Nuclear alert investigation won’t be long and drawn out, minister says

Initial observations suggest human error was responsible for the alert, involving the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, that was sent out during routine tests of the emergency alert

TORONTO—An investigation into a mistaken alert warning of an incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station will be completed fairly quickly, Ontario’s solicitor general said Monday.

Sylvia Jones tapped the chief of Emergency Management Ontario to investigate how the alert warning of an unspecified problem at the facility was sent in error to cellphones, radios and TVs across the province at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s very important for me, for the people of Ontario, to know exactly what happened on Sunday morning,” said Jones. “Having said that, I do not anticipate this is going to be a long, drawn-out investigation. I want to know what happened and equally important, I want some recommendations on insurances and changes we can make to the system to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Initial observations suggest human error was responsible for the alert that was sent out during routine tests of the emergency alert, Jones said.

“This has never happened in the history of the tests that they do every day, twice a day, but I do want to know exactly all of the issues related to it, whether it was one human error or whether it was a series of things.”

Martin Belanger, the director of public alerting for Pelmorex, a company that operates the alert system, said there are a number of safeguards built in, including having two separate platforms for training and live alerts.

“The software has some steps and some features built in to minimize that risk and to make sure that users will be able to know whether or not they’re sending an alert through the…training platform or whether they’re accessing the live system in the case of a real emergency,” he said.

Only authorized users have access to the system and the province manages that, Belanger said. Once in the live system, features make the user aware of which platform they are using, with various prompts and messages requiring the user’s confirmation. There is a final step that also requires the user to confirm their intent of issuing an alert to cellphones, radio and TVs, Belanger said.

On Sunday, a follow-up alert was sent to cellphones nearly two hours after the original notification.

NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns is critical of that delay.

“That’s a long time for people to be waiting to find out what’s really going on,” he said. “If people lose confidence in this system, the ability to use it when there is a real emergency will be impaired. That’s dangerous.”

Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy, who represents the riding of Pickering-Uxbridge, said getting that alert Sunday morning was “a shock to the system,” and he too wants the investigation to address the reason for the all-clear delay.

“We all have a lot of questions,” he said. “I think the public has every right to know exactly what went on and we feel exactly the same way.”

People in the community know the facility is safe, Bethlenfalvy said.

“We have some of the safest nuclear assets in the world—the safest—at 60% of Ontario’s electricity,” he said.

A poll released Monday found that 82% of Canadians are concerned about spills from nuclear reactors contaminating drinking water and 77% are concerned about neighbourhood safety and security risks for those living close to nuclear plants. Oraclepoll Research surveyed 2,094 people across the country on behalf of Friends of the Earth between Jan. 2 and 12, the day of the false alert. The have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The wording of Sunday’s alert caused much initial confusion, warning residents within 10 kilometres of the plant of “an incident,” though there was no “abnormal” release of radioactivity and residents did’t need to take protective steps, but emergency crews were responding.

In the event of a real emergency, the wording would be different, Jones said.

“There are a number of different alerts that are already prepared and are ready to go,” she said. “We have the ability to localize it to the communities that are impacted, but because this was a test, it went provincewide.”

Jones said she expects the results of the probe to be made public.

The Pickering nuclear plant has been operating since 1971, and had been scheduled to be decommissioned this year, but the former Liberal government—and the current Progressive Conservative government—committed to keeping it open until 2024. Decommissioning is now set to start in 2028.

It operates six CANDU reactors, generates 14% of Ontario’s electricity and is responsible for 4,500 jobs across the region, according to OPG.

The Green party is calling on the province to use this opportunity to review its nuclear emergency response plan, last updated in 2017 and subject to review every five years.

Toronto Mayor John Tory praised Ontario for swiftly launching an investigation, but said communication between city and provincial officials wasn’t what it should have been under the circumstances.

“It was a poor showing and I think everybody involved knows that,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure it’s not repeated.”


New Autonomous Drone Can Carry up to 250 Pounds

Elroy Air

As the transportation sector persists in its love affair with anything autonomous, more and more beta technology makes a testbed of the road, sea, and sky.

This past August, the autonomous cargo plane from Elroy Air — basically a 1,200-pound drone — completed its first test flight in California. The craft hovered ten feet in the air for about a minute before landing. It was “a modest start,” the Verge reported at the time, “to what could potentially become a very lucrative business.”

