Discussing Energy Economics on the Internet

May 2009 EEnergy Informer

Posted in EEnergy Informer,Renewables by Cheryl Morgan on the April 30th, 2009

The May 2009 issue of EEnergy Informer is now available. Here is the contents list:

  • US Poised To Fire On All Cylinders In Copenhagen
  • Does it Make Sense For Oil Rich UAE To Go Nuclear?
  • What To Do About Carbon’s Deeply Unequal Effects
  • No More Free Carbon: EPA Requires Carbon Reporting
  • Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Project: Desert Mirage Or Miracle?
  • How Many Green Jobs Will There Be?
  • Missing Headline: CAISO Goes Nodal And Nothing Happens
  • Wind’s Global Contribution to Grow
  • Global Solar PV Installations Reach 6 GW Milestone in 2008

The article on the Masdar Project is available for free. All other articles currently require a subscription to the paper edition of the magazine. To request a sample copy of EEnergy Informer click here.

Comments Off on May 2009 EEnergy Informer

UK Announces Potential Nuclear Sites

Posted in Nuclear,UK by Cheryl Morgan on the April 15th, 2009

The UK Government has published a list of 11 sites at which it hopes new nuclear power stations will be built. According to The Guardian, the sites are:

Dungeness in Kent; Sizewell in Suffolk; Hartlepool in Cleveland; Heysham in Lancashire; Sellafield in Cumbria; Braystones in Cumbria; Kirksanton in Cumbria; Wylfa Peninsula in Anglesey; Oldbury in Gloucestershire; Hinkley Point in Somerset and Bradwell in Essex.

The majority of these locations (9) already house existing nuclear installations. The other two are close to the nuclear re-processing facility at Sellafield. The government hopes that the choice of brownfield sites will ease the process of planning inquiries, though anti-nuclear protesters are already lining up to challenge the process.

Meanwhile the companies involved are busy courting local public opinion. Here in Somerset homes have received leaflets from EdF that talk enthusiastically about the new jobs that will be created, and about the nuclear skills training center that will be established in conjunction with a local college. Hinkley Point is a particularly interesting site as it overlooks the Severn Estuary more or less exactly where the proposed tidal barrage would be built. This gives local people a genuine choice as to how they want their future electricity generated: by a nuclear power station, or by a renewable energy project that environmental campaigners say will be disastrous for local wildlife. The next year or so could be interesting.

Comments Off on UK Announces Potential Nuclear Sites

Grid Under Attack

Posted in Electricity Transmission,USA Federal by Cheryl Morgan on the April 8th, 2009

Today’s issue of the Wall Street Journal has a major article about cyber-attacks on the US electricity grid. Apparently spies from a number of countries, including Russia and China, have been covertly hacking into electricity systems in the US.

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. “There are intrusions, and they are growing,” the former official said, referring to electrical systems. “There were a lot last year.”

Thus far no damage has been reported, and the hacking activity appears to have been more of a scouting mission than an all out attack. However, officials worry that malware may have been left behind and could be activated in the event that hostilities break out.

The other major problem is, of course, working out who is attacking you:

It is nearly impossible to know whether or not an attack is government-sponsored because of the difficulty in tracking true identities in cyberspace. U.S. officials said investigators have followed electronic trails of stolen data to China and Russia.

Russian and Chinese officials have denied any official involvement in the attacks.

Although attacks of this type have been going on for some time, it is probably no accident that the WSJ has chosen to report them now. The Smart Grid movement is finally managing to get some traction, and one of many questions being asked is whether there should be an open standard for supply of equipment, or if instead a single company should be tasked with developing a secret and supposedly hack-proof technology. The WSJ acknowledges this in a supporting article that asks whether the Smart Grid would help repel attackers, or open the door to them.

At one level this is just another one of those traditional Washington arguments where a big business tries to persuade Congress that it needs to be granted monopoly control of some aspect of the economy under some pretext or other. However, in this case the pretext could be worryingly wrong, because open standards may be the best solution.

Last week security expert Bruce Schneier worried about who should be in charge of cybersecurity in the US. He pointed out that organizations like the NSA tend towards paranoia and, if given sweeping powers, will be tempted to use those powers against imagined internal enemies rather than external ones. In addition security organizations like the NSA often have an incentive to preserve back doors in systems so that they can use them themselves, rather than plug them so that others cannot.

The main point, however, is that security systems can never be made hack-proof. As technology journalist Cory Doctorow explains, discussing a rather different area of business, the only way to be sure that a security system is actually unbreakable is to make it public and let enthusiastic hackers try to break it. Contests such as this one held last month to test the security of web browsers do far more to keep our computer systems secure than bureaucratic secrecy.

April 2009 EEnergy Informer

Posted in EEnergy Informer by Cheryl Morgan on the April 8th, 2009

The April 2009 issue of EEnergy Informer is now available. Here is the contents list:

  • Does Clean And Green Rhyme With Recession And Unemployment?
  • EDF And ENEL to Launch Italy’s Nuclear Future
  • Coal Fighting For Survival
  • A Dying Breed: AAA Rating
  • Will Obama’s Climate Plan Be Too Taxing On Sputtering Economy?
  • In Search Of Elusive Carbon Neutrality
  • Don’t Like Coal? Try More Energy Efficiency
  • Greening of Michigan And New York
  • Will AMI Investments Pay Off?
  • USCAP: Being At The Table And Ending Up As Lunch
  • Disappointed With Markets, Maryland Toys With Re-Regulation

The article on the US climate plan is available for free. All other articles currently require a subscription to the paper edition of the magazine. To subscribe to EEnergy Informer click here.

Comments Off on April 2009 EEnergy Informer