Tag Archive | modern machines

No Evidence of Residential Property Value

“This is the second of two major studies we have conducted on this topic [the first was published in 2009 — see below], and in both studies [using two different datasets] we find no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measureable impact on home sales prices,” says Ben Hoen, the lead author of the new report.

Hoen is a researcher in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Berkeley Lab.

The new study used a number of sophisticated techniques to control for other potential impacts on home prices, including collecting data that spanned well before the wind facilities’ development was announced to after they were constructed and operating. This allowed the researchers to control for any pre-existing differences in home sales prices across their sample and any changes that occurred due to the housing bubble.

This study, the most comprehensive to-date, builds on both the previous Berkeley Lab study as well a number of other academic and published U.S. studies, which also generally find no measureable impacts near operating turbines.

“Although there have been claims of significant property value impacts near operating wind turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local communities, strong evidence to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the major U.S. studies conducted thus far,” says Hoen. “Moreover, our findings comport with the large set of studies that have investigated other potentially similar disamenities, such as high voltage transmission lines, land fills, and noisy roads, which suggest that widespread impacts from wind turbines would be either relatively small or non-existent.”

The report was authored by Ben Hoen (Berkeley Lab), Jason P. Brown (formerly USDA now Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City), Thomas Jackson (Texas A & M and Real Property Analytics), Ryan Wiser (Berkeley Lab), Mark Thayer (San Diego State University) and Peter Cappers (Berkeley Lab). The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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

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Better policies would allow hydropower to back up wind power

The issue of wind turbine downtime can be compensated by hydropower but only with the correct policy and regulations, found researchers at Pennsylvania State University.

At present, wind is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the United States. The United States Department of Energy recently found that the country could produce 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

But because Americans want low-cost electricity and expect things to continue working without blackouts, full reliance on wind is impossible as there are times when the winds suddenly cease blowing or blows to hard causing operators to shut down the turbines. Researchers at Penn State said that viable options that can back wind energy up are natural gas and hydropower, but because natural gas is not carbon neutral, hydropower is the clear and greener choice.

As part of their case study, the researchers studied the Kerr Dam in North Caroline and found that the power produced from the dam goes into the PJM segment of the electrical grid. The PJM segment includes Pennsylvania through Virginia in the East Coast, west to Indiana and the Chicago area. Due to agreements made before the establishment of the PJM market. The Kerr Dam also supplies other local outlets.

The researchers noted that the Kerr Dam can accommodate the unexpected variations in wind power generators, but the problem is that hydroelectric dams cannot simply release water to meet the demand for electricity when wind energy suffers a downtime. This is because water dams operate using guide curves that are based on a one-week weather forecast and consider factors such as electric production, drinking water needs, irrigation, fish, and wildlife requirements.

To allow hydropower to come in when wind energy falls, the researchers suggest that instead of a guide curve requirement of one week, it should be two weeks. The researchers also determined that if the price of the electricity was changed in such a way that backing up wind is more lucrative, hydropower plants can pledge their electricity to make up for wind energy, instead of selling the excess on the spot market.

The president’s emphasis on renewable energy is “a big winner for Iowa,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago. In addition to being a major wind energy producer, Iowa also has become a hub for turbine manufacturing, from spinning blades to nuts and bolts. Opening more public land to wind generation should keep those plants running strong, he said.

“To the extent that the president’s climate action plan moves forward, that’s good for more wind power developments in Iowa, that’s good for job creation, that’s good for economic growth and it’s good for the environment,” Learner said.

Neila Seaman, director of the Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter, echoed the president’s argument that the plan moves the country as a whole closer to a “clean energy economy,” in which new technologies create new jobs that more than offset those lost in the transition.

“We’re not trying to put anybody out of business,” Seaman said. “We think there will be enough green jobs resulting from this plan today that I’m not sure the critics would have good argument against it.”

Wind turbines face opposition in Dennis and across the state

The web site for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center features a headline on its main page. It reads: “The heart of the clean energy revolution resides in Massachusetts.”

But in any revolution, struggle precedes change. And struggle is exactly what towns like Kingston, Scituate and Hanover have encountered in recent months after installing new wind turbines in an effort to reduce energy costs and help the environment.

Groups of residents in Kingston and Scituate claim the turbines are making them sick. Studies are being conducted to determine whether the turbines should be shut down, and both towns have been slapped with lawsuits from angry citizens.

Hanover still doesn’t have a working turbine after two years of delays. So the town is now seeking damages from the turbine’s contractor.

