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fossil fuel disasters - it just goes on and on

These are all reports from the last week or so. Note the low profile given in news reports when compared with reports about minor nuclear plant problems. Those, however, very rarely lead to any actual damage or material escapes.

“The Philippines said on Tuesday it would ask Japan and Indonesia to help dam a huge oil spill that has polluted fishing grounds, dive spots and a national marine reserve around the central island of Guimaras.”

“Vice-Admiral Arthur Gosingan, the head of the Coast Guard, told Reuters that the bunker oil, covering a stretch of about 19.5 nautical miles, could take up to three years to clean.” [Quoted from]

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“A tanker on its way from the Middle East to Japan spilled about 4,500 tonnes of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean, tanker owner Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. said on Tuesday.

“The leak from the tanker Bright Artemis on Monday afternoon occurred some 290 miles (470 km) west of India's Great Nicobar Island.” [Quoted from]

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“An action plan to tackle the massive oil spill off Lebanon's coastline caused by the conflict is due to be discussed in Greece on Thursday. Officials from the UN, the EU and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are meeting to agree a way to halt the spread in the Mediterranean.

“Oil spilled into the sea following Israel's bombing of a power station.

“The slick now covers 170km (105 miles) of Lebanon's coastline and is spreading out to sea.

“Environmentalists and health officials have warned that the spill poses a direct threat to marine life and could increase the risk of cancer among people living in the affected areas.

“It could take up to 10 years for the affected coastline to recover, they say.” [Quoted from]

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prudoe bay corrosion shuts major pipe line

“Barton told Browne there is "substantial evidence that BP's chronic neglect directly contributed to the shutdown."

“He referred to a raft of other incidents that have spurred regulatory scrutiny of BP, including a fire at a Texas refinery that killed 15 people in 2005 and allegations by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that BP improperly cornered the U.S. market for propane in 2004.

“BP "has tried to demonstrate what we thought was a good program for controlling pipeline corrosion," said BP spokesman Neil Chapman.

“"What we learned last weekend was that it wasn't good enough. Now we will spare no expense to fix it," Chapman said.

“The discovery of fresh corrosion at Prudhoe Bay this week came five months after another transit line ruptured on the western side of the field, spilling at least 200,000 gallons of crude in the worst onshore spill on the Alaska North Slope.”

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“Russia's Natural Resources Ministry said Monday that an oil pipeline leak in western Russia threatened environmental damage, but the pipeline's operator said the spill was far smaller than the ministry claimed and had already been cleaned up.

“The Natural Resources Ministry backed off an earlier warning that the spill was a potential environmental catastrophe. The ministry initially said the spill, which occurred Saturday in the western Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine and Belarus, affected a 4-square-mile area and contaminated water sources.” [Quoted from]

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“Oil spill earns $2.8 million in fines 260,000 gallons fouled Kentucky, Ohio rivers Two companies involved in a 260,000-gallon oil spill into the Kentucky and Ohio rivers last year have agreed to pay $2.8million in fines to Kentucky and the federal government. Oil from a pipeline that ruptured in Owen and Carroll counties on Jan. 26, 2005, washed as far downriver as Louisville.” [Quoted from]

for further background
Fossil fuel disasters

Replacing fossil fuels

the web address for the article above is




20-year chernobyl study claims dangers (much) exaggerated

“The Chernobyl disaster was initially predicted to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. Two decades later the death toll stands at 56.”

“THE dangers of radiation to human health have been exaggerated significantly, according to scientists who have examined the legacy of the Chernobyl disaster 20 years ago.

“Research into the aftermath of the meltdown at the Soviet nuclear reactor has suggested that low levels of radioactivity are not as harmful as believed - and may even be beneficial.”

“Generally, the hazards are thought to rise directly with increasing doses of radiation. But the new theory suggests that there is a threshold, below which any amount of exposure is probably safe. [...] ”

“ [...] The United Nations Chernobyl Forum estimates that no more than 4,000 people will die as a direct result of fallout, while radiation may be a contributory factor in another 5,000 deaths.”

Note carefully that these deaths occur over a long period. They are not somehow equivalent to immediate deaths from the likes of car accidents.

Statisticians do not habitually refer to deaths when comparing unlikes such as car deaths with radiation death, but compare days life lost.

Thus 4000 road deaths a year (approximately the level in the UK until recently) is registered as a far higher risk than that shown regards Chernobyl.

the web address for the article above is

clean energy solutions report - well organised - recommended Three GoldenYak (tm) award [index page]

From an example section: a useful short report on future nuclear generation

“We stand at the verge of a renaissance of nuclear energy, founded in the continued safe and economical operation of America's 103 nuclear power plants and signalled by the expected near-term announcements of several orders for new nuclear power plants to be constructed and operated in the next 10 years. In the longer term, our national laboratories are working with the nation's universities, U.S. industry, and the international community to develop the next generation of advanced nuclear power systems, which will be even more economical, safer, and sustainable with a closed fuel cycle that burns up substantially more of the nuclear fuel to extract much more of its energy potential while minimizing the quantities of nuclear waste. Nuclear power has an important place in America's energy future, safely providing electricity and transportation fuel products that are economical, clean, and sustainable.”

With much more.

the web address for the article above is

tory energy and carbon interim report

A must read for anyone wishing to keep up in this area.

There are already lightweight items in the fossil media, for example in the Guardian. The fluff will not prepare those interested for the debate. This fluff is also on the Conservative Party web-site. It is essential to read this detailed interim report, and to read it with great attention.

Despite it containing shadow boxing politics, there is an awful lot in this report. Much more in the way of numbers still required, and it has a black hole where discussion of transportable fuel should be.

“The electricity supply industry is a major contributor to carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gas) emissions. The energy supply sector currently accounts for around 35% of carbon emissions; transport for 24%; industry 22%; services 4% and the residential sector 15%.”

