Sustainable Energy boss’s windfarm ‘conflict of interest’

Labour Senator John Whelan has warned that Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte will have to address the “apparent conflict of interest” where the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland chairman Brendan Halligan, a long-term Labour apparatchik, is also a director of Mainstream Renewable Power; one of the major wind-farm developers in Ireland.

Mr Whelan issued the warning in the wake of a major demonstration outside Dublin Castle against proposals to erect 2,500 “185 metre high wind turbines, higher than the spike in Dublin, near family homes in 14 counties across Ireland”.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, he warned the status of Halligan was leading to “much public disquiet and fuelling public cynicism with regard to wind energy policy and an increasingly controversial planning process.”

The Labour senator asked, “How can Mr Halligan serve both the public interest and the commercial interests of a private company? This is not best practice and will have to be addressed; there is no way around it.”

He added that “it is unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue and I will now be raising the issue with both Minister Rabbitte and the Oireachtas Committee on Energy and Natural Resources”.

This is likely to lead to tensions between the senator and Mr Rabbitte, who has made renewable energy one of his core departmental objectives.

But Whelan warned that on this issue Labour “can’t come across all pious and highly principled on other issues and then turn a blind eye when [it] suits us. In public life you cannot serve two masters”.

Decisions, he said, “to be made around wind farm policy and planning are going to have a profound effect on thousands of rural families for generations to come”.

Whelan’s position was echoed by the Labour Senator John Kelly who noted “all that the people want is for the Government to sit up and listen to them, that they don’t want to live beside residential wind turbines for reasons of health, noise, and the safety of their children.

He said Friday’s protest was peaceful and passionate, held by decent families trying to protect their human right to live in peace and tranquillity, not surrounded by wind farms “that are bigger than the spike”.

Kelly added: “It is indeed ironic that Enda Kenny is saying the Seanad is ineffective, whilst at the same time, when I brought a Wind Turbine 2012 Bill through the Seanad, achieving cross-party support, it was Enda who blocked the same bill going the Dail. He considers this to be democracy, when in fact he himself is blocking democracy”.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent Mr Whelan also claimed “much of the public disquiet would be resolved and allayed if the Government accepted Deputy Willie Penrose’s and Senator John Kelly’s legislative proposals affording 1.5km setback from family homes”.


Runway extension could affect wind farm plans

Cielo Wind Power has been thinking about building a wind farm somewhere on Port of Brownsville property for a decade or so.

The Austin-based company is still thinking about it, and it’s by no means certain all the pieces will fall into place and all the obstacles will be cleared away for such a project to become a reality.

So says Walter Hornaday, who founded Cielo in 1998. According to its website, the firm has completed more than a dozen wind farm projects, most of them in Texas and two in New Mexico. The company recently began another wind farm outside Amarillo that will feature 87 GE wind turbines.

Brownsville is a promising site for a wind farm, though the project could meet an obstacle in the form of Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport’s plans to extend its runway, Hornaday said.

A longer runway would mean planes on approach would fly lower farther away from the airport, which could preclude construction of towering wind turbines.

It’s premature to say, though, since it all comes down to where Cielo wants to build versus how airspace is affected. Airport officials hope to extend the main runway from its current 7,400 feet to 10,000 feet or longer. An environmental review is still under way, though, and no funding has been allocated for the project yet.

“Obviously if you extend the runway there’s more airspace that’s going to be covered,” Director of Aviation Larry Brown said. That said, it’s not yet clear to what extent changes in airspace would affect Cielo’s plans, he said.

“Until we know more details, we can’t answer the question,” Brown said. “It’s all going to be a function of math.”

He said Corpus Christi’s airport is dealing with airspace issues arising from skystream located south and east of Sarita.

Hornaday said he hopes Cielo, if it does decide to move forward with a project at the port, can come to an arrangement with the airport amenable to all parties concerned.

“We’re trying to see what they will allow to be done,” he said. “It’s highly speculative at this point. It’s a great, windy area. The pieces are there. It’s a good wind resource and there’s a growing demand for electricity, but there are a lot of moving parts.”

We suspect those opposed to energy generated by wind turbines will be rubbing their hands together with a good deal of glee this morning, following revelations that the wind farm industry is being propped up by domestic energy bills.

