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GE, Alstom invest big in taller turbines

This is a different type of turbine than GE's looking to make these days.
via Flickr
This is a different type of turbine than GE's looking to make these days.

GE (which has connections to the Capital Region) and Alstom (which has connections to Hornell) are building taller wind turbines, reports John Blau at RenewableEnergyWorld.com.  For GE the solution to problems inherent in taller towers was solved with an acquisition:

However, while taller wind towers provide more power, they are harder to build, install and transport. And the taller cranes required to lift the heavier turbines are also expensive to ship and assemble. GE hopes to overcome these challenges with the help of tall tower technology developed by Wind Tower Systems. GE acquired the tower maker from Wasatch Wind on Feb. 11. The modular “space frame tower” developed by Wind Tower Systems is engineered to handle unique static and dynamic loads at hub heights of 100 meters and more. Moreover, it can be transported in smaller pieces than traditional tubular systems, using only one sixth of the trucks normally required.

For Alstom that solution came in the form of a partnership:

Also thinking big, Alstom and LM Wind Power have formed a strategic partnership to develop what they hope will be the world’s longest wind turbine blade, designed to fit Alstom’s new 6 MW wind turbine targeted for Europe’s growing offshore wind market. The blade uses advanced materials enabling LM Wind Power to design and manufacture relatively lighter glass fiber and polyester blades for the length. The geometry of the new blade has already been validated in LM Wind Power’s own wind tunnel.

Nuclear workers redeemed
Workers exposed to radiation at the Linde Cermaics plant in Tonawanda are one step away from being compensated by the federal government, reports Jerry Zremski at the Buffalo News:

A federal advisory board, meeting Thursday in Augusta, Ga., recommended making it far easier for those workers and their survivors to qualify for benefits of $150,000 each. Those payments would go to retirees who got cancer after working in a plant where the remnants of radiation from Linde Ceramics' Cold War-era nuclear weapons work for the government were still strong enough to make them sick.

The secretary of Health and Human Services has to approve the deal, but has said yes to similar pacts in the past.  Workers who were secretly exposed between 1954 and 1969 have been fighting for more than a decade to have the cause of their illness officially recognized.

Natural gas versus coal
Natural gas may not be as green as its chalked up to be, reports Taylor Kuykendall at West Virginia's Register-Herald:

While emissions measured at the smokestacks of traditional coal-fired power plants versus new natural gas plants put natural gas as the clear winner in the low emissions race, a look at the entire process may prove the earth-friendliness of natural gas has been overstated. A study by ecology professor Robert W. Howarth, of Cornell University, found that over the “life-cycle” of production, natural gas may have some pretty serious consequences for the environment. “Natural gas is being widely advertised and promoted as a clean- burning fuel that produces less greenhouse gas emissions than coal when burned,” Howarth writes. “While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than from burning coal per unit of energy generated, the combustion emissions are only part of (the) story, and the comparison is quite misleading. A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than other fossil fuels in terms of the consequences for global warming.”

Methane leakage during hydraulic fracturing could also contribute to the greenhouse effect, according to Howarth.

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