from Judy Miriga
Now we know why someone was testing water about Nuclear Power Plant in Kenya….BUT…..Folks must stand AGAINST it all through the way……..until we humble these Chinese to a Mutual understanding of PUBLIC power in Africa……
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China interested in building nuclear plant in East Africa
China wants to help build nuclear power generation in East Africa, uranium mining and investment company IBI Corp said in a statement after meeting Chinese officials in Beijing, revealing China’s undimmed appetite for overseas nuclear expansion despite the Japanese nuclear crisis this year.
IBI, which has uranium-prospective land in Uganda, said its director, A.J. Coffman, held an “encouraging meeting… with the relatively new umbrella organization overseeing China’s research and development of Generation 3 and Generation 4 nuclear power plant designs.”
“At the meeting, this entity expressed an interest in pursuing nuclear power plant construction in East Africa.”
China is in the early stages of a massive nuclear power expansion to help meet the demands of its power-guzzling economy and to weaken the grip of coal as the dominant source of fuel.
Japan’s earthquake and tsunami on March 11 and the ensuing nuclear crisis have threatened to put cracks in China’s own plans, with the government ordering a halt to further nuclear approvals until it had inspected the existing reactors and construction sites.
China’s ambitious domestic nuclear expansion is widely expected to march ahead, although talk of the sector growing to 80-90 gigawatts by 2020 may give way to a target of 70-75 GW. Still, that is a giant leap from China’s existing nuclear capacity, which amounted to 10.8 GW, at the end of 2010.
Some of China’s new plants will use “third generation” reactors, using technology from France’s Areva and U.S.-based Westinghouse, part of Toshiba Corp. But later their technology will be transferred to China, enabling it to build third generation plants in its own right.
Currently there are no nuclear plants in East Africa, and only one country on the continent, South Africa, has nuclear power.
China already has some early-stage interests in uranium in Africa. The overseas arm of China National Nuclear Corp has a 37.2 percent stake in a uranium mine in Niger that began producing on December 30, 2010, as well as exploration projects in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Another state-owned company, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp, earlier this month withdrew a bid for UK-listed Kalahari Minerals, which holds 43 percent of Extract Resources, owner of Namibia’s Husab project, potentially the world’s second-biggest uranium mine.
The Chinese firm, which withdrew its $1.2 billion bid after regulators refused to let it cut its offer in the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear disaster, is considering whether to come back with a fresh offer.
Peter Bosshard, Policy Director, International Rivers
Mao, Tao and the Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the world’s largest hydropower project. It has often been touted as a model for dam building around the world. Now the Chinese government has officially acknowledged the project’s serious social, environmental and geological problems. What are the lessons from the Three Gorges experience?
For many years, Chinese leaders have celebrated the mega-dam on the Yangtze as a symbol of the country’s economic and technological progress. With a capacity of 18,200 megawatts, the hydropower project is indeed a masterpiece of engineering. In spite of its daunting complexity, the government completed it ahead of schedule in 2008. The dam generates two percent of China’s electricity, and substitutes at least 30 million tons of coal per year. Its cost has been estimated at between $27 and $88 billion.
Costs and benefits
The social and environmental costs may be even more staggering than the project’s financial price tag. The Three Gorges Dam has displaced more than 1.2 million people. Hundreds of local officials diverted compensation money into their own pockets, but protests against such abuses were oppressed. Because it no longer controls the economy and land is scarce, the government was not able to provide jobs and land to the displaced people as promised. Unlike other governments, China has set up a program to provide pensions to the 18 million people displaced by dams in the past.
Damming the Three Gorges caused massive impacts on the ecosystem of the Yangtze, Asia’s longest river. The barrage stopped the migration of fish, and diminished the river’s capacity to clean itself. Pollution from dirty industries along the reservoir is causing frequent toxic algae blooms. Commercial fisheries have plummeted, the Yangtze river dolphin has already been extinct, and species such as the Chinese Sturgeon are threatened by the same fate. Due to dam building and pollution, rivers and lakes around the world have lost more species to extinction than any other major ecosystem.
Struggling with unexpected impacts
While the social and environmental problems had been predicted, government officials were not prepared for the massive geological impacts of the Three Gorges Dam. The water level in the reservoir fluctuates between 145 and 175 meters every year. This destabilizes the slopes of the Yangtze Valley, and is triggering frequent landslides. According to Chinese experts, erosion affects half the reservoir area, and more than 100 miles of riverbanks are at risk of collapsing. More than 300,000 additional people will have to be relocated to stabilize the banks of the reservoir.
Since most of the silt load from the Yangtze’s upper reaches is now deposited in the reservoir, the downstream regions are being starved of sediment. As a consequence, up to four square kilometers of coastal wetlands are eroded every year. The Yangtze delta is subsiding, and seawater intrudes up the river, affecting agriculture and drinking water supplies. An international team of scientists recently found that no less than 472 million people have likely been affected by the downstream impacts of large dams around the world, and that these impacts are often neglected during the planning of such projects.
Scientists agree that the reservoirs of high dams can trigger earthquakes. The Three Gorges Dam sits on two fault lines, and hundreds of small tremors have been recorded since the reservoir began filling. While the dam has been built to withstand strong earthquakes, the villages and towns in its vicinity have not. As global dam building increasingly moves into mountain areas with active tectonic faults, the seismic risks of reservoirs will increase.
Hydropower projects have often been proposed as a response to global warming, yet the Three Gorges Dam illustrates how climate change creates new risks for such projects. In a nutshell, past records can no longer be used to predict a river’s future streamflow. The dam operators planned to fill the Three Gorges reservoir for the first time in 2009, but were not able to do so due to insufficient rains. The current year has brought Central China the worst drought in 50 years. Like other projects around the world, the Three Gorges Dam is facing serious risks and losses due to the vagaries of climate change.
A new approach is needed
Scientists had warned of the Three Gorges Dam’s impacts throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Yet their opinions were ignored and silenced. During the construction phase, the giant project, which had originally been championed by Mao Zedong, was frequently visited by government and party leaders. It has also served as a tour stop for many visiting government delegations from Asia, Africa and Europe.
In recent years, the Chinese government has quietly toned down its enthusiasm for the project. “We thought of all the possible issues,” the secretary general of the Yangtze River Forum told the Wall Street Journal in August 2007. “But the problems are all more serious than we expected.” When the dam was inaugurated in 2008, the Chinese president and his prime minister were conspicuously absent. And on May 18, China’s highest government body for the first time acknowledged the serious problems at the Three Gorges. “The project is now greatly benefiting the society in the aspects of flood prevention, power generation, river transportation and water resource utilization,” the government maintained, but it has “caused some urgent problems in terms of environmental protection, the prevention of geological hazards and the welfare of the relocated communities.”
China’s economy is booming, and its water and energy needs are pressing. Yet the Three Gorges Dam was not the only option for replacing coal. While the dam was under construction, the country’s economy actually became more wasteful in its use of energy. According to the Energy Foundation, it would have been “cheaper, cleaner and more productive for China to have invested in energy efficiency” rather than new power plants.
A few hundred miles from the Three Gorges reservoir, the water works of Dujiangyan have irrigated the fertile Sichuan plains and prevented floods through an ingenious system of levees for more than 2000 years. They reflect the Taoist philosophy of working with the forces of nature, while the Yangtze dam symbolizes the Maoist (and Confucian) approach of subduing the natural world.
The Three Gorges Dam has been completed, but it is not too late to draw lessons for the mega-projects which have been proposed on the Mekong and the Amazon, the Congo and the Salween, in Ethiopia and the Himalayas. The Yangtze dam demonstrates that even with the greatest technical skills, our power to dominate nature is limited. It calls on us to harness our great technological progress for solutions that reduce poverty while respecting the limits of our ecosystems.
Jatropha Revival as Viable Feedstock for Global Biofuels
China (PRWEB) May 26, 2011
From Asia, Africa to Latin America there’s renewed interest in Jatropha oil and its cultivation. CMT’s JatrophaWorld Asia on 27-28 June in Hainan Island hones in on Jatropha as sustainable feedstock option for biofuel. Armed with factual data and aided by real success stories, Jatropha practitioners, growers, investors, end-users and researchers on cultivation, processing, and supplying oil will again share their first hand and field experiences.
The conference focuses on the latest developments in effective large-scale jatropha commercialization and cultivation methods; as well as assesses how the global industry will be shaped by new sustainability standards.
Why use Jatropha?