Elroy Air’s craft is intended to take drone delivery to the next level. Instead of the small devices that carry single items short distances, its Chaparral system is designed to carry 250 pounds up to 300 miles.

TechCrunch is reporting that Elroy Air is demonstrating a new milestone for the company: the ability of its system to pick up containers on its own, without any human handling required. TechCrunch says this could serve as a significant competitive advantage in a crowded market for Elroy, who also offers a hybrid-electric fuel system that offers the benefits of efficiency but without the need for any major charging infrastructure. 

Though carriers like UPS and Amazon have drone programs of their own in development, Elroy reportedly sees opportunities ahead for partnerships with existing logistics providers.

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Elroy Air


Northern Pulp begins shutdown, CEO defends actions taken The Tree Frog Forestry News January 13, 2020

Northern Pulp begins to wind down as Paper Excellence blames unrealistic timeline and undefined process for its closure. In related news: a Councillor pans Resolute’s behaviour on Fort Frances mill closure; buyers interest exists for Kenora’s bankrupt sawmill; and Steelworkers and Port McNeill mayor exchange barbs on BC’s forestry strike; while the value-added sector grows despite the dwindling fibre supply. 

In other news: NRCan study says wildfires are changing the boreal forest; the El Niño-La Niña effect may beget quieter fire seasons; and changes to the US Environmental Policy Act are said to bolster the timber industry. Meanwhile, in Australia wildfire news: a fourth veteran firefighter dies; the Prime Minister launches an inquiry, firefighters go on the offence, and designers call for more fire-resilient homes.


AG to probe costs of cancelling eastern Ontario wind farm project Company has launched a legal challenge of the decision, asking the Ontario divisional court to set it aside.

TORONTO — Ontario’s auditor general says she will examine the costs associated with the cancellation of an eastern Ontario wind farm, as the opposition New Democrats call for a special investigation of a move they say could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Bonnie Lysyk confirmed in a letter to the NDP she will be looking at the costs to scrap the project near Cornwall, Ont., in her annual audit. But in order to conduct a full probe, Lysyk said she would need a request from a cabinet minister, the legislative assembly or a legislative committee.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek revoked the Nation Rise Wind Farm project’s approval late last year, citing the risks to three bat species. The company has launched a legal challenge of the decision, asking the Ontario divisional court to set it aside.

The auditor said her review of the cancelled deal will be similar in scope to one her office conducted into scrapped energy agreements by Premier Doug Ford’s government in 2018-2019.

“We assessed the reasonableness of the province’s estimate for the cancellation of other energy contracts,” Lysyk said. “As part of this, we looked at contract cancellation terms, liability limits, and supplier claims.”

NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns wrote to the auditor general last week to request that she review the cancellation costs, which the government has not disclosed.

Party Leader Andrea Horwath said Thursday she is concerned the cancellation could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, given a recent revelation that the province is spending $231 million to cancel more than 750 renewable energy contracts.

“The public has a right to know the cost of tearing down and scrapping the Nation Rise project,” Horwath said. “That’s why the NDP … wrote to the auditor general requesting an investigation into the costs as well as an investigation into the flimsy excuse given by the environment minister to justify this cancellation.”

Yurek’s decision last month came despite a ruling from the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal that determined the risk the project posed to the bat population was negligible.

A spokesman for Yurek said Thursday the government cannot comment on the wind farm matter because of the pending court challenge.

The Progressive Conservative government has blamed the previous Liberals for signing the bad energy deals while the province had an oversupply of electricity.

It has also said that by cancelling contracts last July, it would ultimately save ratepayers $790 million _ a figure industry officials have disputed.

At the time, the government also said it would introduce legislation that would protect hydro consumers from any costs incurred from the cancellation.

It has since acknowledged it will have to pay some companies to cancel the deals and set aside $231 million to reach agreements with those firms.News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2020


Canadian economy shifting to a lower gear in 2018

Ottawa – While the Canadian economy was firing on all cylinders in 2017, the pace of growth tapered off toward the end of the year. The slowdown is expected to continue this year, with the economy forecast to expand by a more sustainable 1.9 per cent, down from 3.0 per cent in 2017, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Canadian Outlook.

