technology

Hinkley C - it now looks as if the UK may not be saddled with this monstrous white elephant after all. Image: EDF.

Hinkley Point, Greg Clark and the fate of Britain's energy future

JONATHON PORRITT
| 9th August 2016
The government's surprise delay in signing the contract with EDF to build the Hinkley C nuclear power station has opened up a the space for a forward-looking UK energy policy, writes Jonathon Porritt - one that moves us into the world of low cost renewables, and smart new technologies vital to the global clean energy transition. But is Business & Energy Greg Clark for real? Don't rule it out!

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There gold in them thar coffee grounds ... Photo: Dominick via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Thanks Hugh - now let's stop throwing away the coffee grounds!

Rhodri Jenkins
University of Bath
| 2nd August 2016
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has a done a great job exposing the scandal of Britain's billions of non-recyclable coffee cups, writes Rhodri Jenkins. But what about the coffee itself? The grounds can be used for everything from compost and biodiesel to boutique chemicals and supercapacitors - yet the vast majority of the world's 9m tonnes a year of waste coffee ends up in landfill.

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The first steam generator being delivered to the Flamanville EPR, 15th March 2014. With the discovery of steel defects in the reactor vessel, it is now possible that the entire project will be abandoned. Photo: Greenpeace Cherbourg via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA

Dump Hinkley! And invest in the UK's real energy future

Chris Goodall
| 28th July 2016
French energy giant EDF will today give the formal go-ahead for the Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset, writes Chris Goodall. But that's no reason for the UK to sign up to a disastrous deal that will cost us over £1 billion per year for 35 years - money that should be used to support the green technologies of the future.

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North Korean nuclear reactor construction under way on 24th April 2008. Photo: Wapster / Google Maps via Flickr (CC BY).

What Theresa May forgot: North Korea used British technology to build its nuclear bombs

David Lowry
| 26th July 2016
When Theresa May proclaims in Parliament that we need the £200 billion Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, writes David Lowry, just bear this in mind. It is a threat that the UK, global nuclear proliferator in chief, created in the first place, providing both the reactor technology and vital centrifuge materials to make North Korea's nuclear dream come true.

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It may be possible to transform this landscape into a green energy park, or back to wilderness - but it's not going to happen soon enough without a corresponding political transformation! Tar sands refinery at Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Photo: kris k

Green transformation is a political project, not an economic one

Lili Fuhr
Thomas Fatheuer
Barbara Unmüßig
| 19th July 2016
The idea that our profit-oriented, growth-driven economic system can deliver a sustainable society is a beguiling one, write Lili Fuhr, Thomas Fatheuer & Barbara Unmüßig. But it is doomed to failure. The changes we need are in the first place political, and will be driven by a new democratic will to put people and planet before money.

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Tesla Powerwall battery keeping the solar lights on after sunset. Photo: Tesla.com.

Battery revolution empowers consumers, unleashes renewables, imperils Big Energy

Emma Howard
Greenhpeace Energydesk
| 15th July 2016
Renewable electricity is already undermining the big energy utilities' business model, writes Emma Howard, breaking their monopoly and bringing down energy bills. But with the unfolding battery revolution, it's going to reach a whole new level as wind and solar powered families and communities become ever more self-sufficient, leaving utilities high and dry.

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Installing a Solarcentury 'Sunstation', which embeds into the roof rather than sitting above it. Photo: Solarcentury.

Innovation for the global energy transformation: the Solarcentury Sunstation

Jeremy Leggett
| 1st June 2016
In the face of repeated attempts by the UK government to suppress the nation's solar industry in favour of fracking and nuclear, Jeremy Leggett tells the story of how the solar company he founded in 2000 has not just survived, but driven forward with technical innovation - including its new 'Sunstation' - an integrated 'snap-on' solar generation design that elegantly embeds into roofs.

