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Nature_and_Environment.3

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Hot off the press!

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.25}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 21:35:00 CDT (HTML)

Suzanne, you slipped. Sure, and I give one solution at the bottom of this post. But there is nothing that has frustrated me in this business more than the pie in the sky promises that never pan out. This isn't the first "small rooftop turbine" and it likely won't be the last. But the physics just don't support it.

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Well, even in Kansas or Nebraska unless you are outside of town it won't do much good. Those places are really ripe for harvesting wind power with decent sized wind turbines.

I live at 9000' in the Rockies in an alternative energy powered home. Part of my original power system included the Air 303. It provided no good usable energy unless the wind speeds were over 20mph (also a function of altitude). It too was marketed as a "quiet" turbine for rooftop mounting. I know some people who did that who couldn't get the damn things off their roof fast enough, the noise drove them crazy. The speeds at which those turbines have to turn means vibration, there is no avoiding it. Plus it isn't just a function of how fast it can turn but how much power it can transfer. The blades on those Scottish things look so tiny and thin that they couldn't transfer much power at all.

At best I'd wager they are really nice kinetic sculptures but that is about it. If you have adequate wind it makes far more sense to get a 1-2 kilowatt wind turbine at a minimum, mount it on a tower high enough to get out of the turbulence of low trees and structures. You'll get far more bang for the buck that way.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.26}: {sggriffith} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 21:40:06 CDT (0 lines)
{erased by sggriffith Tue, 01 Jun 2004 21:40:21 CDT}

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.27}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 21:40:35 CDT (1 line)

That's definitely not an option on 1/3 acre.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.28}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 21:44:47 CDT (HTML)

You're right, but I hate to see people waste money and infrastructure on something that doesn't really work well. The turbine is just the start. Because they produce dc power you need to have equipment to turn that into AC to feed the grid, an agreement with the utility to do so and some way to dump the power produced by the turbine if the grid goes down. If you aren't going to feed the grid then you need storage batteries, a charge controller, and a diversion load for when the batteries are full (plus an inverter to produce AC power if that's what you're going to use it for).

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.29}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 21:53:30 CDT (4 lines)

I guess we're stuck with the power company then. Maybe on our next
house we can have some passive solar. If I built a house, we could
do earth berming - that works very well in this area - but I hate to
participate in the "development" of the county.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.30}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 22:03:59 CDT (HTML)

I just posted a link to that site on the "wrench list" which is a listserv of renewable energy experts. Hugh Piggott, the Scottish expert on wind turbines occasionally visits the list and so do any number of other long time wind turbine experts. I'll let you know what I find out from them about it.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.31}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 01 Jun 2004 23:24:57 CDT (1 line)

OK, thanks. I appreciate it - just in case there's been a miracle ;-)

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.32}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Wed, 02 Jun 2004 11:07:25 CDT (HTML)

Well, I posted a question to the list last night and got more than a few replies. Basically, all agree that there has never been a reliable small wind turbine developed yet that works as advertised and none are worth the investment. This one quote says it all I think.

As well, vibration is a serious issue, even with very small turbines--so I don't suggest mounting ANY turbine on the roof unless it is the roof of the outhouse and you want to encourage short visits. I am not aware of any vibration-dampening system that renders a wind turbine noiseless in the house. If the house is only occasionally occupied (and I'd say regardless) make sure there is a stop system that works well so folks can sleep at night or the turbine can be stopped if things get intense.

And this:

"small" -- small rotor means small output, which usually means folks won't spend the bucks to put it up where the wind is. So they end up being disappointed in the output, which will be small even if you put it up where it should be, since the rotor is small...

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.33}: Jan Rickey {jrickey} Wed, 02 Jun 2004 11:11:41 CDT (1 line)

Well, hey, I tried. Nevermind.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.34}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Wed, 02 Jun 2004 11:36:38 CDT (HTML)

It's always a good bet to check on these things. Maybe some day someone will come out with something that will work but I'd sure hate to see you put money into something like that and get burned.

