Tag Archive | solar panels

Turbines out!

JUST when I thought it was safe to read the letters page of the WT, up pops Mr Jessop with one of his pro-wind turbine/ anti-fossil fuel letters.

Can Mr Jessop, with his vast pool of knowledge, tell us if a fossil fuel power station has been replaced by a wind farm, anywhere in the world, without reducing the total availability of electrical supply?

The reason the UK came within six hours of running out of gas last winter was due to several factors.1) A fault in an import pipeline from Europe. 2) Stupid policy, that is obeying EU directives on CO2 emissions, therefore allowing the premature closing of efficient fossil-fuelled power stations last year.  3) Having only a 20-day gas storage capacity at the start of winter.

Since then, led by green fanatics and so called energy consultants, the coalition has allowed a further eight coalfired power stations to close, meaning that our electrical generating spare capacity has dropped from 14 per cent to about four per cent.

It’s laughable almost, that at the time of most demand for power, and very low temperatures, the wonderful wind turbines went on strike!

Remember, NO WIND-NO ELECTRIC! As Mr Shepherd wrote, the average on-shore wind turbine is only about 23 per cent efficient. It has been recently announced thousands of dirty diesel generators are being secretly prepared all over Britain to provide emergency back-up to prevent the national grid collapsing when wind power fails. And under the costly scheme, the national grid is set to pay up to 12 times the normal wholesale market rate for the electricity they generate.

Last month a national newspaper revealed that for the 12 months up to February this year, a little over 1.2 billion was paid out to wind farms through a consumer subsidy financed by a supplement on our electric bills.

During that period the industry employed just 12,000 people, which means that each wind farm job cost consumers 100,000, very cost effective, I don’t think.

The UK, and the rest of the world is awash with shale gas and there is no need to build stupid wind turbines.

A British Geological Survey’s report states that there is between 50 and 140 years of shale gas supplies recoverable from onshore fields and ten times as much offshore in the Irish and North seas.

There are scare stories about gas coming out of cold water taps and fracking causing earthquakes in America. The Royal Academy of Engineering and the chairman of the Environment Agency have declared fracking to be safe.

Of all the millions of fracking operations carried out in the USA, there has not been one tremor big enough to cause any damage.

If any of our readers out there are still worried about CO2 emissions, I will repeat what myself and several other knowledgeable people have written in past letters.

Trying to reduce our CO2 emissions (two per cent of world total) to save the world, when India, China, Germany etc. are building new coal-fired power stations by the week, is like trying to empty the Cleddau with a bucket.

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Planning ahead with location intelligence

Given the many factors involved in planning a wind turbine, developers and installers could be forgiven for thinking good quality mapping is not that important.

Yet when it comes to submitting a planning application, national planning policy dictates a set of requirements on formats and scales with the full expectation that the maps involved are both up to date and legally licensed.

Norwich-headquartered Windcrop, which has installed more than 450 small-scale wind turbine, recognises the benefits of a managed approach to maps.

“We submit approximately 50 planning applications a month on average,” said Senior Planning Simon Henry. To have these validated under national planning guidance, we are required to submit maps and plans at pre-defined scales and in prescribed formats. Such is the volume of work, we needed a solution to make the production of these maps as quick and cost effective as possible.”

Crucially for Windcrop, they need to be able to generate Ordnance Survey map data at all the scales required by local authority planning departments across the country. These include 1:200, 1:500, 1:1 000 and 1:1 250 scale.

Simon explained: “Different local authorities have different requirements and because we work in so many areas we needed a flexible solution. If we couldn’t supply to the required scales and formats we simply wouldn’t be able to have our applications validated.”

Now equipped with the online Plans Ahead platform, Windcrop can generate three different kinds of mapping. The first is a large-scale block plan at 1: 500. This is ideal for showing the distances between the proposed turbine and existing buildings and natural features on site.

The second is a site location plan at 1: 2 500 scale showing the extent of the client’s land ownership and its relationship with neighbouring properties.

Simon added: “We can annotate any of these data outputs very easily and quickly. For example on the block plan, some authorities require us to show a proposed turbine as a circle while others need a triangle. We simply add the relevant details on top of the map. In the same way, we can show detail such as the width of an access route and how a cable will run from the turbine to the grid connection.”

Plans Ahead offers an easy to use online interface that requires no specialist GIS knowledge. As it is hosted, there are also no data storage worries and users can make changes to their plans online at no additional cost. This provides visibility of the planning process and an excellent means of managing and tracking the development lifecycle of a project.

In addition, the operating rules simplify licensing and guarantee copyright of map data for use in the relevant planning application.

Summarising the benefits, Simon concluded: “Plans Ahead has helped us reduce the time it takes to put applications together, in some cases by as much as half.”

How we arrived at the numbers

We asked the Brattle Group to investigate the macroeconomic impacts of building a commercial-scale offshore wind industry in the United States. It based its work on three underlying, well-established principles:

As technologies mature, their costs decline.

“In the presence of unpriced externalities,”—for example, in the case of electricity generation, carbon and other health-related costs of pollution from burning fossil fuels—“new technologies cannot compete effectively with existing, more mature technologies.”

The future costs of both renewable and fossil-fired electricity generation are “highly uncertain,” so ensuring mature technologies exist across a spectrum of sources is “equivalent to buying insurance against the risk that the current, incumbent and cheaper technologies will be more expensive … in the future.”

