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Lawson becomes chancellor - attacks miners, sells coal, oil and gas

The Ecologist - Tue, 08/13/2019 - 23:00
Lawson becomes chancellor - attacks miners, sells coal, oil and gas Channel Comment Louise Gill 14th August 2019 Teaser Media
Categories: Green News

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #40

Skeptical Science - Sun, 10/07/2018 - 11:20

Calls to Action... Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... SkS Highlights... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS in the News... Photo of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Reports of Note... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Calls to Action*

 Looking ahead...



Looking inside...



Looking behind...

Something that flew under my radar screen when it was released earlier this year... 



*The views expressed in this section are those of John Hartz and do not necessarily reflect  consensus views of the SkS author team — it's virtually impossible to achieve consensus among a herd of cats. 

Story of the Week...


Editorial of the Week...


SkS Highlights...


El Niño/La Niña Update...


Toon of the Week...


Quote of the Week...


Graphic of the Week...


SkS in the News...


Photo of the Week...


SkS Spotlights...


Video of the Week...


Reports of Note...


Coming Soon on SkS...


Climate Feedback Reviews...


SkS Week in Review... 


Poster of the Week...


Categories: Climate Change

Transatomic to Shutter Its Nuclear Reactor Plans, Open-Source Its Technology

Greentech Media: Headlines - 31 min 1 sec ago

Nuclear reactor startup Transatomic Power is shutting down operations, after deciding it doesn’t see a viable path to bringing its molten salt reactor designs to scale. 

But the startup still wants its technology to play a role in the future of advanced nuclear reactors — so it’s making it all public. 

In a Tuesday announcement, Leslie Dewan, Transatomic’s CEO and co-founder, wrote, “We haven’t been able to scale up the company rapidly enough to build our reactor in a reasonable timeframe. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I must announce that Transatomic is suspending operations.”

Dewan also announced that the Cambridge, Mass.-based company will be “open-sourcing our intellectual property, making it available for any researchers — private, public or nonprofit — who want to continue the work we’ve started.” 

Transatomic is working with the Department of Energy’s Gateway for Advanced Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program to open its work to the public domain, Dewan said in a Tuesday interview. This will include the work it’s done with DOE’s national laboratories, as well as the patents on its zirconium nitride-based molten salt reactors. “We’re going to be working with the Department of Energy to make sure we’re complying with export controls for all of this,” she noted. 

Transatomic is also releasing its patents in the European Union, Russia and China for its particular version of liquid-fueled reactor designs, she said. “We’re going to be putting up all of our white papers, all of our technical reports we’ve done in conjunction with the national labs, all the patents that have been granted, and those that are still in process,” she said. 

The work in question centers on Transatomic’s research into “spectral shift reactor design,” she said. This design alters the amount of moderator, or material used to slow down neutrons to speeds capable of sustaining fission, as a function of time over the course of the reactor’s fuel cycle, she explained. 

Transatomic’s patents deal with the use of zirconium nitride as a moderator, combined with its particular version of molten salt-based reactor design, based on work done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It also holds patents on the manufacture of cladding, or the material used to prevent corrosion of its moderator by its liquid fuel, Dewan said. 

Transatomic’s current work doesn’t include its initial goal of using spent nuclear fuel to power its reactors, however. Dewan and co-founder Mark Massie launched the company in 2011, while they were doctoral candidates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the goal of creating a reactor that could use spent fuel rods and thus manage the challenges of safely disposing of this nuclear waste. 

This promise helped Transatomic raise $2 million in 2014 from Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, and raise another $2.5 million round in 2015 from Acadia Woods Partners, Founders Fund, and Daniel Aegerter, chairman of the Swiss fund Armada Investment AG. 

But in 2016, the company was forced to backtrack on its earlier claims, after an informal review by MIT professors found errors in its calculations. As first reported by MIT Technology Review, these errors included its initial claim that its design could produce "75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor” of typical design — a figure that was downgraded to “more than twice” the usual reactor’s output per unit of uranium in a company report from November 2016

Transatomic also revealed in this paper that it was shifting its plans to a reactor that “does not reduce existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel,” but rather which would “reduce nuclear waste production by significantly increasing fuel burnup.”  

Dewan said Tuesday that the decision to turn away from a design that consumes spent nuclear fuel “was a real blow to me personally.” But the company’s investors supported the company’s post-2016 work on its molten salt and zirconium nitride design, because “for them, the main value proposition was the safety case of these molten salt reactors and their low cost compared to fossil fuels.” 

