Tag Archives: Science

Beneath Woodland, NC solar

There’s more to the North Carolina solar town story: they have already approved other solar farms, one of which is almost built, and they approved the one in question once it was moved to a different location. And there are real reasons they are concerned about solar farms; reasons which solar developers can address (unlike pipeline companies).

Snopes reviewed the original story and found it mostly true. The town of Woodland posted its own update 14 December 2015, which clarifies what they were up to, concluding: Continue reading

Solar steals sunlight from plants! High school science teacher and Woodland, NC town council agree

Update 2015-12-23: There’s more to the story

Photosynthesis fails near solar panels, thinks a high school science teacher. And the Woodland, NC Town Council not only agreed with her and rejected a rezoning proposal for a solar farm, it passed a moratorium on future solar farms. Yet I bet they have fields all around sprayed with Roundup and other cancer-causing chemicals that actually do affect plants, animals, and people.

Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Woodland rejects solar farm,

Jane Mann said she is a local native and is concerned about the natural vegetation that makes the community beautiful.

She is a retired Northampton science teacher and is concerned that photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the vegetation from growing. She said she has observed areas near solar panels where vegetation is brown and dead because it did not receive enough sunlight.

She also questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer.

“I want to know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I want information. Enough is enough. I don’t see the profit for the town.

“People come with hidden agendas,” she said. “Until we can find if anything is going to damage this community, we shouldn’t sign any paper.”

I guess she never noticed all the plants near Monsanto-seed fields are dead, most of the birds are gone, and all her students are fat from eating processed foods stuffed with high fructose corn syrup. But sure, solar panels are the problem.

Another local citizen brought up a real economic problem, but blamed the wrong culprit.

Bobby Mann said he watched communities dry up when I-95 came along and warned that would happen to Woodland because of the solar farms.

As Eric Berger pointed out in ars technical, there don’t actually seem to be any solar farms now in or near Woodland, NC.

Back to Bobby Mann:

“You’re killing your town,” he said. “All the young people are going to move out.”

Well, there is a real problem with rural communities losing jobs and citizens to cities. But he’s pointing at the wrong culprit.

He said the solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.

I wonder what advertising your local government acts on wildly inaccurate misinformation will do to businesses thinking about locating in Woodland?

This is what happens when people believe corporate propaganda:

Mayor Kenneth Manual called for the vote, which was 3-1 against rezoning the land (the mayor only votes in case of a tie).

The council later voted for a moratorium on future solar farms.

I’d guess businesses would go somewhere else, after the many news stories about this incident.


Stanford aluminum battery

Another entrant in the battery race to clean energy storage.

Mark Shwartz, Stanford PR, 6 April 2015, Aluminum battery from Stanford offers safe alternative to conventional batteries: The new aluminum-ion battery could replace many of the lithium-ion and alkaline batteries in wide use today.

Stanford University scientists have invented the first high-performance aluminum battery that’s fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. Researchers say the new technology offers a safe alternative to many commercial batteries in wide use today.

“We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”

Although drilling would produce aluminum dust, which isn’t exactly benign. However, point taken.

Personally, I still prefer Continue reading

Energy storage technology research at Binghamton U. NY

What would happen if VSU applied for such a research grant?

According to its own PR of 19 June 2014, Binghamton University receives $12.8 million for innovative energy research,

The NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES) at Binghamton University has been awarded a $12.8 million, four-year grant, announced Wednesday by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. One of 32 grants awarded for a total of $100 million to fund Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), it will help accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy.

One of 32 grants? Some EFRC partner institutions Continue reading

Stanford beats Harvard; divests from coal

In the first big win for the fossil fuel divestment campaign, Stanford just did what campaign-founder Harvard has not yet: announced it would divest from coal-mining companies.

Here’s Stanford’s PR dated today, 7 May 2014, Stanford to divest from coal companies,

Acting on a recommendation of Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, the Board of Trustees announced that Stanford will not make direct investments in coal mining companies. The move reflects the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

Who is this Advisory Panel? Continue reading

Moody Family Housing Environmental Assessment published

Spotted first by Michael G. Noll in the VDT yesterday, the document promised by Col. Ford the previous evening. A quick search finds nothing about the Nelson Hill Wells, and no mention of VSU or any of the professors there who have expressed concern and asked for access to the site to conduct an independent study.