Jatropha curcas produces seed that contain an inedible vegetable oil that is used to produce biofuel. Each Jatropha seed produces between 35 to 37% of its mass in oil.
• It is drought resistant.
• It can be grown almost anywhere – even in sandy, saline, or infertile soil.
• It adapts well to marginal soils with low nutrient content.
• It is relatively easy to propagate.
• It is not invasive or damaging.
• It is capable of stabilizing sand dunes, acting as a windbreak or combating desertification.
• It naturally repels insects and animals do not browse it.
• It lives for over 50 years producing seeds all the time.
• It is resilient against the cold.
• It does not exhaust the nutrients in the land; rather, it rejuvenates overused land.
• It does not require expensive crop rotation.
• It does not require fertilizers.
• It grows quickly and establishes itself easily.
• It has a high yield.
• No displacement of food crops is necessary.
• The biodiesel byproduct, glycerin, is profitable in itself.
• The waste plant mass after oil extraction can be used as a fertilizer.
• The plant itself recycles 100% of the CO2 emissions produced by burning the biodiesel; two mature plants can absorb 1 metric ton of carbon every year.
In his book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Thomas L. Friedman gives 4 criterion that any biofuel must meet: It must have a large positive energy input, not destroy biodiversity-rich land, must not release large amounts of carbon dioxide when grown, and must not solve one problem only to create another. Jatropha meets all of these criterion.
The oil content is 25 to 30% in the seed with cover. Without cover it is 50 to 60% in the kernel. The oil contains 21% saturated fatty acids and 79% unsaturated fatty acids. There are some chemical elements in the seed, Cursin, which are poisonous and render the oil not appropriate for human consumption.
Jatropha curcas is a small, perennial shrub that grows 3-5 meters in height. It was originally native to Central America, and grows well in the tropics. It has many uses, among them biofuel, cosmetics, and fertilizer.
Medicinal plant : The latex of Jatropha curcas contains an alkaloid known as jatrophine, which is believed to have anti-cancerous properties. It is also used as an external application for skin diseases and rheumatism and for sores on domestic livestock. In addition, the tender twigs of the plant are used for cleaning teeth, while the juice of the leaf is used as an external application for piles. Finally, the roots are reported to be used as an antidote for snake-bites.
Raw material for dye : The bark of Jatropha curcas yields a dark blue dye which is used for colouring cloth, fishing nets and lines.
Soil enrichment : Jatropha curcas / Castor oil cake is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and can be used as it is as organic manure for plantations.
Leaves : Jatropha leaves are used as food for the tusser silkworm.
Insecticide/ pesticide : The seeds are considered anthelimintic in Brazil, and the leaves are used for fumigating houses against bed-bugs. Also, the ether extract shows antibiotic activity against Styphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
Alternative to Diesel : It is significant to point out that, the non-edible vegetable oil of Jatropha curcas / Castor has the requisite potential of providing a promising and commercially viable alternative to diesel oil since it has desirable physicochemical and performance characteristics comparable to diesel. Cars can be run with Jatropha curcas oil without any change in design.
Taking the Waste out of Nuclear Waste
Jun 02, 2011
While spent nuclear fuel continues to pile up by the ton across the United States, UC Irvine’s Mikael Nilsson says the solution is clear: recycle it at the commercial nuclear power plants that create it.
More than 96 percent of the waste – namely uranium and plutonium – can be used again, says the assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, and plants in Europe and Asia are doing just that. Nilsson’s laboratory research is focused on how to recycle or destroy the remaining 3 to 4 percent.
“Some people call it nuclear waste, but we’ve stopped using that term,” he said. “That implies it’s useless, and we don’t think that’s true. It can still be used.”
Currently, about 65,000 metric tons of commercial spent nuclear fuel is stored at 75 sites in 33 states, and the amount is growing by about 2,000 metric tons a year, according to federal records, some of it with a half-life of millions of years. There have been decades-long battles over the construction of a central repository under Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and the transport of such waste through American communities.
Nilsson is from Sweden, where nuclear generation accounts for nearly half of all electricity, and he sees it as key to the future of energy in the U.S. At UCI since 2009, he’s heartened by developments under President Obama, including a blue-ribbon commission set up to examine future options for nuclear energy, such as recycling. An initial report is expected in July. In addition, UCI is joining six other universities and four federal laboratories in a new consortium organized by the National Nuclear Security Administration to explore matters related to the prevention of security breaches.
