Nuclear Power not so good either, especially in the heat !

NUCLEAR POWER:
Severe heat leads to lowest power production in 9 years

Published: Friday, July 27, 2012

National nuclear power production has reached the lowest seasonal levels in nine years, as the unrelenting heat wave and severe drought cause slower output at reactors from Ohio to Vermont.

Generation for the 104 plants across the country has fallen to 93 percent capacity — the lowest for this season since 2003, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We’ve had a fast decay of summer output this month and that corresponds to the high heat and droughts,” said Pax Saunders, a Gelber & Associates analyst. “Plants are not able to operate at the levels they can.”

FirstEnergy Corp.’s Perry 1 reactor in Ohio lowered production yesterday to 95 percent capacity due to the heat. And four times this month, Entergy Corp.’s Vermont Yankee has limited output.

Cool water is critical for nuclear plants, which use it to cool their operations.

“Heat is the main issue, because if the river is getting warmer, the water going into the plant is warmer and makes it harder to cool,” said NRC spokesman David McIntyre.

More than 60 percent of the contiguous United States is experiencing moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. And the hotter the weather, the harder it becomes for power plants to work at their optimal capacity.

“The weather dictates how much electricity we can produce, and it’s the nature of doing business on a river with variable flow and variable temperatures,” said Rob Williams, a spokesman for Vermont Yankee, which cut its power to 83 percent capacity July 17.

It is a trend many nuclear experts expect to continue — a lessening supply of nuclear power as demand for it increases.

“We expect the trend of things getting tighter and tighter to persist,” Saunders said (Christine Harvey, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 26). — HP

Are natural gas vehicles an answer?

Recent Congressional testimony from a scientist at the ARgonne National lab, says, Not so much.
When burned in cars, natural gas also produces about 6 to 11 percent less carbon emissions than gasoline over its entire life cycle, according to estimates from Argonne National Laboratory. [6 – 11% less? That’s all? – CG] APGA says that is pretty good progress, but it is still short of the sorts of reductions in man-made emissions that many scientists say are necessary to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

“Certainly, trying to power half the nation’s transportation vehicles with natural gas would probably be a mistake for the reason I cited in my testimony,” Greene wrote. “Maybe even one-third would be too much, but 5-10 percent would be great, and that’s a huge increase from where we are today.”

How about powering half the nation’s vehicles on electricity? The infrastructure is already here: 120 volt outlets. They are EVERYWHERE @!!

Offshore wind in Europe is growing by leaps and bounds

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) assessed the offshore wind capacity in Europe over the last six months. They found that at the end of the first half of 2012, the continent’s offshore wind capacity grew by at an astonishing rate from a year ago. A new report by the EWEA shows that there are 132 new offshore wind turbines, providing an additional 523 megawatts of power, and that these new turbines were fully connected to the power grid during the first half of 2012. Last year, Europe added only 348.1 megawatts from offshore wind during the same time period, making it an increase of about 50 percent.

Wind power needs your help.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy helps level the playing field and is critical for providing the certainty that the wind industry needs for continued growth. While the wind industry today employs approximately 75,000 Americans, if the PTC is not renewed, half of these jobs will be lost.

A recent poll shows that almost two-thirds – 64 percent – of Americans agree with President Obama that the PTC’s vital job-creating benefits should be continued.

Chevy VOLT electric car defended in press.

Chevy Volt critics are just flat-out wrong
http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/13876305-452/chevy-volt-critics-are-just-flat-out-wrong.html

July 20, 2012 9:20AM

The Chevrolet Volt has won car of the year honors in the U.S. and Europe, has sold more units so far this year than it did in all of 2011 and represents what Motor Trend magazine calls “a game changer” that boasts “some of the most advanced engineering ever seen in a mainstream American automobile.”

So why are a few vocal talking heads trying to poison the well on innovative American technology by attacking the Volt?

Maybe they want GM to fail because of the bailout. Maybe they hate President Barack Obama so much that they’ll attack anything he mentions favorably. Maybe they want to see oil companies continue to have an undue influence on our country’s economy, politics and foreign policy.

No matter the reason, it’s about talking points and pure spin, not reality, and the attacks are flat-out wrong.

As Bob Lutz, the former GM executive and outspoken climate change denier who championed the idea for the Volt often says, the Volt project started in 2006, long before Obama became president. And it was former President George W. Bush, not Obama, who pushed for the federal tax credit for purchasing the Volt.

I bought my Volt not because I’m a former Chevy dealer, but because it is a fabulous car. I cruise around the Chicago area, relying on battery power for over 80 percent of my driving miles. When the electric charge runs out, the car seamlessly switches over to using gas as its power source. Running on gas, I get about 40 mpg. Add in my electric-only miles, and I average over 145 mpg.

