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Dutch propose world's biggest offshore farm, with a man-made island.

When envisioning an offshore wind farm that includes a 2.3-square-mile artificial island, it doesn’t hurt that the country behind it is exceptionally skilled at two things: reclaiming land from the sea and harnessing the power of the wind.

These uniquely Dutch strengths are driving an ambitious wind power and island-building project in the North Sea. If and when it's completed, this 30-gigawatt wind farm would be by far the largest in the world at 2,300 square miles. The farm's proposed size and capacity, which is roughly eight times the size of New York City and capable of generating double the total amount of all existing European offshore wind power, is a remarkable feat in itself. However, it’s how TenneT, a government-owned entity that oversees the Netherlands’ electric grid, plans to take full advantage of the farm's way offshore location that truly sets the scheme apart.

When envisioning an offshore wind farm that includes a 2.3-square-mile artificial island, it doesn’t hurt that the country behind it is exceptionally skilled at two things: reclaiming land from the sea and harnessing the power of the wind.

Yet because Dogger Bank is located in such a far-flung part of the North Sea, the cost of installing a multitude of direct current (DC) cables that are needed to transmit wind-harnessed energy to onshore electric grids would be prohibitive - perhaps impossible. That’s the rub with offshore wind power. When you go further out, you have less local opposition and more space - and wind - to work with. Most offshore wind farms - the largest is the 47-square-mile/630-megawatt London Array - remain relatively close to shore. What's more, the further out an offshore wind farm is, the more electricity is lost during transmission.

This is where the TenneT’s artificial North Sea island-based wind power collection and distribution hub comes into play.

Because Dogger Bank is so shallow, constructing a man-made island, like mounting wind turbines, is far easier than in a deeper stretch of sea. And as mentioned, the Dutch are old pros at this.

Rob van der Hage, manager of TenneT’s offshore wind infrastructure program, explains that if building a large island in the middle of the North Sea was a daunting task: “Is it difficult? In the Netherlands, when we see a piece of water we want to build islands or land. We’ve been doing that for centuries. That is not the biggest challenge.”

Wind power that's quite literally far out

As envisioned by TenneT, energy generated at the massive offshore wind farm would be sent directly to the island via a series of short cables in lieu of an improbable number of very long ones reaching toward the shore. Once collected at the island's converter stations, the alternating current generated by the turbines is transformed into direct current before being transmitted to electric grids in the Netherlands and U.K. — and potentially Belgium, Denmark and Germany. Far offshore becomes near-shore, essentially. What’s more, the distribution hub would ensure that no energy is wasted, only transmitting electricity to the country or countries that need it most at any even given time.

Numerous not-so-minor elements need to fall into place before this scheme with “sky-high” ambition begins to take fruition. (TenneT aims to have the island up and running by 2027 with the wind farm to follow.)

For starters, while TenneT plans to build the artificial island (and pay for most of the 1.5 billion euro price tag), the company is not allowed to build the wind farm - potentially multiple wind farms - that the island or future islands would support. Offshore wind developers would need to do that. And before that happens, other electric utilities such as the UK’s National Grid need to commit to helping TenneT shoulder the cost of the underwater cables.

Still, van der Hage is optimistic about the viability of developing wind farms located further from shore. "The big challenge we are facing towards 2030 and 2050 is onshore wind is hampered by local opposition and nearshore is nearly full. It’s logical we are looking at areas further offshore.”

Friday, 29 December 2017 20:55

10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? 

Climate change is constantly in the news. It seems like everyone's "going green." Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let's start now.

1. Save energy to save money.

  • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
  • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
  • Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
  • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.

2. Save water to save money.

  • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
  • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
  • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).

  • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
  • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
  • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.

4. Eat smart.

  • If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it's even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
  • Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
  • Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
  • Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain. This is especially true for seafood.

5. Skip the bottled water.

  • Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
  • Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.

6. Think before you buy.

  • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
  • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
  • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.

7. Borrow instead of buying.

  • Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
  • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

8. Buy smart.

  • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
  • Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
  • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).

9. Keep electronics out of the trash.

  • Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
  • Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
  • Recycle your cell phone.
  • Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.

10. Make your own cleaning supplies.

  • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
  • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
Monday, 25 December 2017 01:01

The Christmas Story - The Birth of Jesus

The Christmas season is rooted in the birth of Jesus Christ. This is the Christmas story from Luke 2: 1-20 in the Bible.

Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Monday, 01 January 2018 01:05

Happy New Year!

The new year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increases by one.

Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner and the first day of January is often marked as a national holiday.

In the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar system, New Year occurs on Jan. 1 (New Year's Day). This was also the case both in the old Roman calendar (at least after about 713 BCE) and in the Julian calendar that succeeded it.

Other calendars have been used historically in different parts of the world; some calendars count years numerically, while others do not.

During the Middle Ages in western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, authorities moved New Year's Day variously, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, among them: March 1, March 25, Easter, Sept. 1 and Dec. 25. Beginning in 1582, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar and changes to the Old Style and New Style dates meant the various local dates for New Year's Day changed to using one fixed date, Jan. 1.

The widespread official adoption of the Gregorian calendar and marking Jan. 1 as the beginning of a new year is almost global now. Regional or local use of other calendars continue, along with the cultural and religious practices that accompany them. In Latin America, various native cultures continue the observation of traditions according to their own calendars. Israel, China, India and other countries, continue to celebrate New Year on different dates.

The most common dates of modern New Year's celebrations are listed below, ordered and grouped by their alignment relative to the Gregorian calendar.

 

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