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There has been little complaint about the Hull turbines and they are considered by most in town to be proud beacons of energy responsibility. The Falmouth turbines are controversial and dividing the town. Interestingly, the Hull turbines went in before the cottage industry of wind bashing had been developed. Falmouth went in after.
Hull 2 – This was built before the cottage industry of anti-wind folks. These homes are in a quieter ambient sound area due to lower speeds on nearby roads. They are closer to the turbine as well. And yet the outcry has been quite limited.
I have personally spoken to a Hull neighbor of the turbine. She initially did not like it. Her children did though. And once it was in and operating she actually become an advocate.
Hull 2 is a 1.8 MW turbine and is 160 m from the nearest home with a number of other homes being within 200m. It is also worth noting that the topography, layout of buildings and vegetation are such that the homes are somewhat shielded from the sound from the nearest busy road.
The Falmouth turbines are somewhat smaller weighing in at 1.6 MW. The nearest neighbor is more than twice as far as the Hull nearest neighbor, at 335 m and they are on the other side of a divided highway. There are several other homes that are less than 400m from the turbines with the rest being further away.
Another highly controversial turbine is in Kingston MA. This turbine was built in a commercial area atop a landfill. Across Rte. 3, one of the busiest highways in Massachusetts there is a small residential neighborhood. While those in opposition portray this as a quiet leafy suburb, the fact is that the folks complaining most vociferously live in homes that are roughly 125 m from Rte. 3. The Kingston Turbine is 2 MW.
Note that in the screen shots I have been careful to include the coordinates so these can easily be found.
I have been looking into NE Electricity rates to see what the implications of declining natural gas inventories will likely be. In summary, I think that people who have an opportunity to lock in today’s rates will benefit.
Much of NE Electricity is generated by burning natural gas. Gas comes from basic supplies on an as needed basis and from reserves stored at various sites. These reserves are headed down well below the average and some are saying possibly to record lows. While breaking the record may be a bit hyperbolic, no doubt we are in unusual territory. We started 2014 at 5 year lows and it has just gotten worse from there . Prices have been relatively slow to respond until recently. However spot market prices are now moving pretty quickly to make up for lost time and have reached levels not seen since 2008 .
The exact impact on electricity prices is still uncertain. Power companies often are able to spread transient cost spikes out over time minimizing their impact. This is very common, for example, with high air conditioning peaks in the summer. However during the winter, both electric power and home heating work in concert to diminish supplies of gas so transients last longer and take longer to correct for. That seems to be what is happening now.
During the spring and summer months demand for gas will have to address the normal generation + replenishing the reserves. Add to that the fact that if the winter weather remains cold they will have to start later and we have the recipe for a long term demand scenario. I think this will force natural gas prices and electricity prices up significantly. The author of this NY Times article seems to agree.
A third party supplier that can offer a contract price over a period of time may be a great option for those who are concerned about price volatility. National Grid and NStar, for example, adjust their price twice a year. Their next adjustment is in June. Today’s prices, that they can charge, are locked in. In June they will change prices in response to the market conditions. It is hard for me to understand how they can go anywhere but up.
Fossil fuel apologists often point to apparent equivalencies of land use by wind power and coal power. When not upset by it, I find it perversely fascinating. Much of the wind farm acreage is in agricultural farm and ranch-land. The usage is highly symbiotic and there is negligible environmental damage. See the Indiana wind farm below. Note that the land is relatively flat and the access roads are gravel so rainwater will perk harmlessly into the ground water table. Also erosion will be minimal. Most importantly, if it is decided to remove the turbines, the land can revert to prior use pretty much instantaneously with no degradation.
Contrast wind with coal, particularly mountaintop removal. In traditional strip mining, “overburden” was removed, the coal removed and then the overburden was replaced. Something approaching reclamation could be achieved. With Mountaintop removal, the land is forever changed and degraded. The ecosystems are forever changed and, perhaps most importantly, the hydrology is forever changed. The mountains are converted from solid rock to porous rubble. Stream chemistry is changed dramatically. Stream flow rate change with higher peak flows i.e. flooding is worse.
There is much about coal and wind that has not been monetized and so fossil fuel apologists consider it appropriate to omit all aspects that cannot be monetized. An antidote to this is to provide qualitative responses until there is some rational discussion of best estimates of those harder to monetize externalities. This site does a nice job of doing that in the arena of coal. And here is another site that discusses the comparison of coal vs renewables.
Same site up close showing that it is not simply an overburden removal but blasting 100′s of feet of solid rock.
Here is an earlier post on recent coal related stream pollution.
Additional visuals on the scale of coal mining and environmental destruction.
Here is an amazing map of the US showing wind speeds dynamically.
And here is one showing the entire earth
So many people have tried to argue that the EV is a step back in convenience. But the Jury is back and it has found in favor of the electric car. See this article for details about how EVs are topping satisfaction surveys.
electric vehicle, EV, convenience, satisfaction, driver satisfaction, Tesla, Leaf, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt
With its announcement of financing for their Giga Factory along with announcements of partnerships with Panasonic and Apple, it looks like Elon Musk is going to make good on his promise to drive down the cost of batteries used in everything from laptop computers to electric vehicles.
Tesla announces Giga Factory on its blog suggesting a reality that had heretofore been but a credible rumor.
The project outline shows a factory, supplied by renewables (what percentage? Made by what companies?) that will produce as much Lithium Ion battery capacity as currently is produced worldwide. The project a 30% cost reduction by 2017. This suggests that the 2020 cost reduction number, when they reach full production, could be considerably higher.
Also of note, and heartening, is that the US will become a dominant, possibly the dominant, producer of Lithium Ion batteries in the world. Apparent agreements with Panasonic and Apple computer suggest that they plan to become the leader in battery technology. This supports my thesis that Tesla plans to blow open the utility storage market, with DemandLogic being only the first foray.
And in Other Tesla News the Tesla Model S is once again named Consumer Reports car of the year. Not electric car of the year, simply car of the year.
A good article on Tesla can be found here.
Laying waste to the myth of tesla fires.
Tesla, Elon Musk, Giga Factory, gigafactory, consumer reports, Tesla model S, model S, demandlogic
Causation does not necessarily follow from correlation.
Post where I am aggregating Lithium Ion information and articles.
This article is a good starting point though I think it is already out of date concerning costs. It covers a lot of details about the various aspects of Li-Ion that make it a technology far superior to lead acid. From cycle endurance to voltage stability through charge cycle to temperature performance.
Cycle Life Charactorization of Automotive Lithium Ion Batteries – Nice paper studying impact of cycling LiIon batteries.
Cost Projections – This post aggregates cost projection data.
Lithium Supply – Concerns have been raised about Lithium Ion batteries but it appears that there is good availability of the raw materials and the batteries are highly recyclable so material will be kept in the ecosystem once it enters.