Archive | November 2012

Vault Energy Solutions Releases New Post

A recent post by Vault Energy Solutions looks at the optimistic future of the U.S. energy sector and the leading role Texas will play in transforming the U.S. into the world’s top energy producer. The piece, entitled “How Texas Will Lead America’s Energy Future,” discusses a recent report by the International Energy Agency which predicts that the U.S. will be the world’s number one oil producer in the next several years and how Texas leadership will help build such a future.

The U.S. is expected to pass both Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil production by the year 2015. Texas, as the state that produces the most oil, is at the center of the new U.S. oil boom. This oil resurgence is made possible by new technology that has revolutionized the oil industry in much the same way the natural gas industry was transformed.

Deposits of oil found in certain shale rock formations were once thought to be impossible to reach in an economically viable way. But new horizontal drilling techniques have unlocked vast swaths of oil rich land in Texas. Texas already has the experience, infrastructure, and culture to exploit these new finds.

In addition to being a leader in oil production, Texas also leads the country in the production of natural gas. The state uses natural gas to power much of its electricity grid. The abundance of natural gas brought about by the new drilling technology has helped to drive down the price of natural gas substantially. This, in turn, has pushed down Texas electricity rates. Cheap commercial electricity rates bring down the cost of doing business in Texas leading to further economic growth.

Beyond fossil fuels, Texas is also a leader in renewable energy. The state boasts the largest wind energy sector in the country. The state, in fact, generates more electricity from wind turbines than all but a handful of countries in the world. Texas, with its abundant mix of traditional and renewable energy sources and business friendly regulations serves as a model for the U.S. going forward.

The site provides news and analysis on energy related topics and the impact of energy policy on consumers and the electricity rates they pay. In addition, the site offers electricity rate comparison tools to help consumers choose from the dozens of Texas electricity providers which offer service in the state. Texas is a power to choose state where consumers can shop for the cheapest electricity rates among competing electricity companies.

Simple Power, which develops single wind turbines that feed directly into the electricity grid, will be attending the AGM and conference and its team will be providing information to young farmers interested in learning more about renewable energy.

William Wilson, YFCU president, said: “We are delighted to announce the continued support of Simple Power as our main sponsor of the AGM and conference. Paul Carson, CEO of Simple Power, is a great supporter of the work of YFCU and we look forward to holding our AGM and conference in association with Simple Power.”

Paul Carson, CEO of Simple Power, who was also a very active member of the YFCU in his youth, said: “We are delighted to once again support the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. We believe young farmers have a crucial role to play in the growth of wind energy; leveraging natural resources to boost farm incomes while protecting the environment and helping to generate clean, affordable energy for their and future generations. We are looking forward to speaking at the AGM and conference in April 2013.”


Riddle on the sands

My father was convinced that Somerton Man was an American because of his clothes, which he called “sharp”. He was wearing jockey shorts and a singlet, a white shirt with a narrow tie in red, white and blue, fawn trousers, a brown knitted pullover, a brown double-breasted suit coat, socks and highly polished brown, laced shoes. Snazzy.

Somerton Man was a snappy dresser, but it was a hot evening and he was wearing very heavy clothes for the weather, the ensemble of someone who had come from somewhere cold, or who had nowhere to leave a change of clothes, or no lighter clothes into which he could change. On examination of the clothes, it was found that every identifying label had been removed.

Somerton Man had no money in his pockets. If he’d had any, it had gone with his wallet – if he’d had a wallet. And, to complete our survey of his garments, folded up into a tight little wad in his fob pocket, there was a scrap of paper torn out of a book that bore the words “Tamam Shud”. Of which, more later.

Naked and cold, Somerton Man waited for his attending physician, whose task was to determine how he had died. Meanwhile, the police set about trying to find out who he was. Detective Strangway of Glenelg Station and his associates began by checking all the missing persons reports on hand, but Somerton Man fitted none of them. Then they checked his fingerprints, which were not on record.

