Thursday 12 December 2013

Waubra wind farm: locals petition to save town's name
5 Nov 2013

A GROUP of Waubra residents say they don't want the debate about wind turbines and health to end. But they do want the name of their town left out of it. Waubra residents have collected more than 300 signatures of people within the town and the wider community, calling on the Waubra Foundation to remove the name Waubra from its title.

The Waubra Foundation describes itself as a national organisation to conduct research into health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines. The petition was sent to the Waubra Foundation last week. Karen Molloy, one of the residents who started the petition, admits she does have wind towers on her own property.

However, she says, of the 315 signatories, only 28 actually host wind farms. "We've collected over 300 signatures, including 179 from the Waubra community", she says. "The others are all people affiliated with the town, such as footballers and netballers, and people who used to live here. "Even some people who weren't for the wind towers were happy to sign. This is not about the towers, it is about the community and its reputation outside. "The towers have been here for five years. It is time to get over it". Ten residents collected signatures for the petition.

One of them was Doug Hobson, who says the focus of anti-wind farm sentiment on Waubra has tarnished the town's reputation. He says most people in the town would describe it as a great place to live but a scan of the internet would not reveal that. "Waubra is associated with wind towers. We don't mind that," he says. "With the turbines people actually take more notice of our town as they pass through.

"But when you Google 'Waubra' the first thing that comes up is something negative about our town. People would think that everyone in Waubra doesn't like wind farms, and that is not the case." Marcia and Kerryn Gallagher agree. "Even if there is a disease we're campaigning for people to stop calling it Waubra disease and start calling it a wind turbine disease," Marcia Gallagher says.

"I met some people who had come down from Queensland and they actually felt sorry for me because they thought I had some kind of disease." Kerryn Gallagher says the name Waubra Foundation is misleading. "When you look at the word 'foundation', it is a strong word that means a strong base. So when the 'foundation' says we have an illness or sickness, people take it seriously and it's wrong," she says. "We're happy if they continue with their campaign against wind power but we simply want our name back."

Margaret McDonald says most people in Waubra would know someone in the town who has experienced health issues attributed to the wind towers. She says those who organised the petition did not want to trivialise their concerns. "We empathise with the people who feel that they are unwell," she says. "This not about the debate about wind farms. The debate will go on but we have to respect each other. We want to take the name Waubra out of the debate."

Cutting energy costs with technology trials
4 Nov 2013

Telstra is working on a new way to feed solar power into its telephone exchanges, one of several initiatives underway to reduce its reliance on coal-fired electricity. The carrier's director of asset and facilities management, John Romano, told iTnews the "new solar design" is being worked on by an internal technology team with the aid of consultants.

"We've come up with a new solution on how we feed our sites with solar, and we're in the process of getting a few trials done around the country," he said. "It looks viable but we've got to test it. In three months we'll better understand if it's viable."

Some Telstra exchanges currently have the ability to run equipment on a mix of mains and solar power, but the number is partially kept low by the cost and potential benefit. "What we do is feed the site with mains power and solar, so we reduce the cost and use of mains power," Romano said. "The solar panels are cheap but putting them on some of our sites and building them large enough to actually provide any benefit costs a fair bit".

The systems also typically provide only about "four or five hours a day" of benefit to an exchange site. But Telstra sees a far bigger future for solar and other renewable energy sources, such as tri-generation, biofuel and fuel-cell technology, which it made standard for back-up supplies to mobile towers and small exchanges last week.

"Ultimately it would be fantastic if we had to use no energy from coal to keep our sites running," Romano said. "That'd be the ultimate objective, but that's never going to happen while I'm alive. [For now] it's about what can we do with some of the new technologies that will enable us to use less coal power."

Telstra has about eight trials running Australia-wide trialling various renewable energy sources to power telecommunications exchanges and equipment. Romano is more or less in the same boat as other testers in Australia — trying to find a business case to deploy technology that is at various stages of maturity.

"Some of this technology may not be viable now but it may be in three years," he said. "We're going to continue to assess [the technologies] and if they're viable we'll roll them out."

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Saudi Arabia, Emirates lead charge on Mideast solar power
1 Nov 2013

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the world's leading oil producers, are spearheading a Middle Eastern drive to develop solar power, with plans for projects requiring $1.5 billion in investment by the end of 2014.
The program, designed to free up for export increasing amounts of oil and gas being used domestically for power generation, got a major endorsement from the Arab Forum for Environment and Development Monday.

