even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Russian Forces Retreat Amid Ukrainian Counteroffensive

Ukraine’s action to reclaim Russia-occupied areas in the Kharkiv region forced Moscow to withdraw its troops to prevent them from being surrounded.

Ukrainian troops on Sunday successfully pressed their swift counteroffensive in the northeastern part of the country, even as a nuclear power plant in the Russia-occupied south completely shut down in a bid to prevent a radiation disaster as fighting raged nearby.

Kyiv’s action to reclaim Russia-occupied areas in the Kharkiv region forced Moscow to withdraw its troops to prevent them from being surrounded, leaving behind significant numbers of weapons and munitions in a hasty retreat as the war marked its 200th day on Sunday.

A jubilant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mocked the Russians in a video address Saturday night, saying that “the Russian army in these days is demonstrating the best that it can do — showing its back.”

He posted a video of Ukrainian soldiers hoisting the national flag over Chkalovske, another town reclaimed in the counteroffensive.

While most attention was focused on the counteroffensive, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, was reconnected to Ukraine’s electricity grid, allowing engineers to shut down its last operational reactor to safeguard the plant amid the fighting.

The plant, one of the 10 biggest atomic power stations in the world, has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the war. Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for shelling around it.

Since a Sept. 5 fire caused by shelling knocked the plant off transmission lines, the reactor was powering crucial safety equipment in so-called “island mode” — an unreliable regime that left the plant increasingly vulnerable to a potential nuclear accident.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation at the plant in a call Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron, the Kremlin said.

Ukraine’s military chief, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyy, announced that its forces had recaptured about 160 square miles since the counteroffensive began in early September. He noted that Ukrainian troops are only about 30 miles from the border with Russia.

Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said Ukrainian troops have reclaimed control of more than 40 settlements in the Kharkiv region, noting he couldn’t give a precise number because the operation is still unfolding.

Defense Minister Anna Malyar said Ukrainian forces are firing shells containing propaganda into areas where they seek to advance.

“One of the ways of informational work with the enemy in areas where there is no Internet is launching propaganda shells,” she wrote on Facebook. “Before moving forward, our defenders say hello to the Russian invaders and give them the last opportunity to surrender. Otherwise, only death awaits them on Ukrainian soil.”

The Russian pullback marked the biggest battlefield success for Ukrainian forces since they thwarted a Russian attempt to seize the capital, Kyiv, at the start of the nearly seven-month war. The Kharkiv campaign came as a surprise for Moscow, which had relocated many of its troops from the region to the south in expectation of a counteroffensive there.

In an awkward attempt to save face, the Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday the troops’ withdrawal from Izyum and other areas was intended to strengthen Moscow’s forces in the neighboring Donetsk region to the south.

The explanation sounded similar to the justification Russia gave for pulling back from the Kyiv region earlier this year when they failed to take the capital.

The Russian forces around Izyum have been key for Moscow’s effort to capture the Donetsk region, and their pullback will dramatically weaken its capability to press its offensive on Ukrainian strongholds of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk to the south.

A map released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday showed its forces retreating to a narrow patch of land along the border.

Igor Strelkov, who led Russia-backed forces when the separatist conflict in the Donbas erupted in 2014, mocked the Russian Defense Ministry’s explanation of the retreat, suggesting that handing over Russia’s own territory near the border was a “contribution to a Ukrainian settlement.”

The retreat drew an angry response from Russian military bloggers and nationalist commentators, who bemoaned it as a major defeat and urged the Kremlin to step up its war efforts. Many scathingly criticized Russian authorities for continuing with fireworks and other lavish festivities in Moscow that marked a city holiday on Saturday despite the debacle in Ukraine.

Just as the Russian forces were hastily pulling back from Izyum under Ukrainian fire on Saturday, Putin attended the opening of a huge Ferris wheel at a Moscow park, although it reportedly closed for repairs soon thereafter. He also inaugurated a new transport link and a sports arena.

The action underlined the Kremlin’s narrative that the war it calls a “special military operation” was going according to plan without affecting Russians’ everyday lives.

Pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov criticized the Moscow festivities as a grave mistake.

“The fireworks in Moscow on a tragic day of Russia’s military defeat will have extremely serious political consequences,” Markov wrote on his messaging app channel. “Authorities mustn’t celebrate when people are mourning.”

In a sign of a potential rift in the Russian leadership, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed head of Chechnya, said the retreat resulted from blunders by the Russian military leadership.

“They have made mistakes and I think they will draw the necessary conclusions,” Kadyrov said. “If they don’t make changes in the strategy of conducting the special military operation in the next day or two, I will be forced to contact the leadership of the Defense Ministry and the leadership of the country to explain the real situation on the ground.”

Despite Ukraine’s gains, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the head of NATO warned Friday the war would likely drag on for months. Blinken said the conflict was entering a critical period and urged the West to keep supporting Ukraine through what could be a difficult winter.

