Posts filed under ‘Energy’
Picture this: the sun, beach, sand, waves, porpoises ….wind turbines?
A variety of wind farms are being proposed, designed and constructed across the US. Cape Wind proposes the first offshore wind farm on Nantucket Sound, “… Miles from the nearest shore, 130 wind turbines will gracefully harness the wind to produce up to 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. In average winds, Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands electricity needs. Maryland’s Governor proposed a plan to build offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean (Maryland lawmakers today refused to pass the plan this year). His was a $1.5 billion field of giant turbines about 10 miles off of the Ocean City, Maryland shoreline, while the eastern edge is approximately 27 miles from the coast. And in Delaware, NRG Bluewater Wind has won the exclusive right to negotiate with the federal government to build an offshore wind farm.
Will these “green” initiatives bring green engineering jobs? “Bluewater Wind officials estimated in 2008 that the project would bring 400-500 construction jobs to the state, as well as at least 80 ongoing operations and maintenance jobs. A Port of Wilmington official estimated last year that building a regional turbine assembly facility there could result in about 770 jobs during construction, and another 750 operational jobs.” The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported in 2010 that the wind energy sector that employs 18,500 staff in the manufacturing sector could “support tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components if the right policies are put in place.”
Civil engineers will be needed for a variety of roles within this “green” engineering market. For example, the wind farm infrastructure consists of roads and drainage, wind turbine, met mast foundations and buildings housing electrical switch gear, planning, modeling, preliminary design, QA/QC and construction of wind farm infrastructure for sites and utilities for access roads, crane pads, crane paths…
Many of us will be interested in reviewing the results of states and P3 proposals. Will other states step up and add these green engineering jobs or, like Maryland, will legislators blow the turbine proposals out of the water? :)
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It’s been quite some time since I have touched on this subject, so at the risk of “beating a dead horse,” here I go again!
Have you ever known anyone who has traveled via high-speed rail? Have you actually experienced High Speed Rail yourself? At the very least you have recently read about it or heard about it on the news. I have never personally experienced it myself, but I’ve read enough about it and viewed enough videos to know that I am very excited about what the future holds. I have also spoken to folks who have actually traveled on High Speed Rail and the reviews were glowing!
Imagine blowing up a balloon; you’ve populated the balloon with enough air that is appears to be at full capacity, but maybe you want it a little bit bigger, so you put two more breaths into it. It’s good. It hasn’t popped, so you put two more breaths in. It’s now stretched pretty thin, but maybe the kids are chanting, “Bigger! Bigger! Bigger!” You push your luck one more time and in the middle of your next breath….POP! As I write, our highways and airspace are pretty much maxed out when it comes to capacity, and as our population grows and our economy inches its way back into growth mode the constraints will be even heavier. In fact, on Monday CNN reported the following from the FAA:
It also predicts U.S. airlines will carry 1 billion passengers a year by 2021, a milestone that will come two years earlier than previously thought. (To put that number into perspective, about 712 million passengers flew on domestic carriers in 2010.)“
If we fail to truly embrace High Speed Rail our infrastructure will share the same results as the balloon.
Last week Joe Biden announced a comprehensive plan that would allow for 80% of our hard-working population to have access to High Speed Rail by 2035 and has committed to $53 billion over six years. Check out what the US High Speed Rail Association’s vision of what a national High Speed Rail system would look like:
The build out of High Speed Rail lines is a lengthy process; the environmental planning and reports, the public meetings, more reports, more meetings, and one of the most, if not THE most sophisticated engineering and construction processes in the world requires much patience. Of course the longer the discussion gets hung up in DC the even longer this will take. As the United States continues to talk about High Speed Rail, the other countries on our globe continue to stay one step ahead of us. I personally am not concerned about competing with other countries because at the end of the day I think the US rocks! But all this talk over the years surrounding High Speed Rail, and the limited action is getting old – the advantages of High Speed Rail, as you and I both know, are enormous:
*Increased opportunities for employment due to easy access between cities
*A reduction in carbon emissions
*A national HSR system could reduce oil consumption by 125 bbl / year (according to Environment America)
*Reduce the stress already on existing, over-capacity infrastructure
*Ability to text message and check Facebook on phone without having to lookup for oncoming traffic
Look, the list goes on and on as to the advantages, no doubt. A couple of years ago I wondered if people would really be able to give up their connections to their cars on a daily basis. The convenience they provide; the status they may show, etc. But I think with all the studies that have been compiled, and the horrible recession that we have recently passed through, that particular mentality has passed its prime. The development of true High Speed Rail has begun in FL and CA and significant investments have already been made in those regions. May the rest of our country follow in their footsteps…let’s get this show on the road, or shall I say, on the rail!
So, are you high on speed…rail? I know I am and I would love to hear your thoughts – especially from anyone who may be against this type of innovation in our country…
Thanks for reading!
Tim Dickinson has written an excellent synopsis for Rolling Stone magazine on President Bush’s final legacy and good-bye gift to us for our future. The title is somewhat rough for some of you, so I won’t put it here, but I offer to you the link:
As it is expected that every outgoing president has implemented 11th hour regulations, “Bush is rolling them out at a record pace — nearly twice as many as Clinton, and five times more than Reagan.”
Here are just a FEW of his final goodbye gifts to all of us (with a few of my thoughts included!)…
Considering that my livelihood depends a great deal on infrastructure development, I read his last minute regulations with interest. “Under a rule submitted in November, federal agencies would no longer be required to have government scientists assess the impact on imperiled species before giving the go-ahead to logging, mining, drilling, highway building or other development.” I can’t say that I have ever described myself as a live or die environmentalists, but at 47, I find this unsettling at the least! You only need to read my earlier BLOG discussing my obsession with the movie “Soylent Green” to know that this is beyond worrisome!
Typical of the Bush presidency, he has made sure that the coal industry has no problems depositing their waste from mountaintop mining into streams and valleys. Additionally, he has lowered air pollution regulations near our national parks, permitted for nearly 2 million acres of lands for the mining of oil shale — “an energy-intensive process that also drains precious water resources” and he has deregulated farming pollution. He has circumvented the Clean Water Act and dismissed EPA leaders dissents. This is just more of his legacy he has solidified for his future grandchildren and yours.
The Rolling Stone article details so many other last minute, little front news regulations, that I am too troubled to even list them all!
All of us will be affected by his decisions. Involved in our industry, what do you think? Please comment!
In case you aren’t familiar, T. Boone Pickens has developed the Pickens’ Plan. Specifically, the plan is designed to reduce the United States’ reliance on foreign oil from 70% (where it is currently) by maximizing the natural gas resources to 38% over the next decade.
Recently I read that T. Boone Pickens either reduced or sold out his stock in several well known civil engineering related companies in the third quarter of this year, firms such as: The Shaw Group, Foster Wheeler, Fluor Corp, KBR and Jacobs Engineering. He picked up energy stocks in their place. What does this mean other than that oil and energy stocks are/were down? Or, could it be that he wants to be able to utilize those firms in his upcoming contracts to bring water and wind power to North Texas? In April Pickens announced plans to execute $1.5 billion in wind turbine contracts. By last month, he told the press that he would be delaying the project until natural gas prices rise and the credit market is repaired.
There are as many critics of the Pickens Plan as there are supporters. What do you know and what do you think?