Library filed under Technology from Pennsylvania
An Upper Moreland company is seeking a $1 million state grant to develop a combination solar and wind turbine that it is touting as "the world's first hybrid renewable energy technology." Precision Assembly Inc., on the 2300 block of Computer Avenue, is partnering with Bluenergy Solarwind Inc., to develop the turbines, which would harness both wind and solar energy and would be sold to owners of commercial or residential buildings to provide clean energy, according to Paul Stepanoff, the company's chief executive officer.
Attorneys on different sides of a windmill dispute in Fayette County can agree on at least one aspect of the 262-foot-tall turbines: the hulking structures can't be camouflaged. "A wind turbine can be seen. You can't hide it," said Dan Rullo, attorney for Iberdrola Resources, formerly PPM Energy. ...The project has been on hold since March 11, when the zoning hearing board denied the company's request for a special exception and variances for 24 of the turbines. The matter went before a judge Thursday after Iberdrola filed a civil suit appealing the board's denial.
They're too noisy, too big and too clunky. And they kill bats and birds. Those are key criticisms about harnessing the wind and converting Mother Nature's fury into energy via a wind turbine, which might be better known as a windmill. Karl Douglass, an engineer with a degree from Drexel University, went about trying to remedy those complaints and he believes he's done that. Sometime this summer, his Omniwind Energy Systems of Dublin in Central Bucks will begin production on a wind turbine that he says is quiet, relatively compact and environmentally friendly. ..."You wouldn't even have seen windmills in Pennsylvania not long ago, but still it's a small amount in the overall scheme," Wood added. "Solar, wind, biomass are nice, but they're a niche, they only fulfill a small percentage of our needs."
[P]urchasers of green energy will find that wind energy produced in Pennsylvania is much more expensive than wind produced in, say, Montana. This mainly has to do with the location of wind resources. Montana has more areas with a higher sustained four wind than Pennsylvania. Also, since Montana is less densely populated, there are fewer troubles in siting the windfarms. The drawback, obviously, is that Montana is very far away, and electricity grids lose power over long distances. However, some researchers in Europe claim to have found a solution: DC current.
In 2005, Tyrone Borough Forester, Paul Noll, of Noll's Forestry Services, Inc. wrote the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Plan based on the 3,800 acre borough watershed property. Recently, Noll issued a recommendation/ suggestion summary report on the property concerning the possible Gamesa Energy USA wind farm installation and the issues that need to be addressed at the watershed property as a whole. ...In Noll's recent report, he stated that he would be "in favor of having the wind towers erected on the watershed property because you will be disturbing only a small area of the property, but the money you receive from the towers can be used to improve other areas of the watershed property."
The business community by and large opposes Rendell's plan saying it smacks too much of government mandate and letting public officials pick which businesses will be "winners" in the race to build new green technology, Barr said [an official with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry]. "I think we have to be cautious about government betting on a technology that may not be viable in 10 to 15 years," he added.
If, as Jon Grisham predicts, energy costs rise in the coming years, adding the turbine will save the family money. That's all assuming the family stays in the house for another couple of decades. "Technology that cost about $60,000 10 years ago costs about [$15,000] to $18,000 all of a sudden," he said. "It's worth a home equity loan for the investment."
Wind gusts throughout the county Monday and Tuesday caused some damage, however there were no major problems, according to Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency. “A couple of trees. No power outages,” emergency management Coordinator Arthur D. Kaplan said Tuesday............Joe Green, project director for the Locust Ridge Wind Farm in Mahanoy and East Union Townships said gusts blowing through the region Monday and Tuesday would not be problematic for the 13 wind turbines that now generate power at the facility. “Extremely high winds might be a problem,” Green said, but added that when buffeted by gusts higher than 55 mph, the immense 407 foot high turbines simply stop operating. “Blowing over isn’t an issue,” Green said. He said at wind gusts above 24 mph the turbines have already reached maximum output capacity and cannot use the additional energy created anyway. Instead, Green said gusts too high can damage the gears and other internal mechanisms used to move the giant 135-foot long blades that chop the air, generating the energy the wind farm produces.
• Tom Susko of the Bald Mountain Wind Farm said freezing temperatures caused the turbines to create in February less than half of the energy budgeted for that month.
Some people say these wind turbines look like corkscrews or a piece of Twizzlers candy. And these uniquely designed wind machines cost about a third the price of conventional wind turbines, according to the Canadian startup company that is building and marketing them. Windaus Energy of Brantford, Ontario, says its wind turbines can be easily scaled for use in residential backyards or large commercial wind farms. In addition to their lower cost, they appear to address some, but not all, of the issues that have riled opponents of wind power. "We have interest from all over the world," said Maurice Deschamps, a former crane operator who is president of Windaus Energy -- pronounced win-DAY-us. "I get it from Argentina, China, India, all over." His wind turbines have no "swoosh" noise and do not kill birds or bats, two problems that have made existing wind-turbine designs controversial, he said. The bird-friendly claim has not been independently verified, and some people are skeptical. Nevertheless, the Windaus turbine doesn't have the typical propeller blades used on conventional wind turbines, such as the ones along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset County. These blades range in length from about 100 to 300 feet. Instead, Windaus employs a vertical column with three twisting wings made of a light but strong composite material. The wings catch the wind from any direction and operate at lower wind speeds.
"When it's not drawing more than it's generating, then the extra energy goes back into PPL's grid," said Township Engineer Kevin Harrison.
The debate was put into a proper perspective by the Times-Tribune newspaper in Scranton., which wrote: “America’s future as a world power and leading economy will be determined largely by its ability to meet the increasing demand for energy, while weaning itself from foreign oil and protecting the environment.
UNIVERSITY PARK -- Converting agricultural commodities into energy can help the environment, reduce the country's reliance on foreign oil and open new markets for farmers, according to experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. To illustrate the benefits of biofuels and other renewable energy sources, faculty and extension specialists from the college will present exhibits at the Pennsylvania Clean Energy Expo, March 31-April 1 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's University Park campus.
"These projects are very expensive and wouldn't happen without tax subsidies," he [Glenn Schleede] said. "Ordinary taxpayers are getting taken to the cleaners on this."
Capacity Factor by Month: (1) Mountaineer Windplant, WV, (2) Meyersdale Windplant, PA, (3) Mill Run Windplant, PA, and (4) Waymart Windplant, PA. This information, by month, highlights the issue of whether wind is available when electricity is needed. The charts reflect strong winds in the winter months and considerably lighter winds in the summer when demand for electricity is expected to peak.