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New translation, the Magna Carta

article archives at abelard's news and comment zoneenergy archives 1 2 3 III-4: 04 V-2004: 13 17


china seriously starting to build up nuclear power stations

“Beijing has drafted a preliminary plan to quadruple nuclear power capacity to more than 32,000 megawatts (MW) between 2005 and 2020, or roughly two plants a year. China has built only eight reactors over the past two decades.

The expansion would boost the share of nuclear energy in China's power mix to 6 percent in 2020 from 1.4 percent last year, sharply below wealthy nations' average of 30 percent.
[Britain is at approximately 22%.]

For more data see Electricity usage and derivation table [due for some enhancement].

This fuel usage efficiency table has now been extended to include some per person electricity consumption data by country
[(it is also being refined at present].

And still the short-sighted UK government avoids action.

ERIEO declining in north sea fields [1]

No, the article does not spell it out, but that is precisely what it means.

“ But the industry argues emissions are bound to rise from the mature sector as more energy is needed to extract dwindling reserves and that action to offset carbon levels could force producers to abandon uneconomic fields earlier than planned.”

[1] For further background, see energy return on energy invested or EROEI

the web address for this article is









step towards understanding photosynthesis and the release of hydrogen

“... hydrogen also contained in water could be one of the most promising energy sources for the future. Unlike fossil fuels it's highly efficient, low polluting and is mobile so it can be used for power generation in remote regions where it's difficult to access electricity.

“But the problem is hydrogen doesn't exist on Earth by itself. Instead it combines with other elements such as oxygen to form water, or with carbon to form methane, coal and petroleum. However, water is very stable and for this reason cannot be used directly as a fuel. Researchers have investigated using electrolysis to split water into oxygen and hydrogen but today it costs ten times as much as natural gas, and is three times as expensive as gasoline.”

clue to future ways to storing hydrogen?

“A record-breaking crystal - each gram of which has an internal surface area equivalent to 17 tennis courts - has been created. The new material is about 40 per cent roomier than the previous record holder.”

the web address for this article is


a small step to making hydrogen a viable fuel

“The lack of practical storage methods has hindered the more widespread use of hydrogen fuels, which are both renewable and environmentally clean. The most popular storage methods-liquid hydrogen and compressed hydrogen-require that the fuel be kept at extremely low temperatures or high pressures. But the University of Chicago's Wendy Mao and David Mao have formed icy materials made of molecular hydrogen that require less stringent temperature and pressure storage conditions.”

Key word: clathrate

Related material
methane hydrates

the web address for this article is


Related material
methane hydrates

another move to improved solar cells claimed

“Other experimental III-V materials grown on silicon have achieved carrier lifetimes of about two nanoseconds, or two billionths of a second. Ringel's materials have achieved carrier lifetimes in excess of 10 nanoseconds.

“The engineers have crafted the III-V material into one-square-inch versions of solar cells in the laboratory, and achieved 17 percent efficiency at converting light to electricity. They have also built bright light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on silicon substrates that have a display quality comparable to that of traditional LEDs.”

the web address for this article is


france to be site for €10 billion european fusion reactor

“The 10 billion euro ITER project aims to create the world's first sustained nuclear fusion reaction, which would last for several minutes, in an attempt to harness the source of the sun's power and tame it for the benefit of humanity.”

Attempts to control nuclear fusion have now been made for 50 or so years. Throughout that period, estimates have been made that a practical fusion reactor for energy supply is thirty years away. Current estimates – thirty years away.

Note: other reports suggest that the funding will be €5 billion and it is to be a ‘world’ reactor.

the web address for this article is


nuclear fusion a top priority for us department of energy Two GoldenYak (tm) Award

“The project in the top spot is the international fusion experiment, known as ITER. Orbach says it won this position because increased computing power now means simulations can help drive the project forward. "If everything works, in 35 years, we could be putting electricity into the grid from fusion," he says.”

