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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Abandoned nuclear power plant given new life as a solar farm

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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Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

Chernobyl reactor covered by world’s largest-ever moveable metal structure

November 29, 2016 by  
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Dealing with the remnants of a nuclear disaster is no easy task. As a case in point, take a look at the Chernobyl reactor, where the world’s largest moveable metal structure is about to seal the plant’s fourth reactor for decades to come. Seeker reports that Ukrainian authorities are about to unveil an arch nearly as long as two football fields and taller than the Statue of Liberty to cover the crumbling remains of Reactor Number Four’s contaminated structure. The goal is to help keep future generations across Europe safe from the nuclear radiation that continues to emanate from the reactor that melted down over 30 years ago. According to Seeker , Chernobyl remains the world’s worst civil nuclear accident , having spread contamination throughout the Ukraine and 75 percent of Europe after an experimental safety check gone wrong caused an explosion and subsequent meltdown that spewed radiation out into the atmosphere. The death toll from the event ranges from about 4,000 to 100,000 depending on whom you ask – due to a cover-up by Russian authorities after the disaster. Ukrainian authorities now keep a 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the facility, but concerns over the crumbling concrete dome built to contain the reactor after the meltdown have led to $2.2 billion in funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the massive new protective structure – which is badly needed. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl “Radioactive dust inside the structure is being blown out through the cracks,” said Sergiy Paskevych of Ukraine’s Institute of Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems. Paskevych also noted that the existing structure could crumble under extreme weather. “This would especially be a potential problem if there was a tornado or an earthquake.” The new covering is designed to hold up to tremors as great as 6.0 on the Richter scale, and tornados stronger than the region is ever likely to see. The arch took three weeks of careful work to put in place, and contains special equipment to help disassemble the structure from inside. But there are no plans yet to deal with the real problem of the leftover nuclear fuel. Via Seeker Images via Tim Porter , Wikimedia Commons and mattsh , Flickr Creative Commons

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Chernobyl reactor covered by world’s largest-ever moveable metal structure

IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program

November 29, 2016 by  
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IKEA is working hard to create an environment that can help everyone live a sustainable life. That’s why they say “to change everything, we need everyone.” So far, the company has set aside one billion dollars to move the company toward not just becoming energy positive by 2020, using solar and wind, but also to invest in people and a sustainable supply chain. We sat down with Lena Pripp-Kovack, Sustainability Manager of Range and Supply for IKEA of Sweden in Älmhult, where IKEA’s first store popped up in 1958, to talk all about how IKEA is changing the world for the better—one EKTROP sofa at a time. Inhabitat: Tell us about your role at IKEA Lena Pripp-Kovac : My responsibility is range and supply from a sustainability point of view. Sustainability has two parts. One is building sustainably, which is the materials we use, how they were produced and how they were transported. The other is the function of the product, which means, does this product actually contribute to a more sustainable life at home? The way we think about it is that there is a built-in function and a function that actually provides for a more sustainable life. Are there any exciting projects going on at IKEA that you want to share with us? Lena Pripp-Kovac: A lot of the things we are working on right now have to do with circularity: prolonging the life of products and prolonging the life of materials. We work closely with our suppliers and the whole supply chain, and we spend a lot of time investing in research to determine how to use materials from secondary sources. I don’t want to call it waste because it is actually a resource. That’s why we work today with an increasing number of recycled materials, even using our own waste. So we collect waste from our stores and produce new products. We also look into how to design products today to prolong their lifespan. We think we’ve come far, but we still think we can reduce a lot in terms of material use. Then we have our bigger goals for the company, which is to become fully renewably powered. We have, I think, 700,000 solar panels now, and we are working with our suppliers who also have energy saving goals and renewable energy plans. We are investing 1.5 billion euros in renewable energy; our goal is to be energy positive by 2020. We are also on a journey to transform our cotton to be more sustainable. Last year we reached the goal of ensuring that all of our cotton, no matter where it is sourced, is now more sustainable than previous sources. The next step is to find other alternatives for textiles; we believe that a lot more things will come from wood. The transformation of materials I think is the next big thing for IKEA from here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7ENnyudY6w And then you go over to sustainability at home, which is more about behavior. We just had a meeting with lots of people around what’s an attractive sustainable lifestyle. That I find interesting. What does it mean to have a sustainable life? You hear a lot about the big solar and wind projects at IKEA, but how are you making the more behind-the-scenes things, like textiles, more sustainable? Lena Pripp-Kovac: The textile journey is a big one. The first goal we had was to source all the cotton from more sustainable sources. That required that we consolidate our supply chain, and it changed the way we look at dyeing and water treatment plants. This is very critical. The Better Cotton Initiative is based on working with farmers on the ground to reduce fertilizers, reduce pesticides, change the water irrigation system, and ensure that farmers get better yields and money – the social aspect of things. We started working on this 10 years ago because we knew it would take time to transform things with farmers. If we went out and said we’d only buy organic, we would buy everything on the market and no one else would have the availability, so it didn’t transform conventional cotton. Which is the biggest part of the problem. We actually felt that the biggest change we could make was to transform the conventional cotton to be better than just buying organic cotton. Which means when you go into an IKEA store it is very seldom that you see a collection that says that this “the” sustainable collection. Because we believe in three things: one, we should have the greatest possible impact. We want to make things efficient and innovate, since we have the capacity to do that, and provide greater access to people with thin wallets. The last part is extremely important. If sustainability is expensive and only for people with big wallets, we don’t define it as sustainable. Low prices ensure access to (all) people. You also have to make sure that does not equal disposable. That’s more about the behavior than the product itself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNvUeb3OoVY How is IKEA working towards making the supply chain and workers’ lives better? Lena Pripp-Kovac: What makes us different is that when you ask someone how many suppliers they think we have, they often think thousands and thousands and thousands. But we have around – last year we calculated about 978 suppliers in furniture – and we work very long term. The average time is 10 or 11 years. We always said when we pick a supplier it should be a strategic fit and we should stay with them for a long time. The first thing we do is work with our IWAY code of conduct , which sets conditions like fair wages and safety and environmental requirements on the factory floor. When that is done we do an audit; we have 90 auditors that are trained – they trace forests, or go into factories to do an audit. We also have a little team of calibration auditors who make sure we all audit the same way. That is our ongoing schedule. We audit usually once a year, always unannounced, but we are also present every month at the supplier in case something comes up very visibly for IKEA people. We also have third party auditors to see that we are true to our own self. Our third party auditor finds the same results. On a third level, we also have unannounced audits, which means that we at IKEA don’t know [when they will happen], nor does the supplier know. The third party just shows up. Then we both get the results and discuss them. It’s of course important that you don’t just see that as police activity – it is a result that we share and go through to improve things. The development programs that we set up are designed to track suppliers biggest supply change. [In] Bangladesh, for example, compared to the garment industry which has maybe 500 suppliers, we have seven suppliers: one is ceramic, one is highly industrial – just a machine weaving – and one is lots of women making carpets. We have also worked a lot with working conditions. But since we’ve been there since the ’90s, we know their journey and we picked a journey together. We see social entrepreneur projects from time to time at IKEA. Is there any plan to expand these types of special collections? Lena Pripp-Kovac: We will expand the number of projects, but what makes these projects strong is that they are small. The fact that we can work with them and have two, three or four stores supporting that project, we learn from them and they learn from us. It is almost a co-creating situation. There is a region in Malmö where there are a lot of migrant people, refugees coming in. There is a fantastic entrepreneur there working with helping women and introducing them into society. So that’s one project connected to one store where they get textiles and they can sew things and just have them in one store. Are you seeing a lot of demand for a sustainable supply? Lena Pripp-Kovac: If you want to be part of a long term solution in society, you have to drive things to that end. It is part of our mission to create a better everyday life for the many people, and sustainability is strong there. It is a request we see, but in certain specifics. Sustainability doesn’t need to be grey and boring, and it is a complex issue, so we are working on making it understandable and attractive. That’s one of our biggest challenges – to communicate – because the biggest way that consumers have been educated over the years is to just put a label on something. But that’s not enough – you need to communicate more. To really crack what is a sustainable lifestyle requires more than a label. How can we get involved with sustainability at IKEA? Lena Pripp-Kovac: The best thing is to share what a sustainable life is for you. Get the conversation going – it is much more than just sorting waste. How can we make it fun and not just a chore? We believe in access for the many. Everybody should be able to live a sustainable life. We need to see things with a different core value. Even if you buy something that is affordable, it should still have a value. Why do you just keep things that are expensive? There should be other values. + IKEA Images via Kristine for Inhabitat and IKEA

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IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program

China opens former secret nuclear plant as ‘world’s largest man-made cave’

November 1, 2016 by  
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China is now inviting international tourists into a secret underground nuclear plant for the first time ever. Billed as ‘the world’s largest man-made cave,’ the former 816 Nuclear Military Plant in the suburban Chongqing district has been remade into a tourist attraction, where visitors descend far underground to learn about Cold War nuclear weapons. With neon lights and spooky echoes from its nuclear past, the underground bunker offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers in what is most certainly southwest China’s coolest cave. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24JbDu3TDh8 The nuclear plant was originally designed to manufacture plutonium in the 1960s, part of a military megaproject that lasted 17 years and involved some 60,000 soldiers. The site was a massive secret, encompassing one million square feet of underground structure. The plant halted operations in 1984 and was officially declassified in 2002. The government opened it briefly for local tours in 2010 before shuttering it once more. It had not been open to the public again until early October, when the plant’s winding man-made caves were outfitted with elaborate light displays, a move designed to target foreign tourists for the first time. Related: America’s most polluted nuclear site is now a national park Reportedly, the expansive underground plant includes 18 caves and 130 tunnel roads, but only one-third or so of the total square footage is open to public tours. One part of the former nuclear plant now acts as something of a museum to its former purpose, with a 100-foot-tall hall where images of atomic weapons and plutonium processing are projected onto neon movie screens. Each room of the underground bunker highlights nuclear weapons in some way, with the added creep-factor of eerie blue and red lights that would look more at home in a nightclub than a former military site. Still, the public seems eager to sign up for one of the two-hour tours being led through the once top secret project. Could China’s latest tourist attraction spark a new trend in ‘nuclear spelunking ’? Via CNN Images via China Daily

