at different fuel options and tries to anticipate how those might evolve over the next two decades, he said.

TVA completed its last plan in 2011 and typically only does an update every three to five years. But Hoagland said changes in the energy industry require an earlier update.

Natural gas prices have dropped dramatically in recent years in the midst of a nationwide surge in production. At the same time, TVA’s growth in power demand has slowed, Hoagland said.

The 2011 plan anticipated natural gas prices at about $6 per million BTUs, escalating over time, Hoagland said. Now, prices are between $3 and $3.50, he said. The current plan also assumed a 2 percent to 3 percent rate of growth, while TVA now anticipates growth at less than 1 percent.

In addition, TVA hopes to complete the Watts Bar Nuclear Unit 2 plant in 2015 and retire at least 2,700 megawatts of less-efficient coal capacity by 2018.

Anne Davis, managing attorney in Nashville for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said Tuesday that she appreciates that TVA is accelerating the start of the new resource plan. She said she expects the new plan to focus on how TVA will replace its “oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient coal plants with clean and modern resources like solar, wind, hydro optimization, energy efficiency, and demand response.”

“The precipitous drop in cost of renewables and technological improvements in efficiency — coupled with enormous public demand for both of these resources — will demand more attention in this IRP,” Davis said by email.

“We have already been working with TVA on these issues, and we are committed to helping TVA modernize its long-term portfolio in a way that’s protective of ratepayers’ health, environment, and pocketbooks.”

The first public meeting was held on Thursday, October 24th in Knoxville. A second is scheduled for Nov. 6 in Memphis. To encourage more input, TVA is allowing the public to participate through online webinars. The public can access those at www.tva.gov/irp.

TVA hopes to use the webinars and a social media outreach effort to boost public participation, particular with younger residents, Hoagland said.

most of this article was taken from the Tennessean article: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20131023/NEWS/310230137/

Chattanooga earns top environmental sustainability rating from TVA

Tuesday, Chattanooga won a top environmental sustainability rating that officials believe will help it attract more jobs and businesses. Millie Callaway, a TVA senior consultant for economic development, said only 13 communities in its seven-state service area will be cited this year. Just two others are platinum, or top-ranked, so far — Knoxville and Oak Ridge. TVA sponsored the initiative to help cities and counties catalogue their sustainable assets, and the effort is weighted toward business actions, Callaway said.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the citation highlights the link between sustainability, economic development and quality of life. “I think a lot about the Chattanooga brand,” he said at a news conference. “It’s so tied up with sustainability.”
Officials on Tuesday noted Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant, which last year was named the world’s first platinum-badged Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design auto assembly factory. Enterprise South industrial park, which holds VW, a handful of its suppliers and an Amazon distribution center, was created from a polluted former U.S. Army ammunition production plant. The city also has 35 miles of linear greenways and trails, including the 11-mile Tennessee Riverwalk which runs to downtown.

Community Solar Attraction

Japan Next-Generation Farmers Cultivate Crops and Solar Energy

Farmers in Japan can now generate solar electricity while growing crops on the same farmland. This co-existence or double-generation is known as “Solar Sharing” in Japan. The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004, who was a retired agricultural machinery engineer who later studied biology and learned the “light saturation point.” The rate of photosynthesis increases as the irradiance level is increased; however at one point, any further increase in the amount of light that strikes the plant does not cause any increase to the rate of photosynthesis.

By knowing that too much sun won’t help further growth of plants, Nagashima came up with the idea to combine PV systems and farming. He devised and originally patented special structure, which is much like a pergola in a garden. He created a couple of testing fields with different shading rates and different crops. The structures he created are made of pipes and rows of PV panels, which are arranged with certain intervals to allow enough sunlight to hit the ground for photosynthesis.

Based on the tests conducted at his solar testing sites in Chiba Prefecture, he recommends about 32% shading rate for a farmland space to reach adequate growth of crops. In other words, there is twice as much empty space for each PV module installed. Takazawa installed 348 PV panels on a small 750 square-meter of farmland. PV panels are installed on pipes, which are 3-meter high from the ground. Rows of PV panels are installed every 5 meters. Under the PV system, Takasawa’s father has been cultivating peanuts, yams, eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes, and taros and will cultivate cabbages during the winter. These vegetables are sold at a nearby street and consumed by his neighbors.

