Harvest and Hunger The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation is hosting an event in Saskatoon on November 10th called Harvest and Hunger. The event sets out to answer three questions: Who controls the world’s food? Who has power in the global food system? Who doesn’t? What are people doing – both in Saskatchewan and around […]
Our increasing reliance on natural gas brings with it both opportunities and dangers during the shift towards renewable energy. This issue deals with some major issues regarding natural gas deployment in industry, power generation, food production, and heating.
Capitalist labour transitions are a heavy burden on the working class and society in general, but they are also one of the cornerstones of progress. We can solve this problem in an economically practical as well as morally and socially desirable through the creation of a strong social welfare system.
Demand side management helps make our power grid more cost-effective and aids in the transition towards renewable energy. It can also be considered as a very green policy on its own, as it reduces the amount of power we need to produce, and thus our impact on the environment.
Everything has its price. Every form of power production has costs in dollars, time, land, materials, pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, and human deaths. We look at the most important factors for analyzing the feasibility of a proposed power project. Considering only some of these factors will lead to an incomplete picture of power system costs.
Laser implosion fusion is a proposed method for creating nuclear fusion power plants. It is showing some great promise, being the most likely candidate for the first fusion method to reach net energy gain. Exciting new developments may make fusion power a reality in the coming decades.
Here we talk about what a feed in tariff is and how it works. We also conduct an overview of how effective feed in tariffs have been at stimulating the renewable energy industry around the world.
Wind power expert Paul Gipe advocates that we deliberately create our green energy future rather than wait around for it to happen. He says that we should aim to democratize our energy production for a more prosperous future.
How do we turn fusion power into electricity? There are two main methods. We can use heat engines like steam turbines or we can use a very new system called ‘direct conversion’ which has some interesting properties.
Issues and difficulties with creating a physical system for nuclear fusion. To succeed, we must face temperatures that vaporize all known materials and other requirements that make this the most difficult technological endeavor of our age.
There are a number of different fuels that can be used for creating fusion power. Here we look at the useful ones and look at their advantages and disadvantages. Different fuel cycles require very different implementations.
In order to understand nuclear fusion at a deep level, you must have a strong grasp of a number of areas of physics. I have collected here some resources for learning these skills. The general areas are electromagnetism, nuclear physics, thermodynamics, and plasma physics.
Achieving sustained nuclear fusion for power production is incredibly challenging. Scientists have been working on this problem for decades. This piece is an overview of the basic concepts and technologies needed for nuclear fusion power. One could also view this as a tutorial, or a crash-course, in fusion power.
Land usage for power systems is a common comparison metric. We demonstrate here that the comparison cannot be conducted meaningfully on such simplistic grounds. Additional factors must be taken into consideration.
The coal industry has had a history of lobbying against a hazardous waste label for fly ash. Fly ash is toxic enough that the EPA mandated decades ago that it be captured and stored rather than emitted into the atmosphere.
Hydroelectricity, or ‘hydro’, is generated from the energy in the water cycle of the earth. The sun evaporates water on the surface of the earth, causing it to rise up to form clouds. Clouds eventually form droplets, which then rain, snow, or hail down to the surface. Water on the surface flows downhill until it evaporates again. During this time it may become trapped in glaciers, lakes, ponds, puddles, or the ocean. Driven by the sun, the water cycle is a truly renewable resource.
Burning coal releases heat energy, but it also releases many other products. Combustion products such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides, particulate matter, and fly ash are also produced in varying amounts.
The long term supply for nuclear fission fuels on the planet earth is estimated to last several thousand years at current consumption levels, assuming that we adopt reprocessing as well as develop and implement breeder reactors.
The intent of this publication is an ongoing investigation of the progress and potential of renewable energy in our world. Our goal is to collect the best writing and news on the subject of renewable energy projects and policies. We have observed that humanity is innovating rapidly as the energy security of the future becomes a global priority. Current trends indicate that the age of coal will end before we run out of coal.