Pursuing offshore wind as a viable source of renewable energy is therefore a means of not putting all our eggs in one basket when it comes to ensuring an affordable energy future, particularly when accounting for the likelihood that at some point the external costs of carbon pollution might be incorporated into the cost of energy generation.

The study assumes three different estimates of a so-called learning rate—the speed at which the industry would be able to cut costs based on lessons learned from past experience. The slow learning-rate scenario involves a high starting cost and a learning rate of 3 percent annually. The medium scenario starts with a cost that is equivalent to the first proposed projects in the United States—but still below the current cost in Europe—and a learning rate of 5 percent. And the high scenario starts at the European price point and a learning rate of 10 percent. The report defines a learning rate as “the rate at which costs decline for each doubling of the installed capacity.”

The three key measurements that the analysis focused on were the projected average increase in cost to ratepayers; and the date and investment required to bring offshore wind to a point where it costs the same as traditional energy sources, referred to as “grid parity”; and an estimate of the overall investment required to develop the proposed 54 megawatts of offshore wind capacity.

One last note about the figures in the study: Because of the uncertainty surrounding U.S. tax policy as it relates to renewable energy production, the Brattle Group did not include subsidies in its estimate of the cost of offshore wind. In January 2012 Congress extended both the production tax credit and the investment tax credit for offshore wind through the end of 2013. If the current tax structure remains in place, the numbers contained in this report will look significantly better for the offshore wind industry.

Of course, getting the offshore wind industry off the ground in the United States will require an upfront investment, and in its analysis, the Brattle Group found that a build-out to 54 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity would require an investment ranging from $18.5 billion to $52 billion—“assuming some greenhouse gas externalities are included in the market price.”

To place this figure in context, the Brattle Group also explored subsidies to other existing energy technologies and found them to be “comparable in size” to the investment required to develop America’s offshore wind industry. Domestic oil subsidies, for example, from 1950to 2010 totaled approximately $369 billion, while coal subsidies totaled $104 billion, and natural gas totaled $121 billion. Recall that these subsidies are for industries that are already decades old and, as in the case of oil and gas, are making annual profits in excess of $100 billion industrywide.

Baldwin Wallace University commits to solar

BEREA Roofs are becoming Baldwin Wallace University’s crowning glory in going green. One of its buildings — R. Amelia Harding House for Sustainable Living — has a roof garden and some solar panels.

The top of the Center for Innovation & Growth now has 416 solar panels on its roof along Front Street. The system was completed last week.

“The system on the Harding House has a small 8 kilowatt system,” said David Krueger, BW’s co-director of sustainability program and director of the Institute for Sustainable Business Practice.

The 105kW installation on the CIG roof will offset about 50 percent of the energy consumed by the building.

“Coupled with the building’s existing geothermal and cooling system, it should come close to producing a carbon-free building. No power from fossil fuel,” Krueger said.

The building was chosen because it is new, flat and shade-free. That makes it is ideally suited for solar capability.

BW made the commitment to work together with Cleveland-based Go Sol, LLC on this project, similar to the Harding House.

Go Sol will own and operate the system, selling BW all of the solar-generated power for a rate that will be less than standard utility rates. Cleveland-based Bold Alternatives designed and installed the solar array.

“We thoroughly enjoyed working with Baldwin Wallace University to complete this project,” said Rob Martens, Bold Alternatives’ president.

Krueger said there is an immediate cost savings, with BW having no capital expenditure for the project.

“The company will give us the system for free when they recover their costs. That is all included in the contract, including maintenance.”

An added feature occurs when the system generates more than the building requires.

“In that case, the excess energy will be transported next to our science center (Telfer/Wilker halls),” Krueger said. “We will use all available energy since the buildings are all metered and connected together.”

BW is the first Ohio university with an undergraduate interdisciplinary sustainability major as well as an MBA program. It offers many “green” practices throughout its campus, including a small wind turbine, geo-thermal buildings, on-campus bio-diesel fuel production that uses kitchen grease to operate campus vehicles, rain gardens, an industrial composter and other measures.

“We hope this will be the first of many large-scale solar projects,” Krueger said. “The university is open to future renewable energy projects. This latest project is part of a large commitment to lead in sustainability that includes the adoption of clean renewable energy sources.”

Students will be able to view real time data display of the energy produced by CIG’s solar panels.

“As a result of that request, I have ordered air traffic at the Van Wert airport to cease as of 11:59 p.m. today for a period of six hours for his clearance in Van Wert,” Mayor Farmer noted, adding that Santa also made a special request that the lights of the wind turbines in the area be illuminated on the north side of Van Wert for clearance purposes, but that the wind turbines also be shut down for the same period, starting at 11:59 tonight, so their blades don’t interfere with his flight.

Santa said the wind turbine lights would help Rudolph with his low-level approach, and safety was Santa’s concern.

The Jolly Old Elf noted that he was surprised by the recent wind turbine construction and nearly collided with one of the large structures, adding that he would be trying hard to avoid them this year.

He also requested that all local children be asleep by 11 p.m., at the latest, and noted that city residents have been good overall this year (those who weren’t know who they are) and added that it should be a good Christmas this year for the city.