Dewan also noted that the number of advanced nuclear reactor efforts have grown from a handful when Transatomic was founded to about 70 worldwide today. “Some are doing incredibly well,” she noted.  

These include TerraPower, a startup backed by Bill Gates, which has partnered with DOE’s GAIN program and Southern Company to develop its molten chloride fast reactor design, and which is expected to invest $20 million in a test facility set to open next year. Terrestrial Energy, a startup using an integral molten salt reactor design, won $8 million in funding in 2016, and this month announced a two-year R&D project with DOE and Southern Company. 

NuScale Power, a startup with a small modular reactor design, in May won Phase 1 approval of its design from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and this month it picked Virginia’s BWX Technologies to begin engineering work to manufacture its units. 

“I’m still incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of advanced nuclear reactors,” Dewan said. At the same time, the time scales of these efforts underscore how challenging it is for a startup to bring its plans to fruition. 

NuScale has said its first operational products, for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, could be hooked up to the grid “by the mid-2020s." TerraPower and Terrestrial Energy are envisioning 2030 as a target for commercial operations. 

Categories: Renewable Energy

Only A Quarter Of Investors Deem Sustainability A Risk, According To Schroders

CleanTechnica - 46 min 58 sec ago
A new study published by British multinational asset management company Schroders which surveyed over 22,000 investors has claimed that only a quarter of investors are concerned that sustainable investing would risk strong returns, highlighting the growing belief that strong investment can also yield a social impact
Categories: Renewable Energy

Latest renewables news hot off the press September 25, 2018!

Renewable Energy Magazine - 1 hour 7 min ago
Hurricane Florence crippled electricity and coal -- solar and wind were back the next day UMN adds new solar panels as part of renewable energy plan DRIFT AND BUDWEISER ANNOUNCE RENEWABLE ENERGY PARTNERSHIP Cleveland, birthplace of Standard Oil, promises 100% renewable energy SSE ramps up renewables investment with £118m Seagreen deal EnSync to partner with Hawai'i Pacific University to bring solar energy to Oceanic Institute Campus Akuo Energy starts construction on 17MW floating solar plant in France GE and Renewvia installing new off-grid systems in Africa
Categories: Renewable Energy

ABB Digital Technology to Enhance Egypt’s Power Grid

Renewable Energy Magazine - 1 hour 7 min ago
ABB, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, has been selected by the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company to help upgrade and digitize the electrical grid in the Port Said region. Located along the country’s Mediterranean coast this region includes the landmark Suez Canal.
Categories: Renewable Energy

Sunday Scholars—The Hudson as Life Force panel event

River Keeper - 1 hour 26 min ago

In conjunction with the Hudson River Museum exhibition “A River is a Drawing” by Maya Lin, there will be a Sunday Scholar Series panel titled The Hudson as Life Force, moderated by Paul Gallay, President of Riverkeeper, and featuring four distinguished thinkers as they examine the Hudson River as material and metaphor. This event is free with Museum admission but am RSVP required.

The post Sunday Scholars—The Hudson as Life Force panel event appeared first on Riverkeeper.

Categories: Water and Fishing

Groupe PSA Says 15 New Models Will Be Electrified

CleanTechnica - 1 hour 42 min ago
Groupe PSA, which includes Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Vauxhall, and now Opel, says it will offer 15 electrified versions of all of its new cars as of
Categories: Renewable Energy

Cities & Finance Combine To Strengthen Climate Change Investment In Africa, Asia, & Latin America

CleanTechnica - 1 hour 47 min ago
A new pilot initiative, the Global Climate City Challenge, will seek to address technical preparation and financing for cities across the world to strengthen investment in green projects and programs essential to improving regional resilience to climate change
Categories: Renewable Energy

Which Comes First, The EV Or The Charger?

CleanTechnica - 2 hours 47 min ago
Transport & Environment says 95% of all EV charging events take place at home or at work, meaning fast charging networks are not as critical to the electric car revolution as many car makers claim.
Categories: Renewable Energy

ElectrIQ Raises $6 Million Seed Round to Finance Home Storage Push

Greentech Media: Headlines - 2 hours 50 min ago

Bay Area startup ElectrIQ raised a $6 million seed round to support its challenge to the home storage incumbents.

