QUICK NEWS, March 29: CALIFORNIA FUKUSHIMA? – SAN ONOFRE UNSAFE; DIFFERENT WIND; NOT THE BEAVER’S BIKE
CALIFORNIA FUKUSHIMA? – SAN ONOFRE UNSAFE
NRC Issues Confirmatory Action Letter for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Restart Preparations
March 27, 2012 (Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Action Letter documenting actions that Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) officials have agreed to take related to unusual wear on steam generator tubes prior to restarting both units of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station…near San Clemente, Calif."
[Elmo E. Collins, Region IV Administrator, NRC:] “This Confirmatory Action Letter formalizes commitments that Southern California Edison has made to ensure that the cause of the tube wear in both steam generators is understood and appropriately addressed in order to ensure safe operation…Until we are satisfied that has been done, the plant will not be permitted to restart.”
Beautiful, isn't it? So was Fukushima until it became an environmental disaster. (click to enlarge)
"On Jan. 31, operators performed a rapid shutdown of the Unit 3 reactor after indications of a steam generator tube leak. Unit 2 has been shut down since Jan. 9 for a planned refueling and maintenance outage. Subsequent inspections at both units have identified unusual wear in many tubes of the steam generators, which were replaced in January 2010 at Unit 2 and January 2011 in Unit 3…SCE has identified two causes of the unusual wear: tubes are vibrating and rubbing against adjacent tubes and against support structures inside the steam generators. They are still working to determine why this is occurring…
"SCE has committed to [plug all tubes in Units 2 and 3 for which testing indicated wear in excess of industry guidelines, as well as all tubes susceptible to this wear because of their location and determine the causes of the tube-to-tube degradation and establish a protocol of inspections and or operational limits for Unit 2 and 3 to minimize the progression of tube wear, and ensure that any tube wear does not progress to the point where it compromises tube integrity] prior to restart of each unit…"
ANOTHER LOOK AT SOLAR’S RECORD YEAR
Crunching The Numbers On The Solar Market's Record-Breaking Year
22 March 2012 (Solar Industry)
"Worldwide solar photovoltaic market installations reached a record high of 27.4 GW in 2011 - up 40% year-over-year (Y/Y)…Overall market growth in 2011 was boosted by strong second-half demand ahead of further deep cuts in solar incentives…[following] over-production in the first half that triggered [2011’s] sustained price decline through the PV chain…
"…[T]he dominance of Chinese manufacturers in crystalline silicon wafers, cells and modules grew, the share of thin film declined, and demand in Asian markets grew rapidly…Overall, the PV industry generated $93 billion in global revenues in 2011 - up 12% Y/Y - while the industry successfully raised more than $8 billion in corporate equity and debt."
click to enlarge
"…[T]he top five PV markets were Germany, Italy, China, the U.S. and France, which collectively constituted 74% of global demand in 2011. China's solar demand soared 470% Y/Y, rising to third place from seventh in 2010…European countries accounted for 18.7 GW - or 68% - of world demand in 2011…Germany, Italy and France collectively accounted for 82% of the European market…
"Over the next five years, factory-gate module prices [are predicted to] drop between 43% and 53% from 2011 levels…Average crystalline silicon module factory-gate prices in 2012 will be at least 29% lower than the 2011 average…Over the next 12 months, European solar markets are projected to lose overall global market share, dropping to 53%. By 2016, European market share is projected to fall below 42% as North America and several Asian markets grow rapidly. China is forecast to reach 17% of the world market by 2016…"
Vertical axis wind turbines: The only way is up?
Andrew Williams, March 27, 2012 (Wind Energy Update)
"…Interest in vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) is growing and several design concepts including DeepWind and VertiWind are undergoing development and testing. So, how do they compare with horizontal turbines - particularly in terms of performance, costs and ease of installation?
"…[O]ne advantage of VAWTs is that they have an 'omni-directional' operation and low centre of gravity - leading to good structural stability…[They could dispense] with struts, simplifying structural complexity compared with previous designs…[L]arge-scale VAWTs could be better at avoiding the 'gravity issues' that plague large horizontal-axis turbines (HAWTs), which can quickly exhaust blades…[O]ne of the disadvantages of VAWTs is that it can be difficult to access machinery, which is below the main turbine axis and often dug into the ground. However, in floating foundations, like their own WindFloat design, the hull can be hollowed to enable access…"
VertiWind's floating vertical wind turbine (artist's conception - click to enlarge)
"In terms of output capabilities, the general consensus is that VAWT efficiency is currently either the same or lower than HAWTs…[T]he VertiWind VAWT has been designed for a 2MW output, with a power curve comparable to HAWTs of the same rated power…[but] Walt Musial, Principal Engineer - National Wind Technology Center at NREL, argues that VAWT efficiency is maybe 20% less 'give or take a little' …[another expert argues] it is approximately 10% less…
"…CAPEX is 'probably higher' for VAWTs now but should 'be about equal in the long run.'…OPEX costs can go both ways - but are likely to be higher at present…because of a lack of experience…CAPEX and OPEX costs for VertiWind are comparable with a HAWT bottom-mounted solution in shallow waters - even though they operate in deeper waters…[G]rid-connection costs are 'related to distance to shore' and are therefore more difficult to compare like-for-like…[T]he VertiWind design lends itself very well to high-volume manufacturing…[and] transportation…VAWTs have a number of novel advantages…[but] a good deal of work remains…to convince the wider industry that they can compete…"