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September, 2011:

AfDB, Eskom sign $365m in loan pacts

26 sept. 2011

Electricity utility Eskom and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed two loan agreements for a total value of US$365 million that will enable the first large-scale implementation of renewable wind and solar generation in Eskom’s history.

The loan signing ceremony took place in Washington, DC on the sidelines of the 2011 World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings at the weekend.

The loans consist of $265 million from the AfDB’s own resources and $100 million from the resources of the Clean Technology Fund, a climate investment fund that promotes the transfer of low carbon technologies.

The loans are guaranteed by the South African Government, consistent with the AfDB’s procedures.

South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, and Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, signed the guarantee agreements.

Approved by the AfDB board in May, the loans will further Eskom’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint. The company hopes to begin construction of its planned Sere 100 megawatt wind project at Vredendal, in South Africa’s Western Cape, early next year.

The AfDB financing is part of a broader funding plan for Eskom’s renewable projects, which includes sourcing from other development finance agencies.

Eskom has enjoyed a long relationship with the African Development Bank. In 2008, the AfDB approved and signed a first loan with Eskom of USD500 million. In December 2009 the AfDB signed a further EUR 1.86 billion-equivalent loan with Eskom for the Medupi Power Project. These

AfDB loans to Eskom have reinforced the extent to which institutions based on the African continent can provide support, which fosters regional growth.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames said: “We are committed to a cleaner energy future and we now have the capability to implement our large-scale wind and solar generation projects. We appreciate the roles the African Development Bank and the South African government have played in making this possible.”

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, who signed the current loan agreements on behalf of his institution, said: “The AfDB is committed to supporting South Africa’s long-term plans for moving to a lower carbon growth path. Leveraging and accelerating the disbursement of concessional climate Financing is essential to achieve economic viability of some of the clean technology solutions. This is a priority action area for the AfDB.

“These groundbreaking renewable investments by Eskom are quite timely, in the run-up to climate change meetings (COP17) soon to be held in Durban under South Africa’s presidency. They show that Africa can make a meaningful contribution to the global response to climate change, when given the financial incentives to do so.”

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said: “We are pleased at the confidence that the AfDB has shown in South Africa and in Eskom, and we thank the AFDB for its funding. This is an important step in securing funding which will enable Eskom to contribute to the realisation of South Africa’s commitment to diversify in its energy mix and reduce its carbon emissions over time.”

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said: “This loan will help to mobilise resources for the development of the Southern African region. It is consistent with the AFDB’s mission to promote economic growth and improve the living conditions of many. It is also true to Eskom’s purpose, which is to provide sustainable electricity solutions to improve the quality of life of the people of South Africa and of the region.” – I-Net Bridge

Introduction to the LFTR

The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor

Nuclear Power Is Extremely Safe — That’s the Truth About What We Learned From Japan

In the midst of a still struggling and fragile global economy, Germany has announced that it will shut down seven nuclear plants by the end of the year – which means that Germans will be left to run their factories, heat their homes, and power their economy with 10% less electrical generating capacity. Nine more plants will be shut down over the next decade and tens of billions of dollars in investment will be lost.

The grounds for this move, and similar proposals in Switzerland, Italy, and other countries, is safety. As the Swiss energy minister put it, “Fukushima showed that the risk of nuclear power is too high.”

In fact, Fukushima showed just the opposite. How’s that? Well for starters, ask yourself what the death toll was at Fukushima. 100? 200? 10? Not true. Try zero.

To think rationally about nuclear safety, you must identify the whole context. As the late, great energy thinker Petr Beckmann argued three decades ago in his contrarian classic “The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear,” every means of generating power has dangers and risks, but nuclear power “is far safer than any other form of large-scale energy conversion yet invented.”

To date, there have been devised only five practical means of producing large-scale, affordable, reliable energy: coal, natural gas, oil, hydroelectric, and nuclear. (Although widely hyped and frequently subsidized, solar and wind power – which generate energy from highly diffuse and intermittent sources – have failed for forty years to deliver.) Whether you’re concerned about a dangerous accident or harmful emissions, a nuclear power plant is the safest way to generate power.

The key to nuclear power’s safety, Beckmann explains, is that it uses a radioactive energy source – such as uranium. In addition to having the advantage of storing millions of times more energy per unit of volume than coal, gas, or water, the radioactive material used in power plants literally cannot explode. Ridiculing the scare tactics that a nuclear power plant poses the same dangers as a nuclear bomb, Beckmann observes: “An explosive nuclear chain reaction is no more feasible in the type of uranium used as power plant fuel than it is in chewing gum or pickled cucumbers.”