It urged Arab states to re-evaluate their relationship with oil, the economic mainstay of the Arab world since the 1950s, and phase out state energy subsidies to focus investment in developing renewable energy. "Oil and gas are important, they will continue to be important," said Najib Saab, the forum's secretary-general. "We call for more careful use of oil and gas and for more serious development of renewable energy."

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter with declared reserves of 267 billion barrels, and the neighboring Emirates, a federation of seven gulf sheikdoms with reserves of 98 billion barrels, seek to add 1,000 MWs of solar capacity over the next few years to meet fast-growing industrial and social demand. That's enough to provide electricity for 200,000 homes.

While the producers want to conserve more of their oil output for exports, particularly with prices above $100 a barrel, Arab countries that rely on imported fuel see carbon-free power as a cheaper alternative.

From Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean eastward to the gulf sultanate of Oman on the Indian Ocean, governments are turning to alternative energy, driven primarily by a lack of gas for power generation, the fall in the cost of renewable technologies and their constantly improving efficiency.

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Wal-Mart now draws more solar power than 38 US States
25 Oct 2013

In the race for commercial solar power, Wal-Mart is killing it. The company now has almost twice as much capacity as second-place Costco. A better comparison: Wal-Mart is converting more sun into energy than 38 US states.

In the beer department, Wal-Mart recently decided alcohol was good business and vowed to double sales by 2016. The result: 500 reps from the alcohol industry converged on the Sam's Club auditorium in Bentonville, Arkansas, for an "adult beverages summit" focused on Wal-Mart. "It's even selling it in garden centers", Bloomberg News's Renee Dudley wrote in August.

With solar, will Wal-Mart have the same industry-focusing presence its had with booze? If small business is the heart of the US economy, Wal-Mart is the gluteus maximus--the power muscle. The company redefines global supply chains and crunches cost reductions in just about every area it touches. More than 80 publicly traded companies rely on Wal-Mart for 10% or more of their annual revenue, according to Bloomberg data.

"When we find something that works we go big with it", the company's website proclaims.

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Waubra disease a furphy
24 Oct 2013

Waubra disease does not exist.

In my view it is a name dreamt up by the Australian Landscape Guardians group for what has always been known as wind turbine syndrome.

Others followed suit for their own ends, such as gaining publicity for the so-called Waubra Foundation. This group of people owes the community of Waubra an apology for the damage they have done to the town's reputation. More important, they owe our schoolchildren a heartfelt and public apology for the psychological pain inflicted on them when they and their parents saw full-page ads claiming Waubra disease could make them ill.

Some children panicked every time they had a cold or any other normal childhood illness. It was a cruel hoax and someone needs to be accountable. Yes, Waubra does have a wind farm, but in a community of more than 500 people only about 1.3% are vehemently opposed to it. The rest are in favour of it or don't mind either way. Life goes on as it has for more than 100 years in a great community.

We still produce award-winning potatoes, crops, wool and fat lambs. Waubra Primary School is thriving, full of happy, healthy, carefree students. Yes, local groups such as the CFA, school, kinder, sports clubs, Landcare groups and others receive financial assistance from the wind farm, but that happens any time a large company moves into a local neighbourhood.

It is not "buying" those in it. It is showing appreciation to people for allowing their company to grow and prosper there. I don't have a problem with Landscape Guardians or individuals who have complaints of ill health or depression that they attribute to the wind farm.

I do, however, have a problem with those who have never lived in Waubra who perpetrated an outrageous lie, tarnished the reputation of the community which, far from being divided and fractured, is a united one full of mutual support.

I believe Waubra is owed an apology and statements that use the name Waubra disease should be retracted. Call it what it is-wind turbine syndrome-and let Waubra be known for what is it, one of the best farming areas in the country with property prices increasing. Visit our town and our wind farm. Only then will you know the truth.

Marsha Gallagher is a Waubra resident with turbines on her property.

Monday 9 December 2013

Wave energy turbine on the way
21 Oct 2013

THE countdown to the arrival of the world's first 1MW wave energy converter off the coast of Port McDonnell is underway with Sydney-based company Oceanlinx Limited set to launch the project this week. See your ad here The converter-called greenWAVE-will be connected to the electricity grid in South Australia by the end of the year and is expected to put the South East on the world renewable energy map.

The company has released the first photographs of the groundbreaking unit's turbine, which will soon be part of the seascape off Port MacDonnell. Constructed and to be launched into the water from TechPort in Adelaide on Friday, the $7m project will be the first of its kind to be commissioned in the world.