Recommended scan.

the web address for this article is


turning sunshine into coal or oil equivalent

“His calculations suggest that less than 10% of the carbon content of plants is converted to coal, while the formation of oil and gas from plankton is less than 0.01% efficient. As a consequence, he calculates that the fossil fuels burned in 1997 were ultimately derived from 400 years' worth of "primary production", as the organic material produced by photosynthesis is known technically.”

“ .....but Dr Dukes nevertheless calculates that completely replacing 1997's fossil-fuel consumption with fuels derived from biomass would use up almost a quarter of the Earth's primary production. Such an estimate is, naturally, just a first stab at the truth. But it is sufficiently disconcerting to warrant further investigation.”

the web address for this article is


“remaining gas and oil alone not sufficient for worst case global warming”

“Even if oil and gas run out, "there's a huge amount of coal underground that could be exploited", he says. Aleklett agrees that burning coal could make the IPCC scenarios come true, but points out that such a switch would be disastrous.

“Coal is dirtier than oil or gas and produces more CO2 for each unit of energy, as well as releasing large amounts of particulates. He says the latest analysis is a "shot across the bows" for policy makers.”

There is no mention of hydrates.My instinct is there should be.

Related material
replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?
global warming

the web address for this article is


Related material

replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?

global warming

useful summary of the growing energy squeeze
a lightweight item, but fairly wide ranging, comprehensive and ordered.


  1. The best energy store is in the ground in the Middle East.
  2. I do not accept that we will not be able to purchase local generating methods or keep them going. There is no reason why competing sources of photovoltaic equipment, and other methods, should not be available. Nor are we out of options for maintaining (and advancing) a modern society.
  3. Once the author gets into ‘economics’, as so often, the item wanders into near waffle.
  4. Controlling government is the responsibility of the electorate. The Marxist nonsense that people are controlled by the means of production is based on both shallow psychological ignorance and technical nonsense.[To be developed in another document, socialist religions].

But the message that we must plan from now is to the point.

the web address for this article is


us utilities prepare permission to build nuclear power stations

“The filings for an "early site permit" by Exelon Generation Co. and Dominion Resources Co. D.N reflect growing interest in reviving construction of nuclear power stations in the United States after the industry was set back by disastrous accidents in the 1970s and 1980s. Exelon Generation, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp. EXC.N , filed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an early site permit to possibly build a nuclear plant on land next to an existing Exelon reactor in Clinton, Illinois.

“Dominion Resources, of Richmond, Virginia, also asked for the permit that could lead to a third reactor at its twin-unit North Anna station in Mineral, Virginia.”

Related material
replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem
is nuclear power really really dangerous?
replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?

the web address for this article is


Related material

replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem

is nuclear power really really dangerous?

replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?

sugar and bug battery—just add sugar to recharge

“Its energy efficiency is an extraordinary 83%, which implies that, if engineering obstacles can be overcome and manufacturing techniques devised, it could one day be as compact as household batteries.

“It worked not only with glucose but also with the fruit sugar fructose, with sucrose (found in sugar cane and sugar beet) and even xylose, a sugary byproduct of wood and straw. In addition, the bacterium is rugged and stable, able to grow at temperatures ranging from four to 30 C, with 25 C the optimum. All of the fuel is used up.”

the web address for this article is


intelligent control materials under development for buildings

“ "Our system, which can be incorporated into existing commercial buildings as well as new ones, could become a significant part in the development of an overall energy plan to reduce dependence on the national power grid. This could save businesses - the biggest consumers of energy - untold utility costs and significantly reduce U.S. need for fossil fuels," says Anna Dyson, assistant professor of architecture who co-developed the DSWS.”

the web address for this article is


self-sealing burial for nuclear waste—well, it sounds good

“High-level waste packed into boreholes drilled 5 km deep in solid granite would generate so much heat that it would melt the surrounding rock, which would then engulf it. As the deadly waste cools, the rock would eventually re-solidify, encasing it, suggests Fergus Gibb of the University of Sheffield, UK.