“I’m a believer in nuclear power, because coal has its own issues, and solar doesn’t always work if it’s nighttime or you’re in Seattle,” Nilsson said. “Any technology can be misused. Nuclear gives you a lot of power 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without any release of carbon dioxide. And we have large amounts of uranium and other natural resources available, if they’re used and reused right.”
Albert Yee, chair of the chemical engineering & materials science department, says: “It’s fabulous having Mikael in our department” because unlike many, he’s not put off by the thorny legal and environmental challenges associated with nuclear energy research.
“Mikael looks at it and says, ‘OK, it’s a problem. But it’s a problem we won’t have if we do something about it.’ For example, what do you do with the waste we have to live with, thanks to the advent of nuclear power? We’re just putting it off, literally burying it, and here we have a young professor who’s tackling it head-on. So he’s very courageous, very timely, and I think he will do a lot of great science.”
Nilsson notes that it was American researchers at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory who discovered in the late 1940s that plutonium and uranium – both key ingredients in nuclear fission – could be separated from other poisonous elements and returned to production.
Reprocessing has long been done in France, the United Kingdom and Russia – more recently in Japan and India. There has been hot debate in the U.S. and elsewhere about the practice, centered on accidental and controlled radioactive emissions into air and water and concern about the potential theft of plutonium by terrorists.
President Ford suspended commercial plutonium recycling in 1976 due to fears the material could be stolen for nuclear weapons proliferation. President Carter banned all commercial reprocessing a few months later. President Reagan lifted the ban, but no public subsidies were granted for costly start-ups. That may be changing.
But U.S. regulations allow no radioactive emissions from reprocessing plant smokestacks, which Nilsson calls a “zero tolerance” policy. In England, by contrast, controlled releases of some elements are allowed in amounts that quickly disperse in air or ocean water. Nilsson and other scientists believe the releases are well below dangerous levels. He also notes that there have been no thefts of plutonium from spent fuel stockpiles – but adds that it’s safer to get these radioactive materials back into production than let them sit.
At his security-conscious laboratory, Nilsson and his graduate students are attempting to isolate dozens of remaining elements in nuclear waste and simulate their effects so that they can be recycled or destroyed. Some, such as neptunium and other so-called “daughters of americium,” are among the most toxic and have very long half-lives. The elements are especially hard to recycle because they’re miniscule and mimic each other’s properties, making them extremely difficult to separate.
“We’re down to very small things, so it becomes more complex,” Nilsson said. He and his fellow researchers use a glove box outfitted with long, black hands to reach into an enclosed area and handle radioactive objects – which, he says, are all low dosage and not a major risk. But Nilsson and his team are careful. The laboratory doors are always locked, there are no seams in the floor that could trap material, and everyone uses a hand and foot sensor each time they exit to see if they’ve inadvertently come into contact with radiation.
“I’m not worried,” Nilsson said. “I see opportunities, not problems.”
The Tiger And the Dragon in a Hot Race to Woo Africa New Delhi Offers $5 Billion
East Africa News online: 29 May 2011
East African nations have become the latest target of the battle heating up between India and China for control of Africa’s economic landscape.
The region raked in a huge chunk of the $5 billion from New Delhi last week as a loans package to finance key infrastructure projects.
While India has lagged behind its Asian rival China in bagging deals and projects in Africa, the funding deal announced in Addis Ababa has awakened many observers to the fact that the former is harbouring a grand agenda for the continent.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who announced the funding was on a six-day trip to Africa, attending the India-Africa summit in Addis Ababa Ethiopia as he sought to deepen economic ties with African nations.
With the support of their government, Indian firms are increasingly making more and strategic entries into East Africa and the Continent in general, targeting the expected windfall in telecoms, mineral extraction, engineering and consumer goods markets, a field Chinese firms have previously dominated.
“Its clear India like China has realised Africa is the next frontier for their growth. What we are seeing is a competition for new markets and resources between the two, ” said Kuria Muchiru, Senior Partner and Country Leader for Kenya at audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
“There is a lot of investor interest in Africa by Indian firms, ” said Mr Muchiru.
Trade figures have been telling of the strengthening ties between India and Africa, a co-operation 16 African Heads of State agreed to support in the coming years, as they turned to South-to South relations to grow their economies. Statistics show total bilateral trade between India and African countries stood at $46 billion in 2010, up from the $3 billion in 2000 and it is estimated to clock $70 billion by 2015.