Earlier this month, the company released a new product, the PowerPod, which packs 11 kilowatt-hours of energy capacity, an inverter and smart home integration into one $8,999 package. That left the question of how a 17-person startup could sustain competition with the likes of Tesla’s Powerwall or LG Chem’s Resu.

The company offered up some answers this week.

It has raised $6 million in a combination of debt conversion financing and new equity financing. GreenSoil Building Innovation Fund, a Canadian firm backed by real estate owners and developers, led the round, which also included several dozen unnamed smaller investors.

“This provides sufficient capital to get us to scale in the volumes and manufacturing that we’re expecting next year,” said Frank Magnotti, the board member who stepped into the CEO role with the financing. He previously co-founded Comverge, which linked up gigawatts' worth of demand response capacity and made it to an IPO, then went private again, and recently was acquired by Itron.

ElectrIQ co-founder and founding CEO Chad Manning has moved into the chief strategy officer role to focus on product development.

The financing also will support expanding ElectrIQ’s network of trained installers, beefing up the sales force and continuing research and development for new products.

It’ll need that in order to compete with Tesla, which popularized the home storage concept, or home solar market leader Sunrun, which has sold storage with as much as 20 percent of its California solar deals in recent quarters.

ElectrIQ can act more nimbly to create a product that pleases customers, Magnotti said. Unlike those two competitors, ElectrIQ only makes storage systems; it isn’t a side hustle for a larger business.

The smart home integration presents another differentiator.

Sonnen’s U.S. branch staked a claim on storage for the connected home with a splashy launch at the luxury home automation industry conference in September. Its ecoLinx system clocks in at $26,000 and integrates with automation protocols used in bespoke networked lighting, security and audiovisual overhauls for luxury homes.

That leaves an opening for ElectrIQ to woo smart home adopters at a lower price point, with the kind of lightbulbs customers buy in a store and program for themselves.

GreenSoil’s network of innovation-hungry real estate interests offers a third differentiator. The VC firm serves as a clearinghouse for technologies that could be useful for the builders among its LPs. It went so far as to install an ElectrIQ system at a building in Toronto as part of its due diligence.

“We became a customer first, and then we became an investor,” said Jamie James, general partner at GreenSoil. “We can de-risk through our own experience.”

In the way that Energy Impact Partners invests and then links startups to the legacy energy companies that finance it, GreenSoil could open doors to get ElectrIQ into housing developments more quickly than it otherwise might. Getting energy storage into new builds reduces the cost of installation compared to retrofits, and it wraps the sticker price into the larger home purchase, making for an easier sell.

Sonnen has made homebuilder partnerships a mainstay of its U.S. strategy; it’s working on a roughly 3,000-home project with Mandalay Homes in Arizona. It's also much further along in the fundraising department, with a $71 million round in May bringing its total to $180 million.

ElectrIQ has announced a pilot with Mattamy Homes, also in Arizona, as a test run for wider deployment of energy storage in sustainably designed homes.

“We’re seeing it going much more toward a standard feature, like having a refrigerator in your house, as opposed to a ‘nice to have’ or add-on feature,” Manning said.

Manning has stated his desire to take energy storage to mass-market adoption. Although $6 million alone won't fund that, it gives his company a chance to prove it can win customers and move units in a still-nascent market.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Keystone XL construction to begin next year, but indigenous activists vow to keep fighting

Grist - 2 hours 55 min ago

Construction on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is set to rev up next year. The project received a green light from the State Department late last week — the latest salvo in a contentious decade-long battle between indigenous communities and TransCanada, the pipeline’s developer.

On Friday, the State Department issued a 338-page supplemental environmental impact statement for an alternate route through Nebraska. The agency has determined that major environmental damage stemming from the $8 billion, 1,180-mile project would be “negligible to moderate.” According to the report, there will be safeguards in place that would prevent a leak from contaminating ground or surface water.

“Keystone XL has undergone years of extensive environmental review by federal and state regulators,” TransCanada spokesperson Matthew John said. “All of these evaluations show that Keystone XL can be built safely and with minimal impact to the environment.”

The review comes a little more than a month after a Montana court required the State Department to conduct a separate analysis — not part of the pipeline’s 2014 environmental impact study — of the updated route under the National Environmental Policy Act. The new route will be longer than TransCanada’s preferred route.

