This is where I went to College; it’s so great to see that they are now putting the heavy wind on campus to use!
Past three months saw windfarms produce more electricity than any other source for first time, trade body says.
When one thinks of taking a vacation, it is likely that the last thing on their mind is if the place they have chosen has a strong recycling program or if amenities are powered by solar or wind. Perhaps the time has come to shift our thinking to ensure that the Earth is around for all future generations and make an effort to locate such resources in our destinations of choice.
This is just what Boston, Massachusetts has done by installing solar powered, compacting trash cans throughout city limits in place of all open cans. City limits in Boston also extends to the Harbor Islands and on a recent trip to two of these islands, Spectacle and Georges, it was pleasing to see that not only were these new cans installed and being utilized but that additional efforts were being taken on Spectacle to reduce energy and water consumption.
Spectacle Island, just a ten minute ferry ride from Boston’s waterfront, has a long and sordid past. The island has been home to fishermen, served as a quarantine spot for smallpox victims, had two hotels shut down for illicit activity, housed a horse rendering plant, and ran a trash incinerator which was shut down in 1935. Upon the close of the incinerator the island continued to be used as a dump until 1959 and pollutants were able to leak into the water until the early 1990’s.
The city decided it was time to put a stop to centuries of mistreatment of this island and when The Big Dig began in 1992 the resulting Earth that was removed was strategically placed on and around Spectacle to contain the leaking and create an entirely new island full of trees and trails that opened to the public, as part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, in 2006.
When the island became a tourist destination for those looking to hike or to glimpse a wonderful city view it was clear that there could be a backlash in waste, as well as a demand on energy and resources, so strong efforts were put into place on and around this island to utilize renewable energy sources wherever possible.
Solar power is harnessed in multiple locations on the island such as self contained photovoltaic panels that power the emergency lights on the pier as well as thirty two large solar panels on the south face of the Visitor Center roof which are connected to the grid and feed back into the power supply. The photovoltaic panels on the Visitor Center roof are used to collect all the power needed to run the lights inside overnight as well as feed into a battery back up system.
In addition to the solar efforts, composting toilets were installed in all mens and womens stalls in the Visitor Center on Spectacle and in portable bathroom stalls (which also utilized solar to run the water to wash hands) on Georges. These toilets utilize waste as fertilizer and can cut water consumption but up to fifty percent. Additionally they are much quieter, reduce odor and can be used for more than just human waste — they will even compost dinner scraps and lawn clippings!
The final and all important area of any public park is the often overlooked maintenance needed. There are roads, the Visitor Center, the pier, docks, gazebos, benches, lawns and a myriad of other areas to maintain. On a daily basis a large amount of fossil based fuel would be needed to drive from place to place but the Solectria truck, named Flash, uses the energy created from the sun to run. Solar power is gathered by the roof panels and stored in batteries that are installed in the truck making Flash a zero emission vehicle.
The efforts on the islands do not stop at Spectacle and Georges as additional renewable resources are utilized on spots surrounding these two. A wind turbine in Hull creates enough power to run the town’s streetlights, plans are in place to install two additional turbines off the south coast of Spectacle, hydroturbines are used to feed energy back into the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority from the clean water pushed out of the plant on Deer Island (approximately ten percent of its electricity is powered in this way) and self generated steam heat (via steam turbine generator powered by the methane created during the treatment process) is used as the sole heat source for the MWRA plant for ten months of the year.
To learn more about the islands or some of the environmental topics in this article please follow the links below.
Photovoltaic Solar Collectors
The U.S. has led wind turbine installations for the three years in a row, the The Financial Times reports. The pace of installation has become so fierce, manufacturers can’t keep up, a supply limitation that has increased the price of turbines by about half.
The government officials of major U.S. cities such as San Francisco and New York are pushing for wind turbines as a solution to their city’s energy problems. During the National Clean Energy Summit Michael Bloomberg New York’s Mayor requested expressions of interest. He’s considering all forms of renewable power especially offshore wind, wind turbines positioned on skyscrapers, and various sources of hydropower. Bloomberg stated, “I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out of the horizon, and she not only welcomes new immigrants, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean wind farm.”
Although, his statement was quite poetic many homeowners in the west are against ocean wind farms. The most sought after western coastal property are the ones with magnificent ocean views. Residents who pay excessive amounts of money for their extravagant homes do not want to look out and see giant wind turbines. Offshore wind farms have been terminated and stonewalled due to wealthy homeowners who are determined to keep their oceanic views beautiful.
Is is fair for alternative energy projects to get placed on the back burner because of affluent homeowners?
Most likely New York which has massive amounts low income individuals as residents and a more industrial view will have no problem obtaining the green light for Bloomberg’s ocean generated wind farm dreams. The major flaws with wind turbines is the scenic change in the area, loud noise, and annoying vibration within the unit surroundings.
Companies like Quiet Revolution in the UK are working on correcting the defects current wind turbines posses. Their main objective is to create smaller more efficient turbines to be installed locally on a wider scale. Quiet Revolution’s QR5 wind turbine is specifically designed with one single mobile part reducing noise. It also utilized several S-shaped blades to produce 20-40% more energy than other standard turbines. The QR5 was initially created for local schools, energy developers, and governments. They even have versions of turbines with video screen features and LEDs lodged into the blade. Quiet Revolution has been very busy since the UK is the largest wind resource in Europe. An estimated 40% of UK’s energy can be generated through this method by the year 2050.
As fossil fuel prices increase other alternatives are being considered in America as well. Wind turbine is a hot topic among our government officials. T. Boone Pickens has brought more light to businesses and lawmakers about using wind as our alternative energy to fossil fuel. As the chairman of BP Capital Management Pickens has years of experience in the oil and gas industry. His plan for energy calls for utilization of wind as a major source of energy for the country. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom has a similar vision. Hopefully, companies like Quiet Revolution and others will continue to improve turbine abilities to a point where it is universally acceptable. As a nation we may start to see small wind turbines in our local communities by year 2010.