So far, so inconclusive. Then, on January 14, in response to a police appeal for unclaimed baggage directed to all lodging houses, hotels and railway stations, a suitcase was found in a locker at Adelaide’s Central Railway Station.

The most exciting discovery in the suitcase was the sewing kit in which was found orange Barbour thread; it was not sold in Australia. Identical thread had been used to repair the pocket of Somerton Man’s coat. Waxed thread is not usually used to mend clothes: it must have been an emergency repair, intended to last only until he could lay hands on a seamstress. It seemed unlikely that the Barbour thread in the suitcase and the Barbour thread in Somerton Man’s coat were not connected, so the suitcase probably belonged to Somerton Man. Also, the clothes were his size and the slippers would fit his feet.

And some of the garments in the suitcase actually had labels with a name on them. There must have been cautious rejoicing among the exasperated police at that point, although they should have known it was too good to be true. The name, written on a singlet, a laundry bag and a tie, was T. Keane. Or possibly T. Kean. The call went out and a local sailor named Tom Reade was said to be missing. Was Somerton Man perhaps Tom Reade?

But when Tom Reade’s shipmates viewed the body, they all said that it was not their Tom Reade. Meanwhile widespread searches through maritime agencies had revealed that no one was missing a T. Keane or Kean.

The clothes were all examined by experts. The police called in a tailor, Hugh Possa of Gawler Place, who explained that the careful construction of the coat, with feather-stitching done by machine, was definitely American, as only the US garment industry used a feather-stitching machine. So the clothes were very high-value schmutter indeed. Such coats, the police were informed, were not imported. They were made up to a certain stage and then could be quickly tailored to the figure, the sort of thing which might be bought by someone who wasn’t staying long in port, but was willing to pay a high price for a beautifully made, hand-finished suit. From which he then removed the label.

Somerton Man also had very snazzy taste in nightwear. His pyjamas and gown were brightly coloured, and his felt slippers were red. Such things were a mark of a free spirit. Men of the time might have considered these garments to be outrageous, even effeminate.

Kerley makes his move

They briefly split earlier this year then patched things up, now Dating in the Dark host Laura Dundovic and first-time author and Go! presenter James Kerley are taking the next step and moving in together. But be warned, Laura: he’s a self-confessed “messy prick”.

Kerley, who says he grew up the son of a hoarder, reckons he’s worked out the secrets to being a good housemate just in time to move into the couple’s top-floor Mosman pad with a view of the Harbour Bridge: 10 minutes’ cleaning a day, “no stained sheets”, don’t leave your “grot mags” around and “pubey soap is totally gross”.

It all has something to do with manning up since he hit the big 3-0 and wrote a self-help book called The Man Plan about, basically, getting his “shit together”.

Dundovic – or Dundy, as Kerley affectionately calls her – has been a sounding board throughout the project. “We’re back together – she’s good for me. I’ve had to step up. We were apart for a month. I think we just needed a bit of space and that bit of selfish time to focus on yourself and sort yourself out.”

“I try not to preach but just tell the impact of things like drugs,” he says. “Guys are not usually hopeless, they just need to tweak a few areas of their lives.”

When S cheekily notes there’s no chapter on the best time to get engaged, or when to have kids, he changes the subject quickly diverting to other sections in the book.

The chapters – some more graphic than others – cover such topics as “dick tricks”, ways to turn a woman on and an SAS special forces guide, a top-secret military workout the army didn’t want him to print.

There’s also a section called “Lady Love” with an illustration of Vagina Island by a children’s cartoonist. “Pictures of vaginas are so medical and sterile!” he laughs.

But more serious issues are canvassed, one being male suicide – a subject close to his heart as his uncle committed suicide 10 years ago.

“[The book] ranges from silliness to seriousness: cooking tips, to how to handle a washing machine, to the highs and lows of depression,” he says.