The U.S. and its NATO allies have been working to make sure that Ukrainian forces have “the things that they most need right on the moment,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“And we are seeing the Ukrainians with a tremendous patriotic resolve — but also after eight years of joint training with the U.S. military, going back to 2014 with the Crimea invasion — we’re seeing the combined effect of collaborative training and resources that are right on time right at the moment, showing that Vladimir Putin’s grandiose dissolutions about what he might do in Ukraine are hollow and they’re failing,” he told CNN.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Fears Grow For Ukraine Nuclear Plant Ahead Of Inspector Report

By Associated Press
September 6, 2022

The International Atomic Energy Agency visit appeared to have done little to lessen the risks.

Fears mounted Tuesday over Europe’s largest nuclear plant as shelling around it continued, a day after it was again knocked off Ukraine’s electrical grid and put in the precarious position of relying on its own power to run its safety systems.

Repeated warnings from world leaders that the fighting around the Zaporizhzhia plant could lead to a nuclear catastrophe have done little to stem the hostilities. Russian-installed officials accused Ukrainian forces of shelling Enerhodar, the city where the plant is situated, hours after the Ukrainians said Kremlin forces attacked a city across the river.

The Ukrainian mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, reported a powerful blast in the city around midday. The explosion left the city of 53,000 cut off from its power and water supplies. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blast.

Both sides have traded accusations of attacks on the plant since Russian troops seized it early in the war. With the danger rising, a team from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency finally traveled to the plant last week, and on Tuesday, inspectors were expected to report what they found to the U.N. Security Council.

Two inspectors remained at the plant, which is run by Ukrainian workers, and Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak applauded that decision.

“There are Russian troops now who don’t understand what’s happening, don’t assess the risks correctly,” Podolyak said. “There is a number of our workers there, who need some kind of protection, people from the international community standing by their side and telling (Russian troops): ‘Don’t touch these people, let them work.'”

But the IAEA visit appeared to have done little to lessen the risks. On Monday, the IAEA said Ukrainian authorities reported that the plant’s last transmission line was disconnected to allow workers to put out a fire caused by shelling.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told Ukrainian television: “Any repairs are impossible at this point — there are ongoing hostilities around the plant.”

In the meantime, the plant’s only remaining operational reactor will “generate the power the plant needs for its safety and other functions,” the IAEA said. The plant needs power to run the cooling systems for its reactors and spent fuel and avoid a meltdown.

Mycle Schneider, an independent analyst in Canada on nuclear energy, said that means the plant was probably functioning in “island mode,” or producing electricity just for its own operations.

“Island mode is a very shaky, unstable and unreliable way to provide continuous power supply to a nuclear plant,” Schneider said.

It was just the latest incident to fuel fears of a nuclear disaster in a country still haunted by the world’s worst nuclear accident, at Chernobyl in 1986. Experts say the reactors at Zaporizhzhia are designed to withstand natural disasters and even plane crashes, but the unpredictable fighting has repeatedly threatened to disrupt critical cooling systems, raising the risk of a meltdown.

Ukrainian intelligence reported that residents of Enerhodar were fleeing the city out of fear. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia should organize safe corridors for women and children living nearby.

“People en masse are reaching out to us for help. They are trying to leave the dangerous territory, but there are no corridors,” Vereshchuk told Ukrainian TV.

Russian-installed officials in the Zaporizhzhia region on Tuesday accused Ukrainian forces of shelling Enerhodar and damaging a power line close to the plant.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s presidential office said Russian forces shelled residential buildings in Nikopol, a city across the Dnieper River from the plant. Two people were wounded and a school, a kindergarten and some 30 buildings were damaged, the office said.

Russian shelling elsewhere killed at least three civilians, the statement said.

In the southern Kherson region, occupied by the Russians since early on in the war, Ukrainian forces continued their counteroffensive. A pontoon bridge was blown up overnight and a command center was hit, as well as two checkpoints, Ukrainian authorities said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine’s Nuclear Plant Partly Goes Offline Amid Fighting

Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and Russia have traded blame over shelling near the plant.

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Saturday that the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was disconnected to its last external power line but was still able to run electricity through a reserve line amid sustained shelling in the area.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the agency’s experts, who arrived at Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the fourth and last operational line was down. The three others were lost earlier during the conflict.

But the IAEA experts learned that the reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering the electricity the plant generates to the external grid, the statement said. The same reserve line can also provide backup power to the plant if needed, it added.

“We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid,” Grossi said. “This is crucial information in assessing the overall situation there.”

In addition, the plant’s management informed the IAEA that one reactor was disconnected Saturday afternoon because of grid restrictions. Another reactor is still operating and producing electricity both for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site and for households, factories and others through the grid, the statement said.