“Rising interest rates, moderating employment growth, and high household debt will force consumers to reduce their pace of spending this year,” said Matthew Stewart, director, National Forecasting, The Conference Board of Canada. “The hope that trade and business investment would pick up the slack is unlikely to come to fruition as uncertainty surrounding NAFTA negotiations and the possibility of increased tariffs are challenging businesses and exporters alike.”

Highlights

  • Following an increase of 3.0 per cent in 2017, Canada’s economy is forecast to grow by 1.9 per cent in 2018.
  • While household spending will remain the main driver of economic growth, the pace of spending is expected to ease significantly.
  • Employment growth is expected to slow to 232,000 jobs, down from an 336,900 in 2017.

Tighter labour markets and increased retirements from baby boomers will lead to much slower employment growth in 2018. Job gains are expected to slow to 232,000 jobs, down from an impressive 336,900 last year. On a more positive note, a tight labour market will help support wage growth which could help cushion the impact of rising interest rates.

While household spending is expected to continue to be the main driver of economic growth, the pace of spending is forecast to ease significantly as high debt levels, slowing disposable income growth, and rising interest rates force consumers to dial back their spending. Purchases of durable goods are expected to bear the brunt of the slowdown after several years of consumers ramping up purchases, much of it funded on credit. Overall, real personal consumption is expected to increase by 2.4 per cent, down from 3.5 per cent last year.

A variety of factors point to further housing market cooling in 2018. Topping the list is the imposition of a new “stress test” imposed on mortgage borrowers by federal regulators. This reduces the maximum mortgage for which borrowers can qualify for, and it will reduce housing demand, particularly for higher-priced units. Rising interest rates, moderating employment growth, and high household debt will further limit consumers’ housing aspirations. This will be partially offset by stronger population gains resulting from higher immigration targets. Housing starts will ease to roughly 213,200 units this year from 219,700 units in 2017.

Despite strong demand in the U.S. and a competitively low Canadian dollar, exports will continue to underperform in 2018. For the third year in a row, non-energy merchandise exports are on track to record almost no growth, while exports in the wood products, aerospace, and automotive sectors are all forecast to decline for the second year in a row. Exporters are facing numerous challenges and increased uncertainty surrounding the outcome of NAFTA negotiations and the possibility of increased tariffs. Recent Conference Board research found that real GDP would lose half a percentage point of growth in the year following the termination of NAFTA, but the impact could be larger if business confidence or foreign investment to Canada is undermined by the loss of free trade.

Early indications point to another disappointing year for business investment. Despite a more positive outlook among businesses for profits and sales, companies are indicating that they plan to keep overall investment flat. Businesses may be holding back due to trade uncertainty and may also find Canada to be a less competitive destination for investment considering the large American tax cuts passed at the end of last year. Real business investment spending is forecast to expand by just 1.0 per cent in 2018, down from growth of 2.3 per cent in 2017.


Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 1.0 % in January

Ottawa – Canadian manufacturing sales fell 1.0 per cent in January, with the decline led by the motor vehicle, aerospace and primary metal industries, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Economists had expected a drop of 0.8 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Manufacturing sales for January totalled $54.9 billion as 14 of the 21 industries moved lower, while overall manufacturing sales in volume terms declined 1.1 per cent.

CIBC economist Royce Mendes said Canadian factories had a rough start to the year.

“The survey suggests that GDP data could look soggy to open the new year,” Mendes wrote in a brief note to clients.

“Factory shipments could feel some benefit as U.S. tax cuts make their way through the American economy, but already elevated inventory levels and capacity constraints could limit the gains.”

The Bank of Canada noted that fourth-quarter growth was weaker than it expected when it said it would keep its key interest rate target on hold earlier this month.

The central bank also said recent trade policy developments represented a key source of uncertainty for the Canadian and global outlooks.

Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen said recent Canadian economic data has been more mixed compared with a year ago when the economy was growing at an unsustainably strong clip.

“Reports on retail and wholesale trade sales next week will provide further clarification on the pace of early-2018 growth but for now we think the data is still consistent with further, albeit more modest, improvement at a close to two per cent rate in Q1,” Janzen said.

The drop in Canadian factory sales came as sales of motor vehicles fell 8.0 per cent to $4.9 billion, following two consecutive monthly increases.

Meanwhile, production in the aerospace product and parts industry fell 9.5 per cent to $1.6 billion, while the primary metal industry dropped 2.8 per cent to $4.1 billion.

