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(New Scientist)   Wind farms have found their Achilles' heel: Wind   (newscientist.com) divider line 106
    More: Ironic, wind farms, government failure, confidential information, environmental scientist, Galveston, U.S. Department of Energy, concept cars  
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15908 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Feb 2012 at 4:30 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-02-15 06:55:32 AM
Let's pay attention. It said NEARLY HALF in 20 YEARS of hurricanes.

Sounds pretty damn good.
 
2012-02-15 06:56:55 AM

cassanovascotian: ThrobblefootSpectre: BTW - the skipped math was simply (1GW * 24h (per day) * 365 * 30%) = 2628GWh

Yeah, I know it's just unit conversion. My point is simply that it's a complicated field -you have to consider that the capacity factor of 0.3 that you cited will very likely change significantly (there is great work being done in energy storage at the moment -check out http://lightsail.com/) as well as mass production of wind farms -they won't produce one a month for a while, but when they get going they could churn them out in huge quantities, so economies of scale come into play.


The economics is NOTHING compared to the scale of environmental work that needs to be done before these things are installed. That alone will prevent the clearing of one a month. And while the storage might be getting better the scale required will still have to be huge! That 20% number is a sound bite, nothing more. My goal is to get laid 20% of the days of the year. If I only get laid 15 times this year I won't have reached my goal, but the stories of when I did are good! And fark if people don't just eat up stories!
 
2012-02-15 06:58:12 AM
Iowa and SD are already at 20% and going higher everyday.

Is 20% as an average across the whole country overly ambitious? Probably...

But its not at all unrealistic to think that selected regions of the country, like western great lakes region and the upper midwest and certain spots in the west could actually be far higher than 20%
 
2012-02-15 07:04:42 AM
The US Department of Energy set a goal for the country to generate 20 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

A simple goal to meet. President Obama needs to issue an executive order outlawing all boilers that use coal. Now you have wind generating more than 20% of the electricity in the US.

Added benefit - you start cleaning up the air.
 
2012-02-15 07:05:09 AM
boom shot (new window)
 
2012-02-15 07:25:12 AM

Hector Remarkable: No design options here whatsoever? Stronger, more protected units, or remote hurricane-mode collapse designs? Anything at all that can protect them from the big bad hurricane? Nothing? Really?


I know. Right?

In the 80's, the current tech for water needed a 22 foot tide differential to work.

I thought we had.nailed.all of that down by now.

Why are we seeing pics of broken turbines? Why can't they be designed to actually USE all capacities?

They KNOW the wind will blow up to a certain speed in the next 100 years. Why not design your structure to last that long and make use of every bit of it??!!
 
2012-02-15 07:29:37 AM

portscanner: The US Department of Energy set a goal for the country to generate 20 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

A simple goal to meet. President Obama needs to issue an executive order outlawing all boilers that use coal. Now you have wind generating more than 20% of the electricity in the US.

Added benefit - you start cleaning up the air.

sarcasm?

All that would do is inspire producers to switch over to natural gas even faster than they are..
 
2012-02-15 07:48:29 AM

portscanner: The US Department of Energy set a goal for the country to generate 20 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

A simple goal to meet. President Obama needs to issue an executive order outlawing all boilers that use coal. Now you have wind generating more than 20% of the electricity in the US.

Added benefit - you start cleaning up the air.


Plus, you get all the added benefits of widespread rioting when half the country goes dark.
 
2012-02-15 07:50:55 AM
Why nobody ever mention good, old, Thorium?
 
2012-02-15 07:51:25 AM
Why don't they submerge them to use the oceans' currents?
 
2012-02-15 07:55:37 AM

biglot: Why nobody ever mention good, old, Thorium?


NO SUBSIDIES FOR BIG THORIUM!!!!1!
 
2012-02-15 07:58:59 AM

portscanner: Added benefit - you start cleaning up the air.


Well, it will certainly have less birds in it.
 
2012-02-15 08:09:52 AM
Nothing will ever replace the reliability of whale oil. You pie-in-the-sky dreamers!

/ugly wind
//impractical wind
///in my backyard wind
////I will tell you about wind
 
2012-02-15 08:15:32 AM

Anagrammer: cassanovascotian: Perhaps, but we should all point out the fact that it's insane for political reasons. Technologically, it's entirely feasible.

In 2008, the most recent year for which I could find data, the total amount of power generated in the US was 4.11 trillion kilowatt hours.

Out of that, only 382.1 billion kilowatt hours, or about 9.3%, was renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc,).

We can't count on wind and solar for base load (what keeps your electricity on at any given time) or demand load (for example, this is the load that increases as people come home from work, start cooking dinner, etc.).