The one danger of running a nuclear plant is a large release of radiation. This is extremely unlikely, because nuclear plants contain numerous shielding and containment mechanisms (universal in the civilized world but callously foregone by the Soviets in their Chernobyl plant).

But in the most adverse circumstances, as Fukushima illustrated, the cooling system designed to moderate the uranium’s heat can fail, the backups can fail, the radioactive material can overheat to the point that the plant cannot handle the pressure, and a radiation release is necessary.

Yet, even then, it is extremely unlikely that the radiation levels will be high enough to cause radiation sickness or cancer – and radiation in modest quantities is a normal, perfectly healthy feature of life (your blood is radioactive, as is the sun). And even the worst nuclear accident gives neighbors a luxury that broken dams and exploding refineries do not: time.

While many, many things went wrong at Fukushima, as might be expected in an unprecedented natural disaster, what is more remarkable is that thanks to the fundamental integrity of the nuclear vessel and the containment building, none of the power plant’s neighbors have died, nor have any apparently been exposed to harmful levels of radiation. (The Japanese government has announced that eight of 2,400 workers have been exposed to higher-than-allowed amounts of radiation, but these amounts are often hundreds of times less than is necessary to do actual damage.)

Now imagine if a 9.0 earthquake and 40 foot tsunami had hit a hydroelectric dam; thousands of people could have died in the ensuing flood.

The Fukushima nuclear plants, with their incredible resilience, almost certainly saved many, many lives.

Nuclear power also saves lives that would otherwise be lost to pollution. A nuclear power plant has effectively zero harmful emissions. (It generates a small amount of waste, which France, among other countries, has demonstrated can be both re-used economically and stored safely.) By contrast, fossil fuel plants generate various forms of particulate matter that strongly correlate with higher cancer rates. We should not “knock coal,” Beckmann stressed, as fossil fuel plants are vital for human survival for decades to come, but we should recognize that new nuclear power plants are far safer than the status quo.

As a consequence of the anti-nuclear hysteria in Beckmann’s time, the U.S. government made it either impossible or economically prohibitive to build new plants, in the name of “safety.” Fukushima has affirmed that nuclear is the safest form of power in existence. Any government that fails to recognize this is endangering its citizens’ health.

By Alex Epstein Published July 23, 2011,

Alex Epstein is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, specializing in energy issues. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute.

Read the full article at FoxNews

New age nuclear

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases, but it has many drawbacks. Now a radical new technology based on thorium promises what uranium never delivered: abundant, safe and clean energy – and a way to burn up old radioactive waste.

Download PDF : Thorium


Download PDF : THORIUM Reactor

Rethinking a bright idea

South China Morning Post – 17 Sept. 2011

The government wants to phase out energy-sapping traditional light bulbs, but the alternative isn’t as friendly to the environment – or your health – as some say

It could be lights out for Thomas Edison’s light bulb.

Moves are being made around the world, including in Hong Kong, to ban incandescent bulbs on grounds they fail to meet today’s standards of energy efficiency. Many see the old-fashioned light bulb giving way to the compact fluorescent lamp, or even the light-emitting diode (LED).

These would-be replacements come with some complicated shadows. Compact fluorescent lamps contain toxic substances – bad for the environment and possibly your health. And LEDs are expensive.

Compact fluorescent lamps  undoubtedly save energy. They are as much as 80 per cent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. The fluorescents have become big sellers, their costs cut by mass production. At about HK$30 each, a compact fluorescent lamp will save enough energy to cover its purchase price in a year, according to environment officials.

That is part of the government’s argument for a proposal released last month to outlaw the supply of incandescent light bulbs of 25 watts or above if they fail a minimum energy efficiency standard.

But each compact fluorescent bulb contains 2 to 5 milligrams of mercury. People should limit their exposure to 1 microgram, or a thousandth of a milligram, according to widely accepted recommendations, says Ron Hui Shu-yuen, chair professor of the department of electrical and electronic engineering at the University of Hong Kong.

“Energy saving is not equal to environmental protection. If the environment is to be truly protected, air, soil and water all have to be covered,” said Hui, an award-winning researcher in lighting science.

If the lamp does not break, the mercury might not present any danger. But when shattered, it could pose serious health risks, Hui said.

“If it breaks, the first thing to do is to run away from it and open all the windows to improve ventilation. Don’t go near it for at least 15 minutes as the mercury will vaporise in higher temperature. The vaporised substance can easily find ways into your lungs and blood vessels and damage the central nervous system,” he said.

Hui said some officials refused to acknowledge the hazards by insisting the mercury level was too low to cause any impacts on health. But  increasing scientific evidence suggests otherwise.

