Fluke Corp. has introduced the Fluke TiS75 infrared camera with professional-grade 320 x 240 pixel resolution and precise manual focusing that lets maintenance professionals pinpoint issues with equipment and electrical systems. Focus is one of the most important factors in conducting infrared inspections because an out-of-focus image can produce a temperature measurement that is incorrect by 20 degrees or more. The TiS75 has a long-travel focus wheel that enables very fine manual focus adjustments so technicians capture in-focus images with precise measurements. It features a large 3.5" screen to help pinpoint issues while still in the field and also offers one touch image access, which eliminates the need to scroll through a menu to view images. The TiS75 is part of Fluke’s full line of 320 x 240 infrared cameras, including the Ti400 and TiX500, TiX520, and TiX560.

PAPERS: Computer access at lightening speeds

If you're already impressed by the speed and power of today's large-scale web applications, fasten your seat belt and get ready for even bigger thrills in the future. That's the future according to John Ousterhout. And why should we take notice? Because he, and his fellows at Stamford University (USA) have invented a thing called RAMCloud which uses DRAM (dynamic random access memory) which give access times of 50 to 100 nanoseconds. DRAM is used by Goodge and Facebook to access queries by people. Read this informative article from IEEE Spectrum here
Cheap electricity connections to begin soon - Kenya Power. Solar City lays off 550 workers FG to develop 13GW of solar power for poorest communitiesPeople erect poles of their own to steal power supply
The remote Wadeye community will now have access to a more secure and reliable power supply, with the official opening (Friday January 29, 2016) of the new $13.9m gas fired power station. Minister for Essential Services Willem Westra van Holthe praised the Power and Water Corporation for its large investment in the region. “This is a major capital works project with the capability over its life to supply power to more than 1600 homes and businesses,” Minister Westra van Holthe said. “It will service the Wadeye community for up to 40 years and will in the future also supply Nganmarriyanga (Palumpa) and Peppimenarti through the grid connection. Environmental benefits will also flow through, with the new station fuelled through a supply pipeline which has been connected to the main Black Tip gas line, removing the need for diesel generation in the Wadeye community.” Opening ceremony ABC. Photo and story: Sally Brooks.

Emissions trading prices bump along the bottom


Political gridlock and collapsing commodities sent the carbon price in the EU’s Emissions Trading System spiraling to a 20-month low this week, making it even more unlikely that polluters will be encouraged to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The plummeting price is a blow for the already reeling ETS, which was supposed to be the EU’s main vehicle for getting polluters to cut emissions but has so far been plagued with problems. Under the system, companies receive or buy permits to emit a ton of CO2, with the goal of prompting them to steeply reduce emissions over time.

But wildly gyrating prices undercut that rationale.

There are two main reasons for the unexpected drop in carbon prices: politics and economics.

The fall, in a market already plagued by dismal prices, comes as the European Parliament and EU countries prepare to debate the European Commission’s proposals for reforming the ETS after 2020.

The fundamental problem is that Europe’s sluggish economy combined with a boom in renewable and energy efficient technology has created a huge surplus in the emissions market, pulling the price down to a high of about €8 per ton, rather than the €30 or more needed to encourage a shift away from emissions-intensive coal.

Even that €8 per ton is looking pretty good right now. The price of the benchmark contract for emitting a ton of carbon dropped by more than 7% to €5.91 on Monday. On Tuesday, prices rose slightly to €6.10.

Those kinds of prices aren’t at all what was supposed to happen when the ETS was created, and Brussels is now trying to fix the scheme.

The EU took a first step to fix the system last year, creating the Market Stability Reserve to soak up surplus permits. But Poland has filed suit at the European Court of Justice to annul the introduction of the reserve. Warsaw says the reform creates uncertainty in the ETS, and they’ve been trying to protect the country’s smokestack industries from higher costs.

Now the Commission’s 2020 reform effort is being held up in the European Parliament with infighting between two of its most influential committees: environment and industry.

The debate in Brussels was probably not the main thing on traders’ minds as they watched the carbon market start the week with a flurry of short-selling by industrial players, market analysts said.

"What is happening is only on the sidelines of overall turmoil in the markets. Market participants are looking at gas and oil and coal," said Philipp Ruf, lead analyst for EU carbon markets at ICIS Tschach Solutions.

Ian Duncan, the European Conservatives and Reformists MEP overseeing ETS reform, agrees that the "rock-bottom" oil price is likely the single biggest cause of the fall in carbon prices. However, the fact that the price could fall by so much in just one day reflects an underlying problem in the system: too many allowances.

"When you see a carbon price that’s so low, even modest fluctuations appear to be amplified," Duncan said. "I’d say the oil price was a bigger factor than the debate in Parliament, but it is difficult to tease out."

