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Britain buys into next generation of nuclear power

David Adam, The Guardian
Britain is investing millions of pounds in a US government project to develop a new generation of nuclear power stations, the Guardian has learned. The move restarts UK government funding for research into new nuclear reactor technology and gives its scientists access to international efforts to develop a “generation IV” nuclear power station by 2030.

The investment is not directly connected to the coming decision on whether to build new nuclear power stations in Britain, which would use existing reactor designs, but is significant because it shows the government has not ruled out nuclear energy as a long term solution. Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said earlier this year that any revival of Britain’s nuclear industry would be limited to “one generation only.”
(10 November 2005)

Special issue on nuclear power

various authors, New Internationalist

  • “Nuclear is the new black”:
    Nuclear is becoming cool again, thanks to concerns over global warming. Adam Ma’anit thinks it’s all just a lot of hot air.

  • “Liquid Sunshine”:
    Paul-E Comeau looks back at some of the cultural impacts of the ‘Atomic Age’.

  • “Minority Report”:
    Science is often heavily biased towards nuclear technology. Alice Cutler speaks to Dr Ian Fairlie about the impacts of government and industry influence.
    PLUS: Cancer rates near nuclear stations – blight or ‘blip’?

  • “Toxic Time Bomb”:
    Tonnes of poorly contained radioactive waste threatens to become an ecological disaster in Central Asia. Gulnura Toralieva reports from Kyrgyzstan.

  • “Nuclear Power – THE FACTS”
  • “Fusion Illusion”:
    Proponents of new fusion technology promise it will deliver clean and limitless power to the masses. Peter Montague is having a case of déjà-vu.

  • “A Fever of Forgetting”:
    As we approach the 20-year anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Magnum photographer Paul Fusco meets the children born years later but still suffering from its terrible legacy.

  • “Green & Black”:
    Alex Kelly and Carla Deane find Aboriginal Australians leading the fight against the nuclear industry.

  • “Renew yourself”:
    Think renewables are no match for nuclear? Think again.

  • “Action”:
    No nukes is good nukes; find out how.

(September 2005)
Obviously, the converage is anti-nuclear. UPDATE – Big Gav provided a link directly to the special issue. Thank you! -BA

Ethanol fuelling the future for public transport: experts

AFP via Physorg-dot-com
Cities choking in petrol and diesel fumes should follow Sweden’s example and look to ethanol to fuel their buses, announced experts at a conference in Stockholm on environmentally-friendly vehicles and fuels.
“Ethanol today clearly has the biggest potential for clean buses,” said Jonas Stroemberg of Stockholm Transport, SL, which runs public transportation throughout the county of Stockholm.

Speaking on Thursday, on the last day of the three-day “Clean Vehicles and Fuels” conference, which has focused on global warming and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, Stroemberg raved about Sweden’s experiences with ethanol-run buses.

“It’s not difficult at all (to switch to ethanol). You just have to start doing it”, he insisted.

Sweden today has the world’s largest ethanol bus fleet. Last year, 253 buses ran on ethanol, an alcohol made of wheat, beetroot, corn or sugar cane, and next year the number is expected to jump to 400.

Switching to clean fuel is becoming a growing priority in Europe, where the European Union recently issued a directive urging governments to promote biofuels and other renewable energy sources for transportation as replacements for petrol and diesel.
(9 November 2005)

Energy gap: the cultural roots

Richard Black, BBC
Other countries seem to find it so easy: Finland has committed itself to nuclear expansion, Germany is installing solar panels at the speed of light, and Iceland is exploiting its geothermal and hydropower resources beyond its own needs.

So why is Britain – the world’s fourth largest economy, a nuclear pioneer, blessed with wind, wave and tidal potential beyond the normal lot of nations, a once mighty coal producer, provider of innovators to the world, and with a generation’s worth of North Sea booty to invest – facing an enormous shortfall in electricity provision while others are not?

This is the unspoken question behind a report compiled from the contributions of 150 academics, entrepreneurs and business people drawn from across the energy sector under the aegis of the Geological Society of London (GSL).

Its headline conclusion is that within a decade, Britain will be producing only about 80% of the electricity is needs unless big decisions are taken – and taken soon.
(10 November 2005)

Green fuel plan ‘will destroy rainforests’

Charles Clover, Telegraph
The destruction of the world’s rainforests will be hastened by a Government pledge to ensure that five per cent of fuel should come from “green” sources, conservationists said yesterday.

Proposals to force oil companies to include five per cent of bio-fuels in all petrol and diesel by 2010 were announced by Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, in Birmingham.

Mr Darling said the renewable transport fuels obligation would save around one million tons of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road.

The changes will not make any difference to the performance of cars or lorries but the main controversies are likely to be political
(11 November 2005)

Will Canadian oil sands save the USA?

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
…The short answer is, sadly, no. The reason is simple: as the numbers above, these non-conventional oils are expected to yield only 4-4.5 mb/d by 2020, i.e. 3 mb/d more than today at most.

This is barely 15% of US consumption, and less than 4% of world oil production. As the graph for Canada shows, a good chunk of it will simply offset the declining production from onshore fields in North America before it can be used to actually increase net production numbers. That’s not so much to show for all the hype and an expected 75 billion dollars of investments.

As a structurally more expensive – but necessary – source of oil, it will also ensure that oil prices will not go below the levels that make these projects profitable, which can be expected to be in the 30s. That may not sound so high, but remember that this will a floor for prices – at a level which 2 years ago was seen as a cap on prices…

These heavy oils will play their part in the energy balance, and have the advantage (at least for the bigger Canadian chunk) to come from a nearby, politically stable and friendly country, but they are also a vivid illustration of the fact that we are entering the age of expensive energy and they are no longer any easy solutions on the supply side.
(10 November 2005)

Cleaning up coal: Promising new, cleaner technologies

Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune
A group of strange bedfellows banded together to look for clean answers to the region’s energy potential.
Several big, coal-fired power plants are proposed for construction over the next decade in the Upper Midwest, and an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, utilities and regulators is quietly working toward a “clean-coal” future.

The ultimate goal: a path toward technologies and licensing standards designed to eradicate vexing greenhouse gases that are the bane of coal-fired plants.
(8 November 2005)

Oil shale shows promise; towns have seen it before

Sandy Shore, Associated Press via Seattle Times
PARACHUTE, Colo. — The brush-covered landscape of buttes and desert just west of the Rockies, already dotted with oil and gas rigs, could be in store for another resource boom as the energy industry turns a fresh eye toward developing oil shale.

A reserve estimated at nearly 1 trillion barrels of oil buried deep in rock formations stretching from western Colorado into northeastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming may be a way to ease U.S. dependence on shrinking foreign oil supplies. The newly enacted energy bill was written to help open the way for research programs and commercial leasing of federal land containing oil shale.

Yet shale isn’t a quick panacea to the nation’s energy woes
(11 November 2005)