According to a recently published article in Environmental Engineering Science, a broken compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL, can continue to  release mercury vapour for more than 10 weeks at a level that is a health concern for people. The research, conducted by Li Yadong and Li Jin, associate professors in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Jackson State University in Mississippi, is one of the original studies on the release of the toxic substance from a broken lamp. Eight compact lamps of four different wattages were tested. The mercury volumes contained in each of the sampled lamps ranged between  0.17mg and 3.6mg.

The scientists found that up to  86 per cent of the mercury could be released as vapour after the lamp was broken. In the worst case, it could take up to 128 days for all the mercury to escape fully into the air. The newer the lamp, the more mercury it could potentially release.

“The emission can last for weeks or even months,” the study said, “and the total amount of mercury that can be released in vapour from new CFLs can often exceed 1mg. Since vapour mercury can be readily inhaled by people, rapid removal of broken CFLs and sufficient ventilation of rooms by fresh air are critical to prevent people from potential harm.”

Citing another study in 2008, the researchers say the release of 1mg of mercury vapour into a 500 cubic-metre room can expose a child to   10 times the recommended limit.

Hui said the potential hazards could be even bigger in Hong Kong, where most indoor environments were sealed, no effective system for collecting used lamps was in place, and warnings and education on the safe handling of the devices left much to be desired. These lamps easily break when people throw them out in their building or on the street. There are no measures in place at landfills to prevent the release of  vapours and workers who collect rubbish are often unprotected from the hazards.

“I have told the government to start monitoring the blood of these workers who face a high risk of mercury poisoning, but apparently no one has listened,” Hui said.

At present, a chemical waste treatment plant in Tsing Yi is responsible for recycling the used lamps. It can handle about 400,000 fluorescent lamps a year. But that capacity fell far short of demand, Hui said. A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said the city currently had 900 collection points at residential estates and about 130 points in other places and it would continue to expand the network.

On its website, the department stresses that the amount of mercury in the lamps is small and unlikely to affect your health when they are broken. But the department does warn people not to vacuum pieces of a broken lamp and to use gloves to handle them. Pieces should be placed in sealable plastic bags for normal disposal.

Hui said the claim that fluorescent lamps were 80 per cent more efficient than traditional light bulbs needed to be placed in context. The amount of energy saved was tied to the lamps’ longer lifespan – up to 8,000 hours, he said. But in fact, improper use of the lights will often lead to early expiration. Hui said heat generated by the lamp could shorten the life of its capacitor, especially if the lamp was installed with it glass tube pointed downward.

The energy that went into making each lamp, including mining the heavy metals and making the circuits, also had to be considered  when thinking about the device’s efficiency.

Despite the drawbacks, Hui says fluorescent lamps are a key transitional product for saving energy before other devices – cleaner and greener – became widely available and affordable. But better measures are needed to govern the production and recycling of the lamps.

While the government is consulting the public about phasing out the older light bulbs, it is at the same time offering sizeable funds through the Environment and Conservation Fund to charities to encourage people to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs.

One of the charities, the Tai Po Environmental Association, last year distributed more than 20,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs to residents. Dr Yau Wing-kwong, an appointed district councillor who runs the association, said it had taught people about properly disposing of the lamps. “We believe there needs to be more publicity on responsible disposal,” he said.

Can We Stop the Next Fukushima Times 10,000?

13 Sept. 2011

he horrible news from Japan continues to be ignored by the western corporate media.

Fukushima’s radioactive fallout continues to spread throughout the archipelago, deep into the ocean and around the globe – including the US. It will ultimately impact millions, including many here in North America.

The potentially thankful news is that Fukushima’s three melting cores may have not have melted deep into the earth, thus barely avoiding an unimaginably worse apocalyptic reality.

But it’s a horror that humankind has yet to fully comprehend.

As Fukushima’s owners now claim its three melted reactors approach cold shutdown, think of this:

At numerous sites worldwide – including several in the US – three or more reactors could simultaneously melt, side-by-side. At two sites in California – Diablo Canyon and San Onofre – two reactors each sit very close to major earthquake faults, in coastal tsunami zones.

Should one or more such cores melt through their reactor pressure vessels (as happened at Fukushima) and then through the bottoms of the containments (which, thankfully, may not have happened at Fukushima), thousands of tons of molten radioactive lava would burn into the Earth.

The molten mass(es) would be further fed by thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel rods stored on site that could melt into the molten masses or be otherwise compromised.

All that lava would soon hit groundwater, causing steam and hydrogen explosions of enormous power.

Those explosions would blow untold quantities of radioactive particles into the global environment, causing apocalyptic damage to all living beings and life support systems on this planet. The unmeasurable clouds would do unimaginable, inescapable injury to all human life.

Fukushima is far from over. There is much at the site still fraught with peril, far from the public eye.

