Saturday 12 March 2011

Electricity producers cut emissions

Sydney Morning Herald
3 March 2011, Page: 9

BIG electricity generators reduced their emissions of greenhouse gases last financial year but still dominate the corporate sector's carbon footprint, according to the latest federal government statistics. The national greenhouse and energy figures, released last week, show a handful of electricity generators were responsible for nearly half the annual greenhouse gas emissions reported by 300 companies and large government owned businesses.

The country's 10 biggest electricity generation companies reported emitting 162.8 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalent gases in 2009/10, a 4.8% decrease on the previous financial year. The largest emitters outside the electricity sector were the steelmaker Blue-Scope Steel, miners Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata, the gas producer Woodside Petroleum and aluminium producer Alcoa.

Each of these companies reported more than 6 million tonnes of direct emissions directly generated from their own production activities and not including indirect emissions from their use of electricity. The biggest corporate emitter was International Power, which operates Victoria's brown coal fired Hazelwood power station and Loy Yang power station along with power stations in South Australia and Western Australia.

Home lag in energy efficiency

Hobart Mercury
3 March 2011, Page: 14

A TASMANIAN building expert says the state is lagging behind the rest of the nation in energy efficiency and the State Government has some serious work ahead if it is to get homes up to standard. Energy efficiency advocate Phil Harrington said Tasmania had a lot of catching up to do with the rest of Australia, having been the last to adopt a five star energy efficiency policy, which is scheduled to become six stars nationwide in May.

"There just hasn't been enough vigilance on building regulations to ensure homes are being built up to the five star standard", he said. "That's not to say that builders are shirking their responsibility but there need to be secure measures to ensure that all homes are being built with five star energy efficiency". Mr Harrington said it would make little difference if the state was to move to a six star minimum standard, if homes still hadn't met the current five star standard.

"It's a bit of a moot point in the end", he said. "It would make little difference, as the rate of five star homes in Tasmania is already below par so how can we expect to move to six stars?" Archicentre regional manager David Hellett said it was in people's best interests to ensure builders had met the five star standard when building their homes. "Make sure you're satisfied that the standard has been met, because you don't want to find out it hasn't later down the hack", he said.

As power bills continued to rise, there was a concern the lack of energy efficiency in homes could drastically affect consumption. "The amount of homes in the state that are wasting power because of poor energy efficiency is staggering", Mr Harrington said. "If people just took a few measures to properly insulate and seal their homes, they would see a drastic difference in their power bills". He said effective insulation and weather stripping were two key components of ensuring an energy efficient home. "You can increase your home's insulation from one to four stars just by putting in proper insulation". Mr Harrington said.

Solar farms deal to soak up millions

Courier Mail
2 March 2011, Page: 47

A QUEENSLAND solar power company has secured contracts to build solar farms worth $185 million in Italy, including projects that will dwarf any solar farm currently operating in Australia. Eco Kinetics, which is based at Stapylton, south of Brisbane, has signed a heads of agreement for two contracts to build a combined 40 MWs of installed electricity capacity, including one 20 MW project and one 10 MW facility. The solar farms will be owned and operated by investment companies from Europe, the US and South East Asia.

Currently, Australia's largest solar power station is a 4 MW facility at Liddell in New South Wales. Eco Kinetics, which was acquired in January last year by Sydney based renewable energy company CBD Energy, provides engineering design, supply and installation services for wind and solar power facilities.

CBD Energy yesterday said construction was scheduled to start in May. CBD Energy also yesterday reported its financial results for the six months to December 31, which showed how Queensland based Eco Kinetics powered a swing back to profitability for its parent company.

Eco Kinetics' total revenue for the six months was $60.4 million, with a pretax profit of $7.1 million. Parent CBD Energy's consolidated revenue was $74 million, up from $5.9 million a year earlier, and its net profit was $2.37 million, up from a year ago loss of $3.49 million. CBD Energy, whose chairman is former deputy prime minister and National Party leader Mark Vaile, said it continues to experience significant growth, mainly driven by increasing householder demand for solar rooftop installations.

No carbon tax now means a tax on future generation

Canberra Times
1 March 2011, Page: 10

I have had a gutful of the unsubstantiated whinging by the Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce and the rest of the flat earth, climate contrarian no hopers getting so much attention in the media.

