Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

March 30, 2018 by  
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One of the United States’ biggest electric utilities, American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to build a two-gigawatt wind farm – and they want consumers to pay for it. Bloomberg reports that the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Connection project could serve people in four states. People in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana could get power from AEP’s massive wind farm sprawling over 300,000 acres in the Oklahoma Panhandle. But Bloomberg said there’s a battle mounting over the project: AEP hopes to obtain up-front guarantees from regulators that consumers will foot the bill. Utilities have used the financial model of putting costs and a profit into customers’ bills to construct coal, nuclear, or natural gas power plants. But according to Bloomberg, AEP is pushing the limits by requesting permission to employ the strategy from regulators in four states. Related: Conservative billionaire to build America’s largest wind farm Critics say consumers could be saddled with the bill should the project fall apart. An Oklahoma administrative law judge advised regulators in February to reject the request. Bloomberg New Energy Finance wind power analyst Alex Morgan said that the industry — hoping to grow with the model — could take a hit if AEP fails. If they are unsuccessful, she said the next step might be smaller projects. The Wind Catcher website states that farm “is expected to bring approximately $300 million to local communities in property taxes over the life of the project and provide a cost savings of $7 billion over 25 years for customers. The project will support approximately 4,000 direct and 4,400 indirect jobs annually during construction and 80 permanent jobs once operational.” Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy scored approval in 2016 to recover costs on a $3.6 billion wind project, according to Bloomberg. It could be as large as two gigawatts, making it around the size of Wind Catcher. The difference is that a group of small wind farms on several sites comprises the MidAmerican Energy project, whereas AEP’s project is one huge wind farm. + Wind Catcher Energy Connection Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

Intuits new green-roofed campus is an indoor/outdoor dream office

March 30, 2018 by  
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Intuit’s new Marine Way Building (MWB) in Mountain View , California, aims to become an antidote to the trend of building insular campuses across Silicon Valley. To achieve this goal,  WRNS Studio and Clive Wilkinson Architects joined forces and designed a human-centered, urban-minded workplace that connects to both nature and the public realm. The development comprises two new office buildings and two new parking structures as major additions to Intuit’s existing campus, originally developed in the 1980s as a suburban office park. It offers 185,400 square feet of office spaces distributed across four floors. The large floor plates, which accommodate a variety of places for people to collaborate, concentrate, socialize, and reflect, are organized into human-scaled neighborhoods and connected by clear circulation. The building also features a café, living rooms, bike facilities, showers, and terraces that spin off of the main atrium, which opens onto the campus’s main internal street. Offering expansive views of the bay and an indoor/outdoor workplace experience, large terraces also help knit the campus together. Related: Google and BIG unveil plans for green-roofed tech campus in Sunnyvale The project targets LEED Platinum , thanks to its design strategies that enhance resource efficiency, expand the natural habitat, ensure good indoor environmental quality, reduce water consumption and waste, and enable the expanded use of transit options. This is aided by the building’s  green roofs , themselves part of a comprehensive landscape plan that includes naturalized wetland bio-filtration areas and natural planted areas to help sustain local salt marsh and grassland biome species. + WRNS Studio + Clive Wilkinson Architects Photos by Jeremy Bittermann

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Intuits new green-roofed campus is an indoor/outdoor dream office

rsted’s massive new offshore wind farm will generate power for 1M homes

February 1, 2018 by  
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Offshore wind farms keep getting bigger and bigger. Ørsted , formerly DONG Energy , started offshore construction on Hornsea Project One , the latest offshore wind project poised to claim the “world’s largest” trophy, according to CleanTechnica . The first of the plant’s 174 monopiles has been installed off the coast of Yorkshire in the United Kingdom . Hornsea Project One is expected to be operational in 2020, and produce power for more than one million homes. Hornsea Project One is located around 75 miles off the coast of England. Monopiles, or support structures for the wind turbines , for the 1.2-gigawatt offshore wind farm are around 213-feet-long, with a 27-foot, diameter. Each weighs 800 metric tons. Related: The world’s biggest offshore wind farm is being built in the UK Offshore marine engineering company GoSea is installing the monopiles with Innovation , an installation vessel able to transport as many as four monopiles at once. Program director Duncan Clark said in a statement that they’re excited to see offshore construction start following years of planning. They’re also continuing to build an East Coast Hub, which will act as a maintenance and operations base for their existing wind farms nearby and Hornsea Projects One and Two – which they “took a final investment decision on last year.” “These wind farms will not only greatly contribute to the UK’s goal of decarbonizing our energy system, they are also bringing jobs and investment to Grimsby and the North East,” Clark said. Hornsea Project One and Hornsea Project Two combined will produce enough electricity for more than 2.3 million homes in the UK. Ørsted’s press release described the company as the biggest offshore wind farm developer in the world, with the UK as their largest market. They boast two operational wind farms off the nation’s east coast, Lincs and Westermost Rough. Another offshore wind farm, Race Bank, is slated to open later in 2018. + Ørsted + Hornsea Project One + Ørsted Press Release Via CleanTechnica Images via Ørsted ( 1 , 2 )

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rsted’s massive new offshore wind farm will generate power for 1M homes

Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

November 2, 2017 by  
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In a story that may have come  two days late , a local landowner-farmer in Delaware County, Iowa was shocked to discover over a dozen deceased rabbits, each with their necks broken, scattered beneath wind turbines on their land. The land is leased by RPM Access, a company that owns several wind farms throughout the state. “I don’t understand who would do something like this? I really don’t,” said Linda Slobodnik, an environmental consultant for RPM Access, according to KWWL News . Slobodnik, who has stated that this act of violence is the most disturbing incident she has seen in her 10 years in the wind industry, believes the rabbits were used to lure in eagles or other birds to the turbines, likely to kill them as well. Why would someone seek to lure and kill eagles, using dead rabbits as bait? “There are a lot of anti-wind people. At this time, we are looking at new places for projects, and I am thinking that possibly someone would like us to not build another wind farm in the area,” said Slobodnik. “I think there is a lot of people who will speak against the wind turbines. I think a lot of what they do is out of ignorance,” said RPM Access Project Manager, Kevin Lehs, according to KWWL News . Despite some local resistance, Iowa has made enormous progress towards a clean energy economy, primarily through wind power , which provided more than 36 percent of all electricity used in 2016. As it stands, Iowa is the most wind-powered state in the United States . Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online Although the dead rabbits were deliberately placed, it is true that wind turbines can kill local wildlife. It is estimated that 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year. That may sound like a lot, but it’s important to see these numbers in context. Wind power kills 1/15th the number of birds that fossil-fuel generated power does each year. Glass buildings in cities are also frequent bird killers. And, of course, outdoor and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually. Via Elektrek and KWWL News Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

Tesla and Vestas team up to combine batteries and wind turbines

September 1, 2017 by  
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Two of the world’s leading renewable energy giants are teaming up to work towards a sustainable energy future. Vestas , the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, is working on a global program to combine wind power with batteries , and they’ve turned to none other than Tesla for help. Vestas aims to add energy storage to wind farms for days when the wind doesn’t blow, so they started a global program centering around about 10 projects. Tesla isn’t the only company to receive a call from the wind turbine manufacturer, which will work with other battery makers to determine how to best store wind power. Related: World’s most powerful wind turbine breaks 24-hour record for energy generation Vestas announced at their general meeting in April that they wanted to focus on energy storage, and Denmark’s Borsen publication reported the collaboration with Tesla. Chairman Bert Nordberg said the company wants a new competitive edge after surging past General Electric Company to claim the largest market share of wind energy in America. Meanwhile, Tesla has been looking for new ways to utilize their batteries beyond electric cars and Powerwalls . Their battery units have been popping up in grid-scale installations such as this one in Southern California , and Elon Musk signed a deal in July with the government in South Australia to build a massive energy storage facility to help combat their power woes. Vestas has been tinkering with the idea of integrating battery storage with wind turbines since 2012, when they launched a test project in Lem-Kaer, Denmark. They said they plan to commission other such projects around the world. In a Friday statement, the company said, “Across a number of projects, Vestas is working with different energy storage technologies with specialized companies, including Tesla, to explore and test how wind turbines and energy storage can work together in sustainable energy solutions that can lower the cost of energy.” Via Bloomberg Images courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S and via Ernesto Sanchez/Edison International

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Minimalist Timber Loft House gives you a birds-eye view of the Swedish landscape

September 1, 2017 by  
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This minimalist timber Loft House (Lofthuset) is a serene getaway that offers a birds-eye view of northern Sweden’s mountainous landscapes. Architect Hanna Michelson, who works for Tham & Videga?rd Arkitekter , designed the building as a unique sanctuary and peaceful vantage point for visitors who want to escape into the treetops without damaging the forest landscape. The house is lifted from the ground by a timber framework in an attempt not to disturb the surrounding nature. The lower part of the house offers a more immediate connection to the forest, while the upper part, a roofed outdoor space stripped from walls, provides uninterrupted views of the valley below. Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin The minimalist interior is stripped down to the essentials, with sleeping accommodations arranged on futon mattresses that can be hung on the wall in order to free the room for daily activities. A wooden bench by the window is a place for reflection, but can also be used as seating during mealtimes. Related: Swedish Örnsro Timber Town relies on wood to lower its carbon footprint Birch plywood and ash dominate the interior and complement the timber framework of the house. Flax fibers, traditionally used in Nordic building practices, provides insulation to the exterior walls made from heart pine and organically treated spruce wood. + Tham & Videga?rd Arkitekter Via Architizer

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Minimalist Timber Loft House gives you a birds-eye view of the Swedish landscape

Wind power now runs all electric passenger trains in the Netherlands

January 9, 2017 by  
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All of the electric passenger trains running in the Netherlands are now powered entirely by wind . One year ahead of schedule, Dutch railway company NS announced its entire electric train fleet is running on 100-percent wind power as of January 1, 2017, ushering in a new era of green transportation . Renewable energy advocates hope the early success will inspire planners to incorporate wind-powered trains in other high-speed rail projects around the world, including some proposed in the United States. In late 2015, the Dutch government announced its goal to power the country’s electric trains entirely with wind power by 2018. However, early successes in rolling out the clean energy program resulted in 75 percent wind power for the trains in 2016, so the initiative made a final push and achieved 100 percent effect January 1, 2017. One of the Netherlands ’ largest railway companies, known as NS , partnered with the Eneco energy company in 2015 to funnel renewable energy into its fleet of electric trains, which carry 600,000 people per day. Related: All Netherlands Railways trains will be 100% wind powered by 2018 Electric trains on the NS use around 1.2 billion kWh of electricity a year, which is roughly the equivalent of all the households in the city of Amsterdam. Switching to a renewable source for the energy-hogging transportation will make a huge dent in the nation’s carbon footprint, which has already been shrinking over the years due to investments in renewable energy projects. The electricity used to power the Dutch trains comes from wind farms in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Finland, many of which were just recently built. Because some of those farms opened ahead of schedule, it became possible to move up the timeline for powering electric trains with clean energy. Via Clean Technica Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 )

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Costa Rica ran almost entirely on renewables in 2016