Among other things, Unit Four’s compromised spent fuel pool is perched high in the air. The building is sinking and tilting. Seismic aftershocks could send that whole complex – and much more – tumbling down, with apocalyptic consequences.

Fukushima’s three meltowns and at least four explosions have thus far yielded general radioactive fallout at least 25 times greater than what was released at Hiroshima, involving more than 160 times the cesium, an extremely deadly isotope.

Reuters reports that fallout into the oceans is at least triple what Tokyo Electric has claimed. Airborne cesium and other deadly isotopes have been pouring over the United States since a few scant days after the disaster.

Overall the fallout is far in excess of Chernobyl, which has killed more than a million people since its 1986 explosion.

Within Japan, radioactive hotspots and unexpectedly high levels of fallout continue to surface throughout the archipelago. The toll there and worldwide through the coming centuries will certainly be in the millions.

And yet … it could have been far worse.

In the US, in the past few months, an earthquake has shaken two Virginia reactors beyond their design specifications. Two reactors in Nebraska have been seriously threatened by flooding. Now a lethal explosion has struck a radioactive waste site in France.

We have also just commemorated a 9/11/2001 terror attack that could easily have caused full melt-downs to reactors in areas so heavily populated that millions could have been killed and trillions of dollars in damage could have permanently destroyed the American economy.

The only thing we now know for certain is that there will be more earthquakes, more tsunamis, more floods, hurricanes and tornadoes … and more terror attacks.

Horrifying as Fukushima may be, we also know for certain that the next reactor catastrophe could make even this one pale by comparison.

Japan will never fully recover from Fukushima. Millions of people will be impacted worldwide from its lethal fallout.

But the next time could be worse – MUCH worse.

The only good news is that Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and others are dumping atomic power. They are committing to Solartopian technologies – solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels, increased efficiency and conservation – that will put their energy supplies in harmony with Mother Earth rather than at war with her.

The rest of humankind must do the same – and fast. Our species can’t survive on this planet – ecologically, economically or in terms of our biological realities – without winning this transtion.

The only question is whether we do it before the next Fukushima times ten thousand makes the whole issue moot. was founded in 2007 by Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and friends to stop a proposed $50 billion loan guarantee package meant to finance new nuclear reactor construction. Joining a successful national grassroots campaign, they established this website and recorded the YouTube video on the home page.

Editor Harvey Wasserman has worked with Bonnie, Jackson, and Graham since the late 1970s and the legendary Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts in Madison Square Garden. This website is meant to inform and inspire those who continue to work for a green-powered Earth, free from the plague of atomic energy. Please feel free to write Harvey with your comments and with URLs for articles you’d like to see appear on these pages.

Wind Energy Does Little to Reduce CO2 Emissions

Here is an important article regarding wind energy not reducing CO2 on grids. The article is based on 2 studies using measured, real-time operations data of the Colorado, Texas and Irish grids, all with significant wind penetration. The studies show increases of CO2/kWh due to adding wind energy to electric grids.

For some years wind turbines were presented to the public as renewable energy producers that would reduce the CO2 emissions from fossil plants, because less fossil fuels would be burnt, while making the US less dependent on energy imports from unstable regions.

Wind turbine vendors, project developers, financiers, trade organizations, etc., popularized wind energy as saving the planet from global warming with PR campaigns that claimed there would be significant CO2 reductions/kWh, that capital costs/MW would decrease, and that wind energy costs/kWh would be at grid parity in the near future.

Apparently many people, including many legislators and the US president, believed it all, because a fear-driven, heavily-subsidized, multi-billion dollar build-out of wind turbine facilities occurred.

End December 2010 installed capacity: total US 41400 MW; top 5 states: Texas 10085 Mw, Iowa 3675 MW, California 3177 MW, Minnesota 2192 MW, Washington 2104 MW. Estimated capital cost about $70 billion, mostly during the past 10 years.

US 2010 wind energy production: 2.3% of total production, or 94,650 GWh

It may take another 10 years to install the next 40,000 MW and have 4.6% wind energy. However, there may not be sufficient capital, because the US fiscal and monetary conditions are not favorable.

After skepticism was expressed by power systems engineers in the US, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc., about claims regarding CO2 reductions/kWh due to wind energy for at least the past five years, several studies were performed which have accurately quantified the CO2 reductions/kWh based on measured operations data of the grids of Colorado, Texas and Ireland, all with significant wind energy penetration.

ERCOT of Texas, Public Service of Colorado, and EirGrid of Ireland are three grid operators that publish 1/4-hour or 1-hour operations data of relevant parameters that can be used to analyze the effects of wind energy on the operations of the other plants (coal, nuclear, hydro, gas) on their grids.


