Still here..

Due to severe health issues and an insane schedule at my day job, I’ve let this blog kind of slide onto the back burner for a while.

Updates will resume in the next couple of weeks. Watch this space for more info soon.

If you have anything you’d like to see explored here, send it in. If you think you can contribute to what we’re here to do, let me know and we’ll talk.

Scott, who’s only mostly dead.

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Beyond Fossil Fuels: David Ratcliffe on Nuclear Power: Scientific American

Beyond Fossil Fuels: David Ratcliffe on Nuclear Power: Scientific American.

Scientific American has published another great interview with an energy industry exec.  This time it’s David Ratcliffe of Southern Company.

The interview has a great synopsis of the NRC’s new approval process and how that affects the construction plans of nuclear plants.

One other thing that is worth noting is the bill that passed the Georgia legislature allowing the  construction costs to be included in current power rates so that the new plants are paid for as they’re being built, rather than only after going live.   This makes financing the multi-billion dollar projects much easier in the current economic climate.

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Wave power?

Over at Engadget there’s an article about a new development to harvest wave motion to drive pumps for hydro-electric power.  The article links to what is basically a press release with little data on cost and timetables for rollout, but it does mention the potential for 20MW of power generation per installation.

What I’d like to see is how much coastline will need to be used for these to generate that kind of power.   What is the cost per watt for generation at the multi-megawatt capacities.   If it pans out, it’s going to be a very good thing for coastal areas.   I just can’t wait to hear the screams from the same people who decry offshore drilling rigs because they’re “ugly”.

Anyone have any info on other installations already in place using wave motion to generate power?

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Israeli scientists develop “bomb proof” nuclear fuel.

An article over on The Register covers an interesting development from Israel.   Professor Yigal Ronen of Ben-Gurion University and his associates have come up with a technique whereby adding the rare-earth isotope Americium-241 to fuel rods prevents their use in reprocessing for weapons grade products.

If this pans out, it would remove the most prevalent and insurmountable political obstacle to the global availability of nuclear power plants, while reducing the possibility of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Update: There will be an article detailing the procedure in next month’s Science and Global Security journal.

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Suiting Our Homes to the Environment

     Green, clean, enviro friendly. These are the new buzz words and they’re getting attached to everything from detergent to energy to housing. Housing is one of our basic needs, it is also one of our biggest energy drains, but it doesn’t have to be.

     At last builders are moving towards building homes with the environment in mind. Recycle, reuse and renewable are taking on new life. But is it enough to follow “green” building guidlines? These guide lines do reduce energy use and minimize environmental impact, but we often still build to suit certain asthetics, pumping energy into our homes to make them comfortable inspite of the enviroment they are built in.

     Why not build to suit the environment? Yes we would have to adjust our vision of what is attractive, but mostly on the outside of our homes.  Reasearch is going on to  build homes that can endure the throes of nature and help us live with little assistance from the “grid”. Our forebearers had a lot of good ideas about home building before appearances were more important than sound shelter. Now days most people are afraid to look at the alternatives because it’s not “normal”.

     I know more now than I did when I built my house. There are some improvements I hope to make. If I had my druthers I’d build a  hobbit hole. If you’re interested in some of the research going on in home building please follow the links below.

http://static.monolithic.com/plan-design/FEMA/index.html

http://www.tdrinc.com/home.html

http://www.fims.uwo.ca/NewMedia2006/default.asp?id=262

http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=10743

http://www.calearth.org/reuter2/Reuter2.htm

http://www.calearth.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship

http://www.usgbc.org/

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Patrick Moore vs. Harvey Wasserman

Over on Democracy Now Patrick Moore and Harvey Wasserman trade barbs about the $50 Billion clean energy ‘stimulus’ in the stimulus bill working it’s way through congress.    Once again, something that could have resulted in a good, honest, intelligent and educational discussion degenerates to sound-bytes, political memes and misinformation; at least on one side of the argument.

Link HERE to the video and rush transcript on the Democracy Now website.    I strongly suggest reading up on the two combatants as well to get a better feel for their qualifications to discuss the topic of nuclear power generation and it’s place in the energy ecosystem.

After the fold is my response to a few select parts to the interview.   As always, I’ll try to be fair to both sides, though one side makes it very hard to do so.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Georgia on track For Nuclear Plants

Looks like Georgia Power will be building two nuclear generators at Plant Votgel in SW Georgia.

http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2009/02/12/georgia-senate-oks-georgia-power-nuclear-plant-financing-plan.aspx

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Congressional Research Service reports leaked to WikiLeaks


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This doesn’t directly relate to this blog, but the information just released on Wikileaks is going to give us months of reading material.

Congressional Research Service

This is a complete archive of documents going back almost 20 years.   Every report created by the CRS, at tax payer expense, for Congress.   Over 127,000 pages of reading.

Let’s hear it for some high powered sunlight on the workings of our Government!

There’s a link to a torrent file with all 2.6GB of documents on the wikileaks page too.

Current Mood: (excited) excited
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Public Service Announcement

You can’t talk about energy with out talking about the environment. Because I believe in conservation as well as nuclear energy, I will sometimes be directing you, my readers, to sites that I don’t see eye to eye with.  I can however find common ground with many folks whose politics , science or ideals I don’t completely agree with. Finding common ground, what a novel concept.

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Blowing in the Wind

     When I first started researching this article, I expected to find a few stats and a few pithy quotes about getting closer to nature while saving energy. What I found was an issue that has sparked a “Right to Dry” movement. It has already garnered support from some state governments. Who knew the simple lowly clothesline could cause such a flap?
     You would think that a measure that could save the average homeowner 5-8% on their energy bill would be lauded. Dryers use the second largest amount of energy of any appliance in the home. In the summer months in can make your air conditioning work harder if located indoors. If Californians used clotheslines they could avoid the rolling blackouts they suffer through the hottest months.
      When I was first married to Dan he worried a bit when he saw me putting up a clothesline. He thought it might be against a city ordinance. At the time I thought it was funny. Who would object to a clothesline?
     In this country we have over 300,000 homeowners associations. More than half of them forbid clotheslines. They reason that clotheslines are not aesthetically pleasing, thus reducing property values by 15%. Clotheslines remind people of poverty. I say get a clue. People are struggling across the board. Many high-end neighborhoods are now half empty.
     In times past, “high-end” houses were sometimes designed with courtyards for laundry or landscaping was designed to keep the household laundry private. It may be a way of building we want to revisit.
     At one of this year’s Green Construction Conventions, line drying will be a topic of discussion. How can a house be green and energy conscious without a clothesline? Clotheslines can reduce your energy bill 5-8% and help your home stay cooler in the summer. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and brightener. Clothes last longer when line dried and the experience can be very effective in reducing stress because it is considered moderate physical activity. I, myself, feel the tension roll away when I am out at my clothesline. There are many ways to line dry even if you have a small space or no yard at all. You can spend as little as five dollars (like me) and string from tree to tree or up to five or six hundred dollars for a fancy umbrella-type line. Wooden clothes racks are great for porches & indoors as are retractable lines. I’ve been inspired to look for a retractable line for my porch so I can continue to line dry in bad weather.

For more information, try these sites:

http://laundrylist.org/

http://www.squidoo.com/the-clothesline-debate

http://blog.linedryit.com/2008/05/linedryit—soc.html

Other acknowledgements:
What’s the Hang Up, Sacramento Bee, Mary Lynne Velling, 2001

US Department of Energy

Planet Green

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