The demonstration unit received $4m from the Federal Government in a bid to make the project ready for market. The unit-which is on track for a December completion-will be grid-connected and rigorously tested throughout 2014.

The 3000 tonne demonstration unit will be on display at TechPort before being towed to its final location a few km off the coast of Port MacDonnell. The unit has a rated capacity of 1MW, which can supply power to about 1000 homes. Oceanlinx managing director Ali Baghaei said the converter was based on the oscillating water column principle.

He said the technology was one of the wave energy sector's most tested and matured technologies. Mr Baghaei said the unit was completely environmentally friendly, sitting under its own weight on the seabed in shallow water with no anchors, mooring or attachment to the seabed. "It is expected to act as an artificial reef for sea life", Mr Baghaei said.

"It has no moving parts under the water and is designed to withstand the most aggressive sea conditions, while there is ease of access to the weather-tight powerhouse placed above the sea level, so the life management costs are kept to the minimum". He said Oceanlinx had demonstrated three test platforms in the ocean over the past 16 years. See your ad here "It was the first company to achieve the full grid connection of a test platform in Australia in 2010", Mr Baghaei said.

"With an end to end solution, its technologies are globally patented and provide versatility for application in conjunction with a wide range of areas such as offshore platforms, breakwater construction, desalination and provision of energy and water to remote locations. "As a leading technology provider in the wave energy conversion sector, Oceanlinx is in discussion with a number of international entities to develop multiple units of this technology".

Avaco hikes conversion efficiency by 30 percent in CIGS solar cells
20 Oct 2013

The company's new ALD process system can provide a solution for buffer layer optimisation in the dry process to effectively convert solar power during photovoltaic development process Avaco has developed a new concept of buffer layer deposition for photovoltaic products.

By using Avaco's atomic layer deposition (ALD) process, the energy conversion efficiency improved to approximately 30% higher than the conventional CIGS solar cell that uses CdS for the buffer layer. The new process enhanced quantum efficiency in both the short wavelength range and near infrared range.

The quantum jump in the short circuit current improvement in the VICOSC-VICOSC curve contributed to higher efficiency CIGS solar cell without affecting the open circuit voltage, Voc. What's more, Avaco has confirmed that its new buffer layer deposition technique can be applied to a wide range of CIGS absorbers regardless of the preparation methods.

"We are pleased with the latest ALD addition in our system product portfolio", says Chuck Kim, business development director of Avaco, "Expansion of our core technology further strengthens and broadens our offering of deposition process solutions enabling Avaco to continue to provide our customers with innovative and leading-edge technology solutions to address today's manufacturing challenges".

Avaco will be showcasing its products at booth #751, and/or education poster presentation at booth #4806 at Solar Power International (SPI) 2013 in Chicago.

Avaco, a publicly traded company headquartered in Daegu, South Korea, is a global supplier of thin-film processing equipment and specialises in the manufacture of sputtering (PVD) vacuum deposition equipment (in-line, cluster, and roll to roll type), ALD equipment, various BEOL equipment, and factory automation equipment such as clean stocker, clean crane, and overhead transfer system for large-scale substrates.

Avaco is known for delivering mass production manufacturing equipment that encompasses all aspects related to thin-film coating such as TCO, metal electrode, and dielectric layer.

The firm uses many target materials for its sputtering system. These include Ag, AGZO, Al, Al2O3, AlNd, AZO, CIGS, Cr, Cu, CuGa, CuIn, GZO, IGZO, In, ITO, IZO, Mo, MoTi, MoW, Ni, Se, SiO2, TiO2, ZnO and others with DC, pulsed-DC, and MF utilising a single or dual magnetron source.

Wind turbines are quieter than a heartbeat, acoustical experts find
24 Sep 2013

One complaint voiced by wind turbine opponents is that the turbines create too much noise — even noise below the range of human hearing, known as infrasound. These concerns fuel claims about "Wind Turbine Syndrome," which advocates say is a medical condition that involves mental health problems, heart disease, and vertigo.

A study by an acoustic engineering group in Australia found that that infrasound generated by wind turbines is less loud than the infrasound created by a listener's own heartbeat. It found that wind turbine infrasound does increase as wind speed increases, but this is often masked by the natural noise of wind moving through the area.

The Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants said that "those investigations conclude that infrasound levels adjacent to wind farms are below the threshold of perception and below currently accepted limits set for infrasound."