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Posts Tagged ‘power’

020720sunshine20solar_florida

Photo: Alfredo Sosa
The newest solar farm of Florida Power & Light Company [FPL] is equipped to generate 74.5 megawatts of power, enough for approximately 15,000 Florida homes.

Large numbers of Americans are not as concerned as I am about fossil fuels and how they hurt the planet and until recently have not supported sustainable energy. But as the cost of renewable power comes down, many of them are giving wind and solar a new, pragmatic look.

Eva Botkin-Kowacki writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “There’s a new crop sprouting in southern Florida. Amid fields of sweet corn, squash, and okra dotting the landscape outside Miami, rows and rows of solar panels now soak up the Florida sunshine. …

“Despite being the Sunshine State, Florida has long lagged when it comes to tapping into the abundant rays overhead. But now that is changing as utility companies in the state have begun to recognize solar power as a vital component of a diverse energy future. …

“As solar has become more economically viable, the state’s utility companies now see opportunity more than competition in the technology Florida utilities’ newfound embrace for solar power echoes trends seen across the country, as the renewable energy source has shifted from a fringe indulgence for wealthy environmentalists to becoming a conventional part of power production. …

“With abundant sunshine, Florida ranks ninth in the United States for solar potential. But as recently as 2015, just one-tenth of a percent of the state’s power came from the sun. …

“Solar is still a bit player in Florida. At the end of 2018, solar power made up just 1.07 percent of the state’s energy portfolio, according to the [Solar Energy Industries Association] reports. But the rapid acceleration reflects a broader shift happening nationally. …

“Some of the ways Florida stands out among states make it a particularly good indicator of the renewable energy’s newfound status as mainstream. Many leading solar energy states, such as Massachusetts, Vermont, and California, have installed solar as part of a legislative push to diversify the energy sector in pursuit of emissions reductions. Policymakers in Florida, however, have not set specific renewable energy requirements or even aspirational goals. …

“The utilities want to maintain their control over the market, says Professor Fenton of the University of Central Florida. In 2016, they fought to amend a law that required them to purchase the electricity generated by customers’ rooftop panels at the net retail rate. … The recent foray into solar is a testament to the increasing economic viability of solar power. …

“ ‘[In 2016], the price point was just becoming right for us to be able to have it make economic sense for our customers for us to go and begin building large solar energy centers,’ FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly says.” More here.

One thought: As my friend Jean, of the environmental-education nonprofit Meadowscaping for Biodiversity, reminds me, it’s important not to cut down trees for solar arrays. Trees help the environment even more than solar energy. We need to keep the big picture in mind.

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Did you read the Ancient Greek tragedy Antigone, by Sophocles, in school? I was actually in a college production — performed in Greek. It was much too hard for me, even with my bit part.

But in high school, the play really captured my imagination with its young heroine insisting that the higher laws required her to give her rebel brother a proper burial and the king determined to make an example of rebels.

Anyway, that’s how I remember dinner discussions — my aunt and uncle arguing for the power of the state and me arguing for rebels.

So you may imagine how intrigued I was when I saw that a theater troop was enlisting big stars to bring Antigone (in English) to Ferguson, Missouri, to generate a community dialogue. Ferguson was where the majority of Americans first became aware of the issues that have led to the Black Lives Matter movement.

National Public Radio alerted listeners to the event, here.

“WILLIS RYDER ARNOLD (REPORTER): Bryan Doerries is a director who puts on ancient Greek plays. He says his productions aren’t boring classroom exercises.

“BRYAN DOERRIES: These are readings on steroids, and spit is flying and tears are projectile crying off the stage, and sounds are coming up out of the actors that they’ve never heard themselves make before.

“ARNOLD: After the performance, Doerries asks the audience to react. He leads a conversation that can take as long as the actual play. For him, the performance is a chance to ask some deeper questions.

“DOERRIES: How many different ways can we give you, as the audience, permission to have a conversation that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, to speak your personal truths, to be acknowledged and heard?

“ARNOLD: A local resident urged Doerries to bring his project to Ferguson. Doerries will present ‘Antigone.’ ”

The plan for “Antigone in Ferguson,” developed by Outside the Wire and the PopTech Institute, and co-presented by the Onassis Foundation USA, was as follows:

“Screening of selected segments from the documentary Antigone in Ferguson, followed by a dramatic reading of scenes from Antigone with Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards, The Wire), Gloria Reuben (ER), Glenn Davis (24, The Unit), and Samira Wiley (Orange Is the New Black).

“The reading will be followed by a town hall discussion, framed by remarks from community panelists — including members of law enforcement, activists, and concerned citizens — facilitated by Bryan Doerries, with the goal of generating powerful dialogue and fostering compassion, understanding, and positive action.”

I managed to find twitter reactions the day after the Sept. 17 performance:

Sep 18 Amazing! brought the community together through art and our own human experiences!
Sep 18 All of tonight’s was incredible. Thank you . Wow.
Sep 17 I wish everyone I know could have been at the reading of Antigone in Ferguson by . Church choir as Greek chorus? Amen

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Well, here’s a new concept in energy production: braking regeneration.

Diane Cardwell writes at the NY Times, “Along Philadelphia’s busy Market-Frankford subway line, the trains behave like those of any transit system, slowing to halt at the platforms and picking up passengers.

“But more is happening than meets the eye. In an experimental system that is soon to be more widely adopted, every time the trains pull into certain stations, they recover the kinetic energy as they brake and channel it as electricity to battery banks at one of two substations.

“The batteries, managed by software, can then use that power to push the trains back out or to help modulate electricity flows on the grid.

“The system is unusual because the batteries are being used for more than just powering the trains, said Gary Fromer, senior vice president for distributed energy at Constellation, the power provider that will own and operate the system for the transportation authority.

“The electricity savings alone do not justify the battery costs, he said, so it was important to find another source of revenue, which comes from selling energy services to the grid. …

” ‘We don’t have to front the money and we’re reaping both savings and actually money coming back our way,’ said Jeffrey D. Knueppel, general manager of the transportation authority. The base technology of the system, known as regenerative braking, was one of the breakthroughs that allowed for the development of hybrid and electric cars like the Prius.” More here.

This reminds me of my 2012 post on inmates in Brazil who bike to create electricity — and reduce their sentences. And this post from 2013 about lighting schools by playing soccer. All hail to human ingenuity!

Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
The Market-Frankford subway line in Philadelphia is part of a regenerative braking experiment.

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