The town manager in Hull, where the state’s first wind turbine was built 12 years ago, said these recent turbine controversies, which have also cropped up in Falmouth and Fairhaven, will someday be viewed as the growing pains of a fledgling industry.

“That’s part of creating a whole new industry base,” Hull Town Manager Philip E. Lemnios said. “Not every automobile company is around today that was around 100 years ago, but cars are certainly better today than they were back then.”

The turbine backlash has prompted some local communities to proceed more cautiously when considering wind turbine projects. In recent years, turbine proposals have been tossed around in Plymouth, Weymouth, Quincy, Milton, Marshfield, Norwell and Cohasset. Some of these plans have been met with resistance or been ruled out altogether.

In Marshfield, officials have decided to put their turbine plans on hold and focus instead on solar power as a viable renewable energy source.

“I think the (town’s) energy committee and myself have lost our appetite for the wind turbine because of the controversy they’ve caused in other communities,” Marshfield Town Planner Paul Halkiotis said, later adding, “We should let the dust settle in the other towns before we continue with this project.”

In Scituate and Kingston, town leaders have heard emotional pleas from residents who want the turbines to be turned off. But officials have been advised by lawyers that shutting them down with no scientific evidence that the turbine’s owners are in the wrong exposes the towns to costly lawsuits.

Although cities and towns have control of where their turbines are sited, the state regulates their noise levels. Existing law prohibits turbines from emitting sound that is more than 10 decibels louder than ambient noise.

In Scituate, opponents of the turbine have argued that the state’s testing regulations are outdated, established long before wind turbines were built. The state says as much in a letter it sent to Falmouth officials in 2011.

“The evaluation of sound impact from wind turbines is a complicated issue that was not considered by MassDEP when it developed its sound evaluation and noise-compliance guidance in the early 1970s and as revised in 1990,” the letter reads.

Ed Coletta, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said his office is reviewing its testing criteria for wind turbines, but no decisions have been made.

Steven Weisman, vice president of Peregrine Energy Group, a consulting firm working with Weymouth on a turbine feasibility study, said the protocol for where to locate turbines has evolved because of the complaints. The state is now advising firms to conduct noise studies earlier in the planning process, he said.

A solar-power gift for the kids

For clean, alternative energy, our town and the metro area don’t look like some European counterparts yet, but we are heading there.

As visiting journalist Christian Roselund reports from Freiburg, Germany, when its children go to school in the morning and its residents to work, they pass dozens of solar installations.

They see solar panels on homes, churches, the soccer stadium, the roofs of schools and the facade of the main train station. There are “solar housing” developments and a “solar business park.”

All told, the city’s photo-voltaic installations “produce enough electricity to meet the needs of tens of thousands of homes.”

Wind turbines on hilltops within city boundaries contribute more natural, pollution-free electric energy.

Grover Hickman’s solar PV installation in Gray, preceded and aided by a small roof-mounted wind turbine, in 2007 became the Johnson City Power Board’s first “Generation Partners” clean-energy supplier.

Alternative energy installations such as his, sponsored under Green Power Switch, unfortunately were halted early in 2010 by a TVA imposed moratorium.

As the Tennesseean then reported, “costly mega-projects by opportunistic investors” were depleting the allocated funds whose principal, intended target had been “smaller solar installations [that] homeowners and businesses want.”

Paul Sutton, manager of a local installation company (Lightwave Solar), states that TVA supported systems now are designed to “zero out an owner’s electric bill.”

TVA purchases all the electricity the system produces, at a favorable 19-cents per kilowatt hour reimbursement, while the residential electricity rate is currently less than 10 cents.

To assure adherence to all grid-connection, safety and other relevant guidelines, applications must be approved by the Power Board and the TVA.

For small systems, from first site visit, consultation and design by a certified installer, to “commissioning” when the sun begins powering the home, the process typically takes less than three months.

Under the TVA contract, the owner locks in the favorable power-purchase reimbursement for 20 years.

For very large systems (above 50 kilowatt generation capacity), Sutton indicates that large down payments and high financial assurance requirements must now be met, TVA pays a less favorable premium price for the power produced, and the certification process takes longer.

A new residential solar installation on Cherokee Street in Jonesborough is about to join some 30 others that VA now helps fund under the “Green Power Provider Program,” in the JCPB service area alone.

As home owner Ignacy Fonberg sees it, with the JCPB “essentially paying for our monthly use, under this program,” the previous electric-bill payments can go toward payment for installing the system.

