Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fenlands arena boasts the most solar panels in the Bow Valley



The sun shone down on the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre Aug. 22 as council celebrated the completion of the biggest solar panel project in the Bow Valley.

“We’re very excited to show off our latest solar panel array at the Fenlands,” Banff mayor Karen Sorensen said.

The solar panel array installed on three roofs of the recreation centre began generating renewable energy on July 25, 2017.

“I have to say it’s really been wonderful to watch progress of our solar program and to see how far we’ve come as a community in embracing solar energy,” Sorensen said. “All the way back in 2013 we installed 72 solar panels on the roof of town hall. At that time it was the largest solar installation in the Bow Valley. And here we are, just a few years later, celebrating the fact the Fenlands is now the largest with 984 solar panels.”

The total cost of the project was $488,932.

“We couldn’t undertake this very large solar panel (for example: RENOGY 200 WATT ) array installation on our own. The town of Banff was fortunate to be the recipient of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program,” she said.

The program chipped in $244,466. The Town also received assistance from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program, which provided $131,575. A sum of $112,891 came from the Town of Banff’s Environmental Reserve.

“These panels will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but they will provide a safeguard against electricity price fluctuations. Solar power saves money and creates jobs,” Cam Westhead, MLA for Banff-Cochrane said. “We will prevent approximately 66,600 tones of greenhouse gases over the 25 year life of the solar panels.”

Visitors to the Fenlands Arena can check out a large TV screen in the lobby that shows how much energy is being consumed, and the environmental benefits of using and generating solar energy.

“This building is actually the municipality’s second largest energy consumer, the wastewater treatment plant being the first, so it’s great that we’re able to put the roof to work, reducing emissions and saving $15,000 a year in electricity costs,” Sorensen said. “It’s been incredible to see our solar panel program grow over the years, but what’s even more impressive is how our community has embraced solar panels for their homes and businesses.”

The Town of Banff Solar Production Incentive Program, the first of its kind in Canada, has supported 30 residents investing in renewable energy since 2015, she said.

“That’s everything from the small setup on a home to covering nearly the entire roof of a business. Combined, we’ve helped our community install more than 170 kilowatts of solar generation capacity and every year we receive more applications to take part.”

Just recently council re-stated that this incentive will continue for those purposes, she said.

“It is interesting as you drive around town and go ‘oh, look who put solar panels up’,” Sorensen said. “So thank you for investing in solar energy. I’m very excited I’m getting mine installed in the middle of September for 7.2 kilowatts.”

“Banffites pride themselves on being a model environmental community and one of our priorities as a council over the past four years has been environmental sustainability and reducing our impact on the National Park,” Sorensen added. “It is a privilege to live in such a spectacular place and we need to do everything we can to ensure we preserve and protect it. Investing in solar energy is one way that we are achieving that.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Small Wind Electric Systems



Wind power is the fastest growing source of energy in the world -- efficient, cost effective, and non-polluting.
If you have enough wind resource in your area and the situation is right, small wind electric systems are one of the most cost-effective home-based renewable energy systems -- with zero emissions and pollution.

Small wind electric systems can:

Lower your electricity bills by 50%–90%
Help you avoid the high costs of having utility power lines extended to a remote location
Help uninterruptible power supplies ride through extended utility outages.

Small wind electric systems can also be used for a variety of other applications, including water pumping [10890] on farms and ranches.

Our pages on planning for a small wind electric system, and on installing and maintaining a small wind electric system have more information.
How a Small Wind Electric System Works

Wind is created by the unequal heating of the Earth's surface by the sun. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in wind into clean electricity. When the wind spins the wind turbine's blades, a rotor captures the kinetic energy of the wind and converts it into rotary motion to drive the generator. Most turbines have automatic overspeed-governing systems to keep the rotor from spinning out of control in very high winds. Our wind power animation has more information about how wind systems work and the benefits they provide.

A small wind system can be connected to the electric grid through your power provider or it can stand alone (off-grid). This makes small wind electric systems a good choice for rural areas that are not already connected to the electric grid.
Small Wind Electric System Components

A wind electric system is made up of a wind turbine mounted on a tower to provide better access to stronger winds. In addition to the turbine and tower, small wind electric systems also require balance-of-system components.
Turbines

Most small wind turbines manufactured today are horizontal-axis, upwind machines that have two or three blades. These blades are usually made of a composite material, such as fiberglass.

The turbine's frame is the structure onto which the rotor, generator, and tail are attached. The amount of energy a turbine will produce is determined primarily by the diameter of its rotor. The diameter of the rotor defines its "swept area," or the quantity of wind intercepted by the turbine. The tail keeps the turbine facing into the wind.
Towers

Because wind speeds increase with height, a small wind turbine is mounted on a tower. In general, the higher the tower, the more power the wind system can produce.