Her upcoming nuptials to writer/director Henry Zalapa sound more like an international celebration, or week-long fiesta, for 85 friends and family, with the trans-Atlantic actor saying she’s been knee-deep in wedding plans for the past six months.

“It’s been quite an undertaking!” she says, admitting wedding plans had taken her “off the market for quite a few jobs”. “Henry’s grandfather is from Mexico and it’s just gorgeous – it’s paradise, we’ve holidayed there and fell in love with it. And since we’ve been living in New York and a lot of our friends are from the northern hemisphere, we said, ‘Let’s do a destination wedding’.”

While Crave, the psychological thriller in which she stars alongside Josh Lawson and Edward Furlong, has been a hit on the global film festival circuit, Lung has also turned her hand to writing and started a production company with her husband-to-be this year.

“I’m actually in the middle of writing a feature film,” she says. “That’s taking up most of my time. It’s something I’ve had in my head for probably eight years – it’s just sort of written itself, there have been a few serendipitous things that have happened along the way.”

Complete CNC Board Implementation

Computer numeric control (CNC) is a computer-based system used to control tools such as milling machines, lathes, routers, lasers, punches, water jets, and 3D printers. For a long time, CNC equipment remained constrained to the industrial shop. With the recent proliferation of personal computers, however, CNC has managed to move into the home environment with an ever-increasing number of do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts and hobbyists building their own CNC equipment. The reason this technology enjoys such a large acceptance is because it has the accuracy and repeatability that only a computer-controlled system can offer. In this article, I detail an implementation for a set of electronics that can be used to control pretty much any small or midsized CNC machine.

I call this implementation the CNC motherboard, as it revolves around a backplane that accepts motor driver modules to drive the CNC machine axes. In this incarnation, the CNC motherboard can support up to four axes, which is more than enough for the great majority of CNC equipment topologies being built today. The motor driver modules typically are based on bipolar stepper motor drivers with a step/direction interface. In essence, any motor topology can be used, as long as it works by moving according to STEP commands. Since the number of stepper motor power stages with an inherent step/direction interface is always growing, we see the stepper motor ruling the great majority of DIY CNC equipment implementations.

The control of these four axes is supported by a series of blocks. The brain of a CNC machine is a computer called the CNC controller. It is in charge of sending a series of STEP pulses and setting the ENABLE and DIR control lines to the motor driver modules according to a command better known as G code. A G code command can be anything like “move in a line to coordinates X,Y,Z at speed F,” “move in a curve,” “drill a hole,” and so forth. The CNC controller interprets this command and generates the respective combination of STEP/DIR pulses, and at the right frequency, to achieve the required motion.

The CNC controller for our DIY CNC machine can be any personal computer (PC) with a parallel port. Although PCs are no longer being fabricated with parallel ports, adding this resource in the form of an expansion card is very simple. The PC connects to the CNC motherboard through this parallel port, granting us a total of 12 output functions and five inputs.

Before we start distributing the control signals in and out of the different control functions, we add an isolation block for two main reasons. First, this isolation stage protects the computer in case something goes very wrong. Since the motor drivers can be employing high voltages that can hurt the computer, it is best to make sure the computer side cannot come in contact with this higher form of energy. Second, the isolation helps to decrease the control line’s noise caused by ground bouncing.

The control of four motor modules claims nine control signals: one ENABLE, which will be shared among the four modules; one STEP; and one DIR per module. The remaining outputs are distributed as follows. Two are used to control two 250V AC/30A relays. The other output runs a watchdog protection block, often referred to as the charge pump.

Ontario to defend local content rules that have brought $30B in investment

Ontario plans to appeal an international ruling that smacks down its requirement green energy producers — paid hefty premiums at taxpayer expense — also build some of their hardware here.

The move comes as one group says Ontario’s green energy rules have already generated $30 billion in investment.

The subsidies Ontario pays have attracted many solar and wind-powered projects to the province, including more than 1,200 industrial wind turbines — many of them in Southwestern Ontario.

