January 5, 2005

Bush Campaign Urges Dismissal of Lawsuit

'Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, Jackson called for an investigation into the election that would include deposing Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Ohio's chief elections official. He said "the pattern of anomalies in Ohio -- and Pennsylvania and Florida -- amount to a plan" and that Blackwell should be held responsible.

'Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo dismissed the accusations as baseless. He said Ohio's performance on Election Day was a national model.'
That's precisely the issue, isn't it.

January 4, 2005

The victims of the tsunami pay the price of war on Iraq

"The US government has so far pledged $350m to the victims of the tsunami, and the UK government £50m ($96m). The US has spent $148 billion on the Iraq war and the UK £6bn ($11.5bn). The war has been running for 656 days. This means that the money pledged for the tsunami disaster by the United States is the equivalent of one and a half day's spending in Iraq. The money the UK has given equates to five and a half days of our involvement in the war."

-- George Monbiot, The Guardian, Jan. 5

Donate to Oxfam (International or America) or Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

January 3, 2005

The promise of green energy

An article by Alison Hawkes in todays' Intelligencer from northeast Pennsylvania states,
"Wayne-based Community Energy Inc. is set to build a $30 million wind farm early next year in Bear Creek Township [Pa.], 10 miles southeast of Wilkes-Barre. Thirteen wind turbines will pump 20 megawatts onto the grid, enough to power 10,000 homes."
According to Community Energy, 20 MW is the capacity, not the output. It will only very rarely "pump" 20 MW into the grid. Two-thirds of the time, it will be feeding less than its annual average of 3-6 MW (representing average output of 15%-30% of capacity). Divided by "10,000 homes," that's only 300-600 watts each on average (and much less two-thirds of the time).

The average load of a household in the U.S. is over 1,100 watts (more accurately, per-capita residential use averages 500 watts). Ignoring the fact the electricity use is highly variable by hour, day, and season, and ignoring the fact that only 35% of electricity use is residential, and ignoring the fact that wind production rarely corresponds with demand, the 20-MW facility would therefore produce the amount of electricity used by 2,600-5,300 "homes."

Because "homes" is a deliberately undefined unit, and because the aerogenerators would be providing electricity to offices and factories as well, it would be more informative to state that the 20-MW facility would produce the amount of electricity used by 2,100-4,100 people.

But very little of the power produced will correspond with moments of demand on the grid. In western Denmark, for example, only 16% of the aerogenerator infeed could be used. The rest had to be dumped. Considering that experience, this $30,000,000 subsidy-financed project to industrialize a mountain range with 400-ft windmills will actually supply the equivalent electricity needs of only 330-670 people.

And ignoring the fact that electricity accounts for only 39% of energy use in the U.S. . . .

January 2, 2005

In the Winters

"I see you very plainly, sir," she said. "I see you for the hypocrite you are. You make your voice solicitous and sympathetic, but your heart is hard and unforgiving. You have won men over by saying they can be better men and love one another, but better men for you are the better sort, the rich and mighty who have all in their hands and yet want more. There are the men who have your love. Those who are truly in need of love and grace and pity, they go disregarded and reviled. From your rich friends you demand only that they continue as before, keeping all and sharing none. From the rest you demand that which they cannot give. You demand of them sobriety, thrift, truth, prudence, order. You demand industriousness and fidelity. You demand chastity and virtue, piety and obedience. You demand respect, discipline, hard work and prayer."

The Master began to recover something of his wits. "For this you indict me?" he said, incredulous. "Is sobriety a vice in your estimation, mistress? Chastity? Discipline? Why should such things not be asked of men?"

"Because men cannot give them!" Elizabeth cried. "Not in the measure you require. They are frail. And when they cannot answer your demands, you judge them and condemn them...."

-- Ronan Bennett, Havoc, in Its Third Year

In the city on a hill

"We live in bitter times and the world is divided in two: those who live inside the godly nation, and those outside. Inside is righteousness and strength. Outside is barbarism and terror. You chose to live outside."

"I chose rather not to live inside," Brigge said.

-- Ronan Bennett, Havoc, in Its Third Year

January 1, 2005

None of the above

According to the back page of the New York Times' Dec. 26 "Week in Review," 39.5% of U.S. citizens eligible to vote didn't. In comparison, only 30.9% voted for Bush and 29.4% for Kerry.

Bad reporting

From The Oak Ridger (Tenn.), Dec. 31, 2004:
"When it first opened atop Buffalo Mountain with three turbines in 2001, the South's first commercial wind farm produced a mere 2 megawatts of electricity, enough for just 360 homes. But the December addition to the grid of 15 larger turbines -- each as tall as a 26-story building -- boosted the capacity to 29 megawatts, enough for 3,000 homes."
If 2 MW represents the energy use of 360 homes, then 29 MW should represent the energy use of 5,220 homes. Or if 29 MW is equivalent to the energy needs of 3,000 homes, then 2 MW would be equivalent to the needs of 207 homes. One ought to question rather than mindlessly parrot such obviously confusing numbers.

(Forget for the moment that only a third of of electricity use is residential, and only a third of all energy use is for electricity, so even the undefined claim of "homes provided for" represents only a ninth part of the whole problem. Also forget that wind-generated production rarely coincides with demand, so that much of it isn't even used.)

Assuming 10 MW-h to be the amount of electricity used by a "home" in the U.S., 2 MW and 360 homes represents an output of 20.5% of capacity, and 29 MW and 3,000 homes only 11.8%. The Tennessee Valley Authority does not consistently report the production data from their Buffalo Mountain facility, but an analysis at Mens et Manus concludes that its average capacity factor is 21.9%.

(Despite such evidence from actual installations, the American Wind Energy Association still predicts a 30% capacity factor for on-shore wind turbines and even more for off-shore.)

Some or all of the figures in the Oak Ridger article may have been misreported (not only did they not notice the discrepant ratios, they also wrote produced where had a capacity of was meant. Household use in the area served by the TVA may be much more than the national average (and nearly doubled between the time of the original 2-MW project and the expansion to 29 MW). These are lame explanations.

Instead, because any deliberate fudging (the whole point of using the undefined unit of "homes") would have been to make their output appear greater, I suspect that the capacity factor of 11.8% might be near the true output.

(((((((((( ))))))))))

In other news, Alan Chartock, in his "I, Publius" Berkshire Eagle column, predicts for 2005, "A hydroelectric windmill farm will be approved for the Berkshires." Now that's a confusion of terms.

Meanwhile in Wales, Liberal Democrat leader Mike German has written, "There is also a common misconception that wind energy is not available when wind is not blowing. Wind turbines operate by storing energy when the wind blows, not directly generating it to homes." He cites Friends of the Earth, Bheara, the British Wind Energy Association, and the Carbon Trust as the sources of his knowledge. It's incredible that a whole industry claiming to be essential to a viable future needs to lie so much.