How does $26 a tonne for carbon convert into $300 on a household's electricity bill, as asserted by Greg Hunt on Lateline on Friday night? A typical coal fired plant produces one tonne of CO₂ to produce 1 MW of electricity. That's 2.6¢ per kW. A brown coal plant might produce 20% more CO₂, bringing the cost up to 3¢ per kW.

And that assumes all our power comes from dirty coal. I encourage all your readers to pull out their electricity bills and work out what the true cost on their power bill will be. My household uses less than 15 kW per day so the levy comes to a whopping 39¢ per day or $142 per year. Even assuming the average Australian house uses 20 kW per day gives just 52¢ per day. Neither of these figures comes close to the $300 so prominently spouted by the fear mongers.

And instead of whinging about renewable energy raising electricity bills, when will people like Barnaby Joyce concede that it is mainly the rapid adoption of air conditioning over the past decade that has required the construction of new infrastructure to satisfy the added electrical demand? The inflation I feel in my electricity bill has more to do with runaway demand from people installing air conditioning than grid connected solar arrays.

And the argument that Australia shouldn't go first in adopting a carbon tax is absurd. Canada, Denmark, Britain, Germany and others have had formal carbon pricing for many years and the most recent economic evaluation of the impact is that there isn't any or maybe a slight improvement in global competitiveness in the case of Denmark. Australia can't go first we have already missed the starting gun.

Brad Sherman, Duffy

Friday 11 March 2011

Federal spending favours fossil fuels, study finds

1 March 2011, Page: 7

AUSTRALIAN taxpayers spend 11 times more encouraging the use of fossil fuels than on climate change programs and the sum is growing. fossil fuel incentives and subsidies will cost an estimated $12.2 billion this financial year, compared with $1.1 billion spent on programs designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost clean energy research. An Australian Conservation Foundation analysis found the cost of the incentives has increased $1.6 billion since 2007-08, the final year of the Howard government, while spending on climate programs had jumped just $500 million.

The biggest fossil fuel incentives were in unclaimed revenue, including nearly $5 billion in fuel tax rebates for greenhouse intensive industries. More than $1.1 billion was spent on fringe benefits tax concession for company cars a scheme that leads to people driving further than they otherwise would to gain access to a larger rebate.

ACF executive director Don Henry said the government must cut fossil fuel incentives at the May budget if it was to convince the community it was serious about tackling climate change. Keeping them would undermine the value of a carbon tax, he said. "Funding these is bad for the climate and it is bad economics", he said.

The analysis comes as documents released under freedom of information laws showed bureaucrats had identified up to 17 programs costing more than $8 billion a year that may have to be cut for Australia to meet a G20 agreement that member countries eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that lead to wasteful consumption.

Treasurer Wayne Swan has argued that Australia had no programs that met the G20's definition of a fossil fuel subsidy. Mr Henry said the foundation's analysis included all programs that made it cheaper to use fossil fuels. You can get into an arcane economic debate about what is defined as a subsidy and what isn't at the end of the day this is public money that is going to businesses to pollute", he said.

He said the fringe benefits tax concession for company cars was a "virtual pollution factory" equal to a mediumsized coal fired plant each year. Mr Swan's spokesman, Adam Collins, last night said none of the programs qualified as subsidies under the G20 definition. "All credible analysis shows the only way to meet our targets is by putting a price on carbon through a market mechanism so that's exactly what we are doing".

AGL shelves wind farms

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
24 February 2011, Page: 6

AGL Energy has placed $2 billion of wind farm investments on ice and a hiatus in new projects may last years, due to a soft and damp market for Renewable Energy Certificates. Managing director Michael Fraser indicated that AGL Energy will continue with projects under construction but will hold off committing to any new wind projects until the price recovered.

Last year, prices were depressed and new investments stalled after heavy subsidies for the installation of household rooftop solar systems saw a flood of certificates come onto the market. However, modifications to the certificate scheme that took effect on January 1 address a design flaw and split the renewable energy target between small scale and industrial scale projects. Mr Fraser said there will still be a massive amount of development.