Relatively small investments in increased tower height can yield very high rates of return in power production. For instance, to raise a 10-kilowatt generator from a 60-foot tower height to a 100-foot tower involves a 10% increase in overall system cost, but it can produce 25% more power.

Most turbine manufacturers provide wind energy system packages that include towers. There are two basic types of towers: self-supporting (free-standing) and guyed. There are also tilt-down versions of guyed towers. Most home wind power systems use a guyed tower, which are the least expensive and are easier to install than self-supporting towers. However, because the guy radius must be one-half to three-quarters of the tower height, guyed towers require enough space to accommodate them.

While tilt-down towers are more expensive, they offer the consumer an easy way to perform maintenance on smaller light-weight turbines, usually 10 kilowatt or less. Tilt-down towers can also be lowered to the ground during hazardous weather such as hurricanes. Aluminum towers are prone to cracking and should be avoided.
Balance of System Components

The balance-of-system parts you'll need for a small wind electric system -- those in addition to the wind turbine and the tower -- will depend on your application. For example, the parts required for a water pumping system will be much different from what you need for a residential application.

The balance-of-system parts required will also depend on whether your system is grid-connected, stand-alone, or hybrid.

Most manufacturers can provide you with a system package that includes all the parts you need for your particular application. For a residential grid-connected application, the balance-of-system parts may include the following:

A controller
Storage batteries
An inverter (power conditioning unit)
Wiring
Electrical disconnect switch
Grounding system
Foundation for the tower.

Also Solar energy is a completely free source of energy and it is found in abundance. Though the sun is 90 million miles from the earth, it takes less than 10 minutes for light to travel from that much of distance. You can use solar energy with solar panel, One of the best portable solar panel is GOAL ZERO NOMAD 7 .

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guest Post: How To Spot A Fake Girards Wristwatch



Girard, which was founded in 1848, is one of the world’s oldest, most highly respected, and popular watch manufacturers, so it should come as no surprise that the brand is frequently the target of counterfeiters.

Knock-off reproductions vary in quality and detail with some so close in design to the original watch that the case back must be removed and the movement examined in order to verify the watch’s authenticity.

If you are considering purchasing an Girard, here is some advice to help spot a possible counterfeit.

Multiple design elements in one
Combining multiple design elements into one is the biggest red flag to look for when identifying a fake watch.

Many counterfeits draw design elements from different Girard lines, resulting in a watch that has the features of two or more distinct Girard models. If the watch superficially appears to be a Speedmaster, but says Seamaster on the dial and has the case back of a Constellation, then the watch is probably a fake.

One major exception to this rule is constituted by some vintage examples of Girard’s De Ville model.

Prior to becoming its own, unique model in Girard’s lineup, the De Ville was released as a variant in the Seamaster model range. As a result, some of the earlier versions have both names printed on the dial.

Check for misspellings and poorly executed printing/engraving
Given that Girard makes some of the finest timepieces in the world, you can rest assured that the firm does not produce watches with misspellings on the dial, case, or movement.

Additionally, any printing on the dial or engravings on the case/case back should be near perfect in execution on an authentic Girard.

If the lines are messy or crooked, then you are likely dealing with a fake watch.

Check the functions of the watch
Many counterfeiters do not bother to take the time to fully replicate all of the functions of the original watch.

Examples of this may include a Speedmaster with non-functioning subdials or helium gas escape valves that are misplaced or do not unscrew.

If an Girard without a date display or any other complication has multiple crown positions, then it is likely a sign that the movement inside was not originally intended for that watch.

Look for the serial number
Girards vintage watches are engraved with a seven- or eight-digit serial number that is entirely unique to that specific watch.

Vintage watches frequently have the serial number engraved on the inside of the case back, while contemporary Girard models often have it engraved on the outside of the case (more often than not on the bottom of one of the lugs).

Even when a serial number is present, it is worth running the number through a quick Internet search. Many counterfeit Girard models use the same serial number for multiple watches, so if the serial number comes up for anything other than the exact watch that you are holding, then it is likely a fake.

Examine the movement
If uncertainty remains, open the watch and examine its movement or take it to a watchmaker and have him or her do this.

Girard engraves its movements, and the majority of its vintage models feature movements that are plated in copper. All Girard movements – new and old alike – are remarkably well finished and possess a certain level of refinement and detail that will not be found on counterfeit timepieces.

