I was in Newcastle, NSW AU on Wednesday night to give another lecture as part of the Australian speaking tour I’m doing. I had the pleasure of following David Stockwell in a presentation, and David Archibald followed me.
We were a bit late getting there due to airplane scheduling snafus, and as we rushed from the airport at 6:15 pm we passed the coal loading terminal at Newcastle. There, as if there was some madcap attempt at sustainability, was one of those huge wind turbines like I’ve seen on the US plains. I attempted to get a photo, but my camera misfired with bad focus due to the car window, and I missed the shot.
The next morning, on the way to the airport again at 6AM, the windmill was still there, just like it was before. My driver (Anthony#2 of Team Anthony) gladly pulled over to allow me to get this shot as dawn crept in. I was incredulous that the shot hadn’t changed.
Ummm. I thought windmills were all about generating electricity, not using it. So why put torches on it that run all night? Want to bet the lighting power is coming from coal? While the turbine probably generates more power than it uses most nights, it sure seems odd.
Of course, maybe the people that run it really didn’t want a wind turbine in their coal town, and this torch lighting is their form of silent protest. Or, maybe they are proud of it and felt it needed to be illuminated all hours of the night. Maybe the lights are to warn off birds and small planes. Nobody seemed to know. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t help but be amused.
I don’t wish to demean the proud hard working people in Newcastle in any way, I just thought this was very odd and worth noting. Thanks to everyone who attended our talk. A special thank you to the two protesters handing out flyers at the city hall telling everyone how wrong we are.
Too bad you didn’t stick around to see what you were protesting about, you might have found it interesting. The flyers handed out were obviously written without the benefit of knowing what was being presented that night. Kids, do your homework.
Here is what the Newcastle wind turbine looks like during the day, note the coal terminal in the background.
From the Newcastle City Photos Blog:
Newcastle’s only big wind turbine seems to be reaching up to the sky for the breezes to keep the city running during the approaching night! Is this the future of energy, ‘free’ renewable and non polluting. For a city which has been based on technology we are slow to move on from the old coal based power structure. People want their power but what is the cost? Later generations will have to put up with the results of our excessive use and pollution it causes.
Background on Newcastle from Hunter Valley Eguide:
Newcastle lies approximately 160 kilometres north of Sydney. Newcastle is the seventh largest city in Australia and is the largest city which is not a state or federal capital. It has a population of approximately 300,000. Newcastle was founded on 30th March 1804 as a penal settlement, so has a selection of buildings old by Australian standards, as well as beaches, surf, impressive coastal scenery, bushland and a well-known lake. It is also an important port, especially for the export of coal, of which resource some 70 million tonnes passes through the city annually.
Thanks to Anthony, Sue and many others who helped out in Newcastle. On behalf of David Stockwell, David Archibald, and myself, I thank you for your hospitality and efforts.