Despite changes to the regulations, certificates are still trading for just over $30.00 each, while prices needed to justify new projects are $60.00 and $65.00. The investment freeze will leave projects on hold, such as the 300 MW Coopers Gap project in Queensland and the 150 MW Barn Hill and 99 MW Hallett 3 projects in South Australia. General manager Australia for renewable energy project developer, Pacific Hydro, Lane Crocket, says there is a "stand off" in the market with project developers refusing to sell certificates at current prices and retailers not requiring new supplies. He says the sale of New South Wales state retailers TRUEnergy may also lead to some earlier contracting.

Solar power works - now to use it

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
28 February 2011, Page: 30

Rising electricity prices, a reduction in the cost of solar panels and a pending price on carbon has raised expectations that solar power will soon fulfil the potential it has long been associated with. A further sign that the industry is being viewed more seriously by government came with the observation from Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson that "The global use of renewable energy is predicted to triple by 2035."

Australia is well placed to take advantage of the growth due to the Australian Solar Institute, part of the federal government's clean energy initiative. Chief executive of the Australian Solar Institute, Mark Twidell, says 'The technology we have today works' adding that the role of the institute 'is working with industry to develop technology to the point of commercialisation.' The institute is involved in various projects throughout the country being undertaken by the University of New South Wales, CSIRO and the Australian National University.

Carbon talk is simply not true

Herald Sun
28 February 2011, Page: 22

Tony Abbott is trying to scare us stupid on carbon pricing. Of course the picture he paints is terrifying. But it is simply not true. His paranoiac fantasies about the great, big, fat, hairy, scary new carbon tax are rejected by reputable economists around the world. Tony wants (maybe) to tackle climate change via direct action, and he wants taxpayers to foot the bill. But even a first year economics student knows that market mechanisms are more efficient and cheaper. In reality, a carbon tax, combined with strong support for renewable energy and energy efficiency, will be the cheapest way to reduce emissions.

Eli Court. Richmond

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Setting price may create 34,000 jobs - Report backs 'high' carbon price

28 February 2011, Page: 6

A CARBON price aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 could help create 34,000 jobs in regional Australia, research says.

To be launched today by independent MP Tony Windsor, the report by the Climate Institute predicts that a substantial carbon price, backed by renewable energy policies, would trigger tens of billions of dollars of investment in geothermal, largescale solar, bioenergy, hydro, wind and gas.

In Victoria, the number of people employed in the electricity industry was projected to increase over the next two decades despite some job losses as coal fired power plants closed. The new jobs would be concentrated in the state's Western District, central highlands and the Mallee. Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the report, based on work conducted by consultants SKM MMA and Ernst & Young, showed that clean energy projects could provide an economic foundation to support strong regional populations.

It challenged claims that tackling climate change would cost jobs and hurt the economy. "It is important we have a discussion about the costs and how to manage them, but it is also important to look at the benefits and how you achieve those", Mr Connor said. Mr Windsor said the report showed regional Australia could be a big winner as renewable energy projects were developed. It is estimated nearly 6900 new electricity industry jobs could be created in Victoria by 2030 Nearly 4600 would be in power plant construction and about 1200 in manufacturing. More than 1000 would be permanent roles running new plants.

The total number of jobs in the industry would rise over the next five years as wind and gas plants were built, dip in the second half of the decade, but then grow dramatically after 2020 as more clean energy technologies became commercially viable. The report suggests about 40% of Victoria's electricity could come from clean sources by 2030, up from 5% today.

Gas fired power, with about a third the emissions of brown coal, would also expand dramatically to provide about a third of the state's electricity.

Specific projections for Victoria include:

  • More than 1500 jobs created in wind and geothermal energy in the south west around Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton.
  • Nearly 1200 new jobs relating to building and running largescale solar plants in the Mallee.
  • About 600 new jobs in wind in the central highlands around Ballarat and Bendigo.
  • In the Latrobe Valley, the loss of about 500 permanent jobs in coal power, but the creation of 720 construction jobs building new gas and renewable plants.

The modelling does not consider the impact of the possible implementation of carbon capture and storage technology. The jobs figures are based on a carbon price starting at $47 in 2012, the national 20% renewable energy target, and policies to encourage clean technologies, including loan guarantees and tax credits.

The research won the support of the ACTU and several energy companies. Tony Maher, the president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, applauded the Climate Institute for focusing on jobs, skills and training as the key to Australia cutting emissions.

