Terahertz (1,000 MHz) radiation lies between the microwave and far-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, at wavelengths from about 1 to 0.03 mm.
It passes through most materials, including humans but not , therefore it could be used to detect concealed weapons or explosive chemicals.
Whilst devices, known as QCL's have been able to emit light at such wavelengths for some time it required the semiconductor crystals to be cooled to less than 200 Kelvin which ssverely restricted their use.
Now Federico Capasso of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and colleagues from Texas A&M University and ETH Zurich have demonstrated a system that emits terahertz radiation with several-hundred nanowatts of power at room temperature.
This “difference-frequency generation” (DFG) system exploits a characteristic of materials they have developed, so that when illuminated by two frequencies of light, the electrons re-emit photons at both of the individual frequencies as well as the frequency difference. When the two frequencies are in the mid-infrared, the QCL can produce a difference frequency of 5 THz.
Previous systems using this technique required powerful pump lasers and large non-linear crystals to generate the required frequency difference. The new device is electrically pumped. and one small semiconductor crystal a few millimetres in size affords the prospect of portable, small, low power systems.
Such compact semiconductor light sources would have applications in studies of pharmaceutical products, drug detection and determination of disease in skin tissue.... but detecting gun toting terrists is more exciting and assurance of a steady stream of income for the lab.
See recent story on Thruvision
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Terahertz (1,000 MHz) radiation lies between the microwave and far-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, at wavelengths from about 1 to 0.03 mm.
Much excitement greets the publication by the repellant former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan of his book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception," Amazon
"Bush he says, "signed off on a strategy for selling the war that was less than candid and honest.” A strategy absorbed hook line and sinker, by every Western leader and Government , and assiduoulsy peddled for years in the MSM. Well up to a point Lord Copper.
On February 26, 2003 Counterpunch published an An Open Letter to Tony Blair - this was also sent directly to every single UK MP. inter alia it said .." As everyone knows, Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction (i.e gas, biological , nor the means of delivery outside Iraq) all military forces in NATO and UN also know such weapons have limited lethality or use in the battlefield.
Iraq has not and is unlikely to have nuclear weapons or means of delivery in the foreseeable future."
Not a single MP replied to the author.
Weeks later the war criminals launched their troops in a massive, and ilegal invasion equipped with bulky, useless and unecessary MBC suits with superb theatricality, whose exploits were despatched round the world to be hoovered up by an incurious and obedient Press and served pre-digested for the tax payers by the likes of puffy, adolescent McClellan.
Aflatoxin M1 is the hydroxylated metabolite of aflatoxin B1 and is a contaminant in milk obtained from animals eating contaminated feedstock. Aflatoxins are potent liver carcinogens and DNA -damaging agents. The MI metabolite has known mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic activity.
Aflatoxin B1 is often / usually found to be derived from the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus in crops stored in high humidity and also on crops harvested in drought conditions as plants infection resistance is lowered.
On Tuesday the Cyprus Milk Industry Organisation was making its quarterly inspection for aflatoxin and discovered high and unacceptable levels in milk which resulted in the destruction of over 100 tons of milk from 53 farms.
The Cyprus Cattle Farmers’ Organisation said yesterday it suspected the contamination had occurred from maize imported from India which had been used to feed livestock. It is widely estimated that 25% of the world's food crops are contaminated by moulds that can produce toxic or cancer-causing substances.
This is not wholly unexpected as a sttudy in 4 Italian cities in 1995 of 159 samples of milk, 97 samples of dry milk for infant formula, and 114 samples of yogurt were randomly collected in supermarkets and drug stores and tested for aflatoxin M1. It was detected in 136 (86%) of the milk samples (in amounts ranging from < 1 ng/liter to 108.5 ng/liter; mean level: 10.19 ng/liter), in 81 (84%) of the dry milk samples (in amounts ranging from < 1 ng/liter to 101.3 ng/kg; mean level: 21.77 ng/kg), and in 91 (80%) of the yogurt samples (in amounts ranging
from <>only 3 samples exceeded Swiss guidelines (regarded as the most stringent) for contamination.
It is interesting that in this Italian survey there was a seasonal variation as samples collected November to April were approximately 4 times as high as those in samples collected in the period of May to October.
In 2007 The Government Chemist tested 13 samples submitted for the determination of aflatoxins: varieties of nuts, chillies, figs, and compound products, namely pistachio nougat and peanut bites. In all cases completed in 2007, the government chemist confirmed the results of the official control laboratory, and the food consignment was re-exported.
On Friday May 23rd the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA)issued notices that ther had been an observed increase in aflatoxins from Turkish dried fruits - fig paste and recommended testing in accordanace with Commission Regulation (EC) 401/2006. They have written again to companies about sampling dried fig imports or dried fig-based products from Turkey for aflatoxins.
As global grain stores dwindle we must expect the "food consignment was re-exported" consignments cropping up somewhere. Eternal vigilance.
Tony Blair now an official papist as well as war criminal , avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled "a nutter" This was revealed in November last year when the BBC screened The Blair Years, and he explained that his faith had been "hugely important" to his premiership.
Launching his Faith Foundation the BBC report that Tony Blair believes that faith is the new battleground. He believes it's been hijacked by extremists - from all religions, he's careful to say. Faith, he says, needs to be claimed back by those who believe in co-existence.
This is a huge departure for a man who as prime minister was reluctant to speak of his faith.
Is it ?
Recently with the star of an Illinois Senator rising we have been examining the complex world of Chicago politics and the movers and shakers, some who turned up a private (and unreported) speech the fledgling warrior for faith made when as the first serving British prime minister he addressed The Economic Club of Chicago on April 23, 1999, when the assorted force of NATO were bombing modern cities from 20,000 feet.
“While we meet here in Chicago this evening," he started , "unspeakable things are happening in Europe. Awful crimes that we never thought we would see again have reappeared— ethnic cleansing, systematic rape, mass murder."
Continuing in his very personal vein he continued , "On its 50th birthday, NATO must prevail.
Milosevic had, I believe, convinced himself that the Alliance would crack. But I am certain that this weekend’s summit in Washington under President Clinton’s leadership will make our unity and our absolute resolve clear for all to see. Success is the only exit strategy I am prepared to consider."
“Yet, as with the parable of the individuals and the talents so those nations which have the power, have the responsibility. We need you engaged. We need the dialogue with you. Europe over time will become stronger and stronger, but its time is some way off."
“I say to you: never fall again for the doctrine of isolationism. The world cannot afford it. Stay a country, outward-looking, with the vision and the imagination that is in your nature. And realize that in Britain you have a friend and an ally that will stand with you, work with you, fashion with you the design of a future built on peace and prosperity for all, which is the only dream that makes humanity worth preserving.”
Those interested in Blair's apparent acceptance of religious principle as a Prime Minister and prime mover in his world, are advised to read the complete speech and ponder how many UK politicians would ever use the parable of talents . ... and how many in the UK audience would understand it.
Those interested in the power world of Chicago politics might wish to consider the 22 year reign by Ms. Grace Barry as President of the Economic Club of Chicago, resident at swanky, exclusive 2440 Lakeview who gave Obama US$500 in Q1/2007 , US$3,150 in Q4 2007 and US$5,256 in Q2 2008 in his run for the Presidency.
Ms. Barry is an accomplished entrepreneur and business owner. In 1994, she co-founded Grabur International Inc., a retail gift and concession business. Grabur formed a partnership with W. H. Smith, a U.K. serving travelers forming Chicago Air Ventures in 1996, which operated news, gifts, and bookstores at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago which she sold in 2003. She also successfully founded and served as President of Café Galleria Inc. from 1993 to 1996.
From 1989 to 1996, Ms. Barry served as a Commissioner on the Cable Commission of the City of Chicago. In that position, she drew on her experience as the former Director of Cablevision Systems in Chicago, a leading national cable television company.