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Red clover cover crop at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire: it may not be high-tech, but that's not to say it's anti-science! Photo: Sandy Lane Farm via Facebook.

Organic farmers are not anti-science - we leave that to the genetic engineers

Elizabeth Henderson
| 24th May 2016
Those opposed to the mass release of GM crops and foods inadequately tested for health and ecological safety are routinely accused of being anti-science, writes Elizabeth Henderson. But it's the GM corporations and their academic allies that are suppressing scientific research, and organic farmers that are building alliances with independent scientists for a future of safe, healthy food.

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The key to further big increases in wind and solar capacity is to store surplus power as gas, then burn it CCGT gas power stations when needed to meet demand. Photo: Royd Moor wind farm, Yorkshire, by steve p2008 via Flickr (CC BY).

Renewable energy can 'keep the lights on' - here's how

David Elliott
| 6th May 2016
Critics of renewable energy sources like wind and solar claim that they are inefficient, unreliable and need to be backed up by coal and gas, writes David Elliott. But we have the technology to match green power supply and demand at affordable cost without fossil fuels - by deploying the 'smart grid', using 'green gas' made from surplus power, and raising energy efficiency.

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From front cover of 'Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming' by Andreas Malm (Verso Books).

Fossil Capital: the rise of steam power and the roots of global warming

Irma Allen
| 27th April 2016
We all know that coal and steam vanquished over water power in Britain's - and the world's - industrial revolution, writes Irma Allen. But as Andreas Malm sets out in his fascinating new book, the deciding factors in that victory were the unconstrained mastery over people and nature that coal provided mill owners. And so the model was set for the fossil age that may only now be coming to an end.

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Under construction: the New Safe Confinement arch at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 23rd October 2013. Photo: Tim Porter via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA).

Chernobyl entombed: new sarcophagus aims to make site safe for 100 years

Claire Corkhill
| 26th April 2016
The Chernobyl sarcophagus which has long contained the fissured reactor core is at risk of collapse, writes Claire Corkhill. The solution: build a pair of tracked arches 260m wide and 100m high, and slide them over the site to enclose it for a century to come: so creating a sealed space for robots and remotely operated machinery to deconstruct the reactor and sarcophagus piece by radioactive piece.

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How CRISPR works: what could possibly go wrong? In fact, an awful lot, as it turns out. Image: James atmos via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

CRISPR and the three myths of precise genome editing

Jonathan Latham
Independent Science News
| 25th April 2016
The very term 'genetic engineering' implies high precision in the alterations made to genes and deep understanding of their consequences, writes Jonathan Latham. In fact, we have never had either. And even with the arrival of CRISPR and other 'gene editing' systems, that remains the case: technologists are thrashing about in a perilous sea of unfathomable complexities and unknowable outcomes.

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Image of CRISPR / Cas9. Image: NHGRI. via ja.wikimedia.org (Public Domain).

New GMOs are 'not GM' - EU folds under US pressure

Oliver Tickell
| 21st April 2016
The EU Commission has caved in to US pressure in TTIP trade talks by deciding to consider organisms modified by new 'gene editing' techniques as non-GM - in violation of the EU's own laws. The move could make the 'new GMOs' exempt from labeling and from health and environmental testing.

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So cute! Two month old snow leopard cubs at the Cat Survival Trust in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, UK. Photo: dingopup via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Saving the Earth? I think there's an App for that

Paul Jepson
University of Oxford
| 21st April 2016
Consumer environmentalism aligns conservation with modern consumer culture, writes Paul Jepson, offering NGOs the means to reach new people and generate new funding streams. But it risks ever more shallow public engagement and digital activism where masses of people back 'solutions' that only make themselves feel good.

