Friday, January 7, 2022

Northvolt: the new european battery giant

 Former Tesla employees have built the biggest european battery factory in Skelleftea in the north of Sweden, a report by french newspaper Le Monde:

A decade ago, the future looked bleak in Skelleftea. In the town of 71,500 inhabitants, the size of Corsica, 800 kilometers north of the capital, Stockholm, most mines had closed. Those that still produced minerals had replaced men with machines. In search of a brighter future, the young people headed south. In a burst, in 2015, the municipality set itself the goal of reaching 80,000 inhabitants by 2030. "But we knew it would be very hard," admits today the director of municipal services, Kristina Sundin Jonsson.

This was without counting the miracle that occurred in the fall of 2017, when the company Northvolt, created two years earlier in Stockholm, chose Skelleftea, among 40 Swedish municipalities, to set up its “gigafactory” of electric batteries. At first, the locals only half believed it. The hill above the construction site in the east of the city has been renamed "the hill of the skeptics". Locals have gotten into the habit of climbing up to follow the progress of the work. First, we had to cut down trees over an area the size of 280 football pitches, then level the pitch with explosives. On October 15, 2019, construction of the buildings could finally begin.

Renewables: the devastation of nature for sustainable technologies

Deforestation and environmental devastation from mining activities - especially in third world countries - are the little-known downside of the energy shift, explains WELT:

When Ecuador reported a new wood export record, the spokesman for the indigenous association NAE called for an export stop of the coveted balsa wood. "Stop your investments," said the letter to international donors in June. "The loggers are causing a division among the indigenous brothers."

CERN: on the scent of the Big Bang

 Scientists of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) tried to gain new insights about the Big Bang and gathered fascinating new data, writes WELT:

In search of the origin of our existence, physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva have achieved a record measurement. However, the hope of an explanation for why matter and antimatter did not annihilate each other during the Big Bang has been shattered for the time being, as Stefan Ulmer told the German Press Agency. The physicist is the founder of the Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (BASE) at Cern, which deals with the properties of antimatter.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Germany: is the reactor shutdown a terrible and irreversible mistake?

 A quite interesting insight in the last day of Grohnde Nuclear Power Plant by scientist Anna Veronika Wendland and her criticism of german climate lobby in Salonkolumnisten:

On December 31st, three German nuclear power plants will be forced to shut down, although it is already recognized that the nuclear phase-out was a mistake. Why was it still not possible to save the systems? An insight into what is happening on site - and a search for the causes and the responsible actors.

The Grohnde nuclear power plant goes offline on New Year's Eve. I researched in this nuclear power plant for six years as a long-term observer and wrote parts of my habilitation thesis. And also a number of pieces for the salon columnists. Now I am accompanying the last week in power operation and the transition to post-operation and dismantling.

The facility will be shut down as if one of the more than thirty overhauls that the team had behind them. From 6 p.m. they gradually retract the control rods and go down at 10 megawatts per minute. At 25 percent reactor output, the live steam diversion station opens, and the excess steam that the turbine no longer needs is then fed directly into the condenser. Shortly before midnight we are so low that the reverse power protection triggers the turbine shutdown. The quick-closing valves are closed, the steam flow stops, the generator switch opens and disconnects the system from the mains. From this point in time, our 70 megawatts of own consumption will no longer be produced by us, and Grohnde has met the deadline stipulated in the Atomic Energy Act: shutdown “by December 31 at the latest. 2021 "

EU: EU commission wants to classify nuclear and gas as climate friendly energies

 Right before the release of the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities, also called green taxonomy in january, information got out that the EU commission - pressured by France and Poland - wants to rate nuclear and natural gas as climate friendly energies. Politicians of the Green party are upsed, writes WELT:

The EU Commission wants to classify energy generation from natural gas and nuclear plants as climate-friendly. According to a draft ordinance by the Brussels authority, permits issued for new nuclear power plants by 2045 should come under the so-called taxonomy ordinance and construction should be subsidized accordingly. For new gas infrastructure, this should apply under certain conditions until 2030.

The taxonomy is a kind of classification of sustainable economic activities and is equivalent to a classification as worthy of funding and a recommendation to investors. The EU Commission had already presented the corresponding legal act in April. At the time, however, the authority left out the delicate question of assessing gas and nuclear energy. We should await further expert reports and evaluations.

France: french government is lagging behind EU climate goals

 As France is taking over the presidency of the Council of the EU on january 1st 2022 its climate performances is scrutinized, writes WELT:

Even in normal times France is decisive for the fortunes of the European Union. From January 1st, the country and President Emmanuel Macron will become even more important. Then France will take over the rotating EU Council Presidency, i.e. political leadership and coordination of the 27 member states.

For six months, Paris will play a central role in coordinating negotiations among the member states, formulating strategies and negotiating compromises. It's an important function; The ability of the Council Presidency to determine whether and how legislative proposals progress at European level is crucial.

A lot is expected of politically weighty countries like France during their Council presidencies - not least because they have large civil servants that are necessary to advance the often complex issues.

Germany: consumers hit by high gas and electricity prices; myth of cheap renewables

 As three nuclear power plants have been shut down on new year's eve consumers face skyrocketing prices for gas and elecricity. Consumers pay the price of the energy change in Germany, writes WELT:

Many consumers eager to shop are impatiently waiting for the bargain day called “Black Friday” in the coming week. According to an old tradition, on the last weekend in November you can buy new electricity guzzlers for the household particularly cheaply. But already this week, a completely different “Black Friday” on the energy market may not leave much of the shopping appetite of many shoppers.

Because energy suppliers who want to change their electricity and gas prices on January 1st must, according to the law, announce this six weeks in advance, that is: on the Friday of the week that ends. The announced price increases are likely to trigger a real energy price shock for many.