The Zaporizhzhia facility, which is Europe’s largest nuclear plant, has been held by Russian forces since early March, but its Ukrainian staff are continuing to operate it.

The Russian-appointed city administration in Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia plant is located, blamed an alleged Ukrainian shelling attack on Saturday morning for destroying a key power line.

“The provision of electricity to the territories controlled by Ukraine has been suspended due to technical difficulties,” the municipal administration said in a post on its official Telegram channel. It wasn’t clear whether electricity from the plant was still reaching Russian-held areas.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Kremlin-appointed regional administration said on Telegram that a shell had struck an area between two reactors. His claims couldn’t be immediately verified.

Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and Russia have traded blame over shelling near the plant, while also accusing each other of attempts to derail the visit by IAEA experts, whose mission is meant to help secure the site. Grossi said their presence at the site is “a game changer.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian troops launched another attempt to seize the plant late Friday, despite the presence of the IAEA monitors, sending 42 boats with 250 special forces personnel and foreign “mercenaries” to attempt a landing on the bank of the nearby Kakhovka reservoir.

The ministry said that four Russian fighter jets and two helicopter gunships destroyed about 20 boats and the others turned back. It added that the Russian artillery struck the Ukrainian-controlled right bank of the Dnieper River to target the retreating landing party.

The ministry claimed that the Russian military killed 47 troops, including 10 “mercenaries” and wounded 23. The Russian claims couldn’t be independently verified.

The plant has repeatedly suffered complete disconnection from Ukraine’s power grid since last week, with the country’s nuclear energy operator Enerhoatom blaming mortar shelling and fires near the site.

Local Ukrainian authorities accused Moscow of pounding two cities that overlook the plant across the Dnieper river with rockets, also an accusation they have made repeatedly over the past weeks.

In Zorya, a small village about 12 miles from the Zaporizhzhia plant, residents on Friday could hear the sound of explosions in the area.

It’s not the shelling that scared them the most, but the risk of a radioactive leak in the plant.

“The power plant, yes, this is the scariest,” said Natalia Stokoz, a mother of three. “Because the kids and adults will be affected, and it’s scary if the nuclear power plant is blown up.”

Oleksandr Pasko, a 31-year-old farmer, said “there is anxiety because we are quite close.” Pasko said that the Russian shelling has intensified in recent weeks.

During the first weeks of the war, authorities gave iodine tablets and masks to people living near the plant in case of radiation exposure.

Recently, they’ve also distributed iodine pills in Zaporizhzhia city, about 31 miles from the plant.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to take the role of “facilitator” on the issue of the Zaporizhzhia plant, in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, according to a statement from the Turkish presidency.

The Ukrainian military on Saturday morning reported that Russian forces overnight pressed their stalled advance in the country’s industrial east, while also trying to hold on to areas captured in Ukraine’s northeast and south, including in the Kherson region cited as the target of Kyiv’s recent counteroffensive.

It added that Ukrainian forces repelled around a half-dozen Russian attacks across the Donetsk region, including near two cities singled out as key targets of Moscow’s grinding effort to capture the rest of the province. The Donetsk region is one of two that make up Ukraine’s industrial heartland of the Donbas, alongside Luhansk, which was overrun by Russian troops in early July.

Separately, the British military confirmed in its regular update Saturday morning that Ukrainian forces were conducting “renewed offensive operations” in the south of Ukraine, advancing along a broad front west of the Dnieper and focusing on three axes within the Russian-occupied Kherson region.

“The operation has limited immediate objectives, but Ukraine’s forces have likely achieved a degree of tactical surprise; exploiting poor logistics, administration and leadership in the Russian armed forces,” the U.K. defense ministry tweeted.

Russian shelling killed an 8-year-old child and wounded at least four others in a southern Ukrainian town close to the Kherson region, Ukrainian officials said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Fighting Goes On Near Ukraine Nuclear Plant; Watchdog Agency On-Site

The IAEA is on a mission to help safeguard the plant against catastrophe — and the fighting in the area has underscored the urgency of their task.

Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces raged Friday near Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in a Russian-held area of eastern Ukraine, as experts from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency assessing damage sought to prevent even the slightest leak of radioactive material.

Local Russian-appointed authorities said Friday that staff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant restarted a key reactor just hours after a shelling attack a day earlier forced it to shut down. Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, Energoatom confirmed on its Telegram channel that the reactivated reactor had been plugged back into the power grid.

The head of Ukraine’s powerful National Security Council said work was under way to ensure Ukraine’s power supply in case connection to the Zaporizhzhia site is lost this winter. Oleksiy Danilov also said Ukrainian authorities weren’t fully aware of the situation inside the plant for now — despite the presence of the team from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency that went in Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Danilov — a key official in Ukraine’s war effort — said Kyiv didn’t know whether the plant might have been mined by the Russians, adding: “I want to emphasize that this is a challenge for the whole world, how to make this nuclear facility not dangerous.”