The folks on the list get understandably upset with this sort of thing because they are in the business of installing renewable energy systems and every false promise hurts their business and their credibility.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.35}: Kai Hagen {kai} Thu, 10 Jun 2004 12:27:58 CDT (HTML)

Coalition Calls for a New Energy-Saving Standard

From American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
Thursday, June 10, 2004

At a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) public hearing today, a broad-based coalition announced a petition to DOE to strengthen energy efficiency standards for home refrigerators. The petition, filed last week, requests that the agency begin the minimum-efficiency standard upgrade process for residential refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers.

"A new refrigerator standard ranks among the most significant actions DOE could do to save energy," said Steven Nadel, Executive Director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

According to the petition, consumers would save as much as $10.1 billion over 25 years if DOE strengthened the current standard by 30%. According to DOE data, the electricity saved over 25 years by such a stronger standard would be enough to meet the total electricity needs of every U.S. home for 18 months.

"Refrigerators are much more efficient than they were 30 years ago," said David B. Goldstein, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council. "But they still account for about 14% percent of electricity use in our homes. Fortunately, manufacturers' innovations make further improvements in the efficiency standards possible."

Complete article:
"http://www.enn.com/direct/display- release.asp?objid=D1D1366D000000FD04A10301578EA4B2"

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.36}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Thu, 10 Jun 2004 16:47:45 CDT (HTML)

It has already had an incredible effect on power usage at existing levels as provided for by the Clinton administration toughening of the Energy Star reuirements. Refrigerators now routinely use 1/2 to 1/3 of the energy they did just a few years ago, for the same cost.

When I built my home I searched all over and finally bought a Danish refrigerator because it was the most efficient, by far, of the ones available (for the cost). Now I can go to any appliance store and buy one that is even more efficient for 1/3 the cost.

Improving on it can only be a good thing and won't, despite the mythology, increase the cost of refrigerators and will save a great deal of energy.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.37}: Kai Hagen {kai} Tue, 27 Jul 2004 13:29:13 CDT (HTML)

I was happy to see this...though sad that the Tiger Salamander is in trouble in the first place.

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Tiger salamander granted protected status in California

Federal wildlife officials on Monday agreed to grant protection to the California tiger salamander and its habitat, handing a major victory to conservationists but angering farmers and real estate developers.

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-07-27/s_26209.asp

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.38}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Mon, 20 Sep 2004 16:44:00 CDT (7 lines)

Residents of Gustavus, Alaska don't want clear-cutting:

http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/091904/sta_logging.shtml

>>Instead of a 10-year timber plan, they suggest a 200-year plan.
Instead of exporting wood to the Lower 48 or Asia, they suggest
reserving it for local homes, businesses and marketable products.<<

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.39}: GE Grass Takes a Hit {bshmr} Thu, 30 Sep 2004 11:54:21 CDT (22 lines)

http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/grasspollution092304.cfm

GE Grass Spreads Genetic Pollution over Large Distances

>From Grist Magazine <www.grist.org>

HAVE MODIFIED GENES, WILL TRAVEL
Genetically modified plants spreading hither and thither

Genes from genetically modified grass can spread much farther than
previously believed, according to a new study in the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study focused
on a new strain of creeping bentgrass -- commonly used on golf
courses for its resilience -- developed by two companies, Monsanto
and Scotts, to be resistant to the common herbicide Roundup.
Critics, including enviro groups, the U.S. Forest Service, and the
Bureau of Land Management, have worried that the pollen from
bentgrass, which is extremely light, will spread where it's not
wanted and possibly create herbicide-resistant "superweeds." In the
study, scientists at the U.S. EPA found that the GM bentgrass
pollinated plants as far away as they measured, up to 13 miles
downwind. ... (...)

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.40}: Kai Hagen {kai} Fri, 01 Apr 2005 19:34:49 CST (HTML)

Legal Action Give Temporary Protection to Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Tourist facilities planned on national park beach threatened leatherback

March 30th, 2005

Contact Info:
Rolando Castro, CEDARENA, 011 (506) 283-7080, rcastro@cedarena.org
Anna Cederstav, AIDA / Earthjustice, USA 1 (510) 550-6700, acederstav@earthjustice.org

San Jose, CR-- By admitting a suit filed by environmental organizations to protect the leatherback turtle, the Constitutional Chamber of the Costa Rica Supreme Court has granted an injunction against construction projects in the Leatherback Turtle Marine Park.