Offsetting the drop, sales in the petroleum and coal product industry climbed 6.5 per cent to $6.1 billion, while chemical manufacturing sales rose 6.1 per cent to $4.7 billion.


Canadians see possible signal U.S. ready to accept NAFTA compromise

OTTAWA  – American trade officials are showing newfound interest in a Canadian proposal for revamping NAFTA’s automotive provisions as the U.S. seeks to swiftly conclude renegotiations of the continental free trade pact.

And that’s being taken in some quarters as a sign that the U.S. may realize it will have to settle for making only modest progress on a handful of American demands if there’s to be any hope of concluding a deal within the next few weeks.

At the conclusion of the last round of negotiations in Mexico earlier this month, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said “time is running very short” to get a deal before “political headwinds” – Mexico’s presidential election in July, American midterms in November and provincial elections in Ontario and Quebec – start to complicate matters.

For the first time, Lighthizer made public his hope of completing a NAFTA deal – including the legally required six-month congressional consultation period and ratification vote – before a new Congress gets sworn in next January.

That would mean reaching a deal with Canada and Mexico during or very soon after the next round of talks, which have not yet been officially scheduled but are expected to start on April 8 in Washington and last at least 10 days.

Canadian government officials are privately skeptical that a deal can be concluded at such a breakneck pace, particularly since Mexico’s presidential campaign officially kicks off at the end of this month and no candidate can afford to be perceived as conceding anything to U.S. President Donald Trump, who is political kryptonite in that country.

They believe the only way it can happen is if the U.S. drops many of its controversial demands and accepts modest changes in just a few key areas _ in particular on automobiles, which Canadian officials have believed from the outset would be the key to a successful renegotiation.

Lighthizer himself listed autos earlier this month as one of three priorities for the U.S.

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, concurs with the Canadian assessment.

“I would agree with all of that,” he said in an interview.

And the fact that USTR officials finally agreed to meet with him two weeks ago leads Volpe to suspect that they may have come to the same conclusion.

“That was a good meeting. It gave me hope,” he said, noting that U.S. trade officials had not accepted an invitation to meet with him during the first six months of the negotiations.

“If you look at the fact USTR was willing to receive me in Washington for a real meeting, it is the best signal to me that we could be in a phase where we get over the hump.”

In the meeting, Volpe said the Americans reiterated their opening demand _ that vehicles must have 85 per cent North American content and 50 per cent American content to be eligible for duty-free movement across the three countries, up from the current NAFTA requirement of 62.5 per cent North American content _ which has been rejected as a non-starter by Canada, Mexico and the industry.

But he said they were also “intellectually curious” about Canada’s counter-proposal.

Canada has proposed that NAFTA’s list of traceable components that go into cars and trucks be updated to include not just things like steel, aluminum and plastics but also intellectual property – like the software behind the computerized parts that are now integral to most vehicles and destined to become even more so as the industry embarks on an era of self-driving automobiles.

That would favour the U.S., Volpe said, because of the concentration of high-tech electronics clusters in that country.

When Canada first put its proposal on the NAFTA table back in late January, Lighthizer rejected it, predicting it would lead to more Asian content in vehicles – precisely the opposite of what the U.S. was trying to achieve.

But Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the union that represents Canadian auto workers, said his read is that the proposal “wasn’t offensive to anybody” and that all three countries could live with it.

Nevertheless, he doubted that it provides sufficient basis to strike even a scaled-down deal by next month, unless Canada and Mexico both “capitulate” on other unpalatable U.S. demands. And that, he predicted, is “not going to happen,” particularly not with Mexico embarking on its presidential campaign in two weeks.

“My guess is this thing isn’t going anywhere,” Dias said.

The U.S. has proposed a number of so-called poison pills that Canada and Mexico have flatly rejected, including: elimination of NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanisms; a sunset clause that would automatically terminate NAFTA unless it was renewed by all three countries every five years; and Buy American provisions to limit the number of American public contracts that could be awarded to Canadian and Mexican companies.

The U.S. has also demanded an end to Canada’s supply management system, which limits imports on milk, cheese and poultry, and sets minimum prices. Some trade experts suspect the Trudeau government may be willing to accept a small increase in U.S. dairy imports, similar to what was agreed to in the original Trans-Pacific Partnership, before Trump withdrew the U.S. from that trade deal.