Aleksandr Volga, the Kremlin-backed mayor of the Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhizhia nuclear power plant is located, told the Interfax news agency Friday that the successful reactivation left the plant with two working reactors, out of a total of six.

Russia and Ukraine traded blame for the shelling attack which led to Thursday’s temporary shutdown of the reactor by its emergency protection system. Energoatom said the shelling damaged a backup power supply line used for in-house needs, and one of the plant’s reactors that wasn’t operating was switched to diesel generators.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said earlier Friday that shelling continued in the area near the power plant, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said Russian shelling damaged houses, gas pipelines and other infrastructure in the Nikopol region on the other bank of the Dnieper River — part of fighting in several areas of eastern and southern Ukraine overnight.

The IAEA, braving gunfire and artillery blasts along their route, crossed the front lines to reach the Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday in a mission to help safeguard the plant against catastrophe — and the fighting in the area has underscored the urgency of their task.

Russia and Ukraine traded accusations that the other side was trying to impede the work of the IAEA experts, or control the message.

Zelenskyy, in his nightly address on Thursday, had tough words for the IAEA delegation. While applauding its arrival at the plant, he said independent journalists were kept from covering the visit, allowing Russians to present a one-sided, “futile tour.”

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow considered “positively” the arrival of the mission, “despite all problems and difficulties caused by the Ukrainian side’s provocative actions.”

The 14-member delegation arrived in a convoy of SUVs and vans after months of negotiations to enable the experts to pass through the front lines. Speaking to reporters on Thursday after leaving colleagues inside, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said the agency was”not moving” from the plant from now on, and vowed a “continued presence” of agency experts.

Grossi said it was “obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated several times” — but couldn’t assess whether by chance or on purpose. “I will continue to be worried about the plant until we have a situation which is more stable,” he said.

Grossi said IAEA experts toured the entire site, including control rooms, emergency systems and diesel generators, and met with the plant’s staff. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian engineers since the early days of the 6-month war.

Ukraine alleges Russia is using the plant as a shield to launch attacks. On Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu rejected the Ukrainian allegations and said Russia has no heavy weapons either on the site or in nearby areas.

Shoigu said Ukrainian forces have fired 120 artillery shells and used 16 suicide drones to hit the plant, “raising a real threat of a nuclear catastrophe in Europe.”

Before the IAEA team arrived, Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company, said Russian mortar shelling had led to the shutdown of one of its reactors by its emergency protection system and had damaged a backup power supply line used for in-house needs.

IAEA announced plans for a news conference later Friday from its headquarters in Vienna to discuss the mission.

Energoatom on Friday accused Russian forces of “making every effort” to prevent the IAEA mission from getting to know the facts on the ground. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov said Russia was making sure that the plant was secure and safe, and that mission “accomplishes all of its plans there.”

Elsewhere in Ukraine on Friday, Zelenskyy’s office said four people were killed and 10 injured over the last day in the eastern Donetsk region, a key hub of the Russian invasion, and reported rocket attacks on Sloviansk that destroyed a kindergarten. It said heavy fighting continues in two districts of the Kherson region to the south.

Additional reporting by The Additional Press.

Source: newsy.com

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U.N. Agency To Inspect Ukraine Nuclear Plant In Urgent Mission

Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Energoatom, warned Monday of Russian attempts to cover up their military use of the plant.

A U.N. nuclear watchdog team set off on an urgent mission Monday to safeguard the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant at the heart of fighting in Ukraine, a long-awaited trip the world hopes will help avoid a radioactive catastrophe.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the group of International Atomic Energy Agency experts who will visit the plant in a country where the 1986 Chernobyl disaster sent radiation throughout the region, shocked the world and intensified a global push away from nuclear energy.

“Without an exaggeration, this mission will be the hardest in the history of IAEA,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Underscoring the urgency, Ukraine and Russia again accused each other of shelling the wider region around the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which was briefly knocked offline last week. The dangers are so high that officials have begun handing out anti-radiation iodine tablets to nearby residents.

To avoid a disaster, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi has sought access for months to the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russian forces have occupied and Ukrainian workers have operated since the early days of the six-month-old war.

“The day has come,” Grossi tweeted Monday, adding that the Vienna-based IAEA’s “Support and Assistance Mission … is now on its way.” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said the team, which Grossi heads, is scheduled to arrive in Kyiv on Monday. In April, Grossi had headed an IAEA mission to Chernobyl, which Russian forces occupied earlier in the war.

The IAEA said in a statement that its team will “undertake urgent safeguards activities,” assess damage, determine the functionality of the plant’s safety and security systems, and evaluate the control room staff’s working conditions.

Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Energoatom, warned Monday of Russian attempts to cover up their military use of the plant.