Ms. Barry has served as a consultant and advisor on economic development, public affairs, housing, human resources and education to The U.S. Departments of Labor, Housing & Urban Development; the Cities of New York, Buffalo and Chicago; The Carnegie Foundation; Fordham University; The Chicago Project; and to private housing developers in Boston and Upstate New York.
If interested you might kick off with this post Sunday, February 24, 2008 Joining some of the Dots : Pt 27 Nahdmi Auchi ,Ibitsam Auchi, Antoin "Tony" Rezko , Barack Obama, Talat Othman and George Bush via Peter Carter-Fuck especially The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922 as The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, whose VP Community and External Affairs is Director Michelle Obama who has some fascinating pals at Sidley Austin LLP.
Gormless Gordon demonstrates classic "Displacement Behaviour" as thorny decisions in UK energy needs crystallise
Lord Patel had a step mother in his early life who was an industrious, thrifty, hardworking and earnest soul. In a world of post war shortages she would carefully save paper bags, parcel string and rubber band. The tin of buttons dutifully clipped and kept from discarded clothes provided the infant Lord Patel endless fun and amusement.
A particularly thrifty habit was to save the greasepoof paper that Ministry of Supply half pound blocks of margarine came wrapped in - a nauseous product identified by children as axle grease and said to be the result of melting down grandmothers. A particular kitchen dresser drawer was used to retain these distinctive greasy brown printed paper wrappers.
The exiguous quantities of sickeningly pale margerine, left after a knife had removed everything but a few remaining nano particles would be vigorously smeared on baking trays as a release agent with remarkable energy and only despatched onto the back of the fire when she was satsified that every last remaining smear of the rare and expensive commodity had been utilised.
One imagines that such Caledonian thrift was also exercised in the kitchens of the Brown manse and was passed down along with a fever for collecting candle ends and saving sealing wax.
For such is the process that Gormless Gordon set in train in abandoning the excessive 50% Petroleum Development Tax on fields which started yielding their precious oily cargo before 1993 in the earnest hope that developers will be encouraged to pump the remaining and hard won buckets of black gold with the fervour that Lord Patel's quasi antecedent released the last monomolecular layers of hydrogenated animal fat from margarine wrappers.(see chart of the biggest N Sea oil field which will benefit - the possible output increases are nugatory - the actual list of fields affected appears to be a state secret, telephone enquiries for furtehr and better particulars is fruitless, "Why do you want to know ?" was one initial response. )
Gormless Gordon's worthless gesture politics is exposed by the clinical, brief and telling analysis by Euan Mearns at The Oil Drum " Why oil costs over $120 per barrel" - which was also, astonishingly, fairly well (if briefly) covered on BBC2 TV's Newsnight last night by someone whose name , rank and number were missed but who mentioned "Peak Oil" thus ensuring he will never be be grilled by the divinely beautiful Emily Maitlis again.
We posted about Gordon's raging enthusiasm for nuclear power on Thursday , May 29, 2008
Hutton , Brown call for "a significant expansion of nuclear power " ... well up to a point Lord Copper and the accelerating problems over delay and cost for TVO's 1,600-MW Olkiluoto-3 EPR plant.
The weekend European edition of the Wall Street Journal (page 17 - also available here) has a brief commentary by Henry Sokolski of the Washington based Nonproliferation Policy Education Centre about Italian nuclear energy plans excitedly promoted by the arithemetically challenged Senor Berlusconi last week. The genial pipe smoking Henry makes claims that :
1. German Utility company E.On who favour the Areva EPR plant for their (still hazy) plans for UK nuclear plants (see below) say that construction cost are now looking to be €6 Bn = €3.75 MW see table below). (Not including nuclear waste management cost and plant operating costs)
2. Major US Utility Florida Light and Power have arrived at similiar costs for nuclear build.
3. That this figure equals the cost of 10 modern CCGT gas fired planst each yielding the same energy output
4. Edison SPA has warned that , "the first (Italian nuclear) plant would have trouble becoming operational before 2020"
5. Italian energy "experts" see the talk of the need for State aid/guarantees as apart of a sinister European plot by major groups (E.On, RWE, EDF) arranging massive Government support to squeeze out competitors at the same time that the EU is "officially" eliminating subsidies and encouraging commercial competition.
6. He points out that both french and German subsidies for Areva and Siemens for the Finnish Olkiluoto plant have been upheld by the European Commission after several complaints.... as it supports EU carbon emission objectives.
7. Due to the post Chernobyl hiatus in nuclear generating plant building, the EU has 145 reactors (plants may have more than 1 reactor) that are scheduled for closure withing the next 17 years so that net growth in EU nuclear output is decades away.
On top of this the reader is directed to a "Spotlight" podcast available of Henry Edwards Evans Editor of Platts Power Europe discussing the dramatic slowdown in new build energy generation projects which are hit by , component bottlenecks, soaring capital costs (see chart) , longer lead times, and most important the unkowns associated with Phase III of the EU carbon trade program and beyond 2020 to the "carbon price".
He also identifes the problems that the demands of requiring carbon capture / reduction / sequestration of new coal plants (EU has plans for 12 "demonstration plants by 2015) which doubles costs, and the energy penalty which reduces efficiency, he uses the phrase .."out of the money". Viz the E.On Kingsnorth plant, the first coal fired plant proposed in the UK for 20 years , (despite local opposition) that now has planning permission but awaits approval (initially by the then Energy Minister John Hutton) to go ahead without an agreed carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The current Kingsnorth coal fired plant is due to close by 2015 because of the European Union’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which places strict limits on emissions.
E.On has already planned to replace the aged Isle of Grain plant in Kent that is due to close with a new, gas-fired combined heat and power plant at the Isle of Grain , their ironbridge plant will shut by 2015. Meanwhile Government go-ahead for Kingsnorth remains firmly in the in-tray at BERR .
Into this heady mix E.On have also indicated they might use the Kingsnorth and Isle of Grain plants for their favoured Areva EPR nuclear plants.
...and all the while the looming UK Energy Deficit , grows larger ... and nearer. ,,, and the debate (?) over the critical importance of UK energy security is adroitly diverted to discussions about "social tariffs", "fuel poverty" definitions and "zero carbon emission" housing , "Warm Fronts" with all the energy that medieval bishops discussed the size and number of seraphims that could comfortable dance on the head of a pin... "Labour plans fuel help for the poor" .. measures to be announced ... pilot scheme to ensure people applying for Warm Front grants are referred to their energy supplier for tariff advice... £150,000 on .. rolling out of watchdog Ofgem's national Citizens Advice Bureau awareness campaign on social assistance for the vulnerable.Vulnerable 'still at risk of fuel poverty' Scotsman / Fuel poverty plan at a glance BBC News / Row erupts over new fuel poverty action plan Times
God Help us
Friday, May 30, 2008
Norwegian Yara International makes record sales/profits by selling fertilisers at record prices set by global fertiliser industry cartel
Yara International ASA has just announced the purchase of 25% of Agrico Canada Ltd,a privately owned fertiliser distribution in Canada Agrico which has has 42 full-time employees and annual revenues of approximately C$ 160 Mn. in 2007.
Yara is a global company based in Oslo, Norway and is the wrold's larst company involved in making and supplying agricultural fertilisers and it happily fits in the global cartel of fertiliser producers - the results of which show up in Q1 2008 results published yesterday . They show sales up for the quarter from NOK 13.5 Mn. (Norwegian Kroner) by 54% to NOK 20.8Bn.(US$4 Bn.) resulting in earnings per Share (EPS) rocketing up by an eye watering 260% from NOK 3.7 to NOK 9.63.
Sales by weight in KiloTonnes rose 20 % from 6,016 Kt. to 7,253 Kt. of which 85% was fertilisers which demonstrates how the gross margin has ...er .... expanded.
The company Market capitalization is NOK 112.8 Bn = US$22Bn.The shares have had a stunning run from around NOK 100 in September 2007, quadrupling in 9 months and closed yesterday at NOK 387.