U.S. applies second wave of duties against Canadian softwood lumber

The U.S. is expected to announce preliminary anti-dumping duties with an average rate of around 10 per cent, which will be added to the existing duties announced in April

 

 

MONTREAL—Canada’s softwood lumber industry is bracing for a second wave of U.S. duties expected to come Monday that could put further pressure on producers, particularly smaller ones, to cut jobs.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced in April preliminary countervailing duties against five companies ranging between three and 24 per cent, with other producers facing a tariff of 19.88 per cent.

This time, the U.S. is expected to announce preliminary anti-dumping duties with an average rate of around 10 per cent, which would be added on to the previous levy.

Analyst Paul Quinn of RBC Capital Markets believes the U.S. will play hardball and impose high anti-dumping rates in order to push Canada to agree to a deal before negotiations on NAFTA begin in August.

“Anti-dumping (duties) is a way to scare the Canadians and try to force them to get something done,” he said from Vancouver.

Canada’s share of the U.S. softwood lumber market was 27 per cent in May, down from 31 per cent a year earlier, according to monthly Canadian government reports. That represented a $165-million loss in exports for the month, including $105 million in B.C. and $18 million in Quebec.

Final duty rates have been lower than preliminary tariffs in the past. But Quinn said that could change this time because the U.S. Lumber Coalition is pushing for a tough response to the Canadian government’s $867-million financial support for the industry, mainly through loans and loan guarantees.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Ottawa was “very prudent” in developing the program and wouldn’t say if more industry funding will be coming in the wake of the second round of duties.

“We will react to market conditions in the reality of the moment,” he said Thursday. “We are committed to ensure that our forestry sector is able to adapt to changing environments.”

The ripple effects of the first round of softwood lumber duties are already being felt. Resolute Forest Products has cut shifts at seven sawmills, and there are fears other companies could follow suit.

The Conference Board of Canada has said U.S. softwood lumber duties will cost Canadian producers $1.7 billion a year and result in the reduction of 2,200 jobs.

Resolute spokesman Seth Kursman wouldn’t say if the Montreal-based company will pursue another round of layoffs.

“It wouldn’t be fair for me to speculate and guess and in doing so create angst among our people and the communities in which we work and live,” he said.

Analyst Hamir Patel of CIBC World Markets predicts Resolute will face the highest preliminary anti-dumping duty of the four producers set to receive their own tariffs. All other companies will get a weighted average duty, similar to when the last round of softwood duties were announced.

Countervailing duties target what the U.S. considers unfair subsidies, while anti-dumping tariffs go after the alleged selling of softwood below market value.


Wildfire problem will grow in coming decades

The massive wildfires that burned in California, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, British Columbia and other parts of North America in 2017 in many cases exhibited a disturbing trend: a marked increase in the amount of area burned.

That trend will continue in coming decades across the Western U.S. and northwestern Canada, though not uniformly, according to a recent study. UA professor Don Falk and Thomas Kitzberger from the Universidad Nacional del Comahue in Argentina, who started working on the research as a visiting scholar at the UA, were co-investigators on the study that also included Thomas Swetnam from the UA and Leroy Westerling of the University of California, Merced.

While it may have been an exceptional year in some respects, Falk’s and Kitzberger’s predictions suggest that years like 2017 are likely to become more common over time. States in the interior Western U.S., in particular, may be faced with large increases in total wildfire area burned, potentially beyond anything that has been experienced in the past.

Their research paper, “Direct and indirect climate controls predict heterogeneous early-mid 21st century wildfire burned area across western and boreal North America,” was published in the journal PLOS ONE in December as the 2017 fire season was ending. The results project where the greatest increases in area burned are likely to occur across the Western U.S. and Canada in coming decades, suggesting that large fires such as the recent ones in southern and northern California may become more common.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-wildfire-problem-decades.html#jCpWildfire problem will grow in coming decades

Wildfire problem will grow in coming decades

Projected change in annual area burned for the period 2010–2039, with red colors indicating areas with the greatest increase in area burned annually in wildfires, and dark blue the least. Credit: University of Arizona

A Model to Measure and Project Fire Activity

“We used 34 years of climate data to calibrate area burned in 1,500 grid cells across western North America, so we could capture the different ways that seasonal climate regulates fire in different regions,” said Falk, a professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The key measurement, annual area burned, is a combination of fire size, frequency and variability from year to year. Area burned does not necessarily indicate fire severity, the ecological effects in a burned area.