“The occupiers, preparing for the arrival of the IAEA mission, increased pressure on the personnel … to prevent them from disclosing evidence of the occupiers’ crimes at the plant and its use as a military base,” Energoatom said, adding that four plant workers were wounded in Russian shelling of the city where they live.

Ukraine accused Russia of new rocket and artillery strikes at or near the plant, intensifying fears that the fighting could cause a massive radiation leak. So far, radiation levels at the facility, which has six reactors, have been reported to be normal.

Ukraine has alleged that Russia is essentially holding the plant hostage, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the facility.

World leaders have called on the Russians to demilitarize the plant. Satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies on Monday showed armored personnel carriers on a road near the reactors, damage to a building’s roof also near the reactors, and brush fires burning nearby.

Ukraine reported shelling in Nikopol, the city across the Dnieper River from the nuclear power plant, and said one person was killed and five others were wounded. In Enerhodar, just a few kilometers from the plant, the city’s Ukrainian mayor, Dmytro Orlov, blamed Russian shelling for injuries to at least 10 residents.

Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said in Stockholm that he expects the IAEA mission to produce “a clear statement of facts, of violation of all nuclear, of nuclear safety protocols.” He added, “We know that Russia is putting not only Ukraine, but also the entire world at threat at the risk of nuclear accident.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will ensure security of the IAEA mission and called on other countries to “raise pressure on the Ukrainian side to force it to stop threatening the European continent by shelling the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and surrounding areas.”

Over the weekend, Energoatom painted an ominous picture of the threats at the plant by issuing a map forecasting where radiation could spread.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, the Ukraine military claimed it had breached Russia’s first line of defense near Kherson just north of the Crimean Peninsula, an advance that would represent a strategic breakthrough — if confirmed. Kherson is the biggest Ukrainian city the Russians occupy, and reports about Ukrainian forces preparing for a counteroffensive there and elsewhere in the region have circulated for weeks.

Russian-installed officials, citing Ukrainian rocket strikes, announced the evacuation of residents of nearby Nova Kakhovka, a city Kyiv’s forces frequently target, from their workplaces to bomb shelters on Monday. And in another Kherson region city, Berislav, Russian news agencies reported that Ukrainian shelling had damaged a church, a school and other buildings.

But in a war rife with claims and counterclaims that are hard to verify independently, the Moscow-appointed regional leader of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, dismissed the Ukrainian assertion of an offensive in the Kherson region as false, noting that the Ukrainian forces have suffered heavy losses in the area. And Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, cautioned against “super-sensational announcements” about a counteroffensive.

The highest number of casualties — eight civilians killed and seven wounded — was reported in the eastern Donetsk region. Russian forces struck the cities of Sloviansk and Kostyantynivka overnight and the region’s Ukrainian governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, urged residents to evacuate immediately.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, cluster munitions hit Monday morning, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov reported.

Ukraine’s presidential office also reported heavy fighting and multiple Ukrainian strikes in the southern Kherson region, most of which the Russians occupy. Ukrainian forces have been carrying out strikes on ammunition depots and Russian military positions in the area.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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As Russia Increases the Size of Its Army, Both Sides Dig In for a Long Conflict

Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant was reconnected to the national power grid on Friday afternoon, but its time offline renewed concerns about the safe operation of the plant and the consequences for millions of Ukrainians if there are further interruptions to power.

Ukrainian engineers were able to restore damaged external power lines after repeated shelling on Thursday, ensuring the facility was able to meet its own power needs and continue to operate safely, according to Ukrainian and international officials, but efforts to reconnect it to the grid took longer.

With fires raging around the plant, new shelling in and around the facility on a near daily basis and an exhausted and stressed team of Ukrainian engineers tasked with keeping the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant running safely, however, calls for international intervention grew louder.

“Nowhere in the history of this world has a nuclear power plant become a part of a combat zone, so this really has to stop immediately,” Bonnie Denise Jenkins, the State Department’s under secretary for arms control and international security, told reporters in Brussels on Thursday. Russian actions, she said, “have created a serious risk of a nuclear incident — a dangerous radiation release — that could threaten not only the people and environment of Ukraine, but also affect neighboring countries and the entire international community.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine used his nightly address to underscore the risks, saying emergency systems had worked on Thursday, but that, had they failed, the country, and the world, would be contending with a nuclear accident.

And though the immediate threat appeared to have been averted, the disconnection of the plant from the national grid caused widespread power outages across southern Ukraine, adding to the misery wrought by the war. When fully operational, the plant provides electricity for some 20 percent of the country, including roughly four million homes.

The Zhaporizhzhia regional government said that as of Friday morning, energy supplies were “partially restored” from other sources. Residents across the region reported widespread power outages overnight and into the morning.

The plant was reconnected to the Ukrainian grid at 2:04 p.m., according to Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Energoatom. The agency, in a statement, praised the workers at the plant who “tirelessly and firmly hold the nuclear and radiation safety of Ukraine and the whole of Europe on their shoulders.” It was not immediately clear how many people were still without power.