The company produce an Annual Fertiliser Handbook which is worth examining, the last one available is for 2007 here for example is a useful breakdown of cost for growing wheat in the US for 2005.
The three large grain crops, wheat, rice and maize (corn), consume about half of all fertilizer used in agriculture all have which have seen massive price increases in the last 18-24 months.
Measured in terms of production capacity, Yara is the globally the largest in ammonia (1/3rd of market) , nitrates and NPK. Application rates vary with the crop for example Nitrogen fertiliser application rates are typically Corn (US) 150 kg / HA, Soy (US) 30 kg / HA ,Sugar cane (Brazil) 80 kg / HA , Rapeseed (Germany) 170 kg / HA, which helps to explain why m,any US mid west farmers faced with fertiliser costs have converted to soya from corn with much lower cash inputs.
Interestingly the increased cost of fertiliser have helped drive up biofuel crops resulting in making them uncompetitive against mineral oil fuels ..... until oil burst through about US$90 a barrel.
Fertiliser production Europe has declined in the last decade and imports have risen.. The poor grain harvest of 2002/3 , resultant low stocks and high prices led to increased imports which was grew as CAP reform (set aside etc.,) also contributed to somewhat lower domestic resulting in non focused EU chemical companies plants closing capacity.
Now CAP reform has discarded set aside, demand has increased, fed by external supplies at the high prices forced by the industry's global cartelization. This chart may help plus recent posts this week..
It is remarkable how the media have totally failed to identify, refer to, monitor the way the global fertiliser cartel has ramped prices and in the process seen astonishing profit growth.
Samuel Johnson accomanied the widow Thrale to the sale of her husband's brewery and famously said . "You have before you not simple a mess of pots, kettles and pans but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice." ... ditto fertiliser companies faced with a hungry world.
Don't forget you heard it here first.
Hot News Update 5pm BST Friday 30/5/08 MagIndustries Corporation (TSX:MAA listed 2000) (Toronto, Ontario Mkt Cap C$500MN( has announced their subsidiary company MagMinerals has obtained the right to mine for potash in Kouilou region (slightly bigger than the State of Connecticut population 900K (ish))Republic of Congo for 25 years. MagMinerals will develop a US$723 million 1.2 million ton per year Kouilou Potash mine and processing plant located near the Atlantic port of Pointe Noire, in Southern Congo region where they are also building a magnesium plant. This potash plant will be the biggest planned for the next 5 years.
In the past month MagPotash has raised an initial C$100 million for project development. )Click to enlarge map)
The Aspleniaceae are a worldwide , single genus family of ferns with over 700 known species. Due to the distinctive shape of the sorae or "seed" capsules on the underside of the "leaves" (more correctly pinnae in ferns) they have long been considered to be specific by the doctrine of signatures to be beneficial for splenetic disorders - there is no evidence to support thisbelief. Here are two easily recognised species to find and identify as you take up country walks. (Do NOT pick wildflowers).
Many people get confused identifying ferns but the 2 species shown here and photographed today are very widespread and fairly common throughout Eastern North America and Europe and easily identified.
Damp shaded walls will often be showing seedlings in mortar cracks, which will not have grown seed cases yet.
A.ruta muraria L. ( a very rare case of a double worded specific name) or Wall Rue, refers to the similarity of the leaves to the herbal plant , Rue , which is actually related to the Buttercups. Wall Rue has historically been used as a specific for scrofula - a form of tuberculosis characterized by festering abscesses and swelling of the lymph glands in the neck. Almost unknown for decades it has returned as problem for AIDS patients with severely challenged immune systems.
The bright yellow green Maidenhair Spleenwort with darak brown almost black leaf stalks is also known by other common names including Asplénium rue-de-muraille (Fr.) , Seinäraunioinen (Fin.), Zanokcica murowa (Pol.) ,Ruda de muros (Sp.) Mauer-Streifenfarn (Ger.), Murruta (Sw.) Murruda (Den.)
Common names for A. trichomanes L. include Doradille Chevelue (Qué), Svartbräken, Bergspring, Stenbräken, Vanlig Svartbräken (Swe), Svartburkne (Nor), Rundfinnet Radeløv (Dan), Tummaraunioinen (Fin), Brauner Streifenfarn (Ger), Aranyos Fodorka (Hun) which relate to the belief that, because they grow in cracks in rocks and walls, thei roots penetrate and break the stone.
Maidenhair refers to the tufts of curled, black, dried leafless stalks left in the winter.
Thursday, May 29, 2008. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the ruling Kadima Party must prepare to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, raising pressure on the embattled Israeli leader to step down in light of a growing corruption investigation.
Livni said she favored holding a party primary. "In this way, we can operate to restore the trust in Kadima."
Olmert is due to see Bush in Washington next week.
Full story here
Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L ), HBOS (LSE: HBOS.L) and Bradford and Bingley (LSE: BB.L ) have all announced major rights issues critical to their companies to recover from the losses piled up by imprudent jiggling with financial flannel and monetary legerdemain.
RBOS rights issue shares are priced at 200p today (Friday)the shares closed at 228.5p
Underwriters UBS , Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch , will be left with a sizeable chunk of unsealeable shares - leaving a large and very nasty stock overhang for years.
Bradford and Bingley made a £300Mn cash call on share holders on 14th May when shares traded at 135 p (435 p May 3oth 2007) the issue price is 80p. Today (Friday) they closed @ 88.25 p (they fell 7% today) Underwriters Citi and UBS will be left holding a chunk - as will the Directors have bravely agreed to take up their rights.
HBOS made a rights issue to to raise £4Bn at the end of April when shares were at 492 p and are today Friday closed at 400p, against the 275 p rights issue. The issue is fully underwritten by Dresdner Kleinwort and Morgan Stanley
Failure of these banks to raise funds from shareholders will have cataclysmic results in City finacial markets - also expect "sovereign funds " to Hoover up cheap equity and maybe major banking re-shuffles are already underway.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Hutton , Brown call for "a significant expansion of nuclear power " ... well up to a point Lord Copper
On the 27th June 2006 Prime Minister Tony Blair met a selection of magazine editors for a special question and answer session in the State Dining Room of Number 10.
He said in a unreported remark, " ....there is a simple stark fact that I would just like to put in front of people, which is we are going to go over the next 15 or 20 years to a situation where: one, the 20% that we get of our electricity from nuclear is going to decline to virtually zero; and two, where we are going to go from being 80 or 90% self-sufficient in oil and gas, to 80 or 90% importing it."
Tom Foulkes, the far sighted Director General of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) , introduced the report The "State of the Nation 2003" (31/07/2003) which the Press Release said, "Britain will become completely reliant upon energy sources supplied via pipelines from politically unstable countries thousands of miles away. The ‘State of the Nation 2003’ report highlights a potential 80% shortfall in meeting the country’s energy demands from current supplies by 2020, and points to the possibly cataclysmic effects of becoming reliant upon unsecured, imported fuel supplies."
It is better to read the whole thing but this statement 5 years ago provides a flavour ..
"“This country has been largely self sufficient in electricity generation for the past 100 years. We have been able to ride through a succession of energy crises, such as oil in 1973, coal in the early 1980s and the self-inflicted petrol crisis of 2000. All of these had the potential to inflict serious economic damage, but this was largely avoided by the fuel mix and diversity available at the time.
This is about to change dramatically. Currently our generation mix for electricity is approximately 32% coal, 23% nuclear, 38% gas, 4% oil with 3% others and renewables. Emission constraints mean that the UK’s coal-powered generating plants will close shortly after 2016 and only one nuclear power station will remain operational beyond 2020, due to the Government’s failure to invest in maintaining and upgrading Britain’s nuclear power programme. At present, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and wave can only provide a fraction of the total requirement.