The Bentek study of the Colorado and Texas grids, based on measured hourly (in case of Colorado) and 1/4-hourly (in case of Texas) power plant operations data of fuel consumption and CO2, NOx and SOx emissions, proved that wind energy on the grid needs to be:

– balanced with energy from other plants, preferably quick-ramping CCGTs and OCGTs, to ensure grid stability and,

– that this balancing produces more CO2/kWh, more NOx/kWh, and more SOx/kWh (from coal plants on the grid), and uses more fuel/kWh with wind energy on the grid than without.

The balancing plants, usually consisting of quick-ramping gas turbines or hydro plants, would need to ramp down when wind energy surges and ramp up when wind energy ebbs to ensure a near-perfect balance of supply and demand is maintained on the grid. The balance needs to be maintained to minimize excessive frequency and voltage deviations from target values to avoid brownouts and blackouts and to avoid overloads.

The balancing plants would need to operate at a percent of rated output to be able to ramp up and down. Such operation is very inefficient for gas turbines and ramping up and down at a percent of rated output is even less efficient. This results in significantly increased Btus/kWh and increased CO2 and NOx emissions/kWh.

When coal plants are used as wind energy balancing plants, as is the case with Colorado and Texas, the rapid up and down ramping at part-load causes their combustion systems (designed for optimum, steady operation near rated output) to become unstable, and because the up and down ramping causes the chemical composition of the flue gas to vary, the scrubber-based air pollution control systems (designed for optimum, steady operation near rated output) also become unstable as the required stoichiometric chemical ratios cannot be maintained in a timely manner. The up and down ramping increases wear and rear of equipment and shortens useful service lives, just as with a car.


Public Service of Colorado, PSCO, owns insufficient gas-fired CCGT capacity for balancing wind energy on its grid. As a result PSCO is attempting to use its own coal plants for balancing for which they were not designed and for which they are highly unsuitable. The results have been significantly increased pollution and CO2, NOx and SOx emissions/kWh.

The heat rate of a coal plant operated near rated output it is about 10,500 Btu/kWh for power delivered to the grid. It is lowest near rated output and highest at very low outputs. If a plant is rapidly ramped up and down in balancing mode at a percent of rated output, its heat rate rises. See Pages 26, 28, 35, 41 of the Bentek study.

On Page 28, the top graph covering all PSCO coal plants shows small heat rate changes with wind power outputs during 2006. The bottom graph shows greater heat rate changes with wind power outputs during 2008, because during the 2006-2008 period 775 MW of wind facilities was added. For the individual PSCO plants doing most of the balancing, the heat rate changes are much higher.

On Page 26, during a coal plant ramp down of 30% from a steady operating state to comply with the state must-take mandate, the heat rate rose at much as 38%.

On Page 35, during coal and gas plant ramp downs, the Area Control Error, ACE, shows significant instability when wind power output increased from 200 to 800 MW in 3.5 hours and decreased to 200 MW during the next 1.5 hours. The design ramp rates, MW per minute, of some plants were exceeded.

On Page 41, during coal plant balancing across the PSCO system due to a wind event, emissions, reported to the EPA for every hour, showed increased emissions of 70,141 pounds of SOX (23% of total PSCO coal emissions); 72,658 pounds of NOX (27%) and 1,297 tons of CO2 (2%) than if the wind event had been absent.

Those increases of CO, CO2, NOX, SOX and particulate per kWh are due to instabilities of the combustion process during balancing; the combustion process can ramp up and down, but slowly. As the varying concentration of the constituents in the flue gases enter the air quality control system, it cannot vary its chemical stoichiometric ratios quickly enough to remove the SOX below EPA-required values. These instabilities persist well beyond each significant wind event.

PSCO does not release 1/4-hourly wind power generation data; its “proprietary”. Such information is critical for any accurate analysis and comparison of alternatives to reduce such emissions. PSCO deliberately withholding such information is inexcusable and harms progress regarding global warming.


The Texas grid in mostly independent from the rest of the US grids; the grid is operated by ERCOT. The grid has the following capacity mix: Gas 44,368 MW (58%), Coal 17,530 MW (23%), Wind 9,410 MW (12% – end 2009), Nuclear 5,091 MW (7%). Generation in 2009 was about 300 TWh. By fuel type: Coal 111.4 TWh, Gas CCGT 98.9 TWh, Gas OCGT 29.4 TWh, Nuclear 41.3 TWh, Wind 18.7 TWh.  Summer peak of 63,400 MW is high due to air conditioning demand.

Wind provides 5 to 8% of the average generation overall, depending on the season. Its night contribution rises from 6% (summer) to 10% (spring). Texas capacity CF = 18.7 TWh/yr/{(9,410 + 7,118)/2) MW x 8,760 hr/yr)} = 0.258. Texas has excellent winds and should have a statewide CF of 0.30 or greater. Explanations for the low CF likely are:

– grid operator ERCOT requires significant curtailment of wind energy to stabilize the grid.