“Granite is the ideal material to form a coffin for nuclear waste - a coffin that will survive for millions of years," says Gibb. Granite is one of the most erosion-resistant rocks on Earth; some are half-a-billion years old.”

the web address for this article is


advanced solar cell

“Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing based in California, US, has created a photovoltaic cell capable of converting 36 per cent of the Sun's rays into electricity. By contrast, ordinary existing solar cells are between 10 and 15 per cent energy efficient.

“Solar power experts have welcomed the development, but point out that much work remains to be done before the Sun's energy can be much more widely harnessed. In particular, the design used by Spectrolab is still relatively expensive to manufacture and it is not suitable for use in every location.”

the web address for this article is


a diplomatic way to say that the hydrogen initiative will not work

“Farrell speculates that hydrogen has become attractive to people across the political spectrum in part because it doesn't challenge drivers to change their habits. It also doesn't challenge the auto industry to change its behavior, providing, instead, a subsidy for research that will lead to better cars whether they are hydrogen-powered or gasoline-powered.”

The present age of profligate energy is closing.
Most do not want to hear that, so the problem becomes how to break the news gently and how to force politicians to put the future before popularity.

We now have the new political vocabulary—

global warming means
“we are running out of fossil fuels”
the hydrogen economy means
”we can ignore the locomotive that is fast bearing down on civilisation”
the anti-nuclear lobby means
“oil corporations, their sponsored supporters and apologists”

Related material
replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem
is nuclear power really really dangerous?
replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?

the web address for this article is


Related material

replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem

is nuclear power really really dangerous?

replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?


UK government says that it will sponsor 6 gigawatts of wind power

“Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, will invite firms to build up to 6,000 megawatts of wind farm capacity in three coastal regions of the UK. The ambitious programme could involve investment of up to £6bn and create an estimated 30,000 jobs.”

So, at last (perhaps) a small start.

The article is not clear on whether the ‘plan’ is aimed at 6 gigawatts peak capacity, or a true 6 gigawatts supply capability. It is unlikely the innumerate beggars know the difference.

On reflection, 10% current capacity would be around 4 gigawatts. This, at least, suggests the 6 gigawatts is designed as real supply capability.

The article contains several other statements that suggest that neither the government, nor the reporter, yet understand the true situation. But this is still a move in the right direction—if the UK government means exactly what it says for a change.

The required expenditure is approximately £10 billion (in current money) each and every year. That will include nuclear power, whether the government and people are yet prepared to face that fact or not. The more quickly it is faced, the better for everyone of us.

The talk of reducing greenhouse emissions by 60% for 2050 is also very unclear. If the government means reducing all carbon emissions 60% by 2050, that would mean from heating, cars, electricity generation – the lot.
Is this becoming code for the end of fossil fuels? Or code for the end of easy oil?

If the UK government means what it says, this must merely be the start of a much wider programme. Talk of £10 or £60 or £70 million (mentioned in the article) is utterly derisory. How does this get to £6 billion? What exact timetables are being claimed. Vague waffle will not keep out the winter winds.

It is about time that someone learned to add up.
It is about time that citizens demanded serious figures from their governments.

Your policians hold your future in their hands—

Do you trust them?

the web address for this article is


from sugar and bugs to hydrogen to electricity

“Many microorganisms convert sugars and other carbohydrates to alcohols, acids and carbon dioxide. When no air is present, this fermentation process can also produce hydrogen - the fuel in most fuel cells, such as those being developed for 'green' electric vehicles. The energy released by the reaction of the gas with oxygen generates electricity.”

the web address for this article is


iran makes an offer

“ "If the Americans are really worried about our nuclear ambitions they could take part in constructing our nuclear power plants," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.”

But there is a fly in the ointment ...

“Iran's suggestion of U.S. cooperation in its civil nuclear programme bears some comparison with a 1994 deal under which the United States agreed to give North Korea reactors unsuitable for developing weapons material in return for Pyongyang abandoning efforts to build an atomic bomb. North Korea has, however, now admitted it has built nuclear weapons, U.S. officials say.”