Mindful of the outages this week ...David Anderson, chair of ICE’s Energy Board, said (remeber this was 5 years ago): “The Government simply isn’t taking on board the generation mix that will be needed beyond 2020 if security of supply and meeting our environmental commitments are both to be achieved. A return to the blackouts that marked the ‘Winter of Discontent’ and the country grinding to a halt are very real possibilities in less than 20 years time.
Here at The Forth Coming UK Energy deficit (FCUKED) HQ we have emblazoned the messages ..
The biggest waste at the moment is the waste of precious time.
Critical to the simpleton Brown's desire for a significant expansion of nuclear power offering "breathtaking" opportunities for British industry is the availability of trained and skilled engineers within th UK. A point repeatedly raised by ICE.
It is therefore worth considering the experience of Areva and Siemens in Finland in building their 5th nuclear reactor , the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor at Pori in SW Finland, which was was due to commence operations in 2009.
WE have posted about this often but the post of Thursday, July 13, 2006 Short-sighted energy planning threatens bleak future highlighted the report of Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) when it became apparent then that production was at least 12 months delayed and cost were rising. STUK identified several problems of project management leading to delays, though they stated that none undermines or compromise nuclear safety on the site - principally because no nuclear engineering had taken place.
They did point to the major problems experienced with labour , "The total manpower on the construction site of Olkiluoto 3 is 730, with more than twenty different nationalities represented on the site. Finnish workers account for more than half of the manpower. The number of German and French employees is ca. 250 at present."
At the time we said "before our Dear Leader starts planning on a "fleet of replacement reactors" perhaps we should start checking on the engineering, manpower resources available for the task." a point raised by Lord Jenkin in March in the House of Lords , when Lord Marlesford: (Con. Life Peer 1991) asked : "My Lords, does Britain have the capability to design and construct a nuclear power station so that it can come on stream, as the Government’s target has it, in 2020? If it does not, history will judge the Government harshly for the 10 years of delay in making a major strategic decision."
Environmental and social aspects are being addressed but economic issues are being fudged.
The Prime Minister first discussed the need for nuclear power publicly on Feb 1st 2005 explaining that the Government then had no plans for nuclear power plant building.
Since then we have had much concern about the environment, green taxes,gobal warming and much discussion but fuck all has been done - resulting as panic sets in for plans next week to set up a form of administrative and bureaucratic bulldozer to override standard planningmatters, even on sites (Littlehampton on the South Coast being one such site) not curently furnished with an ageing and decaying nuclear plant.
Therefore it is worth taking another look at TVO's 1,600-MW Olkiluoto-3 EPR and at STUK's 2007 annual nuclear safety report, which appeared on the inspectorate's website May 12. It paints an unhappy picture as the plant is at least 2 years behind and way over budget with major construction concerns. "The construction of the Olkiluoto 3 plant unit has proved more demanding than expected"
Defects in welding at Olkiluoto 3 last year forced repairs to a steel liner assembled during the summer. (Page 42 has a list of problems with welding , forgings, concrete porosity and sealing,
non-conformities in the casting of the base slab etc.,)
STUK said the diameters of the cylinders welded together were slightly different; that welding conditions changed during work; and that welders had made mistakes.
The report said that audits of manufacturers and suppliers showed that some subcontractors had not taken nuclear safety requirements into account in their work.
The report also noted that time pressure in assembling components caused the manufacturer and supplier in a few cases to set a date for inspection so early that the pre-requirements for inspection were not met, and inspections had to be rescheduled. Further, the manufacture of diesel generators was begun before approval of design.
"It is a challenge in this type of project when the design is done at the same time as construction of structures and components," Gulp.
Petteri Tiippana, is responsible for regulatory oversight of Olkiluoto-3 at Finland's nuclear inspectorate STUK, as the project is entering a more complex (and critical) phase of construction.
New subcontractors would soon be arriving on site, and Tiippana highlights that "again poses the challenge to lead contractor Areva's team to adequately manage these teams so they follow the rules and principles of good working on a nuclear construction site."
Tiippana said work is about to start installing components, piping systems, pumps, valves, heat exchangers and electromechanical equipment at the world's first European Pressurized Water Reactor. The reactor pressure vessel is being made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan and of steam generators at the factory of Chalon in France . Skoda in the Czech Republic, are manufacturing of reactor pressure vessel internals and the steel liner that ensures the leaktightness of the containment vessel is being made in Poland.
Can we be sure the lights will stay on ?
It is vital that Europe learns from Olkiluoto 3. delays add costs. The original budget of €3-3.2 billion can probably now be doubled. Areva and Siemens have been making undisclosed provisions.. but it is obviously hurting.
Long lead time and higher engineering standards required for nuclear construction make gas-fired capacity attractive. Global costs pressures are frcing costs on a novel and challenging project for the first of a kind nuclear project.There is a shortage in skilled engineering resource, and growing uncertainty on delivery dates because of bottlenecks in the supply of certain components.
In April two major (and well informed) Utility figures spoke about the concerns that a nuclear revival could be slowed or even halted if the current supply chain crunch ends up pricing nuclear out of the market.
Gerd Jaeger, is an engineer and Executive Vice President of RWE Power AG he has warned vendors must "de-bottleneck the bottlenecks" at the front end of the nuclear power plant supply chain. Because of a shortage of manufacturing capacity for large forgings, vendors are asking potential customers to commit far in advance of concrete reactor projects.
Sandor Liive, CEO of Eesti Energia, the Estonian state-owned utility, said his company is considering several options for nuclear power because "nuclear is an option that any energy company that wants to be competitive in the future has to consider."
Among the options are construction, with Latvia, Lithuania and (perhaps) Poland, of a new plant at Ignalina, participation in a new reactor in Finland, and construction of a domestic nuclear plant.
Liive said Eesti Energia was "thinking about nuclear" only because the cost of domestic power production from oil shale was rising above the projected cost of nuclear power from new plants, at around €45/MWh.
At that level, which implied a capital cost of €2 million a megawatt, new nuclear was attractive, he said. "But if it were €3 million per MW and €65-70/MWh, there's no point" in investing in a new nuclear plant, "at least from Eesti Energia's viewpoint." (If he 1,600-MW Olkiluoto comes in at €5 million plus we are looking at well over €3 million per MW )
Material cost pressures affect all energy generating projects -- CCGTs, coal, wind, hydro, wave , not just nuclear.
RWE's Jaeger has revealed that nuclear power plant vendors are asking utilities to put down "hundreds of millions of euros" to reserve large forgings needed for the nuclear steam supply systems of modern reactors. It was "prohibitive for an investor" to commit such sums "at a very early stage of a project," when they did not know if the project would proceed.
Jaeger said that even in countries where new nuclear plants were on the agenda, "it's rather difficult to convince all the decision-makers" who need to act before a plant can be ordered and construction started.
He cited the need for public debate, time needed for regulatory approvals, and "the political environment" as uncertainties in a nuclear plant project schedule. Jaeger said "innovative approaches" were needed to finance new nuclear projects, in which risk is shared equitably among all parties.
It is evident that Gormless Gordon hasn't a clue of the problems in even placing inittial contracts for the first plants, the costs involved, the problems of manpower, especially skilled engineers. he is of course busy balancing global supply and dermand of the 300US$Trillion global oil market by easing the Petroleum Development Tax on 30 minor fields in the North Sea which were opened prior to 1993.
For more on the insane plans for training nuclear workers see Tuesday, May 20, 2008 FCUKED - UK Nuclear Policy absolutely un-fucking believable Meanwhile Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd vendors of the ACR-1000 Nuclear Reactor', have withdrawn from the opportunity to supply citing that they wish ..." to concentrate on opportunities in the Canadian market."
If EDF take over British Energy as expected they will naturally choose the French state owned Areva 1600 MWe European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) curently being leaisurely insatlled in Finalnd. This is also the choice of German power Utility Eon should they decide to join in Gormless Gordon's grand designs.