Ukrainians in occupied areas are already living under difficult conditions. In eastern Ukraine, Russian bombardments and fierce fighting have destroyed nearly all of the infrastructure needed to provide heat, power and clean water, leading the Ukrainian government to order a mandatory evacuation of the less than 200,000 people still living in the eastern Ukrainian region known as Donbas.

The situation in the occupied south is more complicated. Many of the towns and cities there fell in the first days of the war and were spared the widespread destruction witnessed in the east. But if the nuclear plant were to go offline again, the power for hundreds of thousands living in occupied territories could be compromised.

“The south of Ukraine — the occupied areas — is already in a state of humanitarian disaster,” Mr. Zelensky said. “In addition to all the evil that the occupiers brought there, electricity, water and sewage were cut off.”

Though the plant’s disconnection from the national grid appeared to be the related to nearby fighting, Ukrainian officials have been warning for weeks that Moscow wants to divert the power from the plant for its own needs by disconnecting it from the Ukrainian grid and then reconnecting it to the Russian grid, a potentially complicated process in a war zone that leaves room for an accident.

Ms. Jenkins, the State Department official, said the U.S. is working through the United Nations Security Council to persuade Moscow not to attempt such a potentially risky move.

“We don’t want that to happen,” she said. “We are continuing to talk with Russia and through these Security Council discussions and to impress upon Russia not to do that.”

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Expansion of Clean Energy Loans Is ‘Sleeping Giant’ of Climate Bill

Tucked into the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed last week is a major expansion of federal loan programs that could help the fight against climate change by channeling more money to clean energy and converting plants that run on fossil fuels to nuclear or renewable energy.

The law authorizes as much as $350 billion in additional federal loans and loan guarantees for energy and automotive projects and businesses. The money, which will be disbursed by the Energy Department, is in addition to the more well-known provisions of the law that offer incentives for the likes of electric cars, solar panels, batteries and heat pumps.

The aid could breathe life into futuristic technologies that banks might find too risky to lend to or into projects that are just short of the money they need to get going.

failure of Solyndra, a solar company that had borrowed about $500 million from the Energy Department, to criticize the Obama administration’s climate and energy policies.

Backers of the program have argued that despite defaults like Solyndra, the program has been sustainable overall. Of the $31 billion the department has disbursed, about 40 percent has been repaid and interest payments in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2021, totaled $533 million — more money than the failed Solyndra loan.

The Energy Department’s loan programs began in 2005 under the George W. Bush administration but expanded significantly in the Obama era. The department provided a crucial loan that helped Tesla expand when it only sold expensive two-door electric sports cars; the company is now the world’s most valuable automaker.

Under the Trump administration, which played down the risks of climate change, the department’s loan office was much less active. The Biden team has been working to change that. Last month, the department said it planned to loan $2.5 billion to General Motors and LG Energy Solution to build electric-car battery factories in Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

complicate the qualification process.

  • Plug-In Hybrids: After falling behind all-electric cars, U.S. sales of plug-in hybrids have been surging. The high cost of electric cars and gasoline have given them an opening.
  • Car Crashes: Tesla and other automakers capture data from their vehicles to operate their products. Experts say the collected information could also improve road safety.
  • A Frustrating Hassle: The electric vehicle revolution is nearly here, but its arrival is being slowed by a fundamental problem: The chargers where people refuel these cars are often broken.
  • One beneficiary of the new loan money could be the Palisades Power Plant, a nuclear facility on Lake Michigan near Kalamazoo, Mich., that closed in May. The plant had struggled to compete in the PJM energy market, which serves homes and businesses in 13 states, including Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

    The Biden administration has made nuclear power a focal point of its efforts to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 2035. The administration has offered billions of dollars to help existing facilities like the Diablo Canyon Power Plant — a nuclear operation on California’s coast that is set to close by the end of 2025 — stay open longer. It is also backing new technologies like small modular reactors that the industry has long said would be cheaper, safer and easier to build than conventional large nuclear reactors.

    The owner of the Palisades facility, Holtec International, said it was reviewing the loan program and other opportunities for its own small reactors as well as bringing the shuttered plant back online.

    “There are a number of hurdles to restarting the facility that would need to be bridged,” the company said in a statement, “but we will work with the state, federal government, and a yet to be identified third-party operator to see if this is a viable option.”

    Rye Development, a company based in West Palm Beach, Fla., that is working on several projects in the Pacific Northwest.

    geothermal power; old coal power plants as sites for large batteries; and old coal mines for solar farms. Such conversions could reduce the need to build projects on undeveloped land, which often takes longer because they require extensive environmental review and can face significant local opposition.

