Thursday 6 December 2012

Texas wind power sets a record, but continues to take it up a notch
30 Nov 2012

As reported in Renew Economy on Nov. 30, 2012, that a new wind power record was set by the state of Texas. The percentage of wind power utilized among the entire state grid has achieved a 26% of total supply of wind power generated for Texas.

In west Texas, wind farms generated 7,000 MW of power, and the wind turbines of the Gulf of Mexico generated around 1,000 MW. There was a total of 8,521 MW generated by wind power in early November. It was a slight rise from the previous record of which it only has risen by 150 MWs. The amount of electricity generated was enough to bring electricity to 4.3 million homes in Texas.

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, this represented 85% of the state's optimal wind power output.

We have surpassed previous wind power records several times this year," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT vice president of Grid Operations and System Planning. "While added capacity is one reason for this growth, experience and improved tools are enabling ERCOT to integrate this resource into the grid more effectively than ever before.

Texas is now considered to be the state with the most installed wind capacity in the US Consisting of 10,929 MW. There is currently a focus on wind power resources in west Texas to be channeled to the eastern high population areas where activity and energy demand is at its highest.

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Chalmers researchers develop synthetic molecules to store solar energy
29 Nov 2012

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and University of California, Berkeley have developed a system which can store solar power in chemical bonds. The system is based on a synthetic molecule that is changed by sunlight. The molecule can be transported and stored for several years and then used to generate heat on demand.

​Many researchers believe that using the sun as the energy source offers the best opportunities for developing a sustainable energy system. One challenge in this area is to find efficient storage methods for saving the captured energy and transporting it to other locations.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have made progress in developing an "all-in-one" system for the capture, storage and use of solar power. The method is known as the thermochemical process. It attracted a lot of interest during the 1980s, but researchers at the time were unable to resolve the issue. Two years ago, a group of American researchers demonstrated that the method is theoretically possible. Chalmers researchers Kasper Moth-Poulsen and Karl Boerjesson, working with researchers from University of California, Berkeley in California, have now progressed from theory to practical devices.

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Wednesday 5 December 2012

Fanning fear: the wind farm nocebo effect
28 Nov 2012

Most wind farms around the world have no history of complaints, but the few that do have seen the local area targeted by external activists who spread panic. Simon Chapman reflects on the nonsense claims of anti-wind farm activists.

Later today, the Senate will release the report of a committee into a Private Senators' Bill examining the proposal that wind turbines should not be accredited if the sound emitted exceeds 10 decibels of the background noise at any time, measured within 22 metres of a house.

The Bill was proposed by Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan and independent Senator Nick Xenophon. Both have form in expressing opposition to wind farms. Like Don Quixote who tilted at windmills, Madigan previously claimed (PDF) he was fighting a "sinister" and "dangerous" industry and Xenophon believes turbines affect brain activity.

No one following the latest historical example of what is quite plainly technophobic Luddism has any doubt that the tabling will see a minority report that the proposed standard be adopted. The bill will be defeated on party lines, with the Greens supporting the Government. But it has provided a conduit for a Niagara of mostly boilerplate protest material from the tiny but highly organised opponent groups.

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Todays's expected report will contain the equivalent nonsense about wind farms. It will make interesting reading 10 years from now.

Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the Sydney University. He tweets @simonchapman6.

Senate Environment and Communciations Legislation Committee – Report
Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment (Excessive Noise from Wind Farms) Bill 2012