New figures indicate that wind turbine owners received 1.2 billion in consumer subsidies last year. That is, unquestionably, a staggeringly large amount to draw from the public purse at any time, let alone in this period of austerity.

So it seems clear that this assessment of the balance sheet for wind power will be another blow for an industry already reeling from the Government’s recent announcement that new rules will give people greater powers to block turbine applications, when they are proposed near where they live.

We do not, however, subscribe to the view that all wind turbines must therefore be uprooted and dismantled. Far from it. wind energy is a new technology that should and does command significant investment. There is no doubt that wind energy is here to stay. It must surely be allowed to play a part in helping keep the lights on as traditional high-carbon energy sources diminish.

Offshore Wind Rules Set New Standard

The new Rules form part of the wider Mobile Offshore Unit Rule set 2013 launched by Lloyd’s Register in June, and is for vessels engaged in installation and/or maintenance activities relating to offshore wind turbines. It covers a number of unit types as well as liftboats, whose primary function is to provide support services to offshore wind turbine installations or other types of offshore installation.

Vessels which comply with the requirements of the new Rules will be eligible for a new classification notation.

The release of the new Rules and Guidance Notes coincides with reports that operators are suffering from the substantial incremental rise in the cost of constructing offshore wind assets and is casting new light on the value of independent third-party assurance, and how certification authorities are informing asset design and construction.

Rob Whillock, Offshore Renewables Lead Naval Architect at Lloyd’s Register said, “It is critical that throughout the process of independent assurance, there is an eye to the future of the industry as well as current guidelines.”

Offshore wind projects have tended to run late and over-budget, but the industry is forecast to grow at pace. The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) estimates that Europe’s offshore wind potential is able to meet the continent’s energy demand seven times over.

Whillock states that modern certification authorities have to offer technical solutions that recognize industry’s future growth.

“As the industry matures, we will see a greater number of larger turbines being installed in deeper water and further from shore, such as the planned 9GW wind farm at Dogger Bank, which lies some 125km off the east coast of England,” said Whillock. “Such developments will require owners and operators of offshore wind farms to rethink their installation and service vessels entirely. The new Lloyd’s Register Rules highlight the importance of independent technical assessment of structures, systems and capabilities. We are demonstrating to the world that our offshore Rules reflect best practice.”

The intention of the new Lloyd’s Register Rules is to help clients understand the classification process and clearly set out the rules to be applied to various vessels and unit types, from the Lloyd’s Register classed ship to the Mobile Offshore Unit.

To support the development of these new Rules, Lloyd’s Register developed a set of client guidance notes (titled Mobile Offshore Units – Wind Turbine Installation Vessels) which were also approved at the recent Offshore Technical Committee where more than 100 industry stakeholders attended Lloyd’s Register’s Singapore based Group Technology Centre. These guidance notes provide summary information on classification rules and regulations, national administration requirements, documentation required to be submitted, and the Rules requirements for various types of units used in installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines. More information about the program is available on the web site at

Mindless “green” indoctrination of children

Although fracking has been used for 60 years, in combination with deep horizontal drilling it has sent US oil and gas production sharply upward for the first time in decades, turned “imminent depletion” into another century of affordable petroleum, generated millions of jobs and billions of dollars in government revenues, kept home heating and electricity prices from skyrocketing in the face of EPA’s war on coal, brought a resurgence in US petrochemical and other industries, and helped reduce CO2 emissions (which should make Earth Guardians and other global warming true believers happy). It’s meant fewer oil imports, improved balance of trade, and more opportunities to lift more people out of poverty worldwide.

A recent IHS Global Insight report documents that, in the United States alone, fracking has already created 1.7 million new direct and indirect jobs, with the total likely to rise to 3 million jobs over the next eight years. It’s added $62 billion to federal and state treasuries, with that total expected to rise to $111 billion by 2020. And by 2035, it could inject over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues.

By contrast, $26 billion taken from taxpayers and given to wind, solar and biofuel energy projects via Department of Energy subsidies and loan guarantees since 2009 created only 2,298 permanent jobs, at a cost of $11.45 million per job, the Institute for Energy Research calculates, using DOE data.

If more of this new natural gas were devoted to generating electricity – instead of just backing up 40,000 US wind turbines – millions of birds and bats would not be slaughtered every year, and vital species would not be driven to the brink of extinction in wildlife habitats that have been blanketed by turbines.

