31 Dec 2008

I came across an interesting article this morning about the challenges of installing increasing amounts of wind and solar power in the electrical grid. From my vantage point in the power industry, I agree with most of the information in the article. Wind developers are ready to build wind farms all over the place if only they had transmission system access and capacity to be able to deliver the power to consumers. The biggest difficulty with building new transmission lines is siting. No one wants a high voltage transmission line running through their back yard, and because dozens or even hundreds of landowners must acquiesce to the route of a transmission line for it to be built, the process of siting a new line can be quite difficult, and the many zig-zags that can result from going around obstinate land-owners increase the cost and construction time of building a new line.

The article also talks about a "smart grid" that allows demand to be responsive to market prices or system conditions. The technology is definitely there for such an application, but I think it will be difficult to convince distribution companies to change out all the meters that would need to be upgraded to be able to implement the smart grid. Even a small town can easily have thousands of meters, and at costs of hundreds of dollars per meter and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars for the home-base and substation communication equipment, there has to be some substantial financial incentive for them to do so.

One final issue that the article does not mention but which is significant is that the power engineering workforce is limited. My office is as busy as we could be and still hiring aggressively. At a recent seminar that I attended at which there were representatives from a competitor, the joke was that we didn't need to steal work from one another—we needed to steal employees. The power engineering workforce is aging and shrinking, and there are few engineering schools that still have strong power engineering curriculum. Though this may be a detriment to the massive investment in renewable energy that some are calling for, it bodes well for me personally as I am likely to good job prospects even through tough economic times.

24 Dec 2008

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Submitted by Paul Brown

By Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

(Listen to samples from Indelible Grace's McCracken/Webb version of this and other Christmas hymns, or view the traditional version in the RUF Hymnbook.)

P.S. Just to clear the air, I do not hate Christmas. I just think it is a mixed bag that is worth sorting through.

22 Dec 2008

Deliver Us

Submitted by Paul Brown

By Andrew Peterson, from Behold the Lamb of God

(You can also listen to the CD version online here.)

Our enemy, our captor is no pharaoh on the Nile
Our toil is neither mud nor brick nor sand
Our ankles bear no calluses from chains, yet Lord, we're bound
Imprisoned here, we dwell in our own land

    Deliver us, deliver us
    Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
    And gather us beneath your wings tonight

Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
These shackles they were made with our own hands
Our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give
So Yahweh, break your silence if you can

    Deliver us, deliver us
    Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
    And gather us beneath your wings tonight

    Deliver us, deliver us
    Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
    And gather us beneath your wings tonight

'Jerusalem, Jerusalem
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings'

I think this song does a great job of capturing the sense of tension as the remnant of Israel waits in yearning anticipation for the appearance of the Messiah. (HT to Todd Hiestand for reminding me of the place of Jesus' birth in the story of redemption.) Behold the Lamb of God is now one of my new favorite albums!

21 Dec 2008

Christmas Story Quiz

Submitted by Paul Brown

Dr. Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary has a ten-question quiz to see how much you really know about the Christmas story. Answer the following questions with true or false.

  1. The magi were wise men.
  2. The magi were kings.
  3. There were three magi.
  4. The magi came from the Orient.
  5. The magi found Jesus and his parents in a stable.
  6. A manger was a crib for a baby.
  7. Swaddling clothes helped make the baby more comfortable.
  8. There were animals by the manger.
  9. The angels who appeared to the shepherds sang.
  10. Shepherds were well liked.

To see how well you did, check Blomberg's post for the answers.

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