It drives like a dream — quiet and smooth. Everybody who sees my car loves it. My passengers give me enthusiastic reviews.
I also love my Volt because, like all electric cars, it helps curb what President George W. Bush called our addiction to oil. The more people drive electric cars, the less we have to rely on other countries — including some troubling ones — for oil. We also pollute less and contribute less to climate change.

I’m not saying it’s perfect. There are two problems with electric cars.

One challenge is price. The Volt starts at $32,000 after a federal tax credit. The price tag may put electric cars out of reach for a lot of people, even with the tax break. That soon will change and prices will come down. Like today’s Volt owners, the early owners of personal computers paid a premium to be the first to have the newest and best technology. They played an invaluable role in fostering the digital revolution.

The other issue is range anxiety. That’s not an issue for the Volt, because it seamlessly switches to gas when the battery gets low. But electric-only cars have limits. I’ve read that nearly 80 percent of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. So, for example, a Nissan Leaf — an all-electric car with a 70-to-100 mile range — would work for most Americans most days, but not for every American every day. As public charging stations become more common and fast-charging technology improves, all-electric vehicles will become more attractive for more people.

Why should Americans care about electric cars? Aside from the environmental and national security benefits inherent in using less oil, there is the economic argument. The U.S. auto industry cannot cede this valuable market to foreign automakers. American automakers need to stay in the ballgame if they want to remain competitive in the world market and create new jobs.

Let’s recognize the Volt for what it is: an innovative cutting-edge technology that is helping to re-establish the U.S. as a worldwide leader in the automotive industry. As Motor Trend said, it’s a game-changer. And it is, quite simply, one terrific car.

Chuck Frank owned Z. Frank Chevrolet, a Chicago-based auto dealership that closed in 2008 when he retired.

Jerry and Charlie are quoted in this EV news article !

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=206967

Solar panel your garage, not your car, experts say
by Erin M. Massey
July 16, 2012

Cars retrofitted with solar panels might extend the gas-free drive of an electric car but a solar retrofit for your garage can mean free electric power to fully charge the car battery in the first place.

“Free” can require an initial investment of $22,644 for a two-car solar garage port. But consider the payback. The price tag is the equivalent to about 404 fill-ups of gas, or 3 years of fills at two a week costing $4 a gallon for an average 14-gallon gas tank.

The investment makes sense to a growing number of drivers as the demand for alternative vehicles increases, individuals and companies are trying almost anything to save on gas, emissions linked to climate change and energy costs.

Jerry Asher of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington D.C. (EVA/DC) said he is one of the many believers in living a green lifestyle.

Asher has taken several trips in alternative vehicles across the country in 2008, 2009, 2011, and is planning yet another trip this year.

In 2008, Asher drove through all 48 state capitals in the EVA/DC’s PHEV Toyota Prius known as the Spirit of D.C. For all trips, Asher has driven a different vehicle to make a statement about alternative energy, rally support and advocate for electric vehicles.

With increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the environment, it is no wonder the Midwest has flooded so badly in past years and the country is sweltering, Asher said. Scientists warn that the earth is warming faster than previously thought.

“Welcome to your future. Quite a pickle we have left,” Asher said, adding that we really need to be astute in the choice of energy we use.

As car companies such as Audi and other car manufacturers begin making cars with built-in solar panels to store energy as the car drives on a sunny day, Asher suggests another alternative.

Retrofitting a garage with solar panels or having a solar carport installed in the driveway to capture energy while the car is not even present underneath is the new big idea.

Carports, although pricey, can be ordered “as big as you want,” custom designed to the size of a Costco parking lot, said Clay Reid, a technician at Solarhome.com, based in Victorville, Calif.

“Depending on the time they [people] need their cars, the car can sit for 20 hours a day and charge overnight,” Asher said.

The solar panels would store energy during the day, enabling the car to be used for commuter purposes during these hours and then would charge overnight while the owner is sleeping.

As an added benefit, electricity rates drop at night. Rates vary by state and company, but ComEd charges up to 13 cents per kilowatt-hour during the day and as little as 2 cents per kilowatt-hour at night.

Retrofitting a car with solar panels or purchasing a car with panels already built in poses two challenges. One is the actual amount of energy the car is able to store throughout the day and the second is the price related to the type of panel.

John Walton, a contractor for Trillium CNG, said that solar panels on a car only add a small additional voltage to the overall charge of a battery.

An electric car lithium-ion battery, such as the one in the Nissan Leaf, can take anywhere from 6-8 hours to recharge. If a car takes 10-12 hours to charge at 110 volts, it would take half that amount of time with a 240-volt plug.