The Earth Guardians ignore all of this, and claim hydraulic fracturing is poisoning our air and water.

The facts say otherwise. As the film FrackNation and numerous articles and reports have documented, there has never been a confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to fracking, despite numerous investigations by state agencies and the US Environmental Protection Agency. There is no evidence of air or people being poisoned, and companies continue to improve their technologies, to reduce methane leakage and employ more biodegradable and “kitchen cabinet” chemicals.

But the Earth Guardians still deliver outright falsehoods about fracking, by children to children, in public schools funded by taxpayer dollars. Perhaps this goes on because teachers and school administrators fail to recognize the potential harm, or are themselves devoted to promoting extreme environmentalist ideologies. Certainly they failed to exercise their responsibility and authority as educators to provide a balanced curriculum and avoid being used by groups with political agendas, to inculcate a new generation of Americans in perverse Hard Green dogmas that are harmful to wildlife, people and the environment.

Why is it that the Earth Guardians, Sierra Club and similar groups detest fracking? Maybe because this technology demolishes their Club of Rome claims that mankind is about to run out of petroleum – or because it means fossil fuels are again on the ascendency, making wind and solar even less viable and further demonstrating that wind energy is a far less sustainable energy resource than petroleum.

Even older students are vulnerable to being spoon-fed incorrect information. And student voters who are reluctant or too disinterested to seek truthful information can have a profound impact on U.S. elections and national policy.

More information about the program is available on the web site at

35m turbine testing rig planned for the North East

TURBINE developers will soon have access to a 35m testing facility in the region to help drive the UK’s offshore wind energy generation.

A new turbine test rig is being built at Narec to enable turbine companies to bring their systems into operation sooner.

A bespoke 35m-high, 3,000sq building to house the test rig has been completed and handed over six weeks ahead of schedule.

It will be able to deal with the performance, endurance and compressed life testing of complete nacelles – the unit at the top of the tower housing the electricity generation system – up to 15megawatts (mw).

Andrew Mill, chief executive at Narec in Blyth, Northumberland, said: “We will be the first independent facility to undertake accelerated life testing of a next generation offshore wind turbine.

The early completion of building works is a significant achievement and we expect to have completed our first commercial test programme by the middle of next year.

The entire facility is bespoke, designed and built to ensure that larger turbines can be brought into operation sooner.

“It will have a significant impact on the improved design and operation of offshore wind turbines in the UK over the next 20 years.”

The Energy Technologies Institute is investing 25m in the Narec facility, by providing funding to GE Power Conversion and MTS Systems Corporation for the design, development and commissioning of the test rig.

Andrew Scott, ETI programme manager for offshore wind, said: “We are delighted with the new building, taking us all a step closer to the drive train test rig being fully installed at Narec.

“We look forward to the state-of-the art, open access test rig taking shape, and with it ultimately helping in the further expansion of the UK’s offshore wind industry.”

The new building – funded by a 10m from former regional development agency One North East – was handed over by Shepherd Construction which has built three new facilities on the site.

The installation of the 15mw capacity test rig by GE Power Conversion is well under way on site and involves a permanent magnet motor and the largest force application system of its type in the world, weighing over 400 tonnes.

Testing onshore improves the understanding of turbine performance and will verify new designs under simulated lifetime operating conditions and extreme events, such as storm conditions and electrical failures. Shepherd Engineering Services will remain on site in a coordination capacity during rig assembly.

Colin Sargeant, regional managing director at Shepherd Construction, said: “We are delighted to be handing over this new state-of-the-art facility to Narec. Having spent more than two years working on the project, the whole team feel privileged to have been involved in developing a facility that will help the UK to further advance the offshore renewable energy industry.”

Last month the project team for the construction of three new facilities at Narec were awarded the Robert Stephenson Award by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East. This was presented to Narec, Red Box Design, Shepherd Construction, Arup, Turner & Townsend and Heyrod Construction. Highlighting the “great technical ingenuity in both the design and construction processes”.

ICE judges said: “The requirements of the scheme set unique challenges for the designers to understand and calculate the huge loads applied during the testing process and the construction demanded tolerances more normally associated with a laboratory than a construction site.”

The 15mw capacity wind turbine drive train test facility will be commissioned this summer and is an open access facility.