    “We’re in a heap of trouble in siting the many millions of acres of solar we need,” Mr. Reicher said. “It’s six to 10 million acres of land we’ve got to find to site the projected build out of utility scale solar in the United States. That’s huge.”

    Other developers are hoping the government will help finance technologies and business plans that are still in their infancy.

    Timothy Latimer is the chief executive and co-founder of Fervo Energy, a Houston company that uses the same horizontal drilling techniques as oil and gas producers to develop geothermal energy. He said that his firm can produce clean energy 24 hours a day or produce more or less energy over the course of a day to balance out the intermittent nature of wind and solar power and spikes in demand.

    Mr. Latimer claims that the techniques his firm has developed will lower the cost for geothermal power, which in many cases is more expensive than electricity generated from natural gas or solar panels. He has projects under development in Nevada, Utah, Idaho and California and said that the new loan authority could help the geothermal business expand much more quickly.

    “It’s been the talk of the geothermal industry,” Mr. Latimer said. “I don’t think we were expecting good news a month ago, but we’re getting more ready for prime time. We have barely scratched the surface with the amount of geothermal that we can develop in the United States.”

    For all the potential of the new law, critics say that a significant expansion of government loans and loan guarantees could invite more waste and fraud. In addition to Solyndra, the Energy Department has acknowledged that several solar projects that received its loans or loan guarantees have failed or never got off the ground.

    A large nuclear plant under construction in Georgia, Vogtle, has also received $11.5 billion in federal loan guarantees. The plant has been widely criticized for years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns.

    “Many of these projects are funded based on political whim rather than project quality,” said Gary Ackerman, founder and former executive director of the Western Power Trading Forum, a coalition of more than 100 utilities and other businesses that trade in energy markets. “That leads to many stranded assets that never live up to their promises and become examples of government waste.”

    But Jamie Carlson, who was a senior adviser to the energy secretary during the Obama administration, said the department learned from its mistakes and developed a better approach to reviewing and approving loan applications. It also worked more closely with businesses seeking money to ensure that they were successful.

    “It used to be this black box,” said Ms. Carlson, who is now an executive at SoftBank Energy. “You just sat in purgatory for like 18 months and sometimes up to two years.”

    Ms. Carlson said the department’s loans serve a vital function because they can help technologies and companies that have demonstrated some commercial success but need more money to become financially viable. “It’s there to finance technologies that are proven but perhaps to banks that are perceived as more risky,” she said.

    Energy executives said they were excited because more federal loans and loan guarantees could turbocharge their plans.

    “The projects that can be done will go faster,” said William W. Funderburk Jr., a former commissioner at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power who now runs a water and energy company. “This is a tectonic plate shift for the industry — in a good way.”

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    Heat and Drought in Europe Strain Energy Supply

    ASERAL, Norway — In a Nordic land famous for its steep fjords, where water is very nearly a way of life, Sverre Eikeland scaled down the boulders that form the walls of one of Norway’s chief reservoirs, past the driftwood that protruded like something caught in the dam’s teeth, and stood on dry land that should have been deeply submerged.

    “You see the band where the vegetation stops,” said Mr. Eikeland, 43, the chief operating officer of Agder Energi, pointing at a stark, arid line 50 feet above the Skjerkevatn reservoir’s surface. “That’s where the water level should be.”

    thousands of northern homes without electricity.

    reignited talk of investing in nuclear power and has dried up the waterways crucial for transporting coal.

    most severe drought on record in France has also cost the country’s energy production, as nuclear plants responsible for more than 70 percent of the country’s electricity had to cut down activity temporarily to avoid discharging dangerously warm water into rivers.

    Many of France’s 56 nuclear plants were already offline for maintenance issues. But the rivers that cool reactors have become so warm as a result of the punishing heat that strict rules designed to protect wildlife have prevented the flushing of the even warmer water from the plants back into the waterways.

    power grid operators to hire more workers amid fears of electricity shortages.

    In Norway, a winter without much snow and an exceptionally dry spring, including the driest April in 122 years, reduced water levels in lakes and rivers. Shallow waters in Mjosa, the country’s largest lake, kept its famed Skibladner paddle wheel boat tied up at port and prompted city officials in Oslo to send out text messages urging people to take shorter showers and avoid watering lawns.

    “Do that for Oslo,” read the text message, “so that we’ll still have water for the most important things in our lives.” In May, Statnett SF, the operator of the national electricity grid, raised the alarm about shortfalls.

    But the skies offered no relief and this month, as the country’s hydro reservoirs — especially in the south — approached what Energy Minister Terje Aasland has called “very low” levels, hydropower producers cut output to save water for the coming winter.

    The reservoirs were about 60 percent full, about 10 percent less than the average over the previous two decades, according to data from the energy regulator.

    Southern Norway, which holds more than a third of the country’s reservoirs, is dotted with red barns on green fields and fishing boats along the coast. On a stream in the Agder region, a sign put up by the energy company, like a relic from another time, warned, “The water level can rise suddenly and without warning.”

