Geotechnical Borings Being Conducted in Epcot

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A few days ago WDWMagic posted an article about Geotechnical Borings. The study area is located just outside Epcot and behind Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs. This area is home to Walt Disney World’s Solar Facility.This facility was announced on April 16, 2016.

The farm is about 22 acres, part of a 15-year agreement that allows Duke Energy to build, own and operate the farm on Disney’s land. In return, the farm will provide solar power to Walt Disney World.

Solar Panel “Heat Island Effect”

Research conducted by Mitchell A. Pavao-Zuckerman, an assistant professor from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and colleagues from the University of Arizona, University of Madison-Wisconsin, and the Nevada Center of Excellence appears to contradict previous theoretical work and modeling studies predicting solar power installations would decrease temperatures around them by intercepting some of the sun’s potentially warming energy and converting it into electricity.

“The understanding of energy balance – how heat moves in and out of ecosystems that change from natural to built settings is a big game changer for the future. Consider how PV [solar] panels absorb and reflect certain types of radiation which prevents the soil beneath from cooling like it would under a regular night sky,” said Pavao-Zuckerman. “With this knowledge at our fingertips, we can mitigate environmental impacts by creating novel systems to make PV power plants work more efficiently and produce other co-benefits.”

This research was published in the journal “Nature Scientific Reports” on October 13, 2016. The paper was titled “The Photovoltaic Heat Island Effect: Larger solar power plants increase local temperatures.”

Geotechnical Investigations

Geotechnical investigations are performed by geotechnical engineers or engineering geologists to obtain information on the physical properties of soil and rock around a site to design earthworks and foundations for proposed structures and for repair of distress to earthworks and structures caused by subsurface conditions.

Additionally,

Geotechnical investigations are also used to measure the thermal resistivity of soils or backfill materials required for underground transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, radioactive waste disposal, and solar thermal storage facilities. A geotechnical investigation will include surface exploration and subsurface exploration of a site. Sometimes, geophysical methods are used to obtain data about sites. Subsurface exploration usually involves soil sampling and laboratory tests of the soil samples retrieved.

Boring is one method of subsurface exploration and consists of taking small samples of the soil. To me it seems that this explains the recent studies in this area. If the rumor we’re to be true that the testing was for a new “360 Hotel”, it would be awesome. More likely, it seems Disney is testing the effects of the solar facility of the immediate area.

I should point out that I do not have direct experience or technical knowledge of Geotechnical Investigations. I do have experience in studying “Heat Island” effects. My experience comes through the concept of Remote Sensing. I studies this topic as part of the curriculum for my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Geo-Information Science and Cartography.

[Sources: Orlando Sentinel, WDWMagic, Phys.org andWikipedia]

 


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