Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete

(from theguardian.com)

As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over

Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.

For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.

That’s not supposed to happen at lunchtime. Daytime prices are supposed to reflect higher demand, when people are awake, office building are in use, factories are in production. That’s when fossil fuel generators would normally be making most of their money.

(keep reading at theguardian.com)

Follow the Honey

(from thesleuthjournal.com)

You would think what with Monsanto’s Honeybee Advisory Council, and Bayer’s Bee Care Centers, the world’s largest pesticide-makers would be too busy caring about bees to manufacture or use the pesticides that kill them.

Not true, of course. Here’s what is true. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto have launched a massive public relations campaign to convince consumers that, despite the science, their pesticides aren’t to blame for Colony Collapse Disorder. And it looks like the U.S. Department of Agriculture is following their lead, by trying toshift the blame for bee deaths to mites, not poisons.

According to a new Friends of the Earth report, the pesticide industry’s “distraction” campaign looks a lot like what the tobacco industry did to convince consumers that cigarettes weren’t giving them lung cancer.

(keep reading at thesleuthjournal.com)

The World’s Top Scientists: Take Action Now On Climate Change

(from businessinsider.com.au)

Two of the world’s most prestigious science academies say there’s clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change.

The time for talk is over, says the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the national science academy of the UK.

The two released a paper, Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, written and reviewed by leading experts in both countries, lays out which aspects of climate change are well understood and where there is still uncertainty and a need for more research.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said:

“We have enough evidence to warrant action being taken on climate change; it is now time for the public debate to move forward to discuss what we can do to limit the impact on our lives and those of future generations.”

NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone said:

“As two of the world’s leading scientific bodies, we feel a responsibility to evaluate and explain what is known about climate change, at least the physical side of it, to concerned citizens, educators, decision makers and leaders, and to advance public dialogue about how to respond to the threats of climate change.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen to levels not seen for at least 800,000 years, and observational records dating back to the mid-19th century show a clear, long-term warming trend.

(keep reading at businessinsider.com.au)

Scientists Say Their Giant Laser Has Produced Nuclear Fusion

(from npr.org)

Researchers at a laboratory in California say they’ve had a breakthrough in producing fusion power with a giant laser. The success comes after years of struggling to get the laser to work, and is another step in the decades-long quest for fusion energy.

Omar Hurricane, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that for the first time, they’ve produced significant amounts of fusion by zapping a target with their laser. “We’ve gotten more energy out of the fusion fuel than we put into the fusion fuel,” he says.

Strictly speaking, while more energy came from fusion than went into the hydrogen fuel, only about 1 percent of the laser’s energy ever reached the fuel. Useful levels of fusion are still a long way off. “They didn’t get more fusion power out than they put in with the laser,” says Steve Cowley, the head of a huge fusion experiment in the U.K. called the Joint European Torus, or JET.

The laser is known as the National Ignition Facility, or NIF. Constructed at a cost of more than $3 billion, it consists of 192 beams that take up the length of three football fields. For a brief moment, the beams can focus 500 trillion watts of power — more power than is being used in that same time across the entire United States — onto a target about the width of a No. 2 pencil.

The goal is fusion. Fusion is a process where hydrogen atoms are squeezed together to make helium atoms. When that happens, a lot of energy comes out. It could mean the answer to the world’s energy problems, but fusion is really, really hard to do. Hurricane says that each time they try, it feels like they’re taking a test.

(keep reading at npr.org)