Photovoltaic solar power is the technical term for solar panels that convert sunlight directly into electricity. This is in contrast to techniques that capture solar energy in other ways, or for different uses. Other techniques include hot water heating, interior temperature control, and concentrated heat for electricity production.
We have been captivated for a long time by the intriguing possibilities inherent in combining Manitoba’s extensive hydro resources with Saskatchewan’s high-quality wind power. A number of other groups in Saskatchewan have been lobbying for greater interconnection between the two power grids to take advantage of the natural synergy that exists between wind power and reservoir-based hydro power.
Our goal is to keep our physical power infrastructure publicly owned, but gain some of the advantages of the private sector. The key to our recommendation is voluntary public investment from the people of Saskatchewan. In order to stimulate new renewable energy construction, we recommend that SaskPower open up renewable energy projects for direct public investment.
We want the ability to directly support the development of renewable electricity generation. We don’t just mean buying GreenPower from sources that already exist. We want to be able to choose to put our money out there so that these things can actually happen. We want to support projects that haven’t yet been built, or even started.
Nuclear power is a tiny fraction of our total radiation dose. Nuclear power is legally obligated to keep its radioactive emissions incredibly low. Even people who live close to nuclear power plants will receive from them only a fraction of the dose that they receive naturally from their environment. Human-made sources account for about 20% of the dose to humans, with nuclear power composing less than 1% of the total dose. Coal is responsible for a larger portion of radioactive dose than nuclear is. This is a point missed by most people involved in the world discussion about energy sources.
Solar thermal power generation presents a unique opportunity among renewable technologies today. It is well-understood. Prototypes and commercial power plants of this sort exist. It has capabilities for both baseload and peak-matching power generation. It is affordable in locations with lots of sunlight. Costs are in the range 10-15¢/kWh currently, with great potential for the future.
The feed-in tariff is a well known policy mechanism in the area of electricity generation. It has been applied in many countries with the intent of encouraging the development of renewable power generation. Such a policy typically involves guaranteeing to desired types of generation both subsidized long term prices for electricity and guaranteed grid access. This policy has been well utilized notably in Germany and Spain, where residents have seen very stable electricity prices coupled with tremendous growth of the renewable energy sector of their economies.
When wind isn’t blowing hard, use a dispatchable source such as hydro to produce power. Let’s assume that we have 150 MW of hydro on hand to cover the Centennial Wind Farm when the wind isn’t blowing. If we look at entire year of production, we can expect that about 42.4% of all energy will have come from the wind, and that the remaining 57.6% of the energy would have come from the hydro. What is necessary for a system like this to work is to have enough water behind the hydro dam that it can cover a fairly long spell of low winds. This could be as long as several days. If our hydro reservoir is big enough to cover that time, we should be able to cover the intermittent nature of the wind for the whole year. If it isn’t big enough, we will have to get our power from elsewhere. Perhaps importing it from neighboring grids or by using another source such as natural gas.
What people really want is reliable power. We don’t want to end up freezing in the dark. Electricity is important enough to our society that our energy security is of great importance to us. This is a fundamental issue that all technically advanced nations have to face.
It would be a mistake to equate baseload with reliable. Baseload power sources still have to turn off sometimes. In some cases, the downtimes for the big thermal plants such as nuclear and coal can be several percent of their lifetimes. If our power grid were based off of only baseload sources of this type we might see rolling blackouts now and then unless we built extra power plants to cover the downtime.
In the most general sense, we are talking about moving power from one place to another. The electric grid accomplishes this by having power lines between generation stations and demand locations such as homes and businesses. Some general rules apply to this sort of technology. The more power you have to move, the more expensive it will be to build the infrastructure to do it. The further you have to move the power, the more energy losses you are going to have in doing so. These rules apply in general, but the specifics of a problem will dictate what sort of solution is applied.
We proposed a feed-in tariff for renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and hydro power. What this means is basically that people or companies who produced power from these sources would be paid more for their electricity than non-renewable providers. See our proposal for more details about the practicality and effectiveness of a feed-in tariff as well as more detail on tailoring the solution for Saskatchewan. The intent of this policy mechanism is to stimulate an increase in private investment into these technologies.