Plugging into the sun for clean, fresh water

28 February 2011, Page: 3

A SMALL Victorian company reckons it has found a way to prevent 3.5 million deaths a year from water borne diseases while also cutting emissions of the greenhouse gas CO₂. F CUBED, based in Somerton, has been working on its solar powered desalination system for about six years and started selling the units commercially in November.

Earlier this month, F CUBED was recognised internationally and invited to join the Clinton Global Initiative, which aims to partner companies with technologies that may provide solutions to key environmental challenges. The modular unit, which retails for $362.50 plus GST and freight, works by running saltwater through a gravity fed pipe at the top. The water disperses evenly as it runs down the solar collector evaporator.

The solar power heats the water, which vaporises and then condenses on the inside of the plastic panel enclosure. The distilled water runs to the bottom of the unit where it is collected. In the process, disease causing pathogens, as well as heavy metals, are removed. Peter Johnstone, the chief executive and founder of F CUBED, said there was enormous potential to work with developing countries to provide clean drinking water.

"There is a clear connection between the world's poorest people boiling water for drinking and greenhouse gas emissions", he said. "An average family boiling 20 litres a day will need 20 kilos of fuel, which is usually wood, and that is producing 40 kilos of CO₂ a day. That is 15 tonnes a year of CO₂ and when you times that by 300 million families it is enormous".

The company has signed an $11 million memorandum of understanding with the South Australian town of Ceduna to supply 13,000 of the Carocell panels. "The beauty of us is that we don't waste anything", Mr Johnstone said. "We are going to sell about 6000 tonnes of salt from it. At $100 a tonne, that is $60,000 in salt sales".

F CUBED will have another revenue stream if it is successful in its application to be part of the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol. The instrument allows signatories to Kyoto in developed countries to establish programs in developing countries and then sell the carbon credits.

"That would pay for the panels for the poor people, which means we can give them away for nothing", Mr Johnstone said. "It also means they won't be cutting down trees any more". While the application will take another two years to gain approval, F CUBED has received country approval from Bangladesh and is working with a not for profit group, WaterAid, to provide clean drinking water. The company is also believed to be in talks with large miners, such as Rio Tinto and one of the Queensland coal seam gas proponents, to provide desalinated water.

Antiquated plants

25 February 2011, Page: 16

ANDREW Chapman claims that transitioning to renewable energy will make power more expensive (Letters, 23/2). The truth is somewhat different. Credible research has demonstrated that in 2009 electricity prices in Denmark, Germany and Belgium (all among Europe's early adopters of wind power) fell as a direct result of the increasing contribution of wind power to the overall mix.

Since 2005 in the US, the average wind project has been producing energy at less than the national average wholesale price. In Australia a study for the National Generators Forum concludes that with the government's renewable energy target, electricity retailers will be $10 billion better off in 2015 than without it.

Current increases in the cost of power have almost nothing to do with the growth in renewables and a great deal to do with the cost of building fossil fuel infrastructure to accommodate demand growth and maintaining existing, often antiquated, infrastructure.

Doug Evans, Clifton Hill

Monday 7 March 2011

Wind turbine concept harvests energy roadside
24 February 2011

Sure, we know there's a lot of wind out there on the Kansas plains. But what about in our power hungry urban environments? A new system by Luis Castanheira Santos seeks to make use of the wind produced by moving vehicles, harvesting energy that would otherwise be wasted. The Voltaire vertical axis turbine concept (which comes to us via Tuvie) is a modular product that set up on the side of the road, acting as a kind of barrier. As cars, trucks and motorcycles whiz past, the turbines spin, creating electricity which can be used in turn to power lights.

The idea behind the concept is to keep the system simple, so these power generating barriers can be moved, combined and maintained with a minimum of effort and infrastructure. The designer also sees these structures providing juice for rest areas and gas stations, grid free, along major transportation routes. This is a concept that makes a lot of sense (provided the technology works) and fits nicely into a promising movement in green design focused on harvesting small amounts of energy in unexpected places, as in piezoelectrics.

World’s biggest producer of wind energy records $4 billion in profits in 2010
24 February 2011

The world's largest producer of wind power, Spain based Iberdrola SA, blew away analysts' expectations last year with a whopping $4 billion in profits analysts had expected their gain to clock in at $3.9 billion. To sweeten the deal even more, the company's power generation rose 8% to 154,073 GWs and they produced half of that electricity without emitting CO₂.