Following the release of the environmental assessment, TransCanada lawyers filed a response on Friday to address concerns by environmental and indigenous groups that are challenging the pipeline’s permit to cross into the U.S. from Canada in the Montana court.

But as TransCanada moves ahead with plans to construct the pipeline — which would carry up to 830,000 barrels of heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska — tribal communities living in its path remain steadfast in challenging the review’s conclusions.

“It’s a total disregard for the land, and the animals, and the people that reside on it and have for generations,” Faith Spotted Eagle, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and a vocal opponent of major oil-pipeline projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, told Grist. “I think the thing to remember is that the people who are building this pipeline — they don’t care because they don’t have to live here. But it’s not going to stop me from fighting back.”

Pipeline-opponents on the front lines like Spotted Eagle are gearing up for what comes next, pledging to fight until the pipeline project is halted for good. Earlier this month, the Fort Belknap Indian Community of Montana and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota sued the Trump administration after it granted the pipeline a permit which they claimed didn’t assess how it’s construction “would impact their water and sacred lands.”

Indigenous groups aren’t the only ones voicing their discontent — the Sierra Club called the new State Department report a “sham review.” “We’ve held off construction of this pipeline for 10 years, and regardless of this administration’s attempts to force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people,” said Kelly Martin, director of the group’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “That fight will continue until Keystone XL is stopped once and for all.”

Members of the public have 45 days to comment on the State Department’s review, but Spotted Eagle is skeptical that the powers that be will even bother to consult with indigenous people residing in the pipeline’s route. “There is no regard to nation-to-nation relationships with tribes,” she says.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Keystone XL construction to begin next year, but indigenous activists vow to keep fighting on Sep 25, 2018.

Categories: Green News

Hudson River Stories: A Screening of Films on the Hudson River

River Keeper - 3 hours 11 min ago

Attend an evening of films about the Hudson River by Jon Bowermaster featuring guest speakers from Riverkeeper and the Farm Hub. Films include Restoring the Clearwater, Seeds of Hope, Bomb Trains on the Hudson and PCBs – A Toxic Legacy

The post Hudson River Stories: A Screening of Films on the Hudson River appeared first on Riverkeeper.

Categories: Water and Fishing

Florence stirs up a debate about how we talk about hurricanes

Grist - 3 hours 16 min ago

At Hurricane Florence’s peak of intensity on September 10, its winds roared to 130 mph. But as the Category 4 storm approached the Carolinas, those gusts weakened. When it made landfall, it had been downgraded to a less-threatening-sounding Category 1.

That led some Carolinians to cancel their evacuation plans. Problem is, the storm had only gotten more dangerous as its category plummeted. That’s because the deadliest threat from a hurricane is not its wind speed, but the water it brings. Rising coastal waters and flooding from heavy rainfall cause more than 80 percent of hurricane-related deaths. Florence hovered over North Carolina days after landfall, flooding streets and towns with up to 36 inches of rain.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale does just what it’s supposed to: rank a storm based on its winds speeds. But the scale ignores other threats, like rainfall, storm surge, and the overall size of the storm.

Are we talking about hurricanes all wrong? In addition to the complaints about the Saffir-Simpson scale, a lot of people are confused about “100-year flood” terminology. If a 1,000-year flood comes to your backyard, it doesn’t mean you won’t see a storm like this for 1,000 more years. It means that a storm that brings that kind of flooding has a 0.1 percent chance of occuring in any given year.

This language comes from a Federal Emergency Management Agency system that maps floodplains for flood insurance purposes. It was adopted in the early ‘70s, just like the Saffir-Simpson scale. And it wasn’t designed with climate-charged storms like Florence in mind.

“When people hear they aren’t in a FEMA flood zone, they often think there’s no risk their area will flood,” John Rollins, an actuary who specializes in insurance for catastrophic events, recently told the Washington Post. Houston residents found this out the hard way during Hurricane Harvey.

FEMA could update its terminology around storms and floodplain maps. After Hurricane Sandy, New York refigured its maps to take the risks from climate change into account. But given that FEMA no longer includes “climate change” as part of its strategy, it may be difficult to muster up the political will to update these maps.

Well, that explains that. But why haven’t we updated the Saffir-Simpson scale?

“There have been people complaining about this for decades, especially in emergency management,” Marshall Shepherd, meteorologist and professor at the University of Georgia, tells me. Florence reignited these concerns.

