Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Strawbale House at Craik

As the snow finally melts off the Prairie, a new house is being build in the Craik Enviro Village called Riverstone Studios. The foundation was poured in the shape of a three leaf clover last year and my understanding is it will offer two studios and a central living quarters.This house is using a post and beam construction different from the more basic straw bale wall without wood shown in a previous example. The first image shows three of the houses.

The next picture is a closeup of the construction on two of the sections.

Finally here is a picture of either a garage or a power generation station with solar panels in the roof that is behind the house.

I can't wait for my next trip to see how the houses are progressing.

Inspiring Action

The new GreenPeace video

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nuclear Power: We have much better choices

Ryan Meili calls on NDP MLAs to oppose SaskParty uranium resolution.
On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Legislature will debate a motion by Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison supporting the development of nuclear generation in Saskatchewan. NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili has issued the following statement.

The Wall government’s uranium resolution falsely frames the debate on nuclear energy and uranium development.

Nuclear power is not a viable solution to Saskatchewan’s energy needs. It is too expensive. It is too risky. It is too slow. We have much better choices.

I am calling on all 20 New Democratic Party MLAs to vote “no” on this misleading motion.

Nuclear power is being sold to us as a means to provide cheap energy, as a means of addressing immediate energy needs, even as a means of protecting our environment.
But none of these sales pitches are based on the facts.

• Nuclear power isn’t cheap. A nuclear reactor is a very expensive undertaking and the people of Saskatchewan will pay for it on their electricity bills for a long time to come, if it is allowed to be built. We pay 10 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity now. Whether its Bruce Power or SaskPower, no one will build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan for less than 20 cents per kilowatt hour – double the current price of electricity. That simple fact is why most private sector utilities in the United States have been avoiding nuclear power – they know there are too many hidden costs and that most nuclear power construction projects have huge cost over-runs. Add to that expensive repair bills, the high cost of disposing of radioactive nuclear fuel waste and the very high cost of decommissioning a radioactive reactor core. When compared to wind power at 11 cents per kilowatt hour and electricity conservation at less than 6 cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear power’s economics make no sense.

• Nuclear power puts our environment at risk. Yes, nuclear power can reduce the carbon footprint. But that assumed you ignore the massive carbon emissions involved in building the reactor – particularly if it is built in a remote area. A nuclear reactor will also produce intensely radioactive waste materials which no country on earth has successfully disposed of. Why should the next generation of Saskatchewan residents bear the burden of disposing of this radioactive waste material, with the worry that it must be kept out of ground water supplies for tens of thousands of years into the future.

• Nuclear power doesn’t address our immediate energy needs. Nuclear reactors are not designed and built quickly. Sites are not chosen quickly. Even if the process started today, it would be nearly 20 years before a proposed nuclear facility contributed a single watt to the energy grid.

Securing Saskatchewan's Energy Future

Ryan Meili's response to the energy motions

Earlier today, the Saskatchewan Legislature debated two motions regarding Saskatchewan’s energy future. NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili has issued the following statement.

I want to commend House Leader Len Taylor and the NDP caucus for showing leadership in introducing a balanced resolution calling for wide-ranging consideration of all options, including energy conservation, in addressing Saskatchewan’s future energy needs and recognizing that energy choices have social and environmental impacts.

The Wall government's original resolution was written to create a false dichotomy where the issue was "nuclear: yes or no", intended to trap the caucus into looking either as though they were in favour of a reactor or blindly opposed to even considering it. This tactic from the Saskatchewan Party diverts our attention from the real matter at hand.

The Wall government has ignored our real energy challenges and done nothing to address climate change. They have dismantled the Climate Change Secretariat and depleted the Green Future Fund. They have made petty investments in carbon capture and ignored conservation or conversion to renewable sources of energy. Now they are beginning a process of mock consultation designed to come to a foregone conclusion: that a nuclear reactor is the only option for Saskatchewan.

In fact, there are more options – safer options, cheaper options and better options – to address Saskatchewan's long and short term energy requirements. I would welcome an open and honest debate about Saskatchewan's energy future. When considered alongside wind, solar, small-scale hydro and other renewable energy options, it will be clear that a nuclear power plant is simply not viable for Saskatchewan – it is too expensive, too risky and fails to meet our short or long term energy needs.

Frankly, the type of consideration the Wall government has in mind is a waste of time and money. A reactor in Saskatchewan has been considered many times. The answer is still no.

We can build an economically and environmentally sustainable energy industry in this province. We have incredible resources for the development of wind and solar power. We have a choice: demonstrate leadership and be at the forefront of renewable energy, or be stuck in the unsustainable answers of the past.

When Premier Wall is prepared to stop hiding behind wordplay and "independent" panels of nuclear industry apologists, when he is ready to engage in a real debate about Saskatchewan's energy future, Saskatchewan New Democrats will be ready.

The text of the Saskatchewan Party motion (Jeremy Harrison, Meadow Lake) is as follows:

That the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan supports the consideration of further value-added development of Saskatchewan’s uranium industry including nuclear power generation and recognizes the potential benefits to the growth and prosperity of the people of our province.

The text of the NDP motion (Len Taylor, The Battlefords) is as follows:

That the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan supports the consideration of the further value-added development of Saskatchewan’s energy industry including energy conservation, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other alternative power generation, and as part of that consideration (which would obviously involve extensive public consultation) recognize not only the potential benefits to the growth and prosperity of the people of our province.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Google Earth and renewable energy

Two environmental groups have teamed up with Google in an effort to help steer renewable energy development away from sensitive areas, by utilizing Google Earth maps.

The National Audubon Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council on Wednesday unveiled the new tool –which is called the Path to Green Energy– and it’s available for the public to use. Read the full article