Many have questioned stability and durability of the PV structure for solar shared family. Nagashima stated that his systems, which are made of thin pipes without concrete footings, even withstood strong winds and earthquakes during the Fukushima Tsunami disasters in 2011. These systems are extremely lightweight and installation of PV panels are spaced out, allowing air to flow through between the panels. This will eliminate concern that the panels will receive wind load and be blown away, therefore, reducing the need for complicated and expensive mounting hardware.

Solar farm project launches in Kingston, TN

PHOTO BY BOB FOWLER

KINGSTON — This city is getting into the solar power business, and it’s not costing taxpayers a dime, Mayor Troy Beets said.

In a cooperative venture with a Nashville company, 200 solar panels are being installed behind the city’s water treatment plant on Highway 58 South, the mayor said after a brief ceremony Tuesday at the facility.

Another 800 panels will be put in place in July on a 1.38-acre tract of city-owned land off James Ferry Road near the plant.

“Our only skin in the game is the property,” Beets said.

Combined, the 1,000 panels should generate the equivalent of enough electrical power to operate the water treatment plant, which has about a $6,000-a-month electric bill.

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IMPORTANT Proposed Rule Changes to the Department of Agriculture REAP Program

The proposed rule for REAP has been posted to the Federal Register at the link below. The proposed rule will revise the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) found in 7 CFR part 4280, subpart B. There is now an opportunity to comment on this regulation in order to provide suggestions to potentially change components of the program. Please review this document closely and if you have any comments to make, please do so. There is instruction within the document to provide your public comment on the program. The deadline for public comment is June 11th.

Go To: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-12/pdf/2013-07273.pdf

Some of the changes:
The Agency is proposing to allow the purchase of refurbished renewable energy systems and the retrofitting of an existing renewable energy system as eligible projects under this subpart.
For energy efficiency improvement projects, the Agency is proposing ensuring that energy efficiency improvements use less energy on an annual basis.
Simplifying the energy efficiency improvement technical report; simplifying the technical report for renewable energy system projects with total project costs of $200,000 or less

Let It Snow! Solar Panels Can Take It

Snow and solar cells aren’t mutually exclusive, according to a Michigan Technological University scientist. Photovoltaic panels can be well worth the investment even if you live in a winter wonderland.
True, a layer of snow can cause a solar-cell blackout for awhile. But not many locales enjoy heavy snow for more than a few months. And even in the bleak midwinter, panels don’t usually stay snow-covered for long.
“Sometimes snow actually helps solar cells,” says Michigan Tech’s Joshua Pearce. He’s referring to the albedo effect, when sunlight reflects off snow. It can make a panel generate more electricity in the same way that it gives skiers sunburn on sunny winter days.
“In most cases power losses are minimal, even in snowy Canada,” Pearce said. However, the group has developed a model that can be used to design the most efficient photovoltaic systems, no matter how much snow is in the area.

reference: Released: 10/24/2012 5:00 PM EDT Source: Michigan Technological University Newswise
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TSEA Welcomes Brazetek as our Latest Business Member

Brazetek.com is the largest internet distributor of solar water to air, brazed plate, and shell & tube heat exchangers. The website’s product selection, competitive pricing and free shipping option has made it an online destination of choice for residential, commercial, or industrial heat transfer solutions. This is our first solar thermal business member.

Solarwatt AG completely restructured: insolvency procedures repealed

Sometimes faced with failure one can change the future

Why is this article about a German company posted on this website? The answer is simple; the best businesses when faced with financial difficulties reinvent themselves. That is what Solarwatt has done. They were bankrupt and went through a grueling experience coming out of bankruptcy by changing their product strategy: they were a module manufacturer and now “to a solar systems manufacturer. By the end of 2012 we will be launching new products in the system sector, allowing the company to maintain and expand its market position. Neuhaus, new CEO, explained, “All the signs are pointing to continued large increases in energy prices in the future. With our system solutions, consumers can supply themselves with energy independently and decentrally, making it possible for them to become more independent of energy providers and to save costs. A 25-year warranty ensures that the investment also pays off for our customers.”