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China opens former secret nuclear plant as ‘world’s largest man-made cave’

New bionic eye chip allows blind woman to see lines, colors, and spots of light

November 1, 2016 by  
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Researchers are now one step closer to returning sight to the blind with a bionic eye . A University of California, Los Angeles doctor successfully implanted a bionic eye component in a 30-year-old woman, and she was able to see lines, colors, and flashes of light. The ” wireless visual cortical stimulator ” is part of Second Sight ‘s Orion I bionic eye. Second Sight makes the Argus II retinal implant , which can send information to a patient’s brain from a camera and eyeglass system. But it doesn’t restore sight completely and won’t work for some patients, so the company has been working on another device, the Orion I Visual Cortical Prosthesis. A doctor implanted the new wireless system directly on the woman’s visual cortex, and the patient saw light “with no significant adverse side effects,” according to the company. The technology aims to provide sight by bypassing the optic nerve to stimulate the brain’s visual cortex, according to chairman Robert Greenberg. Related: The World’s First Bionic Eye Implant Hits US Market Next Month Second Sight CEO Will McGuire said in a statement, “While we still have much work ahead, this successful human proof of concept study gives us renewed energy to move our Orion I development efforts forward. We believe this technology will ultimately provide a useful form of vision for the nearly six million people worldwide who are blind but not a candidate for an Argus II retinal prosthesis.” He also said the company would continue to develop the Argus II and work to make the prosthesis accessible for more people. UCLA neurosurgeon Nader Pouratian, who implanted the stimulator, seems hopeful about the technology. In a statement he said, “Based on these results, stimulation of the visual cortex has the potential to restore useful vision to the blind, which is important for independence and improving quality of life.” The next hurdle is U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. Second Sight needs the agency’s permission to conduct trials of the entire Orion I system including glasses and a camera. Second Sight will submit their application for the trials in 2017. + Second Sight Via Second Sight and Daily Mail Images via Wikimedia Commons and Second Sight Facebook

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New bionic eye chip allows blind woman to see lines, colors, and spots of light

Onshore Wind Power is Cheapest Source of Energy Says EU Report

October 14, 2014 by  
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A report prepared for the European Commission has found that onshore wind power provides the cheapest source of energy once external factors such as air quality, health impacts and expenditure, and the costs of climate change are taken into consideration. The report’s authors found that onshore wind costs around $133 per MW/h to produce, whereas gas and coal cost up to $208 and $295 per MW/h each. However, continuing a controversy that shadowed the Commission last year, extracts from the report have already been published that fail to include the external costs, which is where many of the subsidies to coal, gas and nuclear are made. Read the rest of Onshore Wind Power is Cheapest Source of Energy Says EU Report Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “wind power” , cheapest power source , Ecofys , energy subsidies , Europe , European Commission , fossil fuels , most affordable power source , nuclear , onshore wind power , renewable energy , subsidies , wind power is cheapest source of energy

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Onshore Wind Power is Cheapest Source of Energy Says EU Report

Earthquake-Resistant Eco Village Wins Christchurch’s Breathe Competition

October 14, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Earthquake-Resistant Eco Village Wins Christchurch’s Breathe Competition Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: anselmi attian architects , Breathe urban living competition , Christchuch earthquake recovery plan , Cresco engineers , earthquake , earthquakes , eco-village , ecovillage , Holloway Builders , New Zealand , New Zealand ecovillage , recovery plan , resilient design , Sustainable , sustainable city , sustainable ecovillage , Urban design

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Earthquake-Resistant Eco Village Wins Christchurch’s Breathe Competition

6 Creepy Churches Made of Bones

October 14, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of 6 Creepy Churches Made of Bones Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bone church , Capela dos Ossos , catacombs , czech republic , Czermna Chapel , eco design , green design , Monastery of San Francisco , ossuaries , ossuary , Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins , Poland , rome , San Bernardino alle Ossa , Sedlec Ossuary , sustainable design , UNESCO world heritage

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6 Creepy Churches Made of Bones

UK Nuclear Dump Could Be Swept Out to Sea Due to Planning Error

April 21, 2014 by  
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An internal document released by the UK Environment Agency (EA) reveals that the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository (LLWR) on the Cumbrian coast is under threat from rising sea levels. If overwhelmed, which many say is inevitable, the dump would contaminate the entire coastline with radioactive waste. The report claims that when the dump was first constructed, no one realised it was in an area prone to flooding. Read the rest of UK Nuclear Dump Could Be Swept Out to Sea Due to Planning Error Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cumbria , Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository , environment agency , nuclear power , nuclear waste , nuclear waste repository , The Guardian , Uk nuclear power

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UK Nuclear Dump Could Be Swept Out to Sea Due to Planning Error

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