Tag Archive | concrete-pouring machine

Tamil Nadu shows signs of losing its footing

Tamil Nadu may find its pole position in captive wind energy under threat as companies are reluctant to add to capacity nor is the sector attractive enough for third-party wind power developers.

That could see the state falter in its bid to add 6,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy capacity by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2016-17) to take it to 13,000MW from 7,162.3MW now.
Gujarat and Maharastra, which are a distant second and third in the rankings, could take advantage of this to gain on Tamil Nadu, experts said.

Madras Cements Ltd, the second largest cement maker in south India, has a wind energy capacity of 159MW. It doesn’t intend to add to this, but will instead invest in thermal energy, said a senior company executive who didn’t want to be named.

It costs Rs.5 crore to set up 1MW of thermal energy capacity and Rs.6 crore for equivalent wind energy capacity, according to Amol Kotwal, deputy director of energy and power systems at Frost and Sullivan, a business consulting firm. Inadequate infrastructure, delayed payments, and lack of incentives are discouraging further investment in the sector, critical for a power-deficient country that needs to boost energy capacity.

The trend in Tamil Nadu also reflects a wider disenchantment with the promise of wind energy as a source of seemingly “free” energy.

Madras Cements plans to enhance the capacity of the thermal power plants at Alathiyur, Jayanthipuram and Ariyalur by adding one turbine each of 6MW capacity at a total cost of Rs.55 crore, said the company in its recent annual report.

Last week, TVS Motors Ltd’s TVS Energy unit, which set up its captive 59MW wind energy unit in 2010, sold 90% of its stake to Green Infra Ltd, a renewable power producer as it was too capital intensive. The two-wheeler company did not mention whether the price at which it sold its subsidiary and whether it made profits.

Tamil Nadu gets 44% of its total energy requirement from renewable energy, with close to 90% of it coming from wind energy, pushing thermal energy to second place. This is much higher than the national average for renewable energy consumption of 12%.

With the economic slowdown hurting firms, most aren’t too keen on making investments in renewable energy. “Since the slowdown has affected the business of many companies, they would rather divert the money into their core business than put it in wind power,” said K. Vidyashankar, managing director, MM Forgings, which has a captive wind energy plant.

Wind energy is seasonal in Tamil Nadu—mostly between May and October. The southern state saw its wind energy capacity addition drop to 174MW for a total of 7,162MW in 2012-13, compared with about 1,000MW made over the previous two years. Last year, Rajasthan saw the highest addition of 614MW, taking its total capacity to 2,684MW. Gujarat set up 208MW additional capacity, adding up to a total of 3,174.9MW, and Maharastra added 288.5MW taking its total to 3,021MW.

The poor financial condition of the state power distribution company is leading to delays in payments to windmill owners, said Frost and Sullivan’s Kotwal.

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp. Ltd (Tangedco), the commissioning and distribution arm of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, reported a loss of Rs.54,000 crore in 2011-12.
It has taken over a year to clear payment dues. “We have cleared about Rs.2,000 crore backlog dues till April,” said a state government official.

Since a majority of the wind farm project cost is funded through debt (70-75%), irregular payments from Tangedco result in windmill owners struggling to repay bank loans. Meanwhile, the lack of infrastructure—in terms of transmission and distribution—needed to move power to the grid results in windmills having to be shut down for several hours a day, Kotwal said.

The reasons for inadequate infrastructure include incomplete projects such as the establishment of 400 kilovolts (kV), 230kV, 110kV and 11kV substations at Kanarpatti, Kayathar and Karungulam. Due to the shortage of evacuation facilities, nearly 15-20% of wind energy generated is lost, explains Kotwal.

“It is a sad state of affairs unless the transmission and tariff rates are improved,” said Ramesh Kymal, chairman, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association. “Additional capacity expansion may not happen as seen two years ago.”

The removal of accelerated depreciation for wind energy and raising the rates on cross-subsidy by the state has made the sector unviable, he added. It takes six-seven years for a wind energy farm to break even depending upon size and location.

