Tag Archives: renewable

Nuclear is over —Jeremy Rifkin

Economist, author, and advisor to governments Jeremy Rifkin told an agent of the world's largest uranium field operator at a conference of global investors that there's no business future in nuclear power.

Jeremy Rifkin answered a question at the Wermuth Asset Management 5th Annual Investors Event 26 September 2012, Nuclear Power is Dead,

I don't spend much time on nuclear technology, unless somebody asks me about it, because frankly from a business perspective, I think it's over….

Here's the video, followed by more transcript and discussion.

Nuclear power was pretty well dead in the water in the 1980s after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. It had a comeback. The comeback was the industry said "we are part of the solution for climate change because we don't emit CO2 with nuclear; it's polluting, but there's no CO2".

Here's the issue though,

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India baseload power grid failure

Last month the U.S. grid failed due to heat wave demand, this month, it’s India’s grid. There are several common features: coal, baseload, outdated grid, and distributed renewable energy through a smart grid as the solution.

SFGate quoting NY Times, yesterday, India grid failure causes power blackout,

The Ministry of Power was investigating the cause, but officials suggested that part of the problem was probably excessive demand during the torrid summer.

Same as in the U.S. grid failure. Except India did it bigger, according to the Economic Times of India today,

The blackout which has left 600 million people without electricity in one of the world’s most widespread power failures.

Yet officials are in denial, according to the SFGate story:

“This is a one-off situation,” said Ajai Nirula, the chief operating officer of North Delhi Power Limited, which distributes power to nearly 1.2 million people in the region. “Everyone was surprised.”

Well, they shouldn’t be, if they were watching what happened in the U.S. And India gets most of its electricity from coal, whose CO2 emissions contribute to climate change, producing ever-hotter summers. Just like in the U.S.

The story includes a clue to the solution:

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Profits per Market Cap in the Forbes 2000: solar and wind still win

We saw that two out of three of the most profitable electric utilities in the world emphasize solar and wind energy: ENEL of Italy and Iberdrola of Spain, both of which operate in multiple countries, including Iberdrola claiming second most wind power in the U.S. Well, maybe those companies are small, so their profits are a fluke. Nope. We get similar results for profits divided by market cap:

ENEL of Italy is still number 1, with no nuclear and a lot of solar and wind energy. Iberdrola is #4 in profits/market instead of #3 in profits alone. However, Electricité de France (EDF) is #7 instead of #2, and Exelon is #9 instead of #4. Number 2 is Energias de Portugal (EDP), which is heavily into wind power including owning Horizon Wind Energy LLC:

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Electric Utility Profits in the Forbes Global 2000 from 2006 through 2012

Which are the most and least consistently profitable electric utilities in the world? Hint: the biggest losers all lost on nukes. But the biggest winners may surprise you.

Following up on Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning’s brag that “We are a great, big company from an energy production standpoint,” I looked in the Forbes Global 2000 to see which are the biggest electricities in the world. Indeed, Southern Company (SO) is the biggest in the U.S. and number 6 in the world for 2012. But what about the rest, and what about previous years? Here’s a graph of profits for the top 40 electric utilities from 2006 through 2012. SO is the blue line muddling along in the middle:


Graph by John S. Quarterman from

What’s that dark red line dropping way below the rest? Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), owner of the Fukushima nuclear plants. And the red line starting at the top and ending up near the bottom? E.ON, the company that owns most of Germany’s nuclear plants, as Germany shifts away from nuclear energy, after Cheronobyl and now Fukushima. The blue line that ends up as low as E.ON? Korea Electric Power (KEP), also an owner of nuclear plants. All the big losers are nuke owners.

What about the winners? The light green line ending up second by profits is Electricité de France (EDF), also an owner of nuclear plants, but one which has not yet had a major accident.

But what’s that purple line that starts near the top and ends up at the top?

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Why CWIP is a bad idea

Iowa is rejecting CWIP, and Georgia can, too. Here’s why.

Herman K. Trabish wrote for Green Tech Media 22 February 2012, The Nuclear Industry’s Answer to Its Marketplace Woes: Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) financing shifts the risks of nuclear energy to utility ratepayers,

A sign of the nuclear industry’s difficult situation in the aftermath of Fukushima is a proposal before the Iowa legislature
“Construction Work in Progress was intended to circumvent the core consumer protection of the regulatory decision-making process,”
that would allow utility MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to build a new nuclear facility in the state using Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) financing (also called advanced cost recovery).

“Investment in nuclear power is the antithesis of the kind of investments you would want to make under the current uncertain conditions,” explained nuclear industry authority Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. “They cannot raise the capital to build these plants in normal markets under the normal regulatory structures.”

CWIP would allow the utility to raise the money necessary to build a nuclear power plant by billing ratepayers in advance of and during construction.

“Construction Work in Progress was intended to circumvent the core consumer protection of the regulatory decision-making process,” Cooper explained. “It exposes ratepayers to all the risk.” The nuclear industry’s answer to its post-Fukushima challenges, he said, “is to simply rip out the heart of consumer protection and turn the logic of capital markets on their head.”