Comparatively China’s bilateral trade with Africa stood at about $200 billion back in 2009.
The new funding will be disbursed as credit to countries, in addition to the $5.4 billion that India offered Africa at the first India-Africa summit in New Delhi in 2008, said Singh.
Among the key projects to have received a boost is the proposed Ethiopia-Djibouti railway to be contracted at a cost of $300 million. The African Union mission in Somalia would also benefit from the financing with a pledge of $2 million while African airlines will get increased access to Indian cities in what Singh said was a unique partnership between the two regions. Singh said India would offer an additional $700 million for new institutions and training programmes.
India is not hiding its intentions. “The people of Africa and India stand at the threshold of a historic opportunity. There is a new economic growth story emerging from Africa. Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole of the world,” Singh told African Union leaders in Ethiopia.
“The India-Africa partnership is unique and owes its origins to history and our common struggle against colonialism, apartheid, poverty, disease, illiteracy and hunger. But African states do not only expect from India, but we believe we are able to give back. India is able to count on the support of Africa,” said Singh.
Leading Indian technology companies including Bharti Airtel, Mahindra Satyam, Infosys and Tata are among the firms ramping up efforts in Africa to increase their presence in the region. Bharti has presence in 15 African countries, after it acquired the African assets of Kuwait’s Zain mid last year at nearly $10 billion. This has delivered rivalry to the doorsteps of European mobile telephone giants, Vodafone and Orange which have previously dominated the market.
African countries have also been reaching out to Indian investors as they seek to boost their economies. In October last year, Rwanda sent a 25-member business delegation to India scouting for partners and investors to give a boost to the soft and physical infrastructure sectors back home.
Several Indian firms have shown interest in investing in Kigali promising to start big projects worth millions of dollars in information technology, mining, agro-processing, education, pharmaceuticals and energy. Rwanda Development Board (RDB), a government agency created to facilitate investments says at least 26 Indian companies–including Essar Group, Tata Group and Karox Company–had shown interest towards the end of last year.
“The whole world is looking at India, China and Brazil. Even American investors want to go to India,” RDB chief executive John Gara said. In November, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited South Africa, Angola and Botswana signing deals worth millions of dollars to build a power plant, solar panel factory and to increase South African exports to China.
Chinese state-owned firms led by China National Offshore Company (CNOOC) have of late been major players in the oil exploration business in EAC region. In Kenya for example two Indian-based companies — Gleen Investment and Sanghi Cement– were given a green light to construct cement plants in Ortum and Sebit area in Pokot respectively. Sanghi cement of India which manages one of the world’s largest single stream cement plants–producing over 20 million tonnes annually–is to invest over $80 million in its cement plant in Kenya, giving it a footprint it plans to use to supply the region market such as in South Sudan.
Gleen Investment, a unit of conglomerate Mehta Group plans to put up a 1.2 million-metric tonne cement plant in West Pokot, to cost about $200 million in a programme that will be scaled up depending on the available limestone deposits. Indian Reliance Group associated with the Ambani brothers together with Bharti Airtel and the Tata Group had bid for a 51 per cent stake in monopoly Telkom Kenya but lost out to France Telecom’s Orange. Indian second largest mobile phone service provider Essar Group has already made one foray in Africa with the launch of the Yu brand in Kenya in 2008. Essar Energy which owns a 50 per cent stake in Kenya’s oil refinery in Mombasa, having invested $600 million is said to be looking for opportunities in Uganda following recent discovery of oil reserves in the Lake Albertine rift basin.
India – Tanzania
Indian companies and businesses in Tanzania are valued at about US$1.3 billion, creating about 32,000 jobs through direct investments and joint venture projects. In total, the India-Tanzania bilateral trade stood at US$1.1 billion up to the end of 2010.
This year, Tanzanian Industry, Trade and Marketing minister Cyril Chami said at least seven Indian companies are expected to build factories at a cost of $250 million and create over 6,000 jobs.
Mr Singh held discussions with President Kikwete on various protocols aimed at strengthening India-Tanzania co-operation in various economic and social sector projects. Last year, Tanzania’s exports value to India stood at $132.5 million while imports hit $596.7 million.