Latest CNC Plasma Cutters in Rustenburg

Companies in Rustenburg can now get their hands on latest technological CNC Plasma Cutters via Advanced Machinery (Pty) Ltd. The company is currently offering wide range of CNC Plasma cutters which are not readily available in South Africa. O.C.T. Engineering based in Rustenburg is one such company that has recently purchased one of the elite CNC machines the CNC Hypertherm Powermax 105 and has seen a significant improvement in efficiency of their work.

Advanced Machinery (Pty) Ltd has already gained attention for providing latest CNC machines at affordable pricing. The company informed that they are providing high quality machines that are manufactured in China and their after sales service makes sure that the machines are still top-notch once they are in use. The variety of CNC machines has also been admired by the customers who state that there are CNC plasma cutters that are suitable for every type of metal cutting needs.

O.C.T. Engineering is currently using the company’s large size CNC plasma cutter, the gantry plasma CNC cutter with a powerful high ampere Hypertherm plasma cutting system Powermax 105. The machine was assembled at O.C.T. Engineering in Rustenburg by Advanced Machinery (Pty) Ltd and specific personal requirements were also taken care of by the company.

With limited number of providers of affordable and latest technological CNC machines, the company is now offering its CNC plasma cutter in Rustenburg as well. Advanced Machinery (Pty) Ltd informed that many Rustenburg companies like O.C.T. Engineering have purchased their products and that they have taken care of all assembling and ensured that the machines are fully functional and operate according to the personal requirements. The company also provides initial training on all of their machines by experienced engineers and offers after sales service to make sure the machines always produce optimum results.

If customers are not sure which product is most suitable for them, then the company’s website also has extensive details regarding each and every product and informative articles to act as a guide when making a decision. One such article published on the site is the evaluation of the plasma cutting capacity. The article discusses general cutting thickness calculations and important things to consider before purchasing a suitable CNC machine. The company informed that they can be contacted for any queries and if there is uncertainty about which products are suitable then they are happy to oblige and explain all the details.

The CNC Powermax Plasma cutter has become one of the preferred CNC machines in the world, mainly due to its exceptional precision and improved cutting speed. There are certain variations to this machine as well, which are all currently offered by Advanced Machinery (Pty) Ltd.


Attorney general vs. Creeks now in federal court

An attempt by Alabama’s attorney general to shut down three casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has shifted to federal court, where a judge will have to decide if the state’s top prosecutor can challenge the tribe’s gambling.

Attorney General Luther Strange initially filed suit in Elmore County, where the tribe operates one of its three casinos. The suit was filed on Feb. 19, the same day the attorney general raided and shut down the privately operated VictoryLand casino in Macon County.

Strange contended the tribe’s casinos in Wetumpka, Montgomery and Atmore were a public nuisance operating illegal gambling machines. The tribe argued that it is under federal regulation rather than state regulation, and it got the suit moved to federal court in Montgomery.

In federal court, the attorney general is arguing that the tribe is operating games that exceed any authority it may have under federal or state law. The tribe contends that bingo is legal in some Alabama counties, and the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory act allows it to operate any gambling that is legal in the state. It maintains that its games are simply electronic versions of bingo and are allowed under federal law. It is asking U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins to dismiss the suit on grounds that Strange lacks standing to sue.

“To nobody’s surprise, Attorney General Strange raises claims that are without merit and have been rejected numerous times in various forums,” Robert McGhee, government relations adviser for the tribe, said in a statement.

Strange’s deputy solicitor general, Andrew Brasher, said the attorney general is pleased the tribe got the suit moved to federal court.

“This procedural move required the tribal defendants to acknowledge that federal law gives the state a claim against them and to waive several defenses that they could have raised,” he said.

In papers filed Thursday, the attorney general argues that the games are slot machines, which are illegal in Alabama and, unlike a game of bingo, they can be played by touching a button once.

McGhee is confident the case will end with the federal court ruling the state has no jurisdiction under federal law. “The real question is when is the attorney general going to cease ignoring federal law and attempting to undermine the inherent right of the Poarch Band to govern itself,” he said.

With the attorney general’s crackdown on VictoryLand and other privately operated casinos, the Poarch Creek’s three casinos are now the largest gambling operations in the state. The attorney general and other law enforcement agencies have raided privately operated gambling halls, but Strange has taken the courtroom approach with Alabama’s only federally recognized Indian tribe because of the status it has under federal law.