Category: Energy

China passes new pollution law

Legislators have approved amendments to China’s 15-year-old air pollution law that grant the state new powers to punish offenders and create a legal framework to cap coal consumption, the Asian giant’s biggest source of smog.

The draft amendments were passed by 154 votes to 4, with five abstentions, Zhong Xuequan, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, told a media briefing…

The ruling Communist Party has acknowledged the damage that decades of untrammeled economic growth have done to China’s skies, rivers and soil. It is now trying to equip its environmental inspection offices with greater powers and more resources to tackle persistent polluters and the local governments that protect them.

The amendments are expected to make local governments directly responsible for meeting environmental targets. They also ban firms from temporarily switching off polluting equipment during inspections and outlaw other behavior designed to distort emission readings.

Tong Weidong, vice-director of the NPC’s legal work committee, told the briefing the law would improve the way local authorities were assessed and allow them to draw up their own plans to meet environmental targets…

However, researchers said the changes do not go far enough and that the third reading of the bill should have been postponed until all its shortcomings had been resolved.

Sounds like another step forward. The article isn’t clear about household air pollution though broadly it sounds as if it is covered.

Like England in the period after WW2, half of China’s coal-generated air pollution comes from home fires for cooking and heating. These are almost always in the least efficient stoves for any purpose – regardless, there isn’t any way to bring them up to useful standard.

I’ve blogged earlier about efforts to bring NatGas into easy urban access and the last-mile problem will remain the greatest obstacle. That solution is what changed life in many American industrial cities as well as the UK in the fifteen years or so after the war. That change didn’t have to provide new pipelines or local access. We already had use of coal gas. The conversion only required a new orifice for each burner in every stove or furnace.

China’s cities will have to excavate.

New theory leads to ‘radiationless revolution’


Click to enlargeAnapole Visualization by Andrey Miroshnichenko

Physicists have found a radical new New theory leads to ‘radiationless revolution’: Physicists have found a radical new way confine electromagnetic energy without it leaking away, akin to throwing a pebble into a pond with no splash…

The theory could have broad ranging applications from explaining dark matter to combating energy losses in future technologies.

However, it appears to contradict a fundamental tenet of electrodynamics, that accelerated charges create electromagnetic radiation, said lead researcher Dr Andrey Miroshnichenko from The Australian National University…

“This problem has puzzled many people. It took us a year to get this concept clear in our heads,” said Dr Miroshnichenko, from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The fundamental new theory could be used in quantum computers, lead to new laser technology and may even hold the key to understanding how matter itself hangs together.

“Ever since the beginning of quantum mechanics people have been looking for a configuration which could explain the stability of atoms and why orbiting electrons do not radiate,” Dr Miroshnichenko said.

The absence of radiation is the result of the current being divided between two different components, a conventional electric dipole and a toroidal dipole (associated with poloidal current configuration), which produce identical fields at a distance.

If these two configurations are out of phase then the radiation will be cancelled out, even though the electromagnetic fields are non-zero in the area close to the currents.

Dr Miroshnichenko, in collaboration with colleagues from Germany and Singapore, successfully tested his new theory with a single silicon nanodiscs between 160 and 310 nanometres in diameter and 50 nanometres high, which he was able to make effectively invisible by cancelling the disc’s scattering of visible light.

This type of excitation is known as an anapole (from the Greek, ‘without poles’).

Um, OK. Like any physics including the word “quantum” – I usually end up asking SmartAlix to explain it to me. Which he does at least once a year.

Understanding lasts about 5 minutes in this old brain of mine.

Last month was the hottest month in recorded history. Again.


Click to enlarge

Congratulations, you’ve just lived through the hottest month ever recorded. (Yes, another one.) According to NASA, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and, now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2015 was the hottest month registered on the planet since record-keeping began.

“The July average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average,” NOAA reports. “As July is climatologically the warmest month for the year, this was also the all-time highest monthly temperature in the 1880–2015 record, at 61.86°F (16.61°C), surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.14°F (0.08°C).”

The heat was especially scorching around the Equator, in the oceans, in parts of Asia, and in Southern Europe…

It’s been more than 30 years since the world has seen a colder-than-average month. Get ready to live through plenty more record-breakingly hot ones.

You can forward this to your favorite know-nothing idjit who kneels before the altar of fossil fuel profits. People who think individuals who make their living imitating some 19th Century industrial baron are more important than the rest of us – don’t deserve to be counted among the rest of us. They are not human beings. They are obedient little political robots.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Alberta issues environmental order after oil sands heron deaths

great-blue-heron
Click to enlargePhoto by Denny Green

Alberta’s energy regulator…has ordered Syncrude Canada to develop a wildlife mitigation plan and publish more information following the death of 30 blue herons at an oil sands site in the Canadian province.

The Alberta Energy Regulator said on Saturday it had opened an investigation into the bird deaths at Syncrude Canada’s Mildred Lake site, which is about 40 km (25 miles) north of Fort McMurray.

The regulator said on Tuesday the investigation is still under way, but issued the environmental protection order nonetheless. It ordered Syncrude to collect water and soil samples, develop and publish daily public reports and submit a final report to the regulator…

In 2010, Syncrude was fined C$3 million ($2.29 million) for negligence in the 2008 deaths of 1,600 ducks in a toxic tailings pond, a case that fueled international concern about the environmental impact of developing Canada’s oil sands…

In November, the Alberta regulator cleared several oil sands operators of responsibility for the deaths of 196 waterfowl that landed on their toxic tailings ponds, saying poor weather forced the birds down.