Arguments can certainly be made to support either side of this argument. This article gives examples of valid arguments on both sides of the issue. In general it is clear that understanding of nuclear energy fundamentals is a prerequisite for creating nuclear weapons. In this area however, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Pandora’s box has been opened. The knowledge exists and is relatively widespread. The real question is what to choose to do with the knowledge that the world now has.
This piece refers to kilowatt-hours (kWh) and costs-per-kWh as well as cost per installed watt ($/kW). If you are new to these units, please consult our introduction to energy system terms. In this area of knowledge, we defer to our publicly-owned utility for the best possible answer. Sask Power’s analysis in 2009, submitted to the […]
Prior to reading this article, it is recommended that you read our basic definitions for discussing nuclear science. In this article we refer to ‘used nuclear fuel’ and to ‘nuclear waste’. For our current discussion these are both the same thing. To get a deeper understanding of nuclear power in general, see our general nuclear […]
While some variants of nuclear power plants are estimated to cost up to five times as much as competing technologies such as minimally-compliant coal power, these are extreme examples. Most populations will not allow minimally-compliant coal plants to be built because of their substantially dangerous pollution as well as radioactivity levels far above those of a nuclear power plant. Their radioactive and chemical emissions come in the form of massive fly ash ponds as well as airborne fly ash emissions.
Nuclear Power: Our First Major Project In October 2008, the Uranium Development Partnership committee was formed by the government of Saskatchewan. We noted that the mandate of the committee was to recommend the best ways for Saskatchewan to enjoy prosperity by developing nuclear industries. We also noted that the committee seemed to be filled primarily […]
A power utility has to have the capability of calling into service enough power to make up for the loss of its largest generator on short notice. For a nuclear generator, this would be between 300 and 2000 MW. In our home province of Saskatchewan, the largest single generator SaskPower has to keep backup capacity for currently is a 300MW coal unit. However, if the entire Boundary Dam facility went down, the Saskatchewan system could be missing as much as 813 MW of power.
If you think of renewable sources of energy you probably think of things like wind turbines, solar panels, biomass plants, and hydroelectric plants. However, these are just examples. What does it mean to be renewable?
[ad#Google Adsense-2 INLINE RIGHT CSS] Oil Spill Near Vancouver Apparently Chevron waited a month before informing the public about an oil, gas, and diesel leak into the Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, BC. However, it appears that they are actually following the regulations for such a leak. Locals are questioning both the direct effect on their […]
Chevron says that it would not be able to clean up if its proposed deep sea rig off the coast of Newfoundland had a similar disaster to that currently happening in the Gulf of Mexico. They estimate extremely small possibilities of any major spills, but there are valid concerns about the sheer scale of what […]
A Feed-in-Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to provide an incentive for development of a desired type. Typical implementations of feed-in-tariffs for power generation usually involve guaranteed long term prices for electricity generated and guaranteed grid access. This means that if a person or company builds this type of desired generation, they are guaranteed to be able to sell their power, and guaranteed a minimum price for their power.
Electrical power production using a nuclear power source is accomplished through the heat produced by bringing greater than a specific amount of radioactive material together. Water is heated to create steam, which in turn spins turbines to generate electricity. Greater quantities or concentrations of nuclear material produce more heat. The higher the temperature of the heat source, the more efficient the production of electricity from it becomes. If the core becomes too hot, it is possible for core material to melt. If the reactor core is kept relatively cool, the energy production is not thermodynamically or economically efficient. Combinations of different fuels, fuel cladding, and coolants have been tested to optimize reactor cores for efficient power production while remaining very safe. Many different combinations are in use today, each with it’s advantages and disadvantages.
The Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) is a ministerial advisory committee established in October 2008 for the purpose of analyzing the economic feasibility of all forms of uranium development in Saskatchewan. On Friday April 3rd, the final report was released to the public containing recommendations to the government of Saskatchewan.