January 5, 2017 by  
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It’s a happy new year in Costa Rica, where the nation’s Electricity Institute has reported that 98.1 percent of the electricity used in 2016 came from renewable energy sources . This is the second consecutive year that Costa Rica has proven the power and reliability of renewables, after hitting 99 percent in 2015. While the achievement isn’t surprising, given that the country’s leaders have been ambitiously pursuing (and coming close to) this goal for several years, it is still important. What Costa Rica has accomplished shows the world that relying on renewable energy is not only possible, but that it can become a reality much earlier than many skeptics believe. The reasons behind Costa Rica ’s high renewable usage are numerous, and sort of complicated. For starters, the per capita electricity consumption in the nation of 4.9 million people is much less than, say, that of the typical American. In fact, the average Costa Rican uses just one-seventh the electricity that Americans do. With less electricity in demand, it’s much easier to supply those needs with renewable sources, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t be possible for the United States to reach the same astounding figures with the proper infrastructure. Related: Costa Rica celebrates 113 days of 100-percent renewable energy (and counting) Costa Rica’s climate has also made it a bit easier to become powered almost entirely by renewables . The area’s plentiful rainfall positions hydropower as the primary renewable energy source, supplying around 75 percent of the electricity used each year. Solar and wind power make up most of the remaining portion, again due to the perks of the geographic region. While 99 and 98 percent in 2015 and 2016 are insanely respectable figures, the Costa Rican government is aiming higher for 2017 and beyond, with four new wind farms to generate even more clean energy. Via Grist Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 )

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Costa Rica ran almost entirely on renewables in 2016

Discreet new home in North Carolina acts like a gateway to the surrounding wilderness

January 5, 2017 by  
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The cypress-clad Carolina Hillside House perches over a thick forest near North Wilkesboro’s Kerr Scott Lake, providing stunning views of untouched nature. ARCHITECTUREFIRM designed the building as a habitable gateway that connects an abandoned logging road, the only access to the house, with the surrounding wilderness. The house is located above North Wilkesboro’s Kerr Scott Lake and is accessed by an abandoned logging road. Clad in untreated cypress that acquires a beautiful patina over time, the house blends into its wooded surroundings. Related: Snøhetta’s New Library at North Carolina State University Aims for LEED Silver A large opening separates the main living area and sleeping quarters, forming a sheltered patio with a beautiful outdoor fireplace . This space provides sensational views of the surrounding forest and allows the owners to enjoy the outdoors even during harsh winters. + ARCHITECTUREFIRM Via Uncrate Photos by James Ewing

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Discreet new home in North Carolina acts like a gateway to the surrounding wilderness

Tiny bacteria ‘wind farms’ could power your smartphone

July 12, 2016 by  
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Bacteria are often associated with disease – but in the future they could serve as a potent power source. University of Oxford researchers recently used bacteria to spin rotors in tiny ‘ wind farms ‘ – and they think these microscopic engines could power small electronic components like smartphone microphones. If you’ve ever looked at bacteria under a microscope, you’ve probably seen a lot of random movement. Under ordinary circumstances, there’s not yet a way to get power from that spontaneous motion. Oxford researchers immersed a ” lattice of 64 symmetric microrotors ” into fluid filled with bacteria, and found the bacteria organized their movement in such a way that the microrotors spun in opposite directions – kind of like a wind farm. This organized movement creates a steady stream of power. Related: Can bacteria help curb the spread of the Zika virus? The paper’s co-author Tyler Shendruk said in an Oxford press release , “When we did the simulation with a single rotor in the bacterial turbulence, it just got kicked around randomly. But when we put an array of rotors in the living fluid, they suddenly formed a regular pattern, with neighboring rotors spinning in opposite directions.” We probably won’t be powering homes with bacteria any time soon – but this teeny power source could be beneficial for micromachines . The team said these little wind farms could also drive ” devices that are self-assembled and self-powered .” Another paper co-author, Julia Yeomans, said ” Nature is brilliant at creating tiny engines, and there is enormous potential if we can understand how to exploit similar designs.” + Science Advances Via Gizmag Images via Sumesh P. Thampi1, Amin Doostmohammadi, Tyler N. Shendruk, Ramin Golestanian, and Julia M. Yeomans

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