I see. Birds should know by now they need to clear their travels with Alberta oil producers before setting off into changeable weather conditions.

Another view might hold that a key point of environmental regulations is to prevent wildlife deaths from fossil fuel-producers cruddification of the environment. Silly me.

First nuclear reactor restarted – in Sendai – since Fukushima meltdown


Beginning of the end

A Japanese utility company said Tuesday it restarted a nuclear reactor, the first to do so since the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in 2011.

“We hereby announce that as of today, Sendai Nuclear Power Unit No.1 has extracted control rods from the reactor and started up at 10:30 a.m.,” Kyushu Electric Power Co. said…”We see this startup as one of the important steps on restart process of the nuclear reactor.”

Japan has been working to reshape its energy sector since the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daicchi nuclear reactor by focusing on energy efficiency, conservation and an increased use of cleaner-burning natural gas to help keep emissions in check…

Japan decommissioned 50 reactors after the 2011 meltdown, forcing it to re-examine its energy mix. Prior to the Fukushima disaster, nuclear had provided about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity, with renewable energy accounting for less than 3 percent, excluding hydropower. The country relied heavily in imports of liquefied natural gas in the wake of the disaster.

Kyushu in its statement said it would “never” allow a repeat of the 2011 disaster.

“We will continue to make sincerely an all-out effort to deal with the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s inspections, and carry out carefully remaining process, putting utmost priority to safety, with a sense of alertness more than ever,” it said.

A magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami 2011 led to a meltdown at the Fukushima facility, the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

Not much of an article – deliberately. I’ll offer more in-depth discussion as the process of restart proceeds.

Japan hasn’t much of a choice at present. They have this capacity in place. The nation has been making do – which means spending a lot more to provide electricity than anyone has been accustomed to. The citizens of Japan are – unfortunately – used to going along with whatever decisions their politicians make. So, they’ve been absorbing the price hikes flowing from a kludged-together system of electricity production since the disaster.

Though a lifetime advocate for nuclear-generated power, I’ve had to change that position in the last year or two. China’s subsidized development of solar-generated electricity, wind-generated electricity [along with parallel development in northern Europe] has qualitatively changed the picture…for the better, I believe. Regardless of all the hollering, trade sanctions, whining from Congress, the result has been legitimate cuts in the cost of establishing alternative power generation both on a large-scale and home-based.

A win for nations and individuals. A win for the environment.

On 25th July, Germany streamed 78% of its energy needs from renewable sources


Click to enlargeReuters/Fabian Bimmer

An ideal combination of sunny and stormy weather in different parts of Germany on July 25th allowed the country to meet 78% of its energy needs from wind, solar, and other renewable sources, a new national record.

The previous national record for renewable energy generated in a single day was set in May 2014, when 74% of Germany’s domestic energy needs were met by solar, wind, biomass, and hydro power.

Germany is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before the year 2050. It’s also trying to cut down on its reliance on nuclear power, which it trades with France.

A blog post from Germany’s Energiewende…project explained what made the new record possible: A storm generated high winds in the north, where Germany’s wind turbines are installed; in the south, where its country’s solar panels are located, it was “a relatively sunny day.” Preliminary figures indicate that wind and solar generated a combined 40.65 gigawatts of power, 7.25 GW came from biomass and hydro power, and total domestic power demand that day was 61.1 GW.

Our government applauds American efforts because we’re capable of 7% replacement. Obama says we’re a world leader. Add in Congress’ contribution and I’d say we absolutely dominate the Liars’ Club.

US gas-fired electricity generation overtakes coal + Obama’s new EPA regs

Generation by fuel

The war on coal” might have just witnessed another battle in April as the latest “Electric Power Monthly” data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show total natural gas-fired electric generation in April surpassed coal-fired power generation for the first time in history.

And here is the link to President Obama’s plan to fight climate change.

Overdue.

Brand new, double-layered pipeline ruptured causing giant spill


Click to enlargeTerry Reith/ICI Radio-Canada

A pipeline at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oilsands facility southeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, spilled about 32,000 barrels of emulsion, a mixture of bitumen, sand and water, Wednesday afternoon — marking one of the largest spills in Alberta history.

According to reports, the spill covered as much as 16,000 square meters – almost 4 acres…

Ron Bailey, Nexen vice president of Canadian operations, said the company “sincerely apologized for the impact this has caused.” He confirmed the double-layered pipeline is a part of Nexen’s new system and that the line’s emergency detection system failed to alert officials to the breach, which was discovered during a visual inspection.

At this time, the company claims to have the leak under control…

The spill comes at a particularly bad time for Canada’s premiers, who are poised to sign an agreement three years in the making to fast-track the approval process for new oil sands pipelines while weakening commitments to fight climate change, according to Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace…

Canada’s premiers aren’t alone in seeking to remove barriers to new pipeline construction in order to get more tar sands flowing out of Alberta. It recently came to light that Wisconsin officials worked with an attorney and lobbyist for Canadian pipeline company Enbridge to draft a controversial provision placed into the 2015 Wisconsin Budget that would fast-track expansion of the company’s Line 61 pipeline, what’s been called a “Keystone XL clone.”

Nexen and Alberta regulators say it’s too soon to determine what caused the pipeline failure Wednesday, or how long it was leaking before it was shut off. The emulsion has so far not reached any bodies of water, according to reports, but did flow into muskeg or bog.

Welcome to what passes for safety and quality control in oilfields. Pretty much all oilfield production. All that really counts in the minds of fossil fuel producers is getting the stuff out of the ground and into energy production.

Burn it up. Put the money in the bank!

Thanks, SmartAlix