Offshore wind power is cheaper than new nuclear power in the UK

September 12, 2017 by  
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Offshore wind power has pulled ahead of nuclear power in the United Kingdom . Energy from offshore wind farms will be less expensive than power from a new nuclear project for the first time, based on subsidy figures via the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy after an auction. Emma Pinchbeck of Renewable UK said the figures were “truly astonishing.” Two firms said they’d construct offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50, around $76, per megawatt-hour for 2022-23, according to the BBC, which noted these figures are around half the subsidy costs in a 2015 auction. Compare £57.50 with the subsidy secured by new nuclear plant Hinkley Point C , which is £92.50, or around $122, per megawatt-hour. Related: Is this $26 billion UK nuclear power plant worth its ludicrous cost? Pinchbeck told the BBC, “We still think nuclear can be part of the mix – but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same.” The BBC listed larger turbines , foundations that cost less, and higher voltage cables as components that have helped reduce prices for offshore wind, along with UK supply chain growth and the oil and gas industry downturn. An example of those larger turbines are new eight-megawatt ones that are nearly 656 feet tall – and Pinchbeck suggested turbines could double in size during the 2020’s. The nuclear industry said nuclear power is still necessary for times when the wind isn’t blowing. Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex said, “It doesn’t matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year’s figures it only produced electricity for 36 percent of the time.” The subsidies for the wind farms will come from a consumer bill levy, and will run for 15 years, according to the BBC. Hinkley Point C’s subsidies will run for 35 years. Minister for Energy and Industry Richard Harrington said the offshore wind projects would create thousands of new jobs . Via the BBC Images via Wikimedia Commons and NHD-INFO on Flickr

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Offshore wind power is cheaper than new nuclear power in the UK

Florida power company scraps nuclear project, will pursue solar power instead

September 1, 2017 by  
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A controversial nuclear project won’t be moving forward in Florida . Power company Duke Energy Florida filed a proposed settlement agreement with the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) that would end the Levy Nuclear Project – which customers were paying for before it was even begun – and prioritize grid modernization and solar energy . Part of the settlement includes a four-year plan to install 700 megawatts (MW) of solar in western Florida. Ratepayers have forked over around $800 million for the Levy Nuclear Project, which was first proposed in 2008. In 2013, Duke Energy Florida cancelled construction and engineering agreements, although they said they hoped to return to the project. The Levy plant would have offered 2.2 gigawatts of power. $150 million remained in costs, which the company said they would have recovered via rates, but under the settlement customers won’t have to pay more money for the nuclear project that never got far off the ground. Related: Abandoned nuclear power plant given new life as a solar farm Under the revised settlement, the company would invest in grid modernization efforts like smart meters and as much as 50 MW of battery storage . They’d install over 500 electric vehicle charging stations. They also plan to put in 700 MW of solar power, including the 74.9 MW Hamilton Solar Plant, which they hope to begin building in early 2018. The solar plant, the company’s sixth, could power over 20,000 homes. Residential customers could see their average monthly bill cut by $2.50, according to Tampa Bay Times, although they won’t be reimbursed for the $800 million. 1.8 million customers receive power from Duke Energy Florida, and the settlement means their bills might go up a little bit less than the company recently forecast, according to Tampa Bay Times. Duke filed for a 8.5 percent increase from the present rate last week, which under the new settlement would be a 4.6 percent increase. Duke Energy Florida said in a statement they anticipated a decision from the FPSC by December. Via Ars Technica , Tampa Bay Times , and Duke Energy Florida Images via NASA and Duke Energy Facebook

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Florida power company scraps nuclear project, will pursue solar power instead

Old converted church hides gorgeous modern interiors in London

September 1, 2017 by  
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An old Victorian-style church in London was transformed into a gorgeous modern home that belies its historic exterior. Purchased by local interior designer Gianna Camilotti in 2013, this late 19th century church was gutted and converted into a contemporary home and office that still retains the building’s historic charms. Gianna Camilotti Interiors designed much of the furniture in-house within the Grade II-listed property. Located in Chingford, North East London, The James Spicer Memorial Church Hall School had served as a school and meeting place. In 2013, Camilotti snapped up the property and gave the tired building a luxurious makeover . The goal was to create a unique space that could accommodate intimate gatherings of friends with “an atmosphere of London piano-bars.” The award-winning church conversion project was recently put up for rent on Portico . Related: Historic Missouri church rises from the ashes with an eco-friendly twist The 237-square-meter building’s original vaulted doors and windows were preserved and the curved oak beams exposed. The interior features an open-plan design with a spacious living room, dining area, and kitchen on the first floor and a master bedroom with ensuite bathroom as well as a second bedroom on the upper floor. The vaulted ceiling reaches 9 meters in height in the middle of the home. Luxury amenities include underfloor heating installed throughout the interior, granite countertops, a self-playing digital piano, and an assortment of furnishings designed by Camilotti. The lavish interiors also open up to an outdoor garden area and patio with seating. + Gianna Camilotti Interiors Via Contemporist Images via Portico