    But recent months have shown that there is danger in the water level dropping, too. Reservoirs had dwindled to their lowest point in 20 years, at just 46 percent full. One, Rygene, was so low as to force the temporary closing of the plant. On Tuesday, the rainstorms returned, but the ground was so dry, Mr. Eikeland said as he surveyed the basin, that the earth “drinks up all the water” and the water levels in the reservoirs barely rose.

    He sped his electric car farther south toward Kristiansand, where a large grid sends electricity around the country’s south and to Denmark. In a fenced-off area above the hill, a Norwegian industrial developer was building a data center for clients such as Amazon, which would suck up a significant share of locally produced electricity in order to cool vast computer servers.

    This year’s drought has only highlighted the urgent need for a wider energy transformation, Mr. Eikeland said.

    “The drought shows that we are not ready for the big changes,” he said, but also “that we will not accept the high prices.”

    Reporting was contributed by Christopher F. Schuetze from Germany, Constant Méheut from France, Gaia Pianigiani from Italy, Isabella Kwai from London and Henrik Pryser Libell from Norway.

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    The World’s Relationship With Nuclear Energy Is Changing

    By Newsy Staff
    August 17, 2022

    Though the idea of nuclear energy has historically been unpopular, the debate has now changed toward a push for more of it.

    After decades of shutting down nuclear plants across the country, there is now a sudden growing political movement to hit the brakes, with much of it being led by environmental scientists.

    A study from Pew Research Center found that nuclear power was barely more popular than coal and oil among the U.S. public, as vast majorities of respondents were instead in favor of increasing wind and solar energy intake. Despite this, the Biden administration announced $6 billion to keep current nuclear plants operational, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is now pushing to keep the state’s last remaining nuclear plant, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, open. 

    So, how has the debate around nuclear energy changed, and why are we seeing this sudden shift for a less popular energy source?

    In the postwar period, nuclear power plants began springing up around the country, encouraged by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who famously made his “Atoms for Peace” speech at the U.N. But, that wasn’t enough to calm the fears of nuclear armament and attacks as the U.S. headed into the Cold War. 

    Nuclear power plants depend on fuel rods where fission occurs, or in other words, the splitting of an atom. The rods are surrounded by water which helps keep them cool. The fission creates heat, which boils the surrounding water to make steam. The steam is what powers a turbine to make energy.

    If, for some reason, the fuel rods get too hot, that can cause a meltdown.

    In 1979, the first major accident happened at a U.S. power plant. The Three Mile Island incident was a partial meltdown of a plant in Pennsylvania, where cleanup took over 20 years. Conflicting studies haven’t conclusively determined whether the disaster led to health problems, such as a rise in cancer in the area, but the image was already set in the public’s mind. The number of nuclear plants being built and kept open plummeted.

    Further high-profile disasters made a lasting impact worldwide: In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union had horrific and deadly consequences. Then in 2011, Fukushima plant meltdown only added to the list, even though there were no reported deaths. These disasters also reinforced national security concerns about plants being potential targets of terrorist groups or wartime enemies, like Russia in Ukraine.

    There are a number of things that have changed in recent years: Safer technology is being developed for future facilities, and now that China and Russia have overtaken the U.S. in the number of nuclear plants, there are new concerns about being energy independent.

    But, one of the biggest reasons for the recent shift is climate change.

    Nuclear power is still crucial to the energy grid. It still generates about 20% of the U.S. electricity supply, and it’s the single largest non-fossil energy source in the U.S. and second globally. Advocates say nuclear is going to be essential in order to meet emission goals in the fight for climate change.

    Nuclear is what’s known as a “firm” energy source, meaning it’s always able to meet demand and produce energy. Renewables, like wind and solar may also be clean, but they are limited by things like the weather or time of year. 

    So, the infrastructure needed for solar and wind energy to match nuclear’s output just can’t be built fast enough to quickly replace both fossil fuels and nuclear. As a result, nuclear often just gets replaced by fossil fuels, which can be seen in cases from plant closures in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and more.

    There’s no easy solution when it comes to nuclear power. And as the country races to meet its emissions goals, it seems clear that existing nuclear power plants will be part of the strategy in some way.

    Back in California at the Diablo Canyon plant, the governor announced last week plans to keep the plant open for another five to 10 years. The plant’s scheduled closing date was 2025. Gov. Newsom plans to use federal funds as a loan to The Pacific Gas & Electric company, which provides energy to millions of households in California, to keep the facility running.

    The U.S. isn’t alone in rethinking the plant closures. Many parts of Europe are also rethinking nuclear energy — both as countries race to meet climate goals, and as they struggle with an energy crisis spurred on by the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

    Some of these major sudden policy reversals could unfold as early as this fall.

    Source: newsy.com

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