Over the past decade or so, researchers have proposed multiple ranking systems to address some of the shortcomings of the category system. Some still focus on winds, but broaden the picture beyond peak winds to get a better picture of how destructive the hurricane might be. Some take the overall size of the storm into account. A scale proposed in 2006 considers six variables: storm surge, rainfall, duration of hurricane force winds, maximum sustained winds, gust score, and minimum central pressure.

Shepherd says the Saffir-Simpson scale doesn’t need to be completely replaced. “We need to come up with a way to augment it with other information, or to use another scale along with it,” he says.

He says that places like National Hurricane Center and the NOAA did a great job forecasting and communicating the rainfall threat of Hurricane Florence. The real issue, he says, is that “people are so anchored in the jargon of the Saffir-Simpson category narrative.”

Remedying the situation is part science, part communication. While we wait for existing metrics to get an upgrade, the challenge for journalists, meteorologists, and public officials is to make the public aware that a hurricane’s category doesn’t necessarily indicate its overall danger — and that 1,000-year floods like Florence might be more common than we think.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Florence stirs up a debate about how we talk about hurricanes on Sep 25, 2018.

Categories: Green News

Climate Week NYC: Watch General Wes Clark assess the strategic impact of climate change

Red, Green, and Blue - 3 hours 38 min ago

The military has called Climate Change the “mother of all strategic challenges.” Speaking Monday night at the Explorers Club as part of Climate Week NYC, General Wesley Clark – once Supreme Allied NATO Commander during the Kosovo war, Medal of Honor recipient, and Democratic Presidential candidate – gave a rundown of the strategic implications of […]

The post Climate Week NYC: Watch General Wes Clark assess the strategic impact of climate change appeared first on Red, Green, and Blue.

Overwhelming international support for Indigenous Guatemalan communities resisting Canadian/American mine

Mining Watch Canada - 3 hours 39 min ago
25.09.2018 Overwhelming international support for Indigenous Guatemalan communities resisting Canadian/American mineThis past month, over 3,700 individuals took action in support of Guatemalan communities right to say “No” to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine. The action re-sent a letter delivered to Tahoe Resources’ offices in Reno, NV and Guatemala City by allies at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) and representatives of Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa and... read more
Categories: Coal and Mining

End-to-end mine project cost estimation made easy

Mining.Com - 3 hours 47 min ago

Over the past months, our team of experienced mine cost estimators, together with InfoMine’s developers and designers, have built the latest innovation in mine project evaluation: the Surface Evaluation Application. This cloud-based application combines engineering-based estimating procedures with cost data from Mining Intelligence’s Mining Cost Service. The application helps you estimate the scoping-level end-to-end mining and mineral processing capital and operating costs associated with your project.

We know that it takes an iterative process and years of experience to build credible models that estimate reliable mine project costs. Not only is a good understanding of mining and processing required, but strong modelling skills are essential as well. Let our years of experience and innovative Surface Evaluation Application help your team get dependable estimates quickly and consistently.

Using one seamless application, you will be able to enter surface mining, processing, and economic information all as a single project. Through an engineering-based approach, the application uses your inputs to estimate end to end capital and operating costs, as well as economic indicators such as net present value, cash flows, and more. All results are presented in an easy to read and downloadable format.

Reserve your spot now for a free trail before October 1, 2018.

Sign up now for a one-week free trial

The post End-to-end mine project cost estimation made easy appeared first on

Categories: Coal and Mining

Fronius Symo Hybrid Works With LG Chem RESU Energy Storage System

CleanTechnica - 3 hours 47 min ago
The Fronius Symo Hybrid is a single product which has multiple functions. It acts like a battery inverter, hybrid inverter, controller with system monitoring, and a battery charging system. The Symo Hybrid is now compatible with the LG Chem RESU storage system, and of course it works with the Fronius Solar Battery. Thomas Mühlberger, Product Management Solar Energy at Fronius International GmbH, answered some questions about it for CleanTechnica
Categories: Renewable Energy

Science Fair To USA: Come In, Please (CT Exclusive Interview)

CleanTechnica - 4 hours 46 min ago
The new documentary Science Fair is a fun, trippy tumble through the ultra competitive world of high school science competitions...or is it
Categories: Renewable Energy

[Press] New Event To Explore Guyana Opportunities

Oil Voice - 4 hours 49 min ago
A new business event is set to shine a light on opportunities in the nascent energy industry in Guy ...