One thing of which you can be certain , if anything is done, it is going to cost the UK taxpayer a lot of money (say the cost of Northern Wreck) although we should be minful of the wise words of Baroness Vadera in response to Lord Desai's question in the House of Lords : My Lords, I am pleased to say that that will be a risk carried by the private sector. (Like the London Underground perhaps ? In which Shreiking Lady Vadera was much involved)
...and Lord Desai's question on March 18th this year ?
"My Lords, will the Government make sure that the nuclear plants are not only delivered on time but also at the proper cost—not with the usual 300 per cent overruns —and that they produce power economically?"
Ho.Ho.Ho as we say at FCUKED
It's worth remembering there are plenty of other folks already in the queue for new plant ahead of the UK ..
Home Offfice in bid to bring violent crime to your mobile, laptop, radio station . If you are not scared now you soon will be..
The “Get Unhooked” NHS anti smoking campaign last year was created by Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy. It ran across television, poster, national press and magazines, and online.It cost overall more than £8Mn.
The campaign triggered a record 774 complaints from the public under the The Advertising Standards Association (ASA) CAP Code - Rules FEAR AND DISTRESS
9.1 No marketing communication should cause fear or distress without good reason. Marketers should not use shocking claims or images merely to attract attention.
Faced with this unprecedented barrage of complaint the ASA adjudicated the campaign . They banned it - the first Government ads to be banned for 5 years.
It is therefore unbelievable that the Home Office have comitted £3 MN to a "hard hitting" campaign running on radio, websites and mobile phones,featuring;
1. Fake CCTV footage - featuring actors - of an artily chairoscuro shadowed and sinister brutal street fight and stabbing on a shopping street., creepily reminsicent of the droogs in Clockwork Orange which Director Kubrick wouldn't allow to be shown because he felt is encouraged violence.
2. Vivid scenes of , a man with a Swiss army knife and a screwdriver sticking out of his chest, exposed intestines which have emerged from a knife wound, a leg which has become gangrenous after a knife attack and deep wounds to the bone. All this blood and gore accompanied by a script overseen by a trauma surgeon.
3. Mothers will be targeted with ads, encouraging them to talk about the issue with their children.
Vernon Coaker, the Home Office Minister, is pleased that they have recruited children (unpaid ?) to contribute ideas, which is like Tesco asking their customers to devise their advertising.
The result is a campaign that makes dubious claims (see pic) * which will revolt many, upset more and prove like similiar "hard hitting" campaigns for hard drugs, to have zero on the behaviour of the target audience.
It does of course conform to the persistent Government / Police campaign to generate a carapace of fear over everyone who walks the streets at night. helping to justify yet more and insistent demands for "tough" legislation and increasing Police powers.
Sir Ian Blair, whose officers ** murdered Charles de Menezes in public with 7 shots at point blank range in his head welcomes the campaign and warns ..."You are now more likely to be stopped and searched..." . Of course you are.
If, after seeing the vulgar, grisly results of pissing away £3 Mn and you wish (along with Lord Patel) to complain to the ASA go here.
** Officers led by counter terrorism "expert" , Assistant Chief Constable "Randy" Andy Hayman who left the force abruptly after being found to have fiddled his exes and spent his time shagging his staff whose promotion he had secured.
* "The statistics on the extent of knife crime are extremely patchy – for instance the police have only started keeping figures for attempted murder, wounding and robbery involving knives since last April. " Independent todaythey add ...." Violent attacks using a knife remain statistically very rare events in Britain. The numbers of such assaults appear to have remained stable over the last decade "
Another supplier of agricultural fertilisers and members of the International fertiliser cartel , Israel Chemicals Ltd., (ICL (TASE)) who exploit the Dead Sea potash deposits have just reported a sales and profits bonanza. "ICL Fertilizers enjoys access to one of the world's most abundant and low-cost sources of potash. It is one of the world’s largest producers of potash (10% of world production) and an integrated producer of a variety of products based on phosphate rock mined in Israel's Negev desert, including phosphate fertilizers, phosphoric acid and specialty fertilizers. ".. ans also unwittingly helps propel Kassem rockets from Gaza to Sderot and Ashkelon.
Q1 '08 earnings quadrupled from , US$90.9 million last year to US$346.7 million . Sales including those from Supresta and Henkel, acquired during last year rose in all markets but particularly in South America, Europe and Asia , from US$ 883 Mn to US1.52 Bn. Gross profit margin increased from 34%. to 48%.
It is interesting to note that the company posted this information on April 30th 2008.
"We would like to report that ICL Fertilizers has entered into an agreement with a Chinese customer for the sale of Potash ending December 2008 whereby ICL is to supply about 300 thousands tons of Potash at a price which is US$ 400 per ton higher than in the previous agreement."Which followed a not dissimiliar posting (well identical actually) by Mosaic on April 16th which we posted about yesterday Global cartels force Potash and Phosphate fertiliser prices to record levels
Read here about how Israeli fertiliser products end up in Kassem rockets Spiegel online Visit to Kassem Rocket Factory in Gaza 29/1/2008
The Guradian headlines again ... "Oil .. puts heat on Brown",
Motoring organisations yesterday called on Gordon Brown to defer ... rise in fuel duty after a surprise production .... sent crude prices rocketing..blah,blah,blah.....
With prices at the pump already up blah , blah ........ analysts warned of further increases in store for drivers following Opec's announcement......... blah, blah ....
Mr Brown is expected to announce a 1.28p a litre rise in fuel duty....The increase was planned for the Budget but delayed for six months ...blah...blah
"This is very much a triple whammy for the motorist and even a quadruple whammy if you happen to drive a diesel-powered vehicle," said RAC Foundation traffic and road safety manager Kevin Delaney. Lorry drivers' organisations said the rise would add... to the cost of running a heavy goods vehicle.
"The government must take a sensible and flexible approach to road fuel taxation and make tax decisions in the light of the prevailing oil prices rather than treating road users as the taxpayer of last resort," said Freight Transport Association chief economist Simon Chapman.
But, with the public finances stretched and a delayed duty increase built into the arithmetic, Mr Brown is not expected to forgo the extra.......revenue...... blah, blah .. tax...
With the UK-US governing coalition promising further increases in Iraq's exports, Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said at OPEC meeting ... "It is better that we start before we witness a very bad situation in the market." //blah. blah ....oil prices rise ... blah ...blah
But what is this ?
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 122 points to 9,454 within minutes of the opening bell. In London ... the FTSE 100 index still managed to break a three-day losing streak to close up 14.7 points to 4,236.4.
Prices rose on the decision, causing jitters in global stock markets. In London, benchmark Brent crude for November delivery rose by $1.21 to $26.73 a barrel, while in New York US light, sweet crude was trading at $28.40 a barrel, up $1.27.
Yes! That's the Guradian p 22, 25 September 2003. FIVE YEARS AGO Petrol Price AA September 2003 Unleaded 95 (regular) UK average price was 76.6 /litre = £3.48 Gallon. Toni Fabuloso just filled up the Aston Martin DB4 with Regular 95 at Tesco @ 113.9 p /litre ... the Footsie was up 40 at 6109 five minutes ago and Texas sweet Crude was US$126 / barrel.
The Webb-Pomerene Act 40 Stat. 517 (1918), 15 U.S.C. 62 enacted in 1918 was a litle known result of WW1 that exempts associations of U.S. firms engaged in export trade from U.S.antitrust laws, so long as they do not restrain any U.S. competitor of the association . The stated intentions were to, "to aid and encourage our manufacturers and producers to extend our foreign trade," without significantly injuring American consumers - No act done by the export association could be "in restraint of trade within the United States." Congress anticipated in the post war world an eager American business community taking advantage of the opportunity to pool its facilities, resources, and expertise in launching an ambitious joint exporting program.