Iberdrola has 44,991 MWs of energy production worldwide they've got investments in many countries and of that production wind and solar account for 28%, hydropower for 22%, and nuclear plants for 7.4%. Their production of wind and solar rose to 12,532 GWs last year. The company generates about half their energy outside of Spain and looks to invest a huge chunk of change into renewable energy in the US and UK in the coming years.

We all know you can shout from the rooftops about the environmental benefits of renewable energy and there will still be a whole host of people that don't listen but this major profit from one of the biggest renewable energy producers in the world is great news for the clean cause because non believers all start paying attention when "cha chings" are heard. In a down economy Iberdrola has proven that green energy is on the up and up. With as much as $22 billion over the next two years in investments much of it in renewable energy generation we can all be expecting this initial Iberdrola profit gain to keep on keeping on.

IKEA Invests in Wind Power Project
24 February 2011

Sweden's IKEA, famous for its easy to assemble furniture products, now plans to build its own dedicated wind power facility. Under its long term plan to heat, cool and power all its buildings using 100% renewable energy, the Swedish home furnishings giant will invest an undisclosed amount in the construction of its own wind farm to power 17 stores in Sweden. The nine turbine onshore wind farm will be built in Dalarna, in central Sweden, by Stockholm based wind developer O2 Vind. The facility is expected to go online in early 2012.

In Sweden, 98% of IKEA's buildings are already heated and powered using renewable energy. With its decision to build its own wind farm, the company sees further benefits. "We get a long term source of renewable energy for our business", said Peter Agnefjall, EO of IKEA Svenska Foersaeljings, adding that the company also hopes to generate revenue be selling additional capacity.

IKEA is no newcomer to the wind power business. In 2009, the company purchased three French wind farms from Volkswind and acquired six more a year later in Germany from Gamesa. Together, farms have a capacity of more than 90 MW. Altogether, it currently owns 52 wind turbines, generating enough energy to cover about 10 of the group's electricity needs, a spokeswoman said, declining to comment on investment costs. Other large companies, such as Wal-Mart and Google, are also investing in wind power and for reasons similar to IKEA's.

"While we are happy to be purchasing renewable energy as part of our environmental commitment, this is also a structure that makes long term financial sense for Google", Google said in an earlier statement. "Through the long term purchase of renewable energy at a predetermined price, we're partially protecting ourselves against future increases in power prices. This is a case where buying green makes business sense".

In addition to wind power, IKEA has been installing solar panels in stores around the world, including, Belgium, Germany and the United States.

Fear-mongering on wind

25 February 2011 Page: 16

MICHAEL Madden (Letters, 24/2), Spain and Portugal have not lost 2½ jobs for every new job in renewable energy. This is a theoretical figure from a discredited study from a US right wing thinktank. The Spanish themselves said the study used incorrect data and egregiously flawed assumptions. Spain and Portugal are unable to import more than about 10% of their electricity, from French nuclear plants or otherwise, due to limited capacity on the Pyrenees interconnectors. They meet energy demand overwhelmingly from their own resources, increasingly from renewables.

Wind and solar provided 19% of all Spain's electricity needs in 2010, and on occasion supply nearly two thirds of the instantaneous demand. Yet Spain's electricity prices are consistently below the EU average. I visited Portugal and Spain last year and wasn't struck by "visual pollution": instead there is widespread acceptance of wind power, perhaps due to the absence of an anti renewables lobby suggesting to people they ought to fear wind turbines.

Tony Morton, Coburg

Sunday 6 March 2011

NZ geothermal contract awarded
24 February 2011

New Zealand power company Contact Energy has awarded the contract for the construction of two geothermal power units to a joint venture between contractors SNC Lavalin, McConnell Dowell and Parsons Brinkerhoff. Located northwest of Taupo on the north island of New Zealand, the US$ 623 million Te Mihi geothermal project will source power from the nearby Wairakei steam field.

The 166 MW project is scheduled for completion in 2013 and the new power station is planned to gradually replace the existing, 52 year old Wairakei Power Station which will be phased out of production. "Geothermal power is playing an increasingly important role in the industry and we are pleased to be expanding our experience in the worldwide renewable energy market", said Patrick Lamarre, executive vice president of SNC Lavalin Group.