On the tariff front as well, Tamil Nadu offers the lowest at Rs.3.51 per kilowatt-hour compared with states such as Gujarat (Rs.4.23) and Rajasthan (Rs.5). Tariffs are decided by the state electricity regulatory commissions.

Read the full story at scfwindturbine.com web! If you love wind turbines, welcome to contact us!

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Wind Storm

The tiny community of King Island off the north-west tip of Tasmania has voted to push ahead with plans for the country’s biggest ever wind farm.

A community ballot has revealed 59 per cent support for Hydro Tasmania to conduct a multimillion-dollar feasibility study into a 200 turbine wind farm.

It’s a decision that’s been made against the backdrop of a dwindling population, fewer jobs and closing businesses.

The massive wind farm would generate about 2,400 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, to be sent across Bass Strait by a high voltage underwater cable to the national electricity market.

Hydro Tasmania says it could produce enough electricity to power a quarter of a million households, a huge chunk of the nation’s renewable energy targets.

But as Fiona Breen found out, the issue has divided the community. Friends and even families are no longer talking.

FIONA BREEN, REPORTER: On a wintry Saturday, a sporting battle pitches mate against mate, colleague against colleague and even family against family.

For 1,500 King Islanders, the three-team footy competition stirs sporting passion. Today, it’s Grassy versus North. It’s a tough, close match.

Off the field, another battle has been simmering. Like football, passions have come to the surface.

VOX POP: I’m against. Don’t want any wind farms here to – they’re just ugly, horrible things.

VOX POP II: I think the wind farms are a great idea for the island, even if it just goes to feasibility.

VOX POP III: I don’t want to look at wind towers really, but if it’s going to help out the island, well, we need it.

FIONA BREEN: King Island is in the Roaring 40s. Its rugged coastline is a graveyard of shipwrecks driven ashore by the winds. Calm days are rare and the wind blows at an average speed of 32 kilometres per hour. It’s that consistent wind that Hydro Tasmania wants to harness, using 200 turbines costing $2 billion. The company has spent six months taking the proposal to the local community.

ANDREW CATCHPOLE, HYDRO TASMANIA: We’re taking a very different approach in coming to King Island to have this conversation before doing a feasibility study, a different approach to that taken previously and elsewhere for these kinds of projects.

That is very deliberate to try and understand, and I suppose to demonstrate, that not all wind farm developments are the same. They don’t have to be the same. And so we hope you would see that as a sign of our commitment to continue to work with you to ensure that if this goes ahead that there is an optimum outcome for the community.

FIONA BREEN: The community ballot has now been counted and the result was tight. Nearly 59 per cent supported taking the 200 turbine wind farm proposal to the next stage, but there was only 10 or 11 votes in it.

Hydro Tasmania had always said it needed at least 60 per cent community support for it to go ahead. At an emergency board meeting this week, the company decided it was close enough.

ANDREW CATCHPOLE: Well certainly we’re aware that there are different views in the community and we want to work with all sections of the community going forward about their concerns, as we’ve indicated. But we do feel that the survey result of 59 per cent is a very strong indication of community support to go forward to a feasibility study. More information about the program is available on the web site at www.scfwindturbine.com.

Final countdown for wind farm consultation

Just three days remain until a public consultation on a proposed windfarm for the south coast closes. The third round of public consultation will end on 5 April following a flurry of last minute drop-in sessions held by the developers of the Navitus Bay Wind Park.

The Challenge Navitus opposition group are urging members of the public to have their say on the proposed 67 sq mile, 200-plus wind turbine development off Poole and Christchurch bays before it is too late.

They say the public consultation exhibitions have been poorly placed and without appropriate signage to encourage visitors although the developers insist they are complying with pre-application procedural process.

Challenge Navitus give the example of last month’s public meeting hosted by Bournemouth councillors at the Royal Bath Hotel which attracted 400 attendees, compared to 200 visitors at Navitus Bay Development Limited’s (NBDL) previous formal Bournemouth exhibition.

