30 April 2011

iMoot 2011

Nearing the end of day 1 of the iMoot 2011 and I have enjoyed watching some of the sessions from the comfort of my couch.

There is a bit of something for everyone in the conference programme this year. Today I have listened to Julian talking about his passion for Moodle, even calling it “married to Moodle”. I have heard Sue Dark talking about Totara, catering to corporate Moodle users. I have heard Tomaz talking about Mount Orange School, the demo site, which is a great way for people to try out Moodle 2 and for getting tips on course design. Miriam talked on Moodle and Second Life, and the Moodlebites talk from Stuart helping those who need to do staff development for Moodle 1.9 and newly available for Moodle 2.0 (in English and Spanish!).

If I could handle staying awake until 1.30am I would attend Shane’s talk about the history of Moodle; luckily I can replay the session at a more NZ friendly time.

Anyway, three more exciting days to go, and I think/hope I am all ready for my presentations. :-/

10 April 2011

Te Uku Wind Farm

Today we went to Te Uku wind generation site for a tour.

Te Uku is near Raglan (West coast) in the North Island of New Zealand, about thirty kilometres from Hamilton. Project Te Uku is a 64MW generation site built by Meridian Energy and WELNetworks Limited. After spending a few years in the energy industry I have quite an interest in renewable generation and in particular like wind farms, so enjoyed the chance to visit another one.

Te Uku turbineSo there are 28 Siemens 2.3MW turbines on 80 metre towers with 45 metre blades. That puts them at quite a bit bigger than the first wind farm I went to (and worked at) which was 1.65MW NEG Micon turbines on 70 metre towers with 35 metre blades. The Siemens nacelles are round, long and thin. The blades have a very unique curvature to them which I was quite interested in seeing in action after seeing them in photos.

Like many other wind generation sites this one is working farm land with both sheep and cattle grazing amongst the turbines. There are wetlands and a lot of plants were added as part of the project (something like forty thousand plants).

Te Uku was not particularly windy today which made it hard to hear the blade woosh at all even standing directly under a turbine. The blades rotate at 16rpm so they are quite a slow graceful looking turbine.

Eight of the turbines have aviation lights on top which looked like satellite dishes from a distance. The tails of the nacelles have what look like plane fins on them, a top of which sit the anemometer and wind vane.

Although Te Uku is small compared to some of the other sites I have been to, it is no mean feat to build. I think they said there were 26 km of roads built on the site over 8 months, 18m wide concrete foundations were made on site (lucky one of the farmers owns a quarry to supply the two hundred tonnes of aggregate required), and over eight hundred people worked there during the build (just over half were local I believe). So the project certainly put a bit of money into the local economy.

kitesThe bus tour was $5 per person and 100% of that was pooled together for the local schools which is a nice way for us "tourists" to say thanks to the locals for having us for the day. There was a community gala at the domain in Raglan with some impressive kites being flown. It was great to catch up with some of my previous colleagues of Meridian Energy. We had a lovely lunch in Raglan before heading home.