But Japan and the European Union complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that Ontario’s Green Energy Act violates the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the playbook for international trade.

As part of its push to create new manufacturing jobs and increase renewable energy, the province pays a premium to companies for every kilowatt of power they produce using wind turbines, solar panels and biogas.

The catch is that at least some their parts and services must be developed in Ontario — 40% for solar, 25% for wind projects. That’s drawn protests from Japan and Europe and, now, the powerful WTO.

A spokesperson for Energy Minister Chris Bentley of London said the WTO hasn’t officially released a statement yet, so it’s too early for a detailed response.

But “our position on this issue remains that the FIT (feed-in-tariff, or subsidy) program is consistent with Canada’s WTO obligations,” said Nauman Khan of Bentley’s office.

The program is helping attract innovators and manufacturers and has created thousands of jobs, he said, with more than 30 companies already operating or planning to build renewable-energy manufacturing facilities.

“We will continue to explore all options to sustain these jobs and investments for Ontario’s future, including working with the federal government towards an appeal.”

The Ontario Susatinable Energy Association says domestic content rules are doing the job — bringing investment and jobs to Ontario

“Somewhow, we’ve managed to attract $30 billion, thanks to the domestic content rules,” said OSEA executive director Kristopher Stevens.

Some of that investment is in the London area, with turbine blades and solar components either being made or planned for this region.

Stevens said most potential investors in green-energy construction have already jumped in here, so the WTO fallout’s not going to kill the business.

“There are lots of players here already. It may make others think about moving in.”

He noted it’s not the subsidized rates for producers at issue — European countries also offer feed-in-tariffs for energy that comes from renewable sources.

He said the best way to grow the industry though, is to develop smart electricity grids and energy storage solutions to reduce Ontario’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The Canadian Auto Workers and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers’ union said Monday the WTO ruling blows away inventive job-creation strategies essential to righting the sagging economy.

“Governments in Canada at every level must have the capacity to encourage local production through procurement policies. These kinds of thoughtful policies should be replicated right across the country — not dismantled,” CAW president Ken Lewenza said in a statement.

CEP national president Dave Coles called the decision “blatantly undemocratic.”

Both are urging the federal government to appeal the ruling.

That could leave the issue tied up in international courts for years.

Large industrial wind farms have been hotly contested in some areas, with the province having snatched away local control over their locations.

One wind-energy opponent says the subsidies and incentives — using taxpayers’ money to aid big corporations — aren’t the answer.

OUTSIDE, the streets are cold and wet.

On stage, Gordon Strachan’s knack for story-telling has got the place on toast. Around him, a dressing room-load of players past and present are chipping in with anecdotes that rock the rafters.

And I’m sitting there in the middle of it all, thinking: “This is Kirkcaldy. On a crappy Monday in November.

And people say football’s dying?”

Well, let me tell you. While there are occasions like this, the night Raith Rovers launched their Hall Of Fame, football will live and breath and it will grow stronger.

But as I’ve written a million times, all the game’s more crippling problems started when somebody, somewhere decided it should BE a business first and a sport a distant second.

When you take those grey men out of the mix, when you forget about market shares and bottom lines, when you remember that goals and glory are the real profit and loss — that’s when the glow returns.

On Monday night in Kirkcaldy, money was never mentioned.

Well, except when they showed an old video of Jim Baxter telling how he bought his mammy a washing machine with his first signing-on fee.

Because this was about passion, about heritage, about fans and players and backroom staff feeling part of a one big family. This was about honouring those who make our bedrock clubs the community hubs they’ve always been.

Most of all, though, this was about laughter. We laughed until our jaws were sore. Ex-players digging each other up with stories from the adventures that were their career, little Strachan sending up his own love-hate relationship with Fergie, Jim Leishman wandering on from nowhere in his Provost’s chain and a Dunfermline scarf with a daft grin, milking the panto boos.