The carbon price fall comes on the heels of a particularly brutal month in global commodity markets.

Crude oil prices hit around $28 per barrel last week, leading to speculation that they could slide to as little as $10 - a spectacular fall from more than $100 about 18 months ago. Oil prices have dragged down natural gas prices, shrinking a previously wide gap between the high cost of burning gas to generate power and low cost of burning coal, even though coal emits much more carbon dioxide.

The economic slowdown in China has made matters worse, cutting into demand from one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing markets for oil, gas and coal.

That means it now makes sense for utilities to generate power with gas rather than coal, leaving them with unused emissions permits that can be sold on.

As well, metals producers hustled to sell emissions allowances when a plunging Chinese stock market made it clear that commodities demand there was unlikely to rebound.

All of these factors came to a head on the EU’s carbon market on Monday, said Marcus Ferdinand, manager of EU carbon analysis at Point Carbon.

"It depends really on a calming of the current bear-trend for traders to feel confident enough to enter long positions and bet on a rebound again. A rebounding oil price would definitely be a major factor in this," he said.

While it may take a much broader market recovery to resuscitate European carbon prices, a little more certainty on the ETS reform could come out of the Parliament as soon as Thursday, when political party chairmen meet.

The ETS reform falls under the environment committee’s purview, as the EU’s primary tool for tackling climate change. But the industry committee has asked to oversee measures in the reform to set up a fund for the bloc’s poorest countries to modernize their power generators and to keep European industries from moving their operations to countries with looser environmental rules.

"The [environment] committee has always been lead committee on climate change matters, and anything that erodes that matter would cause unease," Duncan said.

The dispute has caused delays in the discussions, which were expected to start soon after the Paris climate summit in December.

The problem is that there is a lot of uncertainty around the future of the ETS reform, said Sarah Deblock, EU policy director at the International Emissions Trading Association, pointing to the Parliamentary debate and Poland’s lawsuit over the Market Stability Reserve.

"It’s a reflection of volatility in the market and the lack of certainty and lack of clarity on what might affect the EU ETS," Deblock said of the carbon price drop.

"Any development would help create a feeling that the work is beginning. A political commitment to revising the EU ETS post-2020 should help restore market fundamentals." — By Sara Stefanini Politico

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overseas stories

Kansai Electric Power Company today restarted unit 3 of its Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture. The company soon plans to start loading fuel into unit 4 at the plant ahead of its restart. Takahama 3 was restarted at 5.00pm today, Kansai said, adding that it expects the 870 MWe pressurized water reactor to reach criticality tomorrow. The unit's output will gradually be increased while tests are conducted and, following a final inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), it is expected to re-enter commercial operation by the end of February. However, Kansai said this schedule may change “depending on the result of the ongoing inspection by the NRA” — World Nuclear News

Manitoba has signed an agreement with Ontario and Quebec, formalising the intent of all three provinces to link their cap-and-trade systems. The premiers of the three provinces signed a memorandum of understanding at the climate change conference in Paris on December 7. Under the Western Climate Initiative, the three provinces’ cap-and-trade systems will be linked with California’s. Quebec already has an active cap-and-trade market with California, while Ontario is still working out details as it plans to introduce its system in 2017. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced last week when he unveiled the province’s climate change plan that it would join Ontario and Quebec by introducing a cap-and-trade program for 20 large emitters. Speaking in Paris, Selinger said he believes more states and subnational governments can be convinced to join them in linking cap-and-trade systems, which put a price on carbon emissions in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases. “I think this agreement allows us to have more tools to make a difference when it comes to climate change,” Selinger said. “We can learn from each other’s experience.” — The Canadian Press

Wind power generation plant AES Laurel Mountain LLC has pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors in the deaths of hundreds of migratory birds five years ago at its Barbour County facility. A total of 314 migratory birds, the majority Blackpoll Warblers, died October 2, 2011, at the “undeveloped, wooded and mountainous“ site, U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II has alleged. And a day later, 81 more migratory birds died at the complex, Ihlenfeld alleged. Giant wind turbines are located at the site. But in this instance, the birds, confused by the lighting of the complex, as well as fog and a low cloud ceiling, collided with battery containers and wires, according to Ihlenfeld’s filing. Causes of death included blunt force impact, lacerations and exhaustion, Ihlenfeld asserted. The filing contended the company failed in its legal obligation to comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by not using “reasonable, prudent and effective measures to avoid or minimize the impact of lighting on migratory birds.“ The company also failed to provide proper training to employees about compliance with the Act, Ihlenfeld alleged. The company could face a fine of up to $15,000 for each count, incarceration of up to 6 months, or both when sentencing is imposed at a later date by U.S. Magistrate Michael John Aloi.