Tugboat Captain’s Point of View

Here’s a video I made showing a tugboat captain’s point of view as his boat pushes a loaded barge out of the Schuylkill River to a dock on Delaware River.

The video was made with the tiny Osmo Pocket Camera, which did a great job considering the conditions. In any case, now you can see what the captain sees. Enjoy.

Kite Powered Ships?

Who would have thought that sailing ships would come back into style? I mean, isn’t that how the first ships were powered? Yes, wind and human power at the oars. However the Sky Sails company has taken sailing to a new level. They use a kite, which is actually a sort of wing, that is tethered to the ship. The kite is flown up to 300 meters above the ship, a place where the winds are stronger and more reliable. They’ve been doing some test runs and fuel savings are better than 10% when compared to normal operations and are on the way to 20% or more. That’s better than $1000 per day for a 10,000 ton ship. Mucho dinero as my Spanish speaking friends would say.

Check out this video for some good footage of the system in action: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QUyetrs3MQ0&feature=related.

Thus, there are smart people doing great things out there to protect the environment and make money at the same time. Best thing we can do is let them continue their good work unmolested.

Wind Power

With the price of oil what it is today, there are all kinds of people talking about alternative energy. In Spain there are windmills all over the place. The ones in the photo below happen to be the modern kind that make electricity but there are also the old ones that mill grain or pump water.

These magnificent machines go a long way to provide for Spain’s electricity needs. The amazing part is they make very little noise. From where I was standing in this photo, you could barely hear them. At another location, there were literally hundreds of windmills and barely a sound came from them. I thought this can’t be true; they have to make noise. I spoke with an engineer who specializes in windmills and he explained that the windmills are not “loud” per se. He added that the ambient noise produced by the wind itself also disguises the noise of the machine.

At the time of this writing, there are no commercial sized windmills on my beloved island of Aruba. This is unbelievable given that the trade winds, the prevailing westerly of yore, blow across the island day in and day out. There are very few times in Aruba when the wind is not blowing with enough force to turn a giant windmill. Naturally, energy prices on the island have gone into the stratosphere with the price of oil. A string of large windmills would go a long way to alleviate this problem, not to mention how it would help the environment. Similarly, it would benefit the Aruban economy by reducing the cost of energy, giving the island a competitive edge against less fortunate locales. I’ll be doing some politicking to bring this issue to the fore with my friends on the island. It makes economic sense, is good for the planet, and won’t hurt a bit. Why delay?

I decided not to delay by having a system designed for my home there. It incorporates a 1kW turbine and an 800 watt solar array. This is not very much generating capacity. However, given the constant winds and reliable sunshine it will produce enough power to generate more than 75% of my energy needs. From January through April it will most likely supply 100%. There is a battery bank which keeps the power on during times of low wind and/or sun. I’m working on a deal with my neighbor to use the power when I’m not there, which will make the system that much more affordable for both of us. As soon as these pieces are in place I’ll ship the parts to the island and start getting a nice return on the investment.

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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