In a fascinating insight into the legislators minds of the time promoters of the bill Senator Atlee Pomerene (Ohio) said bluntly, "[W]e have not reached that high plane of business morals which will permit us to extend the same privileges to the peoples of the earth outside of the United States that we extend to those within the United States." 55 Cong. Rec. 2787 (1917). Congressman Webb declared, "I would be willing that there should be a combination between anybody or anything for the purpose of capturing the trade of the world, if they do not punish the people of the United States in doing it." 55 Cong. Rec. 3580 (1917).
This Act lay undisturbed by the Courts until 1968 when the US Government claimed that the Phosphate Association in exporting products to South Korea , payed for by The Agency for International Development (AID) (Now USAID) and sued them for contravention of the Anti-Trust Sherman Act and sought relief. They won their case but then lost on Appeal in the Supreme Court U.S. v. Phosphate Export Assn., 393 U.S. 199 (1968). The Phosphate manufacturers operate in world markets, so their prices are dictated by world markets and they may operate in those markets as they wish. And they do.
This curious and arcane piece of legislation is now the focus of some attention as the price of fertiliser for US farmers ( never mind those lesser breeds peoples of the earth outside of the United States who also buy fertilisers) has soared, yielding margins for suppliers "beyond the dreams of avarice".
There are two principal mineral components of modern agricultural fertilisers ( we have dealt the urea based fertilisers produced from natural gas here previously Wednesday, June 20, 2007
US swapping oil security for fertiliser insecurity and higher farm and food costs ) phosphate and potash. Phosphate sold at some US$365 a ton last year and this year around US$1,000, and Potash is selling at similiar prices. demand is growing rapidly for example the IFA and Fertecon have estimated that within the next 6-8 years the demand for potash fertilizer will be growing 3-4% by the year, while certain states, including China, India and Brazil may see it grow by as much as 5%. This is on top of growth 1999 - 2006 of global demand for Potassium chloride rise 24.8%.
The price rises are not accidental, there is an effective international cartel comprising the US based Phosphate Chemical Association , the Canadian Canpotex (protected by an exemption in Canadas Competition Law) and the Russian Belarus Potash Company (BPC).
US based companies such as Minnesota based Mosaic (Cargill has a controlling take) , the Canadian company Agrium, the Potash Company of Saskatchewan happily operate within this cosy marketing arrangement, see also post on Thursday, January 10, 2008 In the fertiliser
The way they operate is none too subtle , On the BPC website there is a notice ..
"April 22, 2008 Minsk Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), a leading world potash supplier and
the sole exporter of potash fertilizers produced by RUE PA Belaruskali (Soligorsk, Belarus) and JSC Uralkali (Berezniki, Russia), informs of the new price increase up to US$1000 per tone (pt) of MOP (potassium chloride ) in spot markets. The price for Belarus- and Russian-made potash fertilizers will be raised to US$ 1000 pt in the South Asian market. This price comes into effect from July 1, 2008. The price for the Brazilian market is effective from July 1, 2008, as well, and will amount to USD 1000 and USD 1010 pt for major and minor importers respectively. "
For example Consultants Fertecon maintain an index of fertliser prices
It was only on the 20th of May that President Thorleif Enger addressed the 76th Annual Conference of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) , besides stressing the importance of the fertiliser manufacturers to world agriculture and feeding the poor he replied to those , "Observers of the industry ... questioning the current high level of fertilizer prices. They want to know why prices have increased so rapidly and if they are justified". He had a ready answer, “Current fertilizer prices are an illustration of the basic principles of supply and demand. They reflect a properly functioning, but very tight, global market.”
It is interesting therefore to note that the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (incorporating Sinofert Holdings Limited ("Sinofert") ,Arab Potash Company Limited ("APC") and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile ("SQM") )reported sales in Q1 08 at C$1.89 Bn compared with Q1 07 of C$1.1 Bn, a rise of 70% providing a fully diluted income per share up from C$62 cents last year to C$1.74 this year as the Chairman was happy to point out a rise of 181%.
Production of Potash was 2.5 million tonnes compared to 2.3 million tonnes (up 8%) in first-quarter 2007 and the gross margin on sales was triple that of Q1 '07.
Offshore prices doubled as price increases in major markets were announced through 2007 and first-quarter 2008. Canpotex Limited ("Canpotex"), the offshore marketing company for Saskatchewan potash producers, implemented price increases in Brazil that totaled $150 per tonne, and effective June 1, 2008 the price will increase to $750 per tonne. In India, etc., etc., ...
Mosaic were happy to announce on April 16th under the name of Jim Prokopanko, their President and Chief Executive Officer that Canpotex Limited, had agreed a potash supply agreement with Sinofert in China for the remainder of calendar 2008. The new contract calls for shipment of one million tonnes of potash, FOB Vancouver, at a US$400 per tonne increase over the price in 2007.
This followed an announcement on March 27 that Canpotex Limited, agreed to supply 1.3 million metric tonnes of potash to its key Indian customers at $625 per metric tonne CFR. This represents a volume increase of 350,000 metric tonnes and a price increase of US$355 per metric tonne from the prior year contract (ie a rise of 76%) . Shipments will occur during the period between May 2008 and March 2009.
On 4th April Mosaic reported record results and significantly an average diammonium phosphate (DAP) price of US$487 per tonne, a US$241 per tonne increase compared with a year ago and a US$70 per tonne increase compared with the second quarter of fiscal 2008. (qv prices above to China and India).For the nine months ended February 29, 2008, net sales were US$6.3 billion, an increase of 55% compared with the previous year.
Net sales in the third quarter of fiscal 2008 were $2.1 billion, an increase of US$868.5 million, or 68% compared with the same period a year ago. Mosaic's gross margin for the fiscal 2008 third quarter was US$727.9 million, or 33.9% of net sales, compared with US$113.1 million, or 8.8% of net sales, a year ago - up a staggering 650%. Value of Phosphate sales was up 80% and Potash 60%.
Mosaic's realized DAP price, FOB plant, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 is estimated to be $710 to $730 per tonne.
As Senator Pomerane said 90 years ago ...""[W]e have not reached that high plane of business morals which will permit us to extend the same privileges to the peoples of the earth outside of the United States that we extend to those within the United States."
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
British Energy; lamentable tale of management incompetence and national decline in engineering and reliance on the nation's critical energy supplies
STOP PRESS British Energy's 595-megawatt Hunterston B7 nuclear power reactor in Scotland had an unscheduled shutdown this afternoon at approx 14.45 BST. A spokeswoman said "It was an unplanned trip and at the moment they are investigating the cause," adding that it was too early to say how long the plant might be closed for.10 of the company's 16 nuclear generation units were not working on Wednesday afternoon.
British Energy operates the remaining commercial nuclear power plants in the UK and supply something like 16% of the nation's electricity. Remarkably their accounts for the Financial Year ending March 31st 2008 published today, show dire financial and production performance with dismal future prospects.
Adjusted net profit attributable to shareholders has declined 40% year on year from £770 Mn to £470 Mn representing a reduction in earnings per share from 48.2 pence to 29.6 pence.
This is explained by the fact that the realised price for electricity was cut from £44.2 per (£/MHh) by 9.2 % to £40.7 per (£/MHh) - this in a year when retail prices rose some 20%. On top of this Unit operating costs expressed as £/MWh rose 9% from £27.1 to £30.(See chart for historical prices)
The future is fairly bleak on income as Future fixed price contracts show prices committed for nearly 50% of production for this year of 39TWh @ £43/MWh and for next year 32TWh @ £41/ MWh.
Total output from nuclear plants remained static after a lengthy period of decline from 03/04 of 64 teraWatt Hours progressively each year - 59.8 TWh , 60.4 TWh, 51.2 TWh, to 50.3 Twh last year. (See chart of declining total output)
Output from Eggborough, the only coal fired plant rose marginally from 7.2 TWh to 8.1 TWh so Total output remained static at 58.4 TWh although the cost of coal rose 75% year on year
Bill Coley says on Page 15 ...BE owns sites suitable for an early build of new plants - which provides potential bidders for the company , EDF, Ibedrola, E.On some major attractions if they want to opursue the Government backed drive for installing new UK capacity ;
1 Site assessment fully known
2 Active dialogue with local stakeholders - ie employees won't object - they want to keep their jobs
3 Experienced and dedicated employees - experienced of course in running out of date unique ageing plant.
4 Culture of nuclear professionalism - with a lengthy history of unplanned outages which have reached a current maximum
5 Regulatory experience - regulator without teeth who have extended plant lifetimes despite histories of unplanned outages see chart...