TheWestern imperative is to provide a nuclear power system around the world under close monitoring, in preparation for the increasing oil depletion. For, the greatest problem with nuclear power is proliferation, not any of the hysterical manufactured fears of the media or the pseudo-green lobbies, or even of the oil industry and governments.

Without such organisation, any hope of improving the lot of the poor, billions of the world, or reducing competition for depleting resources, is eyewash.

The action in Iraq was imperative. I am attempting to help people to understand much of the whys.

It is vital that governments are pressured to act in a wholesome manner, now the act is done. You are now moving into a position where much good can come from this necessary action in Iraq.

A recent PEW survey showed widespread yearning for democracy in at least eleven Islamic countries, though from the survey it is hard to know exactly what these populations currently understand by the term democracy. The survey also showed that the popularity of leaders supporting the action in Iraq rapidly returning to pre-action levels. Aznar’s party in Spain, in a recent large election, lost a mere 1% against opposition parties, despite the terrible Prestige disaster caused by his government.

the web address for this article is


biggest chinese engineering project for 2000 years moves into action

“China blocked the massive Yangtze River on the weekend, starting to fill a reservoir for the world's biggest hydroelectric project that is a point of national pride but which critics fear will become an environmental nightmare.”

According to the article, the damn is planned to produce 18-gigawatt capacity by 2009.
If they have their numbers correct this time, that will be approximately 1/10th of China’s electricity capacity.

the web address for this article is


spain running low on prime wind generation sites

“The wind energy industry, which has grown 700 percent in capacity terms over the last four years, is already facing a profitability squeeze. In order to expand, firms will have to build wind farms in less windy areas as the prime sites have already been snapped up.”

Spain is now claimed as number 2 in the world for wind energy production. The present installed wind capacity, of approximately 5 gigawatts, is around one-fifth of Spain’s electricity output.

For those who imagine fossil fuel alternatives other than nuclear power promise serious alleviation of the rapid draw down of fossil fuels, this should give pause for thought.

There are, of course, several other potential substitutes but wind is one of the most effective, and as you will see it is no panacea.

For my growing survey of the difficulties, see replacing fossil fuels
and two related documents.

the web address for this article is


energy—sense and nonsense from US government departments

First, a completely ridiculous and unrealistic report from the Energy Department.

“In its long-term forecast, the Energy Department's analytical arm said world oil consumption would grow 1.8 percent a year from the current 78.6 million barrels per day (bpd) to 2025.”

While the government science lab at Los Alamos and the Bush administration clearly see the writing on the wall.

“New Mexico's Sen. Pete Dominici, a Republican who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wrote recently that "the best way to produce hydrogen, with no pollution in the production process, is through nuclear energy." He is pushing for combining the expertise Los Alamos has in nuclear energy with its knowledge of fuel-cell technology.”

To gain some grasp of the real scale of the problem, see the short briefings document, Replacements for fossil fuels.

the web address for this article is


replacements for fossil fuels—what can be done about it?

The third of a series of briefing documents on the problems of power consumption, posed by the steady depletion of fossil fuels and most particularly of pumpable oil.

the web address for this article is


US administration moves to expand nuclear power

“The nuclear provision would provide government-backed financing to build six new nuclear power plants to produce up to 8,400 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power eight million U.S. homes.”

“ ....another measure that would set aside $1 billion to build a next-generation nuclear plant at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. The plant would also produce hydrogen gas - the fuel source selected for the Bush administration's $1.3 billion hydrogen car program.”

There will also be insurance guarantees for the 103 nuclear power stations in the USA. (Approximately 20% of US electricity production is generated using nuclear power.)

No nuclear stations have been built in the USA for 25 years.

Related material
replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem
is nuclear power really really dangerous?

the web address for this article is


Related material

replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem

is nuclear power really really dangerous?


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