Solar energy powers water treatment plant
23 February 2011

Philadelphia is aiming to purchase or generate 20% of its electricity from alternative sources by 2015 under Mayor Michael Nutter's "Greenworks Philadelphia" agenda, and a new solar power system at a water treatment plant brings the city a tiny bit closer to the mark.

Contractors began work on the photovoltaic system at the Philadelphia Water Department's Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant in December, and it began generating power at the end of January, according to contractor CETCO. With a generating capacity of 250 kWs, this ground mounted system is hardly a monster; it covers about an acre of unused land and its power output is equivalent to what 28 average homes would need. Compare this to what the hometown Philadelphia Eagles are planning for Lincoln Financial Field: a 7.6 MW onsite dual fuel cogeneration plant.

Still, the solar system will help run the water treatment plant, which could reduce power costs borne by ratepayers, and backers hope it will spur more solar projects. "The City looks forward to learning from this project and replicating it", said Kristin Sullivan, program director of the Philadelphia Solar City Partnership.

Rarely do such projects come about through a simple outlay by a municipality, and this one is no exception: Philadelphia was assisted by a $850,000 from the City's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Plymouth's Pilgrim nuclear plant prepares to restart after leak
23 February 2011

The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth was expected to be back in business Wednesday afternoon following a three day shutdown to repair a leak in a cooling system. Operators started a controlled shutdown of the 685 MW plant early Sunday and notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Plant spokesman David Tarantino said this morning that workers were putting the plant back on line. The plant was shut down after monitors detected a leak in a tube that carries salt water and is used in a cooling system. The plant is next to the ocean and uses sea water to cool the steaming hot fresh water that turns the plant's electricity generating turbines.

Duxbury anti nuclear activist Mary Lampert wasn't worried about the repair. Lampert said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and Union of Concerned Scientists specialist, said the leak was "no big deal". The state's only nuclear plant was operating at 100% capacity when the shutdown occurred. It had been on line for 634 consecutive days "a record for us", Tarantino said when the shutdown was ordered Sunday.

Entergy Corp., which operates the facility, said in a report that "this event had no impact on the health and/or safety of the public". The report said that a section of a reactor building was "declared inoperable" Feb. 18 and could not be repaired within 72 hours, prompting the shutdown at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Last week, The Patriot Ledger reported that the level of groundwater contamination from a radioactive isotope in a well at the plant had plunged in recent weeks, but the plant's operators didn't seem to be much closer to determining the source of the problem. Despite the sharp decline, representatives for the Plymouth plant and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it's far too early to know if the groundwater concern has gone away.

Last summer, tritium levels in a monitoring well at the Plymouth plant exceeded 25,000 picocuries per liter, adding to concerns about a potential leak at the plant.

The tritium levels in the monitoring well exceeded the federal maximum for drinking water of 20,000 picocuries per liter only on one other occasion, in September. The tritium levels in that well have fluctuated wildly, however, since that time and have generally been significantly above levels that could be caused by typical atmospheric conditions.

In recent weeks, the levels have fallen, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The tritium levels in the well fell from 7,000 picocuries per liter in mid January to roughly 1,000 picocuries per liter by the end of the month. The levels in the second half of January were the lowest recorded since the well was first used last spring. Also last week, a major manufacturer in the nuclear industry reported a potential "substantial safety hazard" with control rods at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant and more than two dozen other reactors around the country.

The NRC reported at that time that GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy had discovered extensive cracking and "material distortion", and likely would recommend that the boiling water reactors using its Marathon control rod blades replace them more frequently than they had been told to previously.

Spain scraps phase-out of nuclear power
23 February 2011

Spain has reversed a policy of phasing out the nation's 7.5 GW of nuclear powered electricity, 18% of total output, and has renewed the operating licenses for three of the nation's eight nuclear reactors. According to nuclear industry blog Idaho Samizdat, Spain's Congress has ratified new legislation that means the reactors can operate for longer than 40 years.

The moves are a complete turnaround from a prior government policy of phasing out the nation's nuclear plants. Most public opinion about nuclear power is negative and neither political party has supported reactor life extension until now, according to the blog.

Spain's power grid is almost completely isolated from the rest of Europe which makes energy security a leading factor in the government's decision to keep the reactors running past the artificial 40 year deadline. Blogger Dan Yurman said the financial collapse of its solar power subsidy programme may also have played a role in the change of heart.