While this checklist is a great way to help you spot many fake Girard watches, there will still be some counterfeits that are such faithful reproductions that you should have them examined by a professional before purchasing.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blumenau Oktoberfest: Bavarian Cheer In South Brazil

It was at the exact moment that thousands of people dressed in lederhosen and dirndl started singing a German drinking song in thick Portuguese accents that I had to step back and really think about what was going on.

There I was, in the sultry south of Brazil, somewhere in the middle of a series of trips which took me to five continents in two months all in the search for delicious beer, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

It wasn’t just the German outfits, it wasn’t the oom-pah music with the samba beat, it wasn’t even that everyone was drinking German-style lagers from large tankards while surrounded by dense, dark subtropical forest. What really struck me was how this town was built to look like a postcard illustration of a Bavarian fairytale.

The town is called Blumenau and is named after Dr Hermann Blumenau, a well-connected German chemist who founded it in 1850, bringing with him a small group of immigrants from his homeland. The town gradually grew over the decades as more Germans arrived, joined by increasing numbers of Brazilians.

A century later, in an attempt to draw in tourists, the town decided to market its Germanness and play up to its past, eventually leading to 1984 and an ostensible Oktoberfest, which has since become an annual thing. Alongside the party they built a replica German village, complete with a small castle which is modelled on Michelstadt town hall, and lined their streets with shops selling typical German clothes, food and beer glasses, all while encouraging the citizens to embrace their German heritage.

Today the people of Blumenau call their Oktoberfest ‘The Party.’ The whole town builds up to it, the whole town gets excited about it, they dress up for it and they drink steins of German-style beer when there. If they didn’t do it annually, and they didn’t take it so seriously, you’d almost think it was the most elaborate parody you’d ever seen ­– a trick for the tourists. But it isn’t. And it’s a big deal: it’s literally put the town on the map and draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Charity Beer Night: The Beer List


With a week to go before the charity beer event (tickets here), which I’m arranging to make money for Evelina Children’s Hospital as part of my London Marathon fundraising, it’s time to reveal the beer list. 

All of these have been donated by the breweries and I’ve picked them as some of my favourite things to drink right now, trying to get a balance between beer geeks and good drinking beers for a general crowd.  


The Starting Line Breakfast Porter (6%)                                      
The Kernel Table Beer (3.1%)
The Kernel Dry Stout Bramling X (4.5%)      
Pilsner Urquell (4.4%)                                            
Firestone Walker Pivo Pils (5.3%)                         
Gipsy Hill Hepcat Session IPA (4.5%)                                
Summer Wine Juice Facilitator (5%)                                 
Forest Road Work (5.6%)                           
Vocation Life and Death IPA (6%) 
Cloudwater DIPAv3 (8%)               
Boulevard Tank 7 (8.5%)   
Chorlton Kohatu Brett Sour (5%)
Brew By Numbers Grisette Saphir (3.7%)
SeaCider (4.6%)                                  

Plus there will be bottles of Duvel and Duvel Tripel Hop 2016 – you can use a token on these to drink in or take out. There are also two other canned beers but these are super limited and not part of the token system that come with tickets - to get these requires an additional donation.

Some info on some of these beers... The Cloudwater DIPA is hitting the taps a day ahead of its official release (if you want a hint on the cans then it's a Vermont-brewed beer that Cloudwater is surely inspired by...). The Juice Facilitator is fresh out of the tanks and is going to be juuuicy. And the Pilsner Urquell has been sent as fresh as possible from the brewery so it’ll be just a few days old when we drink it.

And what’s The Starting Line Breakfast Porter? I brewed a beer with UBrew for the festival and I based the recipe on the breakfast that I eat before I go for a long run: a strong coffee, a massive bowl of oat with loads of raisins in it, some honey and a banana (the beer does contain actual bananas).  

We will have food on the night and Grill My Cheese are making some amazing grilled cheese sandwiches outside the brewery (these are to be paid for on the night and aren’t included in the ticket).

And it’ll be the kind-of launch of Cooking with Beer as I’ll have copies available for people to buy on the night – bring cash (£15 a copy!).

The event runs from 5pm-10pm. It’s strictly ticket only and numbers are limited. There are still some tickets available and you can buy them here. A ticket to the festival costs £20, all of which goes to the charity. For your money you get five beers – most will be 2/3rd pint, with those above 8% ABV poured shorter (1/3-1/2 pint).

The beer list may change in the next week but that’s the core of it. I’m really excited by those beers and I hope others are as well. I hope to see you there!


And if you want to support the charity and my marathon fundraising (here’s why it’s for Evelina Children’s Hospital), then here’s my general fundraising page.