It was all, quite simply, wonderful. As MC, I’ll take responsibility for the fact it all ran an hour over schedule, yet it still seemed to fly by in a heartbeat. The kind of do where you wake yourself up chuckling in the night. If your own club doesn’t have a Hall Of Fame, you really should volunteer to start one — and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve ever produced a Scotland legend like Baxter or won a shedload of trophies. The
thing to remember is that whether you support Glasgow Rangers or Berwick Rangers, the men who pulled on that shirt through the ages are all special.

There are guys inducted on Monday night whose names wouldn’t register with anyone but the anorakiest of anoraks

outside Stark’s Park. But to those who worship there, they are heroes, legends, inspirations. To old team-

mates, they are comrades, drinking buddies, guys who share a bond that can’t be broken.

Or who led Bayern at half-time in the Olympic Stadium the next season. There are five million people in this

country, but only 20-odd can say they were part of those amazing achievements.

They were there on Monday — manager Jimmy Nicholl, striker Gordon Dalziel, midfielder Peter Hetherston,

defender Jock McStay, all much more at ease ripping each other to bits than if you’d asked them to big

themselves up. Well, apart from Dalziel, but every team needs a Shyness.

he son and daughter of 50s skipper Willie McNaught — never booked in 647 appearances — spoke proudly of their

late dad as they accepted a trophy on his behalf. The widow of all-time club record goalscorer Willie Penman

wept at the very thought that so many felt so much for her man. And we shed a wee tear with her.

Then you had the likes of big Billy and his Old Firm oppos like Stein and Johnson. None of them ever played for

Raith Rovers, but they wouldn’t have missed an occasion like this for the world.

Google announces $75 million investment in Iowa wind farm

Google says it’s investing $75 million in a central Iowa wind farm that produces enough electricity to power 15,000 homes. It’s the California tech giant’s first investment in an Iowa wind generation project.

Google is investing in RPM Access’s Rippey wind farm that became operational this fall near Perry. The farm has 20 wind turbines generating 50 megawatts of electricity.

The West Des Moines company has a long-term contract to provide power to Central Iowa Power Cooperative, a Cedar Rapids wholesale provider of electricity.

In addition to today’s announcement, Google said it will hold a press conference Friday with Gov. Terry Branstad to discuss increasing its investment in its Iowa operations.

Google has a $600 million data center in Council Bluffs, and it’s building another $300 million data center just south of the existing operation. The company also purchases wind from a NextEra Energy wind farm in Story County.

The Iowa investment, announced this morning, pushes Google’s investment in renewable energy projects to nearly $1 billion. Kate Hurowitz, a Google spokeswoman, says the decision fits with the Internet search company’s efforts to “green the grid in regions where we operate” and provide a financial return.

“Google has invested heavily in wind energy because it’s good for the environment and because it will provide a strong financial return,” Hurowitz said. “We believe the world needs a wide range of renewable energy technologies to build a clean energy future. …

“We’ve invested in a range of different kinds of scalable, cost-effective technologies,” Hurowitz said.

Nationally and globally, Google has invested in new and existing wind farms, large-scale solar panel projects, and an off-shore transmission line, among others.

Kirk Kraft, an RPM Access spokesman, said the Google investment creates capital for the company to invest in new wind farms. It already has several in development. The 5-year-old company owns and operates three small wind farms and is developing two large farms near Marshalltown for MidAmerican Energy Co.

Kraft said the project qualifies for wind-energy tax credits. He said he’s optimistic that Congress will extend the production credits, but the projects the company has under development aren’t dependent on them. “We have a pipeline of projects that we’ll continue to pursue,” he said.

Stephen Dryden, an RPM owner, the company will remain an active owner and manager of the project.

The company said the turbines are among the largest in Iowa, with 100-meter towers. Each uses about a half acre of land for each turbine.

Hurowitz said about 33 percent of the power Google uses comes from renewable energy.