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Old converted church hides gorgeous modern interiors in London

Upcoming nuclear power plant in the UK may shoot giant rainbows into the sky

July 25, 2017 by  
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A new proposal could have a nuclear power plant in the UK shooting literal rainbows into the sky. UK-based master planning firm, One Creative Environments , has submitted a landscape design proposal that envisions Cumbria’s Moorside Power Plant equipped with two large glass towers that would use light and mist to create a continual arching rainbow over the site. The Moorside Power plant is slated to be completed in Cumbria’s rural landscape in 2024. A creative design competition, sponsored by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Landscape Institute, called on designers to submit creative landscape proposals for the project. One Creative Environments’ rainbow pitch, called Discovery Park, was recently shortlisted along with four other design firms . Related: Artist weaves stunning rainbows from 60 miles of thread The company’s submission envisions a master landscaping plan that would seek to integrate the power plant into the area without sacrificing the existing landscape’s beauty. The proposal calls for using 13 million cubic meters of excavated earth to form a green-covered hillscape, which would be sculpted into various earthworks shaped into representations of splitting the atom, energy and particle trails. An outdoor science park would house educational activities and science exhibitions, and a large, open-air amphitheater would host concerts throughout the year. However, the cherry on top of the design is clearly the massive man-made rainbow that would arch over the landscape. Two large glass prismatic towers would be placed on opposite sides of the project and would use light and mist to create a continual rainbow. An onsite plant nursery would produce “floristically-rich grassland habitats” that would echo the colors of the rainbow on the ground. According to the designers, the rainbow installation was inspired by a William Wordsworth poem remarking on the beauty of Cumbria, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky”. One Creative Environments director, Mark Martin, hails the company’s design as a feasible option that would be able to incorporate the power plant into the area without sacrificing its rural landscape. “To see our landscape designs in the top five is an achievement in itself, and going by the comments received, we appear to have caught the imagination of the public,” he said. “The landscape designs, discovery centre and rainbow installation will create a destination in their own right, helping the power station blend in with the stunning scenery in the region, whilst providing a place for people to visit and learn about NuGen’s advancement of safe nuclear science and power.” + One Creative Environments Via World Architecture News

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Upcoming nuclear power plant in the UK may shoot giant rainbows into the sky

Abandoned nuclear power plant given new life as a solar farm

July 10, 2017 by  
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Solar farms can pop up in unlikely places – like the site of an old, unfinished nuclear power plant in Tennessee . The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant was abandoned in 1981, but today nearly 3,000 solar panels rest on the site. The new one megawatt (MW) farm provides clean energy for around 100 homes. The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant has scarred the landscape since it was abandoned in 1981. Popular concern over the Three Mile Island incident and increased costs to meet regulations prompted the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors to stop building the nuclear plant, which was once expected to re-energize the local economy. Phipps Bend was never operational, and for decades was utilized only for safety training exercises. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl That was until Birdseye Renewable Energy and United Renewable Energy came along. Birdseye already boasts over 430 MW of clean energy greenfield projects. They installed solar panels on around four acres on the old nuclear plant site. The panels rotate throughout the day to maximize the energy they absorb from the sun. Holston Electric will purchase the electricity to power homes in eastern Tennessee. The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant would have been large if completed, offering more than 2,400 MW and powering around 1.8 million households. The new solar farm at Phipps Bend won’t be able to meet that, but it will generate around 1,100 to 1,400 megawatt-hours per year, and it will be operational for at least 30 years. United Renewable Energy executive vice president Keith Herbs said in a statement, “Due to its location, this project visibly demonstrates how clean, efficient solar energy matches other forms of power generation to meet our country’s growing energy needs.” The United States has around 100 cancelled nuclear power plants – perhaps some of them could receive new life as solar farms as well. Via PRNewswire and Electrek Images via United Renewable Energy and Wikimedia Commons

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Switzerland votes to ban nuclear power and invest in renewable energy

