Archive for April, 2010


…with his portable, low-tech, low-cost LED lantern powered with reclaimed photovoltaics.

With the help of volunteers, he designs, makes and distributes, for free, Solar Powered Lanterns dubbed ‘MwangaBora!’, which means ‘Better Light’.

To learn more, go to Sustainable Development For All – Kenya.

Trained to Fail == Training for Green Jobs Is Pointless When There Are No Green Jobs

Trained to Fail.

Yup, in spite of my vision back in 2005/06 to start GO!, before we even heard the concept ‘green jobs’, ironically I also have fallen into this most untimely vortex. Promises. Promises…

I also raised a number of logistical issues to the group that created the Green Employer Council, as well as to the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) commissioners back in early 2006 when I was still in Oakland. Sadly, according to this article, my concerns were not addressed and my foresight dismissed. And now look.

Turns out a number of my seasoned, highly-trained classmates with umpteen transferable skills sets are also duly challenged, and are either now staying in school pursuing PhDs, or resorting to taking work in their former industries in order to survive. Employers only have bandwidth for folks having 3-5-10 years of specific RE-related career experience (of which I do not seem to have enough experience, yet) in business development, project management, R&D, etc. in this tumultuous financial climate. As I understand it, this is just a typical hiring practice during an economic recession-depression.

Still working on how to get my dream, hybrid RE engineering job in a burgeoning industry when my job description STILL does not exist. My colleagues and I persist in submitting proposals, work scopes and networking to procure contractual arrangements for providing services, but everyone’s pretty much solicitous these days.

I don’t like whining about this, either. So yeah, I’m reinventing myself, yet again, and working on building my own entrepreneurial empire…

More thoughts on the Portland, OR, USA 12W Bldg wind turbine array

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to walk past the 12W  building in downtown Portland, OR, USA. The day was blustery, so it was a treat to watch these downwind machines yaw into the wind. I know, I know, I am a geek.

Last summer, I had an opportunity to speak with the project architects about the energy production of this urban ‘wind farm.’ Indeed, the energy yield of 1%/annum is rather low; far less than expected for urban wind turbine installations. And ja, perhaps a 4-5%/annum yield would really mean something, especially if it were a part of a hybrid system, say accompanying a PV array.

Aside: From my vantage point yesterday, it appeared as if there might be a PV array installed since I made my last pass this building in late summer last year. Perhaps these architects took my advice?

Right, so ZGF is testing the production of electricity. And perhaps now they are investigating the vibrational and noise effects of putting four turbines on top of a building since I planted this seed on them last summer. I pointedly told them vibration and noise could end up being the bane of this real-world experiment. I had shared with them what I had learned from the decommissioning of wind turbines on the high-rise buildings due to the aerodynamic noise generated in the Warwick Wind Trials results, such that the wind turbines formerly installed on the 45m high Eden Court in the Warwickshire, UK had to be permanently switched off in October 2008 due to noise complaints by the inhabitants. I last heard there was a moratorium on installing wind turbines on buildings in the Midlands of the UK because of these results. Be a shame if this happens in Portland, too.

Typically, wind turbine supports/masts are installed directly into the vertical support structures of the building to make them stronger. Beats the hell out of me why they didn’t do this, especially since there was obviously intent to do this in their early drawings. Installing the wind turbines directly on the rooftop makes an ideal opportunity for different frequencies of harmonics, precipitated by the wind, “making parts of the building hum and vibrate.” The harmonics shift and cause different portions of this structure to vibrate as the wind rises and falls, compromising the quality of life for the inhabitants of this building. Annoying to say the least. And at worst, could compromise this installation, requiring a decommissioning and a missed opportunity to study the potential of installing small wind turbines in the urban/built environment.

I asked these architects last summer if the results would be publicized for public consumption, and so I could have a go at analyzing their data. I understand that the building was officially commissioned back in Nov 2009. I am still waiting to see the data that is produced by the on-board inverter, user-monitored two-way wi-fi interface of the Skystream 3.7 wind turbines. I have been known to be “blind”, but I could not locate anything last time I trolled their web site. And, I stopped contacting them, because I was under the distinct impression I had unearthed some discomforting ideas they weren’t too keen on addressing, although I am always one for providing workarounds and solutions.

As I am learning, most designers tend to quietly dismiss a project’s failings, and don’t repeat installations like this. And so, as with folks in the USA not paying attention to the results of the Warwick Wind Trials, I have to wonder as if the poor decisions will only be repeated here.

Some have wagered that this installation will be taken down within another 12 months. I would like to think this will not be the case. But only time will tell, eh?

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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

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