The Poole exhibition was held at the RNLI HQ without a single banner or poster, say the opposition group, while for the exhibition week in Swanage, with its shoreline the closest to the development at under nine miles, there was no advertising at all in the local weekly press, and current full page adverts do not mention the 5 April close of consultation.

In December, it was announced that the proposed wind farm had been reduced from 333 to 218 turbines while the distance of the nearest turbine to Hengistbury Head had increased from 13.5km to 16.41km.

Yet Challenge Navitus believe it’s the ‘wrong plan in the wrong place’ and say it is not too late for public opinion to halt the plans.

Group spokesman Mike Owen said: ‘Even if your opinions have not changed since the last round of consultation, you do need to write again as NBDL could argue that previous concerns were addressed by the recent small reduction in size of the windfarm.

‘And be aware, that reduction was not primarily a reaction to public concern, but the result of an over-riding objection by Trinity House and the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) on a navigational issue.’ He added: “Please don’t just complete the developer’s online form.”

‘It is vital to write to or email NBDL directly, and be sure to copy your MP, elected local councillors and consultees such as the RSPB, Natural England, National Trust, MCA and RYA so they also are aware of your views.’You need write only one master email and then circulate using either the ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’ function.

‘Be specific and clear about your opinions, clearly state ‘I object’ or ‘I support’ so that NBDL knows how to categorise your response.”Numbers count; everyone in your household can write separately, and that’s many more opinions expressed.’

Mike Unsworth, project director for NBDL, said: ‘Phase three consultation continues until Friday, 5 April and we would encourage as many as possible to make their views known.

‘Project information is currently displayed in public libraries and on our website where you can complete an online consultation form.’

Charleston’s economy girds for leaner defense budgets

In the time it had taken her to explain how she would protect her family’s $40 million-a-year electronics-contracting firm from $1 trillion in defense-spending cuts in the next decade, UEC Electronics lost a contract to work on amphibious assault vehicles. That decision cost 19 jobs, she said.

“We were told the program was funded for two more years,” Ufkes said. “Then we were told it would be over by February.”

Things are moving that fast for smaller defense subcontractors such as UEC, and for cities such as Charleston, S.C., that depend on them. Charleston’s 250 defense contractors get most of their work from subcontracts, in fields such as electronics and computer programming, and generate up to 10% of the metropolitan economy. Thanks to the shorter contracts common for Pentagon subcontractors and information-technology vendors, the smaller fry among both companies and cities are more exposed to the cuts.

That’s why Charleston is an example of how the nation may cope with cuts that the aerospace industry claims would cost at least a million jobs as soon as this year. Spending is set to be cut $55 billion a year immediately, on top of long-term cuts passed as part of the 2011 bill to raise the federal debt ceiling.

The area’s officials and its companies have strikingly similar plans: Both are working to boost exports, find civilian tasks for their workers, and identify pockets of military spending likely to survive – especially work that there is a specific reason to do in Charleston., a metro area that gets nearly 10% of its economy from military contracts.

Charleston has embraced a local-government role in economic planning out of necessity, said Hank Taylor, a retired Air Force general who is vice president of the public-private Charleston Regional Development Alliance. Its plan relies on Obama administration policies that are unpopular in the Palmetto State, including the 2009 stimulus that helped pay for a wind-power research center.

The reason is simple: After the Cold War, Charleston lost a naval shipyard, helping boost local unemployment to 7.1% from 2.6% between 1990 and 1993. With at least 10% of the region’s 330,000 workers still depending on the military, that’s too much exposure to ignore, even with area joblessness a relatively low 6.3%, Taylor says.

A 25% spending cut, which is possible if Congress lets the full 10 years and $1 trillion-plus in defense cuts to take effect, could cost the area 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said.

Companies such as UEC will latch on to Boeing, Taylor says. For Ufkes, a pending deal to make Dreamliner parts on a trial basis fits her plan to cut Pentagon-related sales to half of her 200-worker firm’s revenue, from two-thirds.