The defendants -- the National Technical Environmental Secretariat (SETENA), the Municipality of Santa Cruz, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, are charged with violating the constitutional right to a healthy environment. The suit, brought by the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) and its Costa Rican participating organizations – the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center (CEDARENA), and Justice for Nature (JPN) – seeks the effective protection of the park. Specifically, the suit aims to halt construction of beach houses and tourist developments within the national park area, and to prevent the government from authorizing potentially detrimental construction before the lands dedicated to the park have been protected.

The leatherback turtles are ancient reptiles surviving from the age of the dinosaurs. The species is highly endangered; with Pacific populations threatened with extinction within a decade, and as such is protected under various international treaties and the Costa Rican legislation. The presence of humans and particularly lights from houses, disturb turtles coming ashore to lay eggs and prevent the hatchlings from finding their way to the sea, thus posing a severe threat to the reproduction and future viability of the leatherback turtle.

The Leatherback Turtle Marine Park was created by the Costa Rican Congress in 1995, to protect critical habitat where the leatherback turtle is known to reproduce. The park includes the most important remaining nesting beaches on the Pacific Coast of the Americas -- The Carbon, Ventanas, Langosta, and Grande beaches. In fact, eighty percent of the leatherbacks that nested in the 2001-2002 seasons in Costa Rica did so in the Park. Other Costa Rican nesting beaches, such as Flamingo, and Tamarindo, have already been destroyed by the lack of coastal environmental planning.

“The Leatherback Marine Park should be protected from poorly planned development,” said Anna Cederstav, AIDA Program Director. “Costa Rica has an important opportunity to protect this species, which is not only part of our global environmental heritage but also a valuable economic resource for the nation.”

In a 2004 report, the Costa Rican General Attorney’s office urged the authorities to not permit construction in the Park, citing impacts on the leatherbacks. The recommendation has not been heeded. The NGOs assert that the government has failed to fulfill their obligations to protect the Park and endangered marine biodiversity. The Santa Cruz Municipality should defend local interests and guarantee environmental protection within its jurisdiction. SETENA must ensure that development does not damage fragile ecosystems and protected areas. The Ministry of Environment is responsible for expropriating and conserving the land within the national park limits, and the Ministry of Finance is supposed to dedicate the necessary funds.

“The injunction against construction and further permitting sends a clear message to SETENA and the Municipality that in the case of National Parks, governments must act with caution and not approve projects that threaten the ultimate goal for which the parks were established,” said Rolando Castro, attorney with CEDARENA. “We trust that the Constitutional Court will decide in favor of the leatherback turtle, a species that the court has previously determined to be a shared and highly migratory resource. The Park has great potential for scientific and tourism purposes and is an important source of local income.”

This case will prevent irreparable damage to the area designated as National Park while the expropriation proceeds, and will establish an important precedent in that there are many other parks, not only in Costa Rica but throughout the Americas, that face similar threats.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.41}: Rich Mason {richpix} Thu, 21 Apr 2005 17:30:18 CDT (HTML)


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{Nature_and_Environment.3.42}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Thu, 21 Apr 2005 17:38:44 CDT (1 line)

Thanks.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.43}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Thu, 21 Apr 2005 18:06:21 CDT (HTML)

Nice.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.44}: off-topic to Tom {sggriffith} Thu, 21 Apr 2005 18:28:52 CDT (8 lines)
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{Nature_and_Environment.3.45}: Whales and Tom {tonu} Thu, 21 Apr 2005 19:08:43 CDT (2 lines)
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{Nature_and_Environment.3.46}: for Suzanne and Tonu {telliot} Thu, 21 Apr 2005 21:15:34 CDT (HTML)
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{Nature_and_Environment.3.47}: Tom {tonu} Fri, 22 Apr 2005 15:45:34 CDT (5 lines)
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{Nature_and_Environment.3.48}: Tom Elliot {telliot} Fri, 22 Apr 2005 18:32:27 CDT (HTML)

Yeah Tonu, that's a fairly common traffic hazard, especially among tourists.

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{Nature_and_Environment.3.49}: David {david1961} Mon, 25 Apr 2005 08:00:47 CDT (4 lines)

There's been a wayward Beluga whale in the Delaware River for the past
few weeks now that has been quite a spectacle for people. Apparently
this whale is known by some markings and it was in the St. Lawrence
Seaway for awhile a few years ago.

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