“The demand for electricity varies with the time of day and the time of year, but its overall pattern is reasonably constant. Electricity demand has increased by 2% every year since 1990, and 70% since 1970. Whilst we need concerted action to address demand it is nevertheless, predicted to continue increasing.”

“Today, around 40% of our electricity is provided by gas-fired power stations. Just over 30% comes from coal-fired power stations; nearly 20% from nuclear power stations; around 3.5% from renewable sources (including hydroelectric power), and the rest from oil-fired power stations and other sources.”

“In renewable energy, Britain is way behind other countries. In 2004, 3.5% of our electricity came from renewable sources, compared to 12% in France and an EU-15 average of 13.9%.”

I think it increasingly likely that will opt for a snap election in order to pre-empt and escape from full open debate of this vital issue.

the web address for the article above is

growing interest/potential in biofuels page 1 page 2

“In 2005, Brazil produced 16.5 billion liters of fuel ethanol (45.2 percent of the world's total) with the United States a close second at 16.2 billion liters, or 44.5 percent of the total. Ethanol provides roughly 40 percent of Brazil's non-diesel fuel and 2 - 3 percent of U.S. non-diesel fuel.

“Sugar cane is the most important crop for producing biofuels today and the feedstock for more than 40 percent of all fuel ethanol. Corn ranks a close second: the primary source for biofuel production in the U.S., it supplies nearly the same share of world fuel ethanol as sugar cane.

“Biodiesel, produced mainly from rapeseed or sunflower seed, comprises 80 percent of Europe's total biofuel production. The EU accounted for nearly 89 percent of all biodiesel production worldwide in 2005. Germany produced 1.9 billion liters, or more than half the world total.

“Global ethanol production more than doubled between 2000 and 2005, while production of biodiesel, starting from a much smaller base, expanded nearly fourfold. In contrast, oil production increased by only 7 percent over this period.

“In 2005, ethanol comprised about 1.2 percent of the world's gasoline supply by volume and about 0.8 percent by transport distance travelled (due to its lower energy content).”

And much more in similar vein.

related material
fossil fuel replacements - what can be done about it?

the web address for the article above is

bliar takes his second great decision correctly - cameron must back him to the hilt

I will assure you there is no other sane choice. The construction should start right now.

The second string is conservation.

The third is solving the problem of storing wind power. That is, probably by direct conversion into liquid fuel.

“Mr Blair has been heavily influenced by the government chief scientist, Sir David King, who believes nuclear power could in future provide 40% of electricity supply, double the current figure.”

The report is sloppy, as so often from the Guardian. I would expect better and more clear reports in the coming days.

related material
Nuclear power - is nuclear power really really dangerous?

the web address for this article is

the biggest voltaic farm in the known universe - allegedly

Now there is a race for the largest photo-voltaic park:

“Solar plants are the new skyscrapers. Last year Shell opened the formerly "world's largest" solar power plant near Leipzig, producing only 5 MW. The Shell solar plant in Pocking will soon be overtaken by the GE-Powerlight plant in Portugal at 11 MW [see below]. Hot on their heels is a 15 MW plant in South Korea, 100 MW in Israel. The current leader in announced capacity appears to be a 116 MW solar station in Portugal to be built by a consortium of German companies.”

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Press release:

“World's Largest Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant to be Built with GE Investment and PowerLight Technology

“GE Energy Financial Services, PowerLight Corporation and Catavento Lda announced today that they will build the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power project. The 11-megawatt solar power plant, comprising 52,000 photovoltaic modules, will be built at a single site in Serpa, Portugal, 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of Lisbon in one of Europe’s sunniest areas.”

[This remains a very small project compared with a big power station.]

“The Portuguese government, seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, has introduced legislation that forces utilities to pay 31 euro cents a kilowatt hour for solar energy. Spain and Germany have similar programs, and Italy recently introduced one as well.”

“He said people in Portugal and many other parts of Europe were already accustomed to paying 25 cents to 30 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity.

In the United States, the cost still averages 10 cents to 14 cents, "and utilities are just not going to buy 25-cent solar electricity," [...]”

“King said the Energy Department was already spending about $78 million a year to seek ways to bring down the cost of photovoltaic cells, and that President George W. Bush had asked Congress to authorize an additional $63 million a year. "We want to mainstream solar energy by 2015," he said, "and that means putting it on cost parity with any other source of energy." ” [Quoted from]

It may reach record books for size, but whether this solar farm is economically viable, even in a sun-drenched location, remains to be seen.

Producing large quantities electricity during the day without properly assessing what to do next - for instance considering the problems of storage or selling on - can lead to the situation as found with Denmark’s windmills. Here, the Danes now sell their wind-generated electricity to Sweden at less than the cost for producing the electricity, thus effectively subsidising Sweden.

Wind and solar farms may be benefical for individuals or small communities to free themselves from the ‘tyranny’ of a centrally controlled energy grid, and may be useful for immediate use, like charging up commuters’s electric cars while they are at work during the day. However, such energy sources do not resolve the problems of energy generation at night, or of consistency of supply.

the web address for this article is

holographic sunlight concentrator for photovoltaics

A holographic sunlight concentrator for photovoltaics:

“ [...] a new type of photovoltaic module that uses transparent holographic optical elements in its design. This innovative, patented holographic technology, collects and spectrally selects useful wavelengths from the sun and focuses them onto the cell to create electricity.”

Holographic solar collector. Image credit: Prism Solar Technologies, Inc
Holographic solar collector.
Image credit:
Prism Solar Technologies, Inc

The company’s rather enthusiastic claim:

“Prism Solar's Patented Holographic Elements can reduce the amount of silicon required up to 85%.”

the web address for this article is