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Large wind and solar farms can be planned and built in 2-3 years (compared with 10-15 years for nuclear) and are ready now to replace fossil and nuclear electricity. Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

Renewable energy versus nuclear: dispelling the myths

Mark Diesendorf
| 19th April 2016
Don't believe the spurious claims of nuclear shills constantly doing down renewables, writes Mark Diesendorf. Clean, safe renewable energy technologies have the potential to supply 100% of the world's electricity needs - but the first hurdle is to refute the deliberately misleading myths designed to promote the politically powerful but ultimately doomed nuclear industry.

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It took centuries of smoking before tobacco's link to cancer was proven - so how come 20 years of eating GMO's 'proves' they are safe? Photo: Ximena Salazar via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The Precautionary Principle: the basis of a post-GMO ethic

Rupert Read
| 18th April 2016
GMOs have been in our diets for about 20 years, writes Rupert Read. Proof that they are safe? No way - it took much, much longer to discover the dangers of cigarettes and transfats, dangers that are far more visible than those of GMOs. On the scale of nature and ecology, 20 years is a pitifully short time. To sustain our human future, we have to think long term.

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The nuclear show must go on! Sign for the Atomic Theater at the Museum of Science & Technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN, USA. Photo: Joel Kramer via Flickr (CC BY).

'New' nuclear reactors? Same old story

Amory Lovins
| 12th April 2016
The nuclear industry is forever reinventing itself with one brilliant 'new' idea after another, Amory Lovins wrote in this classic 2009 essay. But whether it's touting the wonders of future SMRs, IFRs or LFTRs, the reality never changes: the reactors they are building right now are over time, over budget and beset by serious, entirely unforeseen technical problems.

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Hiroaki Koide (小出裕章さん) speaking at EcoLaboCamp on Mt Takao, August 2007. Photo: Hanako via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Koide Hiroaki: an insider's exposé of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Katsuya Hirano
Hirotaka Kasai
Asia-Pacific Journal
| 17th March 2016
Koide Hiroaki has spent his entire career as a nuclear engineer, and has become a central figure in Japan's movement for the abolition of nuclear power plants. He met with Katsuya Hirano and Hirotaka Kasai to discuss the catastrophic nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima Daaichi in March 2011, and the crimes and cover-ups committed both before and after the event.

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30 protestors from Chard, Ilminster, Glastonbury, Bristol and Shepton Mallet occupied EDFs premises at Cannington Court today, urging EDF to cancel it's long-delayed Hinkley C project. While some protestors scaled a wall and went inside, others blockaded

EDF's Hinkley C offices occupied as UK nuclear hopes wither

Oliver Tickell
| 15th February 2016
An occupation of EDF's site office for Hinkley C turned into a celebration today as the EDF Board postponed its 'final investment decision' for the tenth time. With strong opposition among French unions and the project afflicted by severe technical and financial problems, it's not just Hinkley that's going down, but the UK's entire nuclear programme.

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Aedes Aegypti mosquito feeding on human blood. Photo: James Gathany via jentavery on Flickr (CC BY).

Pandora's box: how GM mosquitos could have caused Brazil's microcephaly disaster

Oliver Tickell
| 1st February 2016
In Brazil's microcephaly epidemic, one vital question remains unanswered: how did the Zika virus suddenly learn how to disrupt the development of human embryos? The answer may lie in a sequence of 'jumping DNA' used to engineer the virus's mosquito vector - and released into the wild four years ago in the precise area of Brazil where the microcephaly crisis is most acute.

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Another Chernobyl? The Centrale Nucléaire de Tihange in Belgium was closed down a year ago after the discovery of 16,000 cracks in its reactor vessel. Now the government wants to start it up again. Photo: grotevriendelijkereus via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Nuclear renaissance? Failing industry is running flat out to stand still

Dr Jim Green
| 30th January 2016
Despite the endless rhetoric about a 'nuclear renaissance', there are fewer power reactors today than there were a decade ago, writes Jim Green. The one country with a really big nuclear build program is China, but no one expects it to meet its targets. And with over 200 reactor shut-downs due by 2040, the industry will have to run very hard indeed just to stay put.

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