– vendors, developers and financiers of wind power facilities, eager to cash in on subsidies before deadlines, installed some wind turbine facilities before adequate transmission capacity was installed to transmit their wind output to urban areas.

Much of the gas-fired capacity consists of CCGTs that are owned by IPPs (independent power producers) which sell their power to utilities under PPAs (power purchase agreements). That capacity is not utility-owned and therefore not available for balancing to accommodate the output of more than 10,000 MW of wind power facilities. Instead, utilities are attempting to use coal plants for balancing for which they were not designed. The results have been significantly increased pollution and CO2 emissions.

Unlike PSCO, ERCOT requires reporting of fuel consumption by fuel type and power generation by technology type every 15 minutes. The 2007, 2008, 2009 data shows rising amplitude and frequency of balancing operations as wind energy penetration increased. In 2009, the same coal plants were cycled up to 300 MW/cycle about 1,307 times (up from 779 in 2007) and more than 1,000 MW/cycle about 284 times (up from 63 in 2007). The only change? Increased wind energy penetration.

On Page 69:  The ERCOT balancing of plants to accommodate wind energy produced results similar to the PSCO system; increased balancing resulted in significantly more SOX and NOX emissions than if wind energy had been absent. Any CO2 emission reductions were minimal at best, due to the significantly degraded heat rates of the balancing plants. See websites.


A new report by Dr. Fred Udo, a Dutch engineer, describes his analysis of the CO2 emissions of the Irish electric grid, managed by EirGrid, which posts on its website 1/4-hour operations data of total electricity demand, wind energy and CO2 emissions on the Irish grid. Analysis of the data proves wind energy reduces the CO2 emissions by just a few percent.

For example:

During April 2011, 12% wind energy on the Irish grid reduces its CO2/kWh by 4%,

During April 1st and 2nd, 28% reduces it by 1%,

During April 3rd and 4th, 34% reduces it by 6%,

During April 4th, 5th and 6th, 30% reduces it by 3%,

The above reductions are not anywhere near to what is claimed by the PR of wind energy proponents.

The above variations of the CO2 percentages are largely due to the heat rates, Btu/kWh, of the combination of CCGTs and OCGTs selected by the grid operator during wind energy balancing. See website.

The fit lines of the scatter diagrams of CO2 intensity, gram/kWh, versus wind energy penetration, %, show increasing CO2/kWh as wind energy increases. Where the fit line intersects the Y-axis is the lowest CO2/kWh, i.e., no wind energy.

This appears entirely reasonable to power engineers who know the more their power generators are ramped up and down the less efficient they become. This means greater wind energy penetration produces greater up and down ramping amplitudes of wind energy to be compensated for by balancing plants and more balancing plant capacity is required to be in part-load, up/down ramping mode, which increases their CO2/kWh, and, according to the scatter diagrams of the Dr. Fred Udo report, the CO2/kWh of the entire grid.

Just as a car, if operated at 20 mph, then accelerated to 50 mph and back down again a few hundred times during a 24-hour trip would use more gas and pollute more, so would the balancing CCGTs and OCGTs, except gas turbines have even greater degradations of heat rates, Btu/kWh, when operating at part-load AND ramping than gasoline engines. The extra fuel consumed and CO2 emitted are so much that they mostly offset the fuel savings and CO2 reduction due to wind energy, according to analysis of the EirGrid data posted on its website

Note: Paste this URL in the left field of your browser window to access the site.

The following is a direct quote from the site of EirGrid:

“EirGrid, with the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, has developed together the following methodology for calculating CO2 Emissions.

The rate of carbon emissions is calculated in real time by using the generators MW output, the individual heat rate curves for each power station and the calorific values for each type of fuel used.

The heat rate curves are used to determine the efficiency at which a generator burns fuel at any given time.

The fuel calorific values are then used to calculate the rate of carbon emissions for the fuel being burned by the generator“

The heat rate degradation due to ramping down the fossil-fired plants with wind energy surges and ramping up with wind energy ebbs is not accounted for in the above calculation method; i.e., the gridwide CO2 emissions posted on the EirGrid website are understated, i.e., the above small reductions of CO2/kWh will likely disappear, or become increases.

This is devastating news for wind energy proponents who have been claiming more and more wind reduces CO2/kWh more and more, exactly opposite of the results of Dr. Fred Udo’s analysis of the EirGrid real time, 1/4-hour operations data.

Wind proponents made their claims without any substantiation based on 1/4-hour operations data. They could not have, because such data has been available only during the past 2-3 years.

The above results has very significant policy implications regarding the continued promotion of wind energy through various subsidizing schemes.