6 Grid connection agreements in place for ~10GW capacity from 2016 at our four southern sites - major cost savings over siting plants in new sites
7 Design assessment underway – three designs taken forward - it was 4 until a couple of weeks ago when the Canadians pulled out because they were too busy building their own plants.
Note that only Torness, Heysham 2 and Sizewell (Total 26 TWh see page 42) would be the only plants operating today on the basis of original lifetime design. Hunterston (54% load), Heysham 1 (36% load ) and Hartlepool (44% load)last year produced only 12.4 TWh compared with 19.7TWh 2 years ago with little realistic prospect that they achieve those historical levels of output.
Paradoxically CEO Bill Coley said in the first paragraph of his "Highlights F/Y 07/08 "
Sizewell B operating to world class standards
> 516 day record continuous reactor run completed
> Smooth return to service in April 2008 following statutory / refuelling outage of 25 days
Yesterday Sizewell shut down for reasons which remain unclear (unconnected it is said with the nuclear power generating area) and will not be re-opening for "a few days". This with the coincident going offline of Longannett power station (powered by human shit) precipitated a cascade of power cuts throughout the UK which left over 200,000 users without power for periods of hours.
Here is a schematic explaining the effect of unplanned power outages at BE plants for 07/08 resulting in a loss of 33% of planned output. (Click to enlarge)
So we also have a picture of rising UCLF , rising costs, falling output and plants with lifetimes lengthened against a history of unplanned power outages.
Here at Forth Coming UK Energy Deficit (FCUKED) proud possessors of shares in British Energy purchased (to the horror of stockbroker friends and family) @ 5p in 2003 we firmly believe it essential that UK build nuclear plants .. and quickly. If nothing else we did at least flush out Tony Blair over 3 years ago, to talk about Labour plans for Nuclear power publicly for the first time ever, preciptating the debate within Nu Labour to take a realistic view over UK energy security.
There is no pleasure in reciting this dismal catalogue of failed production , unplanned failures, unjustified sunny optimism, and the nervousness that one views the cavalier lengthening of plant lifetimes (of which criticism is curiously muted).
Perhaps a much needed injection of Gallic experience, Teutonic efficiency or Iberian industry may turn around this failing , but critical and essential corner of our energy infrastructure . (BE are currently the largest supplier of electricity in the UK)
That is, however the legacy of years of delay, dither, indifference, obfuscation and a desire to refuse to face up to the chronic loss of endemic energy resource and a wilingness to rely not only on foreign sources of energy, but control and ownership by overseas organisations.
DPRK moving to full declaration of nuclear programs - US concerns over Syria / DPK joint program appears to have been sidelined
The excellent US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill who is doing a first rate job calls from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Beijing, to tell us about his meeting the DPRK Vice Foreign Minister, the jovial Kim Kye Gwan in Beijing last week to agree an agenda for talks there this week (Maybe even today). Mr Kim despite his title is the head honcho in the six party talks.
They both first met in Pyongyang in June last year , which was immediately followed by the closing down of the Yongbyon nuclear facility which followed Mr Kim visiting New York in March earlier (see pic). North Korea has halted production of plutonium for bombs at its main nuclear facility ( it is likely they only ever produced a few grams) and began disabling it under the watch of U.S. officials so that it cannot be easily restarted. They also handed over documentation to the US for them to review how much plutonium was produced there.
They met again in April in Singapore and seem by all accounts to be getting near some form of further agreement. This was followed by a visit to Pyongyang by Sung Kim, chief Korea expert for the U.S. State Department which helped lay the dust over details for talks due today.
The principal aim of the talks is to resolve the long-delayed declaration by the DPRK of all its nuclear programs for eventual dismantling, the deadline of December having been ducked by the DPRK . There is considerable urgency by Mr Kim because the DPRK desperately want an end to their removal from the US terrism and economic sanctions blacklists which has which cut them out from international development banks and trade deals.
Our sources in Pyongyang say that there is still grave suspicion that the real goal of the Bush administration is not denuclearization but in fact regime change.
However The U.S. had previously insisted that any declaration included DPRK's alleged uranium enrichment program and nuclear cooperation with Syria. Curiously and to the evident distaste of some hawks , Washington has backed down from its demand for a "complete and correct" declaration that would cover all DPRK's past activities, including allegations of an alleged secret uranium enrichment program and nuclear cooperation with Syria. (An alleged reactor site was reportedly bombed by Israel in September).
U.S. officials now say DPRK will simply "acknowledge" the allegations and that controls would be set up to verify it does not engage in such activities in the future.
In April at the time of Sung Kim's visit to the DPRK, intelligence officials (CIA ?) briefed the House and Senate intelligence, armed services and foreign relations committees that the Syrian facility was not yet fully operational and that there was no uranium for the reactor and no indication of fuel capability.
The Washington Post quoted David Albright , President of Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and a former UN weapons inspector, that the absence of such evidence warrants skepticism that the reactor was part of an active weapons program.
"The United States and Israel have not identified any Syrian plutonium separation facilities or nuclear weaponization facilities," he said. "The lack of any such facilities gives little confidence that the reactor is part of an active nuclear weapons program. The apparent lack of fuel, either imported or indigenously produced, also is curious and lowers confidence that Syria has a nuclear weapons program."
Which sounds like the whole bombing of a shed in the desert was a diversion and that claims about Syrian / DPRK nuclear co-operation was a load of bollocks. Anyway, now that is out of the way ....
Chris Hill has been quoted ahead of today's talks saying, "I hope we can get an overall timeframe that I can take back to Washington," .. in the next day or two he tells us he takes in Moscow on the way back home to meet Russian and South Korean representatives of the six party talks after a chat in Beijing tonight with Chinese and Japanese representatives, probably taking in a bite or two at the Diaoyutai, his non- favourite restaurant when in town.
Between 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock yesterday electricity supplies were interrupted in London, East Anglia, Cheshire and Merseyside. An unplanned shutdown at the Sizewell B nuclear power plant in Suffolk (supplying 3% of national electric power) coincided with the coal-fired Longannet power station in Fife - going offline.
British Energy, who have currently shut down 4 reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool said the Sizewell B shutdown was caused by a fault with conventional generating equipment and was not related to the nuclear plant. (UPDATE Wed 11 am BST British Energy CEO Bill Coley told reporters ( Reuters ),without further explanation, "It appears to be an instrument problem." and then assured them ," There is no issue with the plant and it should return (to operation) very quickly." Other sources speak of "days" beofre production is resumed. )
Whilst this showed the resilience of the National Grid it also demonstrated how , even in the summer months, the national energy supplies are operating with narrow margins of capacity. The Times reported a casacde of further closures as Grain, Kent, and Ratcliffe, Nottinghamshire, and at EDF in Cottam, Nottinghamshire, Centrica in South Humber and International Power in Deeside each suffered automatic cuts.
A National Grid spokesman said: “Nine generating units have become unavailable throughout Tuesday.” Wholesale electricity prices soared 35 per cent to £95 per megawatt hour, a new record, immediately after the cuts. Curiously suppliers affected , including British Energy and EON, threw a veil of secrecy over the cascading tripping , failing to reveal the reasons for the cuts, nor would they say when some disrupted stations might resume service, because disclosure could affect the wholesale price of electricity. Bringing to mind the secrecy over theBacton gas explosion earlier this year. (Search site for "Bacton" for more details.)
Whilst the Sizewell fault was the first such problem for 3 years, British Energy could not provide a date or time when the fault would be corrected.
