Library filed under Technology from Virginia
Turning algae into fuel? Building a windmill on Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay? Setting wind turbines miles off the Virginia Beach coast? The ideas might sound futuristic, but they are the primary alternative-energy projects that the state will support with $1.5 million in research grants, to be awarded next week.
Some call it a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, but others point to significant environmental costs. In Kansas, where winds blow strong, the push for clean energy includes not only new wind turbines but also new nuclear-power plants as part of a "carbon-free" solution to climate change. It's an idea that may be catching on. At least 11 new nuclear plants are in the design stage in nine states, including Virginia, Texas, and Florida, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute website. But that carbon-free pitch has researchers asking anew: How carbon-free is nuclear power? And how cost-effective is it in the fight to slow global warming? "Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."
Rick Webb's presentation on October 17 at the Energy Virginia conference provides a thought provoking analysis of the costs and benefits of industrial wind energy.
STUARTS DRAFT — When the sun goes down, the homemade passive solar heater for Richard Murphy's tractor barn shuts off. He's confident that his 1.8 kilowatt wind turbine will pick up the slack. Thursday afternoon, the Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals granted Murphy a special use permit for a 35-foot tower at his aptly named Windy Hill Lane residence. But Murphy doesn't plan to leave the grid. In fact, his three-blade, 220-volt alternator will feed directly into his breaker box, easing the draw of his all-electric house on his utility meter. When he generates more than he uses, state law insists that the utility buys his surplus. "I estimate I can cut my electrical bill between 20 and 30 percent," he said. "Payback will happen in about 12 years."
Q. Please state your name and position. A. My name is Charles Simmons and I have been retained to provide assistance to Highland Citizens in regard to the application of Highland New Wind Development, LLC to construct a wind generation facility in Highland County. Editor's Note:This testimony provides an excellent description of how a grid works- particularly the role of 'economic dispatch' and 'spinning reserves'. It also addresses the methodology for estimating emissions savings and numerous other topics of interest.