The above is only part of the story. The other part is capital costs.


The total capital cost of the wind turbine facilities (onshore about $2,000/kW, offshore about $4,200/kW), PLUS the capital cost of the new quick-ramping balancing plants required at higher wind energy penetrations (many grids do not have enough of such capacity), PLUS the capital cost of extensive grid modifications, including new HVDC lines on 80 to 135 foot-tall steel structures to transmit the wind energy from windy areas to population centers is about 2 to 3 times greater than the total capital cost of a capacity of 60% efficient CCGTs (about $1,250/kW) that would produce, in base-loaded mode, near rated output, the same quantity of energy, use about the same quantity of fuel/kWh and emit about the same quantity of CO2/kWh than the above (wind energy + balancing energy) combination, but do it at a much lower cost/kWh (see next paragraph), AND at minimal transmission system changes (the new CCGT plants would be located at or near the same sites as existing coal plants), AND at minimal impacts on quality of life (noise and infrasound, visuals, social unrest, psychological), property values and the environment.

See websites.

The US Energy Information Administration projects levelized production costs (national averages, excluding subsidies) of NEW plants coming on line in 2016 as follows (2009$) :

Offshore wind $0.243/kWh, PV solar $0.211/kWh (higher in marginal solar areas, such as New England), Onshore wind $0.096/kWh (higher in marginal wind areas with greater capital and O&M costs, such as on ridge lines in New England), Conventional coal (base-loaded) $0.095/kWh, Advanced CCGT (base-loaded) $0.0631/kWh.…


The above begs the question: If wind energy reduces CO2 by so very little/kWh, or not at all, or increases it, AND requires so much capital/MW to implement, AND produces energy at such a high cost/kWh, AND has such huge adverse impacts on quality of life (noise and infrasound, visuals, social unrest, psychological), property values and the environment, why are we, as a nation, making ourselves even less efficient relative to our competitors by this slavish, lemming-like pursuit of expensive wind energy?

Could it be that the Wall Street elites see the 30% federal cash grants, accelerated write-offs, generous feed-in tariffs and renewable energy credits as major tax shelters and long-term income streams for their high-income clients, all at the expense of the Main Street economy?

Wind energy proponents often use Denmark as the model to emulate. However, Denmark is in the fortunate position of having a large capacity of hydro plants of Norway and Sweden available for balancing wind energy; i.e., other grids with little or no hydro plants cannot use Denmark as a model.

Wind energy reduces the quality of life, health and psychological well-being of people who live near wind turbines. During the past 5 years, Denmark has stopped adding to its ONSHORE wind turbines for exactly these reasons.

Due to demonstrations by the Danes during at least the past 5 years, the government finally decided in August 2010 that any future wind turbines will be OFFSHORE and beyond the horizon. That is a huge admission on part of the Danish government. i.e., wind turbines near people have become an anathema in Denmark. A similar development is shaping up in the Netherlands.


The below article describes an economically and environmentally more attractive alternative to wind energy that is based on 60% efficient CCGTs.

The new “GE FlexEfficiency 50″ plant has a capacity of 510 MW and a 61% efficiency at rated output. Its design is based on a unit that has performed utility-scale power generation for decades. The plant fits on about a 10-acre site; i.e., minimal visual impact.

It is quick-starting: from a cold start, it reaches its rated output in about one hour. Its average efficiency is about 60% from rated output to 87% of rated output (444 MW) and about 58% to 40% of rated output (204 MW). It can be ramped at 50 MW/minute. CCGTs are usually not operated at less than 40% of rated output because of very high heat rates, Btu/kWh.

The GE unit is designed to efficiently produce electric energy in base-loaded mode and in daily-demand-following mode which implies 365 cycles per year.

Its high ramp rate enables it to also function as a balancing plant to accommodate the variable energy from wind turbine and solar facilities. However, such use would significantly increase wear and tear and shorten the useful service life of the units, because they would have to ramp up and down hundreds of times per day to follow the wind surges and ebbs.

See websites.

About Willem Post Willem Post, BSME New Jersey Institute of Technology, MSME Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, MBA, University of Connecticut. P.E. Connecticut. Consulting Engineer and Project Manager. Performed feasibility studies, wrote master plans, evaluated and performed designs for incineration systems, air pollution control systems, utility and industrial power plants, and integrated energy systems for campus-style building complexes. Currently specializing in energy efficiency of buildings and building systems.

Planned wind farm to use green technology

South China Morning Post – 6 Sept. 2011

CLP Power says its Clear Water Bay windmills will be built without harmful dredging of the seabed.

An eco-friendly technology which allows building offshore windmills without dredging the seabed will be used for the first time in Hong Kong by CLP Power (SEHK: 0002), which plans to spend HK$70 million to put up a data mast off Clear Water Bay to collect necessary information for its future sea-based wind farm.