With a battery fully charged, an electric car has limited range. Currently, most electric cars can drive up to 40 miles on a lead acid battery, with a lithium-ion battery in the Nissan Leaf providing a range of about 100 miles on full charge.

Tesla Motors recently released a full-sized electric sedan advertised at having a range of almost 300 miles per full charge, truly a “claim to fame” in Walton’s opinion. A 85-kilowatt-hour automotive grade lithium-ion battery allows the breakthrough results.

“It was meant to be out last year,” said Walton, who also serves as the vice-chair for the Chicago Area Clean Cities coalition. “If they can pull this off, it would be an amazing thing.”

The second option to consider when retrofitting a car with solar panels is the type of panel: curvy or flat. Curvy would match the natural curvature of the car’s roof, whereas the flat solar panels would stick out in a similar way to ones used on the roof of a house or garage.

“It wouldn’t look as slick or cool as the Audi does, but [the flat panels] would get more energy and be less expensive,” said Charlie Garlow, president of the Electric Vehicle Association based in Washington, D.C.

Garlow intends to retrofit his trailer in the near future with flat solar panels and pull it behind his motorcycle on longer trips in order to store as much solar energy as possible.

The maximum benefit of energy a car with solar panels can obtain from a sunny day would be about one mile per sunny hour, said Garlow, which is why he pulls a small power plant of a trailer that amounts to solar panels on wheels.

Assuming an average of 3.2 hours a day of sunlight over the course of the year in Chicago, the solar panels on the roof of a car would generate only enough energy to power about four extra miles of travel per day, said Ted Lowe of the Fox Valley Electric Auto Association in Wheaton.

Coinciding with the issue of how or where to place solar panels on a vehicle comes the issue of fueling stations. Charging stations are not nearly as popular or accessible as gas stations, leading to another reason some buyers are hesitant to invest in an electric car.

Currently, there are only 26 charging stations in the Chicago area, including commercial locations such as Walgreens and Whole Foods.

Samantha Bingham, environmental policy analyst for the City of Chicago said that, for the times, this is actually pretty impressive. Bingham, volunteer coordinator for the Chicago Area Clean Cities coalition, said California plans to install 100 fast charging stations across the state in the next year or so.

What are some incentives to buy an electric vehicle if you live in Illinois?

The state is offering buyers of Level 2 charging stations a rebate of up to $4,000, which can offset the cost of the station and installation by half. All individuals or companies are eligible to apply excluding nonprofit organizations. The federal government offers an income tax credit of up to $7,500 for those purchasing electric vehicles.

As electric car companies produce vehicles to meet the growing demand for alternative energy, for many, the cons of electric cars still outweigh the pros.

“People focus on the wrong things. People focus on their iPod color, which is not as important as ‘how are we going to survive,’ ” said Lowe. “Right now is the issue of range, how far can you drive on a charge, and the initial cost of the cars are not cheap. You can buy a Prius for mid to upper teens, but the cheapest electric cars are in the $30,000 range.”

But to electric-car enthusiasts, the pros outweigh the cons because they extend beyond aesthetics and technicalities. Technicalities can be dealt with, whereas the future of the earth in terms of climate change and its impacts should not have to be.

“The most significant thing that would happen if I had my choice would be a battery break through,” Lowe said. “It would bring the range of an electric car up to the range of a gasoline car with the same availability to recharge. That would be a game changer.”

And George Shultz supports a carbon tax

So do I.
Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz Supports Carbon Tax
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/top_stories/article/44658/print
Former Secretary of State George Shultz is calling for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, according to an interview released today by Stanford University.

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Shultz, who served as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan as well as a number of other roles under previous Republican administrations, is heading up the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on Energy Policy will calls for boosting energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil exports to improve national security, and putting a price on carbon. While the last of those objectives has been an anathema to many Republicans of late, Shultz said his party could eventually support a carbon tax.

“We have to have a system where all forms of energy bear their full costs,” Shultz said. “For some, their costs are the costs of producing the energy, but many other forms of energy produce side effects, like pollution, that are a cost of society. The producers don’t bear that cost, society does. There has to be a way to level the playing field and cause those forms of energy to bear their true costs. That means putting a price on carbon.”

“We’ve studied a variety of ways to do that, and to me the most appealing way is a revenue-neutral carbon tax. That is, you distribute all the revenue from the carbon tax in some fashion back to taxpayers, so there is no fiscal drag on the economy. British Columbia has a revenue-neutral carbon tax. They started low and increased the tax over five years to a much higher level, so people could adjust. The revenue is distributed mostly to individuals, so it’s popular.”

The former secretary of state said that although Republicans are frequently criticized by environmentalists for a near unanimous opposition to taking action on climate change, the party hasn’t always been an enemy of the environment.