Taking into account geographic variation, the study data focused on fire occurrence, seasonal temperatures and snowpack. The seasonal climate variables that turned out to be driving the amount of area burned were summer temperatures during fire season, spring temperatures and rainfall, and winter temperatures. Winter and spring conditions regulate snowpack, which can delay the onset of the fire season.

The team built a statistical model for wildfire area burned in each of the grid cells studied, and then tested it with data for actual area burned since 2010 to validate their predictions. It did not project the extent of area burned beyond the mid-21st century, as climate and vegetation changes become more uncertain later in the century.

Findings for western and northern North America show that about half the states and provinces are projected to have a large increase—five or more times the current levels—in total wildfire area burned. Others may see smaller increases, indicating there is no “one-size-fits-all” model. Increases in area burned are unevenly distributed across the study area, with the strongest increases projected in the interior western region.

Wildfire problem will grow in coming decades
Thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed in the Thomas Fire, which is estimated to have a total cost of more than $180 billion. Credit: U.S. Forest Service

Heads-Up for Land Management

“Ultimately, this means that the large fire seasons of recent years, such as the one just ending, are likely to occur more frequently, affecting ecosystems, communities and public safety,” Falk said. “These will be billion-dollar fires. We’re just not ready for fire impacts of this kind, including post-fire effects from flooding after fire.”

The total cost of the 2017 fires in California alone is projected to exceed $180 billion. This includes not only the immediate costs of firefighting, but also the much larger costs of landscape rehabilitation; medical and hospital costs; insurance losses and the costs of replacing thousands of homes and other buildings; lost economic productivity from the destruction of businesses; repair and replacement of key infrastructure such as roads, power lines and dams; and weeks of lost income by employees.

Across the U.S., public land managing agencies are being stretched to their limits by the current scale of wildfire. The U.S. Forest Service spends more than half of its entire budget on wildfire response, leaving little for other key elements of its mission such as recreation, ecosystem restoration, research and public education.

Knowing about future regional variation in the projected annual area burned can help land managers and policy makers prepare for the possibility of extremely large fire years. Falk pointed out that seasonal climate changes also are having the effect of making the fire season longer, so there is additional time for more acreage to burn. In years when seasonal climate drives lengthy fire seasons, fire management resources may be stretched to the limit.

“Wildfires act as a multiplier of other forces such as climate change, exposing more and more areas not only to the immediate effects of fire, but also to the resulting cascade of ecological, hydrological, economic and social consequences,” Falk said. “We hope that this research will be a wake-up call to public agencies and legislatures at all levels of government that the problem is not going to get any smaller in coming decades.

“If anything, we need a serious, fact-based national dialogue about how to sustain our forests and woodlands through smart management and policy.”

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-wildfire-problem-decades.html#jCp


GE’s Giant Wind Turbines Will Have Rotors as Long as Football Fields

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 GE Renewable Energy has announced plans to build the Haliade-X, the biggest, most powerful offshore wind turbine that the world has ever seen. Standing at 853 ft., the turbine will be 300 feet taller than the Washington Monument.

The turbine will have a 12 MW direct-drive generator, and be able to produce 45% more energy than turbines currently on the market. The plan will take a significant investment from GE, which will plug more than 400 million dollars into the turbine’s development over the next three to five years.

The colossal turbine’s rotors will be designed and manufactured by LM Wind Power out of Denmark. The carbon hybrid blades will be 107-meters long, or 351 feet which is only nine feet shorter than a football field.

Each one of these machines will generate enough energy to power up to 5,000 U.S. homes. The hope is to create wind farms that will power up to 300,000 homes. It’s actually enough power to cover 1 million European households, just a side note on average U.S. energy consumption.

The diameter of the rotor is 722 ft. and the blade sweep will cover a surface of 410,000 sq feet — sticking with the football comparison, that’s the equivalent to the area of seven football fields.

The industry is interested for a number of reasons, namely the fact that more powerful turbines mean wind farms with fewer machines. It’s cheaper from a capital expense point of view, and it reduces risk in the installation process. It will also translate to less maintenance and simplify operations. According to GE, the design should make offshore wind projects more profitable and lower the cost of electricity.

The company hopes to ship the first Haliade-X as soon as 2021.