And the Iowa Utilities Board staff agreed with Cooper and recommended against CWIP.
His message to policymakers is simple, Cooper said. “This is an investment you would not make with your own money. Therefore, you should not make it with the ratepayers’ money.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia: Continue reading

Stockholm Fossil Fuel Free City 2050

If a cold Nordic city at the latitude of Anchorage can do this, sunny Valdosta can do this:
The City of Stockholm’s “Action Programme on Climate Change” involves the participation of several groups: the City of Stockholm’s own departments, local businesses and those who live and work in the city. The work has been successful so far and the emission of greenhouse gases has been reduced. In 1990, emissions of 5.3 tons of CO2e* per person were registered compared with 4.0 tons CO2e per person in 2005.

The long-term target is for Stockholm to continue to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the same rate as between 1990 and 2005. In theory, this means that Stockholm will become a fossil fuel free city by 2050.

Greenhouse gas targets for the period of 2005-2050 compared with the base year of 1990.

* CO2e = means of specifying the effect of a gas on the emission of greenhouse gases compared to carbon dioxide.


PS: This post owed to Tim Carroll, who saw it in Time Magazine.

A mix is the way to go —Dr. Noll

This comment from Dr. Noll came in today on San Antonio promises to shut down a coal plant:
Of course we can! And “a mix of energy efficiency, [energy conservation,] and new renewable energy projects” (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal)is the way to go. We simply need the political will and communal support to make such a transition possible.

I am still in Germany and am amazed to see just how much progress has been made here in these past couple of years. Solar thermal and solar voltaic installations abound on private residences; wind mills can be seen in many regions; cars are more fuel efficient, houses better insulated, public transportation accessible and affordable, recycling thoroughly organized, etc.

We may still have a long way to go, but until Continue reading

Southern Company committed to communities, renewable energy, energy efficiency

Thomas A. Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, says his company is committed to communities, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. So helping finance municipal refitting and solar projects should be a natural for Southern Company!

According to PR from Southern Company, 25 May 2011, Southern Company Holds Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Fanning also emphasized a continued commitment to the communities the company serves and stressed the need for a national energy policy and a robust research and development initiative.

“Southern Company keeps customers at the center of every decision we make,” said Fanning. “We remain committed to providing reliable, affordable energy for our customers and to do that we need to maintain a diverse fuel mix as well as stay focused on developing the newest technologies.”

Referencing a diverse fuel mix, Fanning highlighted the company’s commitment to nuclear energy, including building the nation’s first new units in 30 years. He also discussed the importance of preserving coal – America’s most abundant energy resource – as well as the role of natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency in meeting its customers energy needs.

“Furthermore, we are the only company in the industry that is doing it all. We’ve committed more than $20 billion to these efforts,” Fanning said.

Sure, he listed renewable energy and energy efficiency last. But this is the same Thomas A. Fanning who said in May that he’s “bullish” on solar. The same CEO of the parent company of Georgia Power, which just connected a 300 kiloWatt solar plant in Lowndes County. The same CEO who’s being nagged by the Georgia PSC chairman “to come up with options in the next 30 days for expanding the tiny amount of electricity generated from solar power.” And a company that spends more than $20 billion on new energy projects can afford a few tens of millions for community refitting and solar.


Birmingham U.K. municipal solar didn’t wait for larger governments

Banks and power companies can fund municipal solar projects; cities and counties don’t have to wait for state or federal governments to provide them grants. Or at least Birmingham, U.K. has done it for public housing. And Quitman, Georgia did it last year, too.

According to Larry Elliott in the Guardian, 3 October 2010, 10,000 Birmingham council homes to get solar panels: City agrees £100m scheme, partly funded by banks and energy suppliers, to meet target for cutting carbon emissions

Plans to fit power generating solar panels to council-owned properties in Birmingham will be pushed forward this week after the council agreed a “green new deal” scheme covering 10,000 homes.

In the biggest proposal for retrofitting houses through an energy efficiency upgrade yet seen in the UK, the council agreed a £100m proposal last week designed to create jobs and meet the city’s ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.

The plan – Birmingham Energy Savers – will be jointly funded by Birmingham council and investment from energy suppliers and commercial banks, and follows two successful pilot schemes conducted in Europe’s biggest local authority.

Energy efficiency and solar power to create jobs!

We have local proof of concept right next door Continue reading

Renewable Sustainable Energy Network —VLCoC

Had a chat today with Myrna Ballard, President of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, and ReKasa Deen, Business Development Director, about the Renewable Sustainable Energy Network. Note that word Sustainable that they’ve added since last I spoke with them. They’re moving along the idea of a series of meetings or workshops of Chamber members together with an online forum. The next step is for the Chamber Board of Directors to decide whether to approve the project or not. They’re talking to various people and organizations around the community; if you want to get involved, please contact ReKasa Deen.