“We’re two minutes from their facility, and we have all the technology they need,” said Ufkes.

Charleston also plans to build around the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or Spawar, headquartered at Joint Base Charleston, whose mission is helping U.S. warriors maintain “information dominance,” Taylor said.

The other two cornerstones of Charleston’s plan are health care and alternative energy. The city is marketing itself to biotech firms, using the Medical University of South Carolina as a lure, and hoping Clemson University’s wind turbine testing facility will help build a renewable-energy base.

Take Geocent, a systems integrator. It does work for Spawar, and opened a Charleston office in 2010 in part to be near its headquarters, executive director Ryan Lemire said. But since 2011’s debt-ceiling showdown, Louisiana-based Geocent has moved to cut its 85% reliance on the government. It’s boosting research and development spending to develop software products, and targeting private customers for its services, Lemire said.

How Softball Solves Disbutes

It was the summer of 1974 and the fall of a President. Watergate was in full swing, and Sam Ervin, the senior Senator from my home state of North Carolina, was leading a homespun assault on all the President’s men. Fresh from flunking out of college and washing out of a career in small-town journalism, I’d come to Washington from Chapel Hill, part of a small army in blue blazers and starched khakis, each of us hoping to witness history from a front row seat next to Senator Sam. A few of my friends made it on Capitol Hill, but I was forced underground. I signed on as an apprentice carpenter with Local 1051 of the Brother-hood of Carpenters and Joiners, and wound up leading off and playing shortstop on the strangest softball team ever assembled.

I wasn’t much of a carpenter. I carried the obligatory red-handled 22-ounce Plumb Hammer like the other guys, but I could hardly drive a nail, and my left thumb was perpetually discolored. I think my foreman, a New Yorker named Jack Gohde, kept me around because I never complained when he sent me out every morning to buy coffee and Danish for the crew. Good thing he did. Without me, Dirtball would never have been invented.

It happened this way: Gohde’s crew was the buzz of the underground that summer. In the hole that is now Foggy Bottom Station, we were pouring concrete at a blistering pace, every four or five days compared to every seven for our closest competitor – and well ahead of the average around town of eight to 10. Nobody could keep up with us when the big red concrete trucks rolled in and the green-brown mud would sluice down from the heavens.

To look at us, you wouldn’t have predicted that kind of productivity. Most of us were long-haired kids in our early twenties, the rest grizzled old boomers on their last big job. Gohde was the key. He was a subterranean Vince Lombardi, an organizational genius and master motivator who’d turned a motley crew of misfits into a finely tuned concrete-pouring machine.

We weren’t winning any popularity contests. Some of the crews resented the pace we were setting. They said we were making the rest of them look bad. One night a rival crew from the Dupont Circle Station rolled into the Red Lion, our after-work watering hole near George Washington University. After a few beers, a big Irish rodbuster accused us of cheating. I retorted that if any of his crew had made it past the third grade they might be able to figure out how to keep up with us. He invited me outside for further discussion. Luckily for me, someone suggested we slug it out in another forum. And thus it was that Dirtball was born, and the first game scheduled the following Wednesday after work at Potomac Park.

Work in the hole on game day moved at glacial speed. While the rest of us waited for the horn to blow, a few engineers and surveyors cut out early to stake a claim on the field and lay out the diamond. My job was to take a company pick-up and bring back beer, no fewer than five cases, they said, and enough ice to cover them in the bed of the truck. The whole bill back then was under 40 dollars.

By the time I got to the park, the game was in the third inning and we were down nine-zip. It wasn’t hard to figure out why. Our best players were still on the sidelines. The office guys, the ones who worked above ground in air-conditioned trailers, had taken charge and put themselves in the starting line-up. We had a 62-year-old shortstop, a myopic centerfielder and a morbidly obese first baseman who shouldn’t have been allowed on the field without a sports bra.