In accordance with the National Environmental Policy
Act and Air Force regulations, the Air Force Civil
Engineer Center (AFCEC) has completed a Revised Draft
Environmental Assessment (EA), Finding of No
Significant Impact (FONSI), and a Finding of No
Practicable Alternative (FONPA) to evaluate the
consequences of the following stated proposed action:

The revised Proposed Action would involve the
construction of 11 housing units for senior leadership on
a 15-acre parcel on the base and 90 units on an
approximately 60-acre parcel located northwest of the
city of Valdosta, GA on Val-Del Road (the Val-Del
Parcel). This represents a reduction Continue reading

Air Force has the environmental assessment for Moody Family Housing

Last night I chatted briefly with Moody’s Col. Ford, before he spoke at the Lake Park Chamber Annual Awards Dinner. He said he had been able to get on the site of the proposed Moody Family Housing about a year ago. I mentioned the Nelson Hill Wells and he said they had spent a lot of time already investigating water issues, and now the Air Force has received the environmental assessment. Perhaps it includes the missing piece this time, and maybe there’s a way for the public and local professors to provide input.

Colonel Edward Ford is commander of the 23d Mission Support Group at Moody AFB, Ga. He leads a group of more than 1,450 military and civilian members providing support and services to a population of 28,000 active duty, retired military and family members. His group maintains an installation with more than 830 buildings and more than 17,500 acres, including an adjacent bombing or strafing range. He is responsible for ensuring the readiness of support forces to mobilize and deploy to build, secure, and sustain air base operations at austere bare base locations anywhere in the world.

The 23d Mission Support Group also retains responsibility for civil engineering, environmental compliance, Continue reading

Organic battery with no metals –Harvard SEAS

Solar already provides peak power at peak load, and through distribution is resilient, and that plus ever-decreasing prices will drive solar deployments up exponentially for a decade or so yet. If we add an inexpensive metal-free battery, solar will take over even faster. And that’s what Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has just published as a discovery.

Harvard SEAS PR of 8 January 2014, Organic mega flow battery promises breakthrough for renewable energy: Harvard technology could economically store energy for use when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine,

The paper reports a metal-free flow battery that relies on the electrochemistry of naturally abundant, inexpensive, small organic (carbon-based) molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that store energy in plants and animals.

And much less expensive, reported CBC News 9 January 2014, Continue reading

Rural broadband economics slides

Use of fast Internet access by as many people as possible improves local income and jobs, and fast Internet access is necessary for creative workers, according to a nationwide detailed study.

Courtesy of lead author Brian Whitacre (pictured), here are the slides from Broadband’s Contribution to Economic Health in Rural Areas: A Causal Analysis, presented at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference and previously blogged here as General broadband adoption improves rural economic health. They’re a lot easier to see than my blurry pictures. You can see the Valdosta MSA on the maps of some of their underlying data.


Display the kind of responsibility that will benefit our university, community, region, and world –S.A.V.E. to VSU Foundation

A copy of what the VSU Foundation called the “ “well-intentioned request” by Students Against Violating the Environment (S.A.V.E.). I added the links and images. -jsq

October 17, 2013

Dear VSU Foundation and Board of Trustees,

Recent years have brought climate change to the forefront of public discussion. A newly released report from the United Nations indicates with 95% certainty that humans are the primary cause of the issue. It is our concern that the continuation of our current practices and our dependence on fossil fuels will only result in continued environmental degradation and human struggle. Knowing the impact that anthropogenic climate change has upon our environment, our health, and our economy, we are asking Valdosta State University to take a stand and join in the effort to address this issue, as social responsibility is part and parcel to the role of public institutions.

As a public institution, Valdosta State University has a responsibility to shape the debate about climate change through its voice, and fossil fuel divestment is another medium for that voice. We are asking that VSU immediately Continue reading