Breaking Waves: Ocean News

01/17/2019 - 13:51
Greg Clark knows nuclear cannot compete with the likes of wind and solar – but he is not giving up There was excellent news within Hitachi’s decision to shelve its plan to build a £16bn nuclear plant at Wylfa in Anglesey. Finally, a government minister may have grasped the basic problem with nuclear power. It is being “out-competed” by alternative technologies, especially wind and solar, the business secretary, Greg Clark, had to concede in the Commons. Exactly. So drop the obsession with nuclear, last century’s answer to our energy needs. As Clark also said, the package offered to Hitachi was generous. The price of the power, at £75 per megawatt hour, was lower than in EDF’s Hinkley Point C contract, but on this occasion the government would have taken a one-third stake and committed to providing all the debt financing for construction. Adjust for the different financial structure and the package looked very Hinkley-like – in other words, hugely expensive for the poor old bill payer. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 13:33
Hitachi’s decision to walk away from two projects, despite hefty subsidies, indicates strongly that the UK’s current policies don’t add up The scrapping of three nuclear power station projects in just over two months should prompt immediate and serious thought about the future of energy in this country. Hitachi expects the axing of the Wylfa plant on Anglesey in Wales to cost it £2.14bn. Around 300 people at its UK subsidiary Horizon will lose their jobs along with around 1,000 in the supply chain, and a second Hitachi power station in Gloucestershire will never be built. That another Japanese company, Toshiba, pulled the plug on another nuclear project in Cumbria in November, after trying and failing to sell it, makes the need for a considered response from policymakers all the more pressing. The problem, in a nutshell, is that the new generation of nuclear power stations is proving too expensive. Hitachi walked away from a package including a guaranteed price for its electricity of £75 per megawatt hour for 35 years, well above the wholesale price of around £50, but still below the £92.50 awarded to EDF Energy for power generated at Hinkley Point C. With the price of offshore wind as low as £57.50 and expected to fall further, and with renewables now supplying 33% of power (up from 6.7% in 2009), the contrast with nuclear is increasingly unflattering, as business secretary Greg Clark acknowledged when he told MPs that nuclear is being “outcompeted”. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 10:42
Model attacks rising Amazon deforestation and sets out her environmental credentials The Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen has rebutted an extraordinary attack by Brazil’s agriculture minister, who called her a “bad Brazilian” for her environmental activism and said she did not know “the facts”. Bündchen said the “bad Brazilians” were those responsible for Brazil’s worst deforestation figures in a decade. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 09:06
The options remaining, with three projects shelved and old plants reaching end of road Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales Does Hitachi decision mean the end of UK’s nuclear ambitions? Britain’s old nuclear power stations supply about a fifth of electricity supplies and are a key part of the energy system. However, their share of the mix has been gradually shrinking as renewables have grown and energy demand has fallen. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 09:05
Using risk assessments, like those used for setting occupational safety limits in the workplace, researchers determined the winners and losers of climate change in the Antarctic. They show that marine animals associated with sea ice for food or breeding, such as some whales and penguins, are most at risk from the effects of climate change, while seafloor predators and open-water feeding animals like starfish and jellyfish will benefit from the opening up of new habitat.
01/17/2019 - 09:04
New research reveals the previously unknown behaviors of juvenile Emperor penguins in their critical early months when they leave their birth colony and first learn how to swim, dive, and find food.
01/17/2019 - 08:36
As Hitachi and Toshiba abandon plans for new British nuclear reactors, Damian Carrington assesses the merits of the technology Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales All sources of electricity face the same trilemma in the 21st century: carbon emissions, continuity of supply and cost. The UK government has placed a big bet on nuclear power, but reactors meet only two of the three challenges. Nuclear power is low carbon and a secure source of electricity – but it is hugely expensive. In the era of climate change, generating power without belching out carbon emissions is vital. While building nuclear plants and fuelling them requires concrete, transport and so on, the overall emissions are similar to wind and solar power. All produce far less carbon than coal or gas-powered stations. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 06:23
Despite recent scrapping of three plants, experts still feel the energy has stake in future Hitachi scraps £16 nuclear power station The role of nuclear power in UK and the alternatives Ever since Tony Blair rebooted support for nuclear power 13 years ago, British governments have been committed to a new generation of reactors to secure supplies and cut carbon emissions. However, those ambitions have yielded only one project under construction, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, south-west England. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 06:00
As a Bitcoin maker who covered the oil industry as a journalist, I see parallels between the two that may haunt cryptocurrency I make Bitcoin, and in a previous life, I covered the oil industry as a journalist. Increasingly, I’m realizing the two worlds are alike. Bitcoin is oil. And one day, Bitcoin will become big oil, and all who dabble in it will be reborn as enemies of the environmental movement, seen as plunderers of the planet and the bad guys in the fight against climate change – just like oil. Continue reading...
01/17/2019 - 06:00
Alaskans have been enjoying free, organic meat for the past 50 years. Should other places stop turning their noses up? My mother texts me four photos of a dead moose the week I leave Alaska. It is freshly hit. The pebbled pink brains fanning across the pavement have not yet grayed in the brisk autumn air. The animal will not go to waste. For the past 50 years, Alaska has been the only state where virtually every piece of large roadkill is eaten. Every year, between 600 and 800 moose are killed in Alaska by cars, leaving up to 250,000lb of organic, free-range meat on the road. State troopers who respond to these collisions keep a list of charities and families who have agreed to drive to the scene of an accident at any time, in any weather, to haul away and butcher the body. Continue reading...