EDN's Senior Technical Editor Brian Dipert has written an excellent feature on wind turbines and how to site them. He also sides with Scientific American's proclamation that the debate is over: Global warming is a manmade problem.
Low cost, plentiful, clean, and, in all other respects, "green." These words describe wind power in a nutshell. So, why is it so unpopular? The devil is in the details, along with our reluctance to adopt an unknown technology. With fossil-fuel prices on the rise, their supply increasingly unstable, and global-warming effects growing, however, the wind-turbine alternative is garnering overdue attention.
The debate on global warming is over, according to Scientific American (Reference 1). With those no-holds-barred words, the respected journal introduced the theme of its September 2006 special issue, "Energy's Future: How to Power the Economy and Still Fight Global Warming." Diminishing but still lingering debate within the scientific community hasn't completely settled the question of whether — and, if so, to what degree — increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas concentration in the earth's atmosphere have caused global warming (Figure 1). But Scientific American's Special Projects Editor Gary Stix seems convinced that a material link exists: "Present levels of carbon dioxide — nearing 400 ppm in the earth's atmosphere — are higher than they have been at any time in the past 650,000 years and could easily surpass 500 ppm by 2050 without radical intervention. ... Almost all of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred since the 1980s. No one knows exactly what will happen if things are left unchecked — the exact date when a polar ice sheet will complete a phase change from solid to liquid cannot be foreseen with precision. ... But no climatologist wants to test what will arise if carbon-dioxide levels drive much higher than 500 ppm" (Reference ).
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.