The BBC report that David Hunter of independent energy consultancy McKinnon & Clarke said: "The government's inability to make long-term energy security decisions over the last decade is coming home to roost.
"Since the 'dash for gas' in the 1990s, the lack of political will to make tough decisions has left Britain short of power."
For us here at the Forth Coming UK Energy Deficit (FCUKED) this is simply another cracked step on the path to energy insecurity, domination of UK energy sources by overseas companies and a huge reliance on imported energy from a position of 100% indigenous energy resources.
Industry, commerce and the citizen expect the Government to secure energy supplies. They have failed. In the absence of decisive action, after decades of inaction, the failures will grow, disrupting industry, rasing costs and placing greater reliance on sources of supply over which we have no (or little) control.
British Energy Annual Results will be published today when we will see how the outages at Heysham and Hartlepool and restricted runnuing at other plants have affected output.
BBC4 have (as usual) hauled in the cocksure , know all, rentagob Professor Fell (never trust an academic wearing a bowtie) to explain, who is long on analysis and devoid of prescription. No desire to rattle any cages there, too many fat consultancy projects could be threatened.
PS : Paradoxically the British Energy Annual report published today, Page 6 says ...
Sizewell B operating to world class standards
> 516 day record continuous reactor run completed
> Smooth return to service in April 2008 following statutory / refuelling outage of 25 days
Something very odd going on.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Apparently Gordon Brown is pissing away more taxpayers money with the energy that The Earl of Bamford spent the family fortune on maintaining the Calili cartel in business. The Curiously titled National Policing Improvement Agency say so anyway. 10,000 hand held computers for £50mn - certainly didn't fall off the back of a lorry.
Apparently emboldened by HM Inspector of Constabulary the dumb Ronnie Flanagan some time Chief Constable of Ulster whose staff, lied in court, supplied, money, arms, explosives to paid killers and drug dealers and whose officers handing of evidence at the time of the Omagh bombing was so recently excoriated in court by a judge ......
Emboldend by this dumbfuck, over £50Mn is being spent on providing PC's with PC's which Gordon had mentioned at last year's Labour Party Conference (see Spy Blog).
Richard Earland, Chief Information Officer at the NPIA said,
"Officers who have access to databases, such as the Police National Computer, command and control and intelligence systems while out on patrol, will spend less time returning to the station and more time on the frontline - therefore increasing visibility and reassuring the public. This builds on previous work carried out on a small scale and will streamline access to information at the point of operational decision making."
Operational Details are scarce but there must evidently be two uses for remote computer terminals / PDA's / Data capture terminals.
1. Access to online databases.
Access to the Police National Computer, DVLC , etc is and has been available for years / decdes by contacting local Police HQ and requesting the information using radio / mobile phone. This ensures that data access is secure , although of course such access has been widely abused for years. Lord Patel has through the use of ex policemen who have become private dicks obtained information for payment ... as evidently does the Press, crooks Unlce Tom Cobbleigh and All. This is not limited to Home Office employees Lord Patel was provided regularly by VAT staff with competitor's VAT payment / Turnover information.
To provide remote access leaves the terminals open to theft, makes access codes more insecure... a friend of Toni Fabuloso , a Police lady was stopped recently by a Lancashire Police car in Burnley, equipped with PC access to the DVLC. It was evident that they were not trained / incapable of using the equipment and were shown by Toni's friend, in front of whom they discussed access codes. It eventually dawned on them that they were in the presence of a Police officer who regularly used the PNC daily for their job.
The Police lady had been stopped because the system showed that she had no insurance for her car. Such are the benefits of providing Plod in his Panda with access to the PNC.
There is no argument whatever for extending access to the nation's secure databases from remote mobile locations. Plod can continue to call in now, as he has done for many years.
2. Data collection
Lord Patel spent over 20 years developing shop floor data collection in manufacturing - which essentially is no different to Plod collecting data for , say, stops under the terrorism Act Section 40. Such a task is deceptively simple ..ask Mr Mc Nulty the Home Office Minister.
A little history is due here. First systems, used in house wall mounted untis with a hard wired serial RS232 interface - Source terminals made by two graduates from Birmingham. Built like brick built outhouse, dust proofed, waterproof, membrane keyboard with programmable keys, 20 inputs and outputs, 2 line 14 character LCD display. Brilliant bit of kit.
Then the first mobile data collector was the original Psion unit, this was soon discarded because they couldn't get an RS232 interface to work quickly enough.
After that the Oyster (same folks who brought you the Oyster card) hand held with a 4 line 32 character LCD screen, tiny QWERTY keyboard and inputs for bar code reader wand. Ruggedised and bright yellow so it was (supposedly difficult to lose / mislay). This came with a cut down basic and it's own MDSOS variant operating system.
Then when Compaq produced the first wireless PDA's , superseded by a never ending series of Hewlett Packard products it became almost impossible to maintain development as operating system improvements , memory capacity, Wi-Fi speeds increased along with security, and other data capture features became available.
If the idea of speeding up Plod's paper work by 99 minutes a day is possible, it will require a massive effort and whoever does it can benefit from many, many , man years, a lot of dosh and patient customers.
1. Battery life is critical. Consideration of this is fundamental to choice of equipment.
2. The elements collected must be minimised.
3. Data entry must wherever possible be automated - eg use of 2D or 3 D barcodes , automatic character recognition etc.,
4. Text entry from a keyboard must be eliminated. In bad light, or with sunshine, pissing rain, wind and maybe wearing gloves nobody can accurately use a hand held device for entering free text - especially when dealing with a crime suspect.
5. The forms Plod fills in were never designed for such procedures and will require standardising and streamlining - which will never happen.
6. Experience shows that the overhead of error checking in data entry routines is always understated (and misunderstood) - for example if a simple Y/N response is required to a question, the chances of hitting M instead of N are about 50%.
If you can imagine the chances of getting these simple design principles across to 44 Police forces, plus other bodies involved , the design / IT teams involved ... and arriving at a single agreed method of remote, mobile data capture ..
However the experience, wisdom and knowledge of Lord Patel is available to make the job easier.
Meanwhile Plod will piss away Gordon's and the taxpayer's money. See more at Spy Blog Police Receive £50 Million For 10,000 Hand Held Computers i.e. £5,000 each - are they gold plated ?
73 people put on trial for genocide in Ethiopia , and after a 12 year trial 25 including Mengistu Haile Mariam were tried in absentia, another 14 died during the case and one man was acquitted. 33 defendants were in the Addis Abba court for sentencing in January 2007.
Many Ethiopians expected the absent Mengistu Haile Mariam and his closest officials to get the death sentence and it was clear the presiding judge wanted this.
But in the end the three judges could not agree and eventually decided on leniency (due to age if the defendents it was said) handed down life sentences. Chief prosecutor Yosef Kiros immediately appealed the highly unpopular sentence.
Ethiopia's Supreme Court yesterday overturned his appeal to last year's ruling by the High Court sentencing Mengistu and 18 of his most senior aides to life in prison. They were all sentenced to death - including the absent Mengistu Haile Mariam .
Two of Mengistu's political associates who were sentenced to death live in the Italian embassy compound in the capital, Addis Ababa, where they sought refuge after Mengistu fled. 16 other defendants are in jail in the capital.
Zimbabwe will not extradite Mengistu, but should the political situation change, 73 year old Mengistu's fate could alter dramatically. No doubt the US Embassy will ensure his safety as they did when they ensured his safe flight, and that of his cronies in 1991.
According to the Independent today the Movement for Democratic Change MDC stopped short of pledging to extradite Mengistu should its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, win next month's Zimbabwean presidential run-off. Tsvangirai's MDC in late 2006 said it would withdraw the protection afforded by Mugabe's government.
For more see - Friday, May 16, 2008 US Ambassador in Harare , James McGee is a fucking hypocrite. Hank Cohen revealed
See also WSJ article Arrest this Man