Technologies such as solar and wind are only used for peak load (because they're not reliable enough to use for base and demand load), and if it's not there, other sources are found (which is why you almost always find a fossil fuel-based generator right next to wind turbines).

So, for the US to get 20% of their energy by 2030, somehow peak load becomes more important in relation to base and/or demand load. How is THAT supposed to happen?!?


You nailed it. Some other points people are missing here:

1. That "9%" from renewables includes hydro power. Take that out and we are back to the low single digits.

2. A 30% capacity factor for the nation's fleet of wind turbines is not even close to reality. Not even in the ballpark.

3. Using a realistic capacity factor for wind would require almost a DOUBLING of the nation's capacity just from the wind additions. We're talking at least 700,000 MW of wind. The cost would be in the trillions.

4. Wind power is not feasible in much of the nation. To hit that fantasy goal, you would need some regions to be essentially at 100% wind power. This is a transmission impossibility.

5. Wind power on a $/MWh basis is so much higher than a new natural gas plant that consumer prices would skyrocket.

There is no way the nation is going to find a few trillion extra dollars in the next decade to build a wind infrastructure that is too expensive and will not even work. It is just an enviro wet dream that will never come to fruition.
 
2012-02-15 08:19:36 AM
it's all I got.o lazy to change it.

i191.photobucket.com
 
2012-02-15 08:21:49 AM
more wind
i191.photobucket.com
 
2012-02-15 08:21:57 AM

dforkus: portscanner: The US Department of Energy set a goal for the country to generate 20 per cent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

A simple goal to meet. President Obama needs to issue an executive order outlawing all boilers that use coal. Now you have wind generating more than 20% of the electricity in the US.

Added benefit - you start cleaning up the air. sarcasm?

All that would do is inspire producers to switch over to natural gas even faster than they are..


Likely, they'd switch back to wood, and the country would look like Pittsburgh in the 1880s again.
 
2012-02-15 08:22:13 AM

skillett: it's all I got.o lazy to change it.


Which leads me to ask, the stuff that works underwater - how are those designed to keep from injuring or killing water creatures? Or do they?
 
2012-02-15 08:23:12 AM
i191.photobucket.com
 
2012-02-15 08:25:19 AM
And a tornado Could knock down wind turbines in the midwast.
So we better not build any more, tear down the ones that are up and stick with coal, crude oil and fracking for natural gas to provide our electricity? Oh and I almost forgot, vote republican !
 
2012-02-15 08:26:19 AM

JustinCase: skillett: it's all I got.o lazy to change it.

Which leads me to ask, the stuff that works underwater - how are those designed to keep from injuring or killing water creatures? Or do they?


Think of the dolphins!!!
 
2012-02-15 08:35:56 AM
71 comments in, and no praise yet for subby's proper use of the apostrophe?

Bob the Angry Flower smiles upon you.
 
2012-02-15 08:46:44 AM

roadkillontheweb: And a tornado Could knock down wind turbines in the midwast.
So we better not build any more, tear down the ones that are up and stick with coal, crude oil and fracking for natural gas to provide our electricity? Oh and I almost forgot, vote republican !


I have never heard of a 200 mile wide tornado in the midwast.

The point of the study which you may have missed is that some offshore regions are frequently in the wide paths of hurricanes, and that over time, there is a high probability that they are going to get mowed down.

/apparently hurricanes are Republicans
 
2012-02-15 08:46:47 AM
Part of the problem with dreams like the Venus Project: It isn't always a nice day
 
2012-02-15 08:53:46 AM
Why don't we just level Chicago (the WINDY city) and build a windfarm there? We would solve multiple problems with one rock. We must avoid them himacanes cause they really blow.

amidoinitrite?
 
2012-02-15 09:02:43 AM

JustinCase: skillett: it's all I got.o lazy to change it.

Which leads me to ask, the stuff that works underwater - how are those designed to keep from injuring or killing water creatures? Or do they?


I would imagine that with a three mile per hour current, terminal velocity would not be attained.
 
2012-02-15 09:20:01 AM
Wind power will never be 20% of the nation's energy supply simply due to the fact that it's so unreliable. We'll spend the money like it's going to be but it will never get there. It's a huge scam to enrich contractors and multinationals/foreign manufacturers with billions in taxpayer dollars while the jerkbag senators can say "see, we're green". Another way for people to feel like they're helping things without actually having to do it.

Nothing proved this like the heat wave that hit Texas last summer. If I'm remembering properly, their wind capacity is rated to account for approximately 10% of their energy supply but when when the temperature soared they weren't able to get anything near that capacity out of them. I want to say it was around 1-2% but I don't care enough to look it up.
Murphy's law. When you need them the most, they won't deliver. This pretty much eliminates their purpose as you still need to keep the dirty plants around and operating or start telling people and businesses they could lose power for hours of the day at random times. Effectively having to spend for 2 separate energy strategies where one will due for a lot less money. No place that enjoys having an economy and jobs is going to do that.
 