May 22, 2017 by  
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Switzerland just passed a new energy law that promotes renewable energy and bans nuclear power plants. The landmark vote brings the nation closer to meeting its goal of generating 4,400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy by 2020, and 11,400 GWh by 2035. Over the weekend, approximately 42% of the population turned up to vote in the national referendum, which marks the eighth time in recent history Swiss citizens have voted on the issue. Though the Energy Strategy 2050 was approved by Parliament last year, the country’s right wing Swiss People’s Party challenged the reform to the referendum in an attempt prevent the move from taking place. The move to initiate the reform passed easily with a 58.2% vote, however, shutting down any talk of investment in nuclear energy . At a press conference, Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said “After six years of debate in parliament and at committee level, a new chapter in Switzerland’s energy policy can begin. But there is still a lot of work to do.” Related: Tunnel collapses at America’s most contaminated nuclear waste facility Energy Strategy 2050 mandates that general licenses provided for nuclear power plants (which presently provide 38% of the country’s energy) will no longer be sold, beginning in 2019. Additionally, when existing nuclear power plants reach the end of their lifespan, they will be closed and not replaced. The reform also aims to reduce per capita energy consumption by 16 percent within the next three years, and by 43 percent by 2035. Energy Strategy 2050 intends for electricity consumption to decline by 3 percent in 2020 and 13 percent in 2035. This will be managed by increasing the output of solar , wind, biomass, and geothermal energy. Supporters of the law say that investing in renewables will make Switzerland less dependent on energy imports. At the same time, the country will maintain its highly supply standard. Activists are also celebrating the fact that by phasing out investments in nuclear energy, the environment and future generations will undoubtedly benefit. Via Swiss Info Images via Pixabay

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Architect designs solar-powered research center to save dying Lake Chad

May 22, 2017 by  
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Lake Chad in Africa spanned over 770,000 square miles in 50,000 B.C., according to Cameroon -based architecture firm Hermann Kamte & Associates (HKA). But over the centuries it has shrunk, dwindling to a mere 1,544 square miles in 2001. HKA hopes to use architecture to jumpstart regeneration of the dying lake in the form of a desalination and research center called The Forgotten – Dead or Alive. The center would begin a process that would eventually be handed over to nature . The first humans made their home near Lake Chad, according to HKA, but this body of water is in danger of disappearing forever. It could die out in this century if no steps are taken to preserve it. Lake Chad – bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and Niger – is vital to the health of the region; HKA says its disappearance would impact over nine million people nearby, and indirectly, 30 million people in the region. Related: Green-roofed wooden tower in Lagos maximizes daylight and natural ventilation So they designed a center to help keep the lake alive. The self-sufficient Limnology Center would offer a location for researchers to study Lake Chad and the surrounding region. A desalination center onsite would actually connect the lake to the Atlantic Ocean via pipelines , which would transport water from the ocean. The desalination center would treat the saltwater so it could be reused as fresh water to help restore Lake Chad and provide a source of water for people in the region. HKA designed the center to have an amphibian-like form to blend in with the lake surroundings. They envision three stages to help revitalize the lake, beginning with the center and then slowly transitioning the job over to nature. Construction of the pipelines and lake research would take place between 2016 and 2026. In 2020 trees and vegetation will be planted around the lake. The greenery will eventually take over the job of regeneration; in 2080 pipelines will stop bringing in Atlantic Ocean water as natural regeneration takes over thanks to a thriving woodland. + Hermann Kamte & Associates Images courtesy of Hermann Kamte & Associates

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Architect designs solar-powered research center to save dying Lake Chad

Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

April 17, 2017 by  
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Nuclear energy must be an option as humanity shifts away from fossil fuels , according to a recent article penned by four candidates of Finland’s Green Party , or Green League. The party strictly opposed the controversial fuel source in the past, but these four candidates said we’re running out of time to fight climate change and no longer have the luxury of picking between renewable energy and nuclear power. Humanity should take another look at nuclear power, according to Jakke Mäkelä, Tuomo Liljenbäck, Markus Norrgran, and Heidi Niskanen of the Finnish Greens. They wrote a March 6 blog post, translated by J.M. Korhonen , detailing why Finland should develop nuclear energy. Related: Germany’s massive nuclear fusion reactor is actually working Finland’s temperatures are spiking quicker than any other place in the world due to climate change, according to Forbes contributor James Conca. The country has pledged to end coal use by 2030, but they’re also widely utilizing biomass . The four Greens condemned the government’s burning of wood chips for power since it emits carbon dioxide and will destroy forests . The Greens said renewable energy won’t be able to help us wean completely off fossil fuels yet. They said solar and wind work very well up to a point, but on a large scale require lots of raw materials and land. They pointed to Germany, which shuttered nuclear power plants, but the consequence was renewable energy largely replaced nuclear energy and not fossil fuels. The four Greens said we no longer have the option of choosing between renewables and nuclear. They wrote, “Unless we spend a lot more money in all clean energy sources, we are certain to be doomed.” Korhonen notes their viewpoint is not an official recommendation from the Green Party or of the Viite, the technology and science subgroup of which Mäkelä is vice-chairman and the others are members. It’s simply the opinion of the four candidates, who were up for election in Turku. The Green Party won 12 percent of the total vote in the recent elections, gaining seats and winning the largest share in their history. Via J.M. Korhonen and Forbes Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Fukushima radiation levels at highest since 2011 disaster

February 3, 2017 by  
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As cleanup efforts threaten to span decades, radiation levels inside a Fukushima Daiichi reactor are at their highest since the 2011 disaster. Inside reactor number two’s containment vessel, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) found levels of 530 sieverts per hour. As only one sievert can cause radiation sickness, some experts described the recent reading as unimaginable. The previous record in the same part of the Fukushima reactor was just 73 sieverts per hour, which doesn’t sound like much compared with 530 but is still higher than a fatal level. Five sieverts would be enough to kill half of the people exposed in a month, and 10 sieverts would be fatal after just weeks. The high radiation levels recently recorded serve as a reminder there’s still a long way to go with cleanup at the damaged nuclear power station; some people say it could take as long as 40 years. Tepco says radiation is not leaking from the reactor. Related: Japan builds controversial ice wall to solve groundwater issues at Fukushima The presence of the high radiation complicates cleanup. Tepco plans to send a remote-controlled robot into the number two reactor’s containment vessel. But the robot is only designed to endure 1,000 sieverts of radiation and thus will likely break down in under two hours. The company still thinks the robot could be useful as it could move around in varying levels of radiation. The company also said image analysis of the reactor revealed a three-foot-wide hole in a pressure vessel; melted nuclear fuel could have made the hole after the back-up cooling system failed in the tsunami’s wake. Late last year, in December, the government said they think it will cost 21.5 trillion yen, which is around $190 billion, to decommission the plant, clean up the area, store radioactive waste, and pay compensation. The hefty amount is almost double a 2013 estimate. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and IAEA Imagebank on Flickr

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Japan builds controversial ice wall to solve groundwater issues at Fukushima

September 2, 2016 by  
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About two years ago, the Japanese government pledged millions of dollars for a huge ice wall designed to halt flowing groundwater at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power station after the 2011 meltdown. Now, $320 million later, the wall is nearly ready, but will it work? Critics wonder if the ” elaborate and fragile wall ” will last. Groundwater flowing into the plant’s reactor buildings has caused major issues. When it enters the buildings, it becomes radioactive, and Fukushima’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, has to put the water in tanks. They’ve had to build over 1,000 tanks and are now storing over 800,000 tons of the water. Meanwhile, every day around 40,000 gallons of groundwater continues to flow into the buildings. Related: Japan to Build Massive 1.5km Ice Wall in Order to Stop Radiation Leaks from Fukushima Nuclear Plant The controversial ice wall, known as the Land-Side Impermeable Wall, is supposed to halt the groundwater flow and stop radioactive water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean. The 100-foot-deep and nearly a mile-long ice wall is comprised of pipes filled with a brine solution. The pipes are meant to freeze the surrounding soil to create the wall. Still solidifying, the wall could be ready later this fall. 30 refrigeration units will solidify the wall; they will consume as much electricity as 13,000 homes in Japan could use for lighting in one year. Tepco said the seaside portion of the ice wall is ” about 99 percent solid ” this month. They’re working to fill a few places that haven’t solidified with cement. Engineers from Kajima Corporation, the company building the wall, say the soil around the pipes will likely only be frozen completely in around two months. So will the ice wall actually work? Some worry the brine solution will break down the pipes, and some say concrete or steel would have been a more simple, effective alternative. Radiation monitoring group Safecast researcher Azby Brown called the ice wall a “Hail Mary play.” He told The New York Times, “Tepco underestimated the groundwater problem in the beginning, and now Japan is trying to catch up with a massive technical fix that is very expensive.” Via The New York Times Images via IAEA Imagebank on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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