The data mast – powered by solar panels – will be installed by the middle of next year, and collect data on wind speed, wave temperature, relative humidity and air pressure. The power producer says this information is crucial to the proposed 200MW wind farm with up to 67 turbines, to be erected about 9 kilometres off Clear Water Bay no later than 2016.

CLP said they would use a new method known as suction caisson technology to build the data mast. The technology is unique to oil drilling and has never been used in offshore wind farms. It allows engineers to build the mast and avoid any dredging or drilling of the seabed, reducing damage to the environment.

The technology, though more expensive than conventional dredging, will sink the foundation of the mast down to 30 metres below the soft mud seabed by using water pressure. It takes about two days to complete the process if weather conditions allow. If the data-mast construction is successful, the same technology will be used to build the windmills.

But critics of the project yesterday said no matter what construction method was used, the offshore wind farm would have only a “negligible” positive impact, at the expense of spoiling a region tipped to be listed soon as a global geopark.

“It is going to spoil the wilderness of the area and may affect a future reassessment of the region, even after it is selected as a world geopark,” said Young Ng Chun-yeong, who is from a concern group against the project.

An international panel of experts has visited Hong Kong to study the proposed world park. It has an estimated size of 50 square kilometres, including the sea area close to the planned wind farm. A decision by the global geopark network on the listing will be announced shortly.

Lo Pak-cheong, corporate development director of CLP, said no commercial decision had been made on the wind farm, as more data was needed to determine the layout of the farm and the size of the turbines.

“If the results are not satisfactory, we might end up slashing the scale, making some adjustments to our plan or even looking for other possibilities,” said Lo, adding that government approval was still needed.

Lo said the data could help decide if the turbines would be 125 metres or 150 metres tall. Opponents of the project are concerned about the visual impact of the turbines.

Lo said the total cost of building the wind farms would be between HK$5 billion and HK$7 billion, depending on the number of turbines and their size.

While the power firm is entitled to enjoy an 11 per cent return on the investment, which is higher than the 9.9 per cent of other power generation assets, electricity users would pay two per cent more on their power tariff.

CLP Power started to study the feasibility of an offshore wind farm in 2006, and an environmental impact assessment has been completed and was endorsed by the government in 2009. But the firm has yet to submit a detailed business plan for the Environment Bureau to approve.

The wind farm is expected to satisfy the power demands of 80,000 households, and reduce carbon emissions by up to 300,000 tonnes a year.

But the projects’ opponents said that reduction was meagre compared to the total investment.

A spokeswoman for CLP said last night that they had regular communications with stakeholders, and had heard no adverse comments about the mast installation.

Apart from CLP Power, Hongkong Electric (SEHK: 0006) – a subsidiary of Power Assets Holding – is proposing to build a 100MW offshore wind farm southwest of Lamma Island.

Wind charges blow

Hong Kong Standard – 6 Sept. 2011

CLP Power said its tariffs will rise 2 percent if it goes ahead with a plan to build a multibillion-dollar wind farm in Sai Kung by 2016.

The farm, which could cost between HK$5 billion and HK$7 billion, will provide electricity for around 80,000 standard households of four members each.

“The farm can improve air quality as it will save 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted annually,” corporate development director Lo Pak- cheong said.

“But renewable and clean energy is not cheap. Inevitably, we will have to pay more.”

CLP said the farm would have up to 67 turbines, each generating three megawatts of electricity, or 40 turbines of five MW each. It will be located nine kilometers from the Clearwater Bay peninsula and produce 200 MW of electricity a year. The total area is about 16 square kilometers.

Although located near Sai Kung, a spokeswoman said, electricity generated will not serve nearby residents. Instead it will enter the CLP electricity grid.

Project manager John Chan Kwan- wing said the site was selected to avoid the habitat of dolphins and undersea cables, and to minimize the impact on fishing.

CLP is also planning to install a mast in the southeastern waters of Hong Kong next year to collect data such as wind speed, waves, temperature, relative humidity and air pressure.

Chan said the mast will be installed by “suction caisson” which reduces dredging and piling, making CLP the first to apply this technology in Hong Kong.

He said the decision to use this technology is because of the unfavorably soft seabed. The installation cost of the mast is about HK$7 million.

Lo said there are challenges. For safety reasons, marine work has to be carried out when sea conditions are stable – between April and September.

“Unfortunately this coincides with the typhoon season,” said Lo, adding it is therefore important to accurately assess the weather and sea conditions.

Hongkong Electric earlier announced 28 to 35 wind energy generators in the southwest Lamma Channel. The offshore wind farm project is scheduled for completion by 2015.