With federal funding support of 30 percent of installed cost now available, and an added TVA sum for the installation, it will be paid off in a decade or less.

But power production is guaranteed for at least 15 years longer, making the investment payback for a solar-supplied home, Fonberg adds, “better by far than any interest you can earn at the bank.” Solar power for our buildings makes a lasting gift, as well, to the planet’s children.

Mechanical problems at one of Waltham Schools’ two wind turbines have kept the district from getting reliable data on efficiency and output.  Yet superintendent Bob Abney remains optimistic the turbines will pay for themselves in as few as three years.

Abney reported the twin turbines  have been up and running since the start of this school year. While the district reported problems with the more westerly of the two, the problem turbine was replaced in early December, and both are now working and generating energy to the grid or Waltham North. “It’s going to be exciting. The payback is in three to five years, and that’s based on what was reported at other schools. It was money well spent.”

Abney said hard data on the output is not yet in hand due to the technical troubles, and won’t be available until the district gets steady reports over a series of months.

Video games gain museum-level respectability

“People wrote better novels when the cultural status of the novel was contested,” Lanchester wrote in Slate. “When there were doubts as to whether serious people should read them, they were a lot more exciting — more interesting, more energetic, more various.

“Many literate adults regard gaming as beneath their notice. Good. Long may that remain the case.”Too late: Video games might have reached their peak in 2011, on the day before the Supreme Court declared them worthy of First Amendment protection — because the past 12 months have witnessed about as formal a ratification of cultural respectability as the medium might ever get.

Last month, the Museum of Modern Art in New York announced that it had acquired 14 games, including Pac-Man and Tetris, and would pursue dozens more, with the first group to be installed there in March as part of its architecture and design collection. And, on Dec. 15, the Museum of the Moving Image in the New York borough Queens opened what is effectively an arcade (you even get four tokens with admission and can buy more) with a new exhibition, “Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off.”

Unlike MoMA or the Smithsonian, the Museum of the Moving Image has always shown video games, dating from its opening in 1988. There is a small collection of arcade cabinets and consoles in the museum’s core exhibition.

But the “Spacewar!” show is noteworthy because it goes beyond a grab-bag, check-this-out approach and focuses on how video games were influenced by the medium’s first successful creation: Spacewar!, developed by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students and researchers and introduced to the world in 1962.

Were this exhibition in honor of William Higinbotham’s Tennis for Two, a computer toy assembled in 1958 for the enjoyment of visitors to the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, the selected games would be entirely different: Table Tennis for the Magnavox Odyssey (the first home console), Pong, Wii Sports, maybe Madden NFL. But the games here represent a different lineage: science-fiction shooters.

There are rarities such as Computer Space, the first commercially distributed video game (and a rather dull one at that), and Battlezone, the 1980 arcade game from Atari that introduced the first-person perspective almost every shooter game (such as Call of Duty or Gears of War) uses today.

More fun to play, with faster action, are electronic cave paintings such as Asteroids, Defender and Space Invaders. The beauty of the fading glow of the white tracerlike laser fire in Asteroids’ primitive, geometric graphics is unlike anything you’ll see in today’s high-definition games.

There is an Atari 2600, a Super Nintendo console, a hand-held Game Boy and more. Contemporary games such as Portal and Halo 4 are included, too, with only a couple of titles — Osmos for the iPad and Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii — seeming out of place.

A second, more implicit argument presented by the exhibit is that video games are, to borrow a phrase, something you read with your hands. You have to play them — not watch them, not read text descriptions of them — to understand them. With the exception of Spacewar! — which gets a slightly less brief introduction — the explanatory text is limited to a few sentences on the games’ historical significance, followed by instructions on how to play.

And they are all playable. There are no videos of developers ruminating about their craft here. If you can’t play it in the room — although some games require two players to be physically present — it isn’t here.

Nor are these updates of the original games, programs that have been translated for modern machines. These are the real things: a sit-down Star Wars game, a Tempest cabinet, a Space Invaders machine so well-loved that the text around the joystick and buttons is worn to the point of illegibility. Games that have been modified with a new monitor or joysticks that don’t rapidly break like the originals (see Computer Space) have those changes noted.

The one game that is exempt from these rules is the guest of honor. There is only one working Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-1, the computer on which Spacewar! was developed, and it is at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. So instead, the Museum of the Moving Image commissioned a model that presents “a reasonable facsimile of the original play experience”: a hexagonal monitor with a porthole in the middle, where the game is viewed, and the two players using keyboard buttons to move slow ships around the screen in a starry dogfight.