2012-02-15 09:22:24 AM
This is the Dept. of Energy's plan to provide 20% of US power through wind by 2030.

Link (new window, 200+ page pdf)
 
2012-02-15 09:22:25 AM

way south: UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: Instead of wind farms above the gulf, why not current farms beneath the Gulf of Mexico. 3 MPH currents could produce power uninterrupted by hurricanes.

Stuff grows on things in the water, especially in the tropics.
Maintenance will be a biatch.


Not really a problem 50-100 feet down in the gulf. The milk chocolate water means nothing gets through. And if you go far enough out to reach clear water you can go far enough down that sunlight doesn't reach. Or were you not aware that oil pipelines all sit on the surface and come in via Lousiana?

What would probably be more of a problem would be maintenance on the turbines, and the protection schemes, since they would either have to raise the whole thing up to service it, or make it serviceable by ROV, and either way would be crazy expensive.

Also, wind farms are amusing since they have to be shut down in high winds. Not purely to protect the farm, but to prevent overrun on the grid itself.
 
2012-02-15 09:23:02 AM
 
2012-02-15 09:23:23 AM

sectorg: Wind power will never be 20% of the nation's energy supply simply due to the fact that it's so unreliable. We'll spend the money like it's going to be but it will never get there. It's a huge scam to enrich contractors and multinationals/foreign manufacturers with billions in taxpayer dollars while the jerkbag senators can say "see, we're green". Another way for people to feel like they're helping things without actually having to do it.

Nothing proved this like the heat wave that hit Texas last summer. If I'm remembering properly, their wind capacity is rated to account for approximately 10% of their energy supply but when when the temperature soared they weren't able to get anything near that capacity out of them. I want to say it was around 1-2% but I don't care enough to look it up.
Murphy's law. When you need them the most, they won't deliver. This pretty much eliminates their purpose as you still need to keep the dirty plants around and operating or start telling people and businesses they could lose power for hours of the day at random times. Effectively having to spend for 2 separate energy strategies where one will due do for a lot less money. No place that enjoys having an economy and jobs is going to do that.

 
2012-02-15 09:23:47 AM

Feral Duhbya: Nothing will ever replace the reliability of whale oil. You pie-in-the-sky dreamers!


There are laws of physics preventing wind from replacing fossil fuels, not just missing unicorns and rainbows.

Solar and water turbines are more reliable than them, and even they are a ways away. We should still try to use them where and when it is feasible, though.
 
2012-02-15 09:29:02 AM

UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: JustinCase: skillett: it's all I got.o lazy to change it.

Which leads me to ask, the stuff that works underwater - how are those designed to keep from injuring or killing water creatures? Or do they?

I would imagine that with a three mile per hour current, terminal velocity would not be attained.


I don't know what that stuff looks like. Given what I've heard about birds and wind turbines, I'd imagined some sort of killing field area with near constant chum being churned out to other animals larger or smarter enough to stay out of the way and enjoy a free meal.
 
2012-02-15 09:32:28 AM

wingnut396: I agree, it would be stupid to put your energy production facilities in a location where they could be destroyed by hurricanes. Only idiots would do something like that! Stupid greenies who don't want to drill .


Being nitpicky but petroleum is a relatively stable energy storage medium. Which means you can pump up tons of it and store it in a safe place for when a rainy day comes. Oil rigs aren't needed to pump 24/7 to assure people and business can keep the lights on and running. This means they can safely shut down for storms and the economy that relies on them won't shut down. Not at all the same wind farms. If you lose them you are completely without until they are repaired which could take months. If you're going to spend the money putting them up you kind of need to rely on them or what's the point?
 
2012-02-15 09:57:41 AM
farm6.staticflickr.com
 
2012-02-15 10:01:58 AM

KrispyKritter: Coming on a Bicycle: Then they're just not sturdy enough. With the right materials and engineering, you can build a windmill that can withstand anything. The question is: is it worth the price ?

their point is to state needs. hopefully engineers can cost effectively
find the working solution. my guess is to make them tilt on their backs during horrid weather and just bobble in the water till it passes.


Perhaps feathering the blades, the way modern aircraft propellers do?
 
2012-02-15 10:14:12 AM
they should submerge them, or lay them down during a hurricane.
 
2012-02-15 10:15:51 AM
you've gotta admit that photo is tits! Exploding tower of doom raining flaming debris everywhere!

also, wouldn't VAT (vertical axis turbines) be more stable, less destructible? dunno, just axing.
 
2012-02-15 10:39:40 AM

I sound fat: Technically, couldnt hurricanes destroy pretty much ANY method of power generation. Maybe not nuclear, but, cmon, its a HURRICANE.


That was my thought, it's a friggin hurricane. Yes when it hits the wind farm at some point there will be damage, but how often does Galveston(sp?) get hit by a hurricane each year.
 
2012-02-15 10:55:10 AM

JustinCase: I don't know what that stuff looks like. Given what I've heard about birds and wind turbines, I'd imagined some sort of killing field area with near constant chum being churned out to other animals larger or smarter enough to stay out of the way and enjoy a free meal.



I'm indifferent on wind personally, but the bird issue is overstated and mostly a talking point. The amount of birds killed by wind turbines was not outside of the normal for power lines, radio/power towers, and tall buildings. Yes they kill birds, but not as much as the things we already use.
 
2012-02-15 11:05:55 AM
At least all those windmills will keep them cool.
 
2012-02-15 11:14:16 AM
Every week or so, I enjoy taking a look at the Pacific NW's energy production and consumption (I know, I'm an exciting person like that). It's pretty interesting to see how it changes throughout the day/week:
transmission.bpa.gov

The red line = is the region's consumption. It peaks during the morning, typically when commercial heaters kick on and in the evening, when people get home to cook and turn on lights. It settles down at night.

The blue line = hydro power output. Typically it's always larger than our regional load, as we export 2x-3x's the amount of power we generate - sent either to California or Canada, depending on season.

The brown line = Output from our region's one nuclear plant, 2 coal plants & a number of smaller biomass plants. The coal plants are slated to be shutdown by 2020, and the nuclear plant is on its last legs.

The green line = wind output. Max capacity for wind up here is slated to double within the next 2-3 years - reaching nearly 6GW. During the spring we already have times where current wind output meets *all* of the regional demand. This will happen much more often - which will require our regional distribution grid to be much more robust and flexible. We already have moments were all transmission lines out of the region are at capacity and we have way more energy than we can consume, which is an interesting problem. We're one of the few areas in the world that has the problem of *too much* energy and historically our region's power is some of the cheapest in the world, with wholesale rates between $0.02 and $0.03 a kWh.
 
2012-02-15 12:05:09 PM

JustinCase: Hector Remarkable: No design options here whatsoever? Stronger, more protected units, or remote hurricane-mode collapse designs? Anything at all that can protect them from the big bad hurricane? Nothing? Really?

I know. Right?

In the 80's, the current tech for water needed a 22 foot tide differential to work.

I thought we had.nailed.all of that down by now.

Why are we seeing pics of broken turbines? Why can't they be designed to actually USE all capacities?

They KNOW the wind will blow up to a certain speed in the next 100 years. Why not design your structure to last that long and make use of every bit of it??!!


I saw a design a few years ago related to the Texas offshore wind farms for a turbine with blades that could fold into the tower for protection from hurricane force winds. So, there are designs out there, proving the design is quite another story.
 
2012-02-15 01:07:26 PM

ThrobblefootSpectre:
So over 18 years, that means bringing an average of 16 fully functional record setting wind farms online per year. More than 1 per month, starting now. Not to be a debbie downer, but that sounds as likely as a manned moon base by 2030.


I watched my country turn into a coast-to-coast strip mall
and I cried out in a song:
if we could do all that in thirty years, then please tell me you all
why does good change take so long?

-- Greg Brown, "Poet Game"
 
2012-02-15 01:32:47 PM

Anagrammer: cassanovascotian: Perhaps, but we should all point out the fact that it's insane for political reasons. Technologically, it's entirely feasible.

In 2008, the most recent year for which I could find data, the total amount of power generated in the US was 4.11 trillion kilowatt hours.

Out of that, only 382.1 billion kilowatt hours, or about 9.3%, was renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc,).

We can't count on wind and solar for base load (what keeps your electricity on at any given time) or demand load (for example, this is the load that increases as people come home from work, start cooking dinner, etc.).

Technologies such as solar and wind are only used for peak load (because they're not reliable enough to use for base and demand load), and if it's not there, other sources are found (which is why you almost always find a fossil fuel-based generator right next to wind turbines).

So, for the US to get 20% of their energy by 2030, somehow peak load becomes more important in relation to base and/or demand load. How is THAT supposed to happen?!?


Simple: renewable energy displaces other base-load sources, any time it is available. Renewables are NOT limited to peak-load generation, although the output curve for solar does happen to track summertime A/C peaks pretty nicely. Renewable plants are expensive to build but cheap to run, due to zero fuel cost. Once you've built 'em, you run 'em any time you