Using emissions-free wind energy to help unleash the power of Mojitos

» By | Published 22 Apr 2010 |

A press release issued Wednesday by Bacardi Corporation indicates that those Mojitos you sip in the future just might be influenced by balmy Caribbean breezes harnessed by two new wind turbines installed in Puerto Rico.

A favourite of author Ernest Hemingway, among others, the Mojito is made up from white rum, lime, cane sugar, mint, soda water and crushed ice. As anyone who has ever been to the Caribbean knows, the zesty cocktail seems to provide instant refreshment from the glaring, unrelenting sun.

A world leader in rum production, Bacardi was founded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1936, and is part of Bacardi Limited, the largest privately held spirits company in the world. The current facility was built in the town of Cataño.
“While many know Bacardi for great rums and cocktails, Bacardi also has been a leader in corporate responsibility and environmental progress.  We’re always looking for ways to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint,” Joaquin Bacardi, president and chief executive of Bacardi, said in a press release. “Our latest innovation with these two specialized wind turbines seizes the power of the wind adding more force to Bacardi’s overall environmental commitment to save energy.”

While the two Bacardi wind turbine units are small at 250kW each, they are expected to generate approximately 1,000,000 kWh of electricity per year accounting for three to seven percent of the power used by Bacardi. That’s roughly the consumption of the facilities tourism-related activities at its Casa Bacardi Visitor Center with an expected carbon offset of more than 900 tons of CO2 per year.

“Puerto Rico relies on fossil fuels for virtually all its energy, so we hope other companies will follow this great leadership by Bacardi to use wind energy and other renewable energy sources,” Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuno said in the press release.

Wednesday’s announcement by Bacardi should provide some welcome buzz in Warsaw as participants at the European Wind Energy Conference gather to toast the power of wind. Don’t forget to stir.


Nearly 400 turbines adopted

» By | Published 21 Apr 2010 |

A ‘breath of fresh air’, EWEA’s campaign in support of wind energy, may be just one-day-old, but nearly 400 turbines have already been symbolically adopted.

From Ireland to Estonia, turbines are being adopted across Europe by people keen to spread the positive message about wind energy.

So far, the UK is heading the turbine support league table with a total of 35 adopted, but Belgium and Germany are hot on its heals with 20 and 17 respectively. France and Switzerland come next both with 16 adoptions, while Spain has 12 supported turbines.

A total of 110 people have also voted to support a friend’s turbine with the Cabeco da Rainha turbine inland near the Portuguese coast winning the most turbines to date.


Offshore wind sector begins in North America

» By | Published 21 Apr 2010 |

With less than 10 days left in April, wind energy officials, electricity companies and   environmentalists in Massachusetts are waiting with baited breath to see if US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gives the green light to America’s first offshore wind farm.

The awarding of a federal permit to Cape Wind to build a 130-turbine project in Nantucket Sound on the east coast would signal a new phase for the successful development of wind power in the US.
Much is also at stake for the broader environmental movement as emissions-free offshore wind farms have the potential of mitigating climate change while creating thousands of well-paying jobs and generating new avenues of much-needed green electricity.

According to Cape Wind, the 130 wind turbines will produce up to 420 MW of clean, renewable energy. In average winds, the Boston company says, the finished project will be able to provide Cape Cod and surrounding islands with 75% of their electricity needs.

Salazar, who visited the Middelgrunden offshore wind farm while attending the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, has said he would make a decision on Cape Wind by the end of April.
Meanwhile, in another country on the same continent, a Canadian enterprise has recently become the first offshore wind farm in all of North America.
Earlier this month, Windstream Energy announced it had been awarded a feed-in tariff contract by the Ontario Power Authority to develop Canada’s first offshore wind site.

In a press release, Windstream said the 300 MW site is located west of Wolfe Island, which is in Lake Ontario near the fabled Saint Lawrence River.
Wolfe Island is, as the press release points out, one of the windiest places in Ontario.

As Windstream official Mark Bell noted: “Off-shore wind power has been growing at a tremendous rate in Europe because of the steady, reliable winds that occur off-shore.  These advantages are now being recognized in North America.”

Perhaps Salazar has also recognised the many benefits of offshore wind.


‘Bürger-Windparks’ feature at EWEC

» By | Published 21 Apr 2010 |

Flights are finally taking off and landing across Europe, bringing more delegates to the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC) in Warsaw. The stands in the exhibition hall may be quieter than previous EWEC’s, but many conference sessions are underway.

Social acceptance of wind farms was a hot topic yesterday with much interest in ‘Bürger-Windparks’ in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany. The special aspect of these parks is that they are wholly owned by local citizens and communities, a strategy which can strongly increase social acceptance.

On the same subject, Gundula Hübner said today that locals are more likely to feel positive about wind farms if they are involved in the planning process and they consider it to be “fair”.

In general, social acceptance of turbines in Germany is “high’, Hübner added.

EWEA’s ‘breath of fresh air’ campaign got off to a flying start yesterday with reports that delegates are keenly adopting wind turbines across Europe, showing their support for wind energy.

Last night all conference and exibition participants were treated to wine and a bite to eat at the Palace of Culture and Science, PKiN, in the centre of Warsaw. As people enjoyed a drink in an impressive building that was a ‘gift’ from Joseph Stalin to the city during the era of Soviet domination after the Second World War, a ‘flash mob’ of dancers suddenly burst into the centre hall and danced to the tune of ‘Fresh’ by Kool and The Gang and other songs.


Human beings have to learn how to cooperate with the natural world

» By | Published 20 Apr 2010 |

While the frightening spectre of unchecked man-made climate change havoc and the very real chaos to world-wide aviation caused by an erupting volcano in Iceland are clearly unrelated, both events share one common characteristic.

The power of the natural world, so often taken for granted by human development in the past 150 years, is still a force to be reckoned with.

Indeed, the New York Times is reporting that recent economic damage caused by ash from Eyjafjallajokullas that has covered much of Europe and closed down air travel is costing airlines alone an estimated $200 million a day. Social and business costs associated with separated families, missed appointments, postponed meetings and reduced food supplies will add to the toll. The falling ash could also create considerable health problems, especially for those with already compromised breathing abilities.

Ironically, news of nature’s fury caused by the erupting volcano came less than a week after the first 2010 sessions of the UN climate change negotiations ended in Bohn and at the same time that China reportedly promised to aggressively promote a greener economy by investing in research and development projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Bloomberg noted that the Chinese president’s special envoy Xie Zhenhua wrote in the China Economic Herald that tougher laws are needed to meet climate targets because global warming threatens the nation’s economic development.

“The scale of economic destruction would be equivalent to that of the two world wars and the Great Depression combined” if global temperatures rise by 3 degrees to 4 degrees Celsius, Bloomberg reported Xie said. “Human beings and the Earth cannot afford such disasters.”

Xie’s bold warning will provide those able to circumnavigate their way around a massive cloud of volcanic ash to attend this week’s European Wind Energy Conference event in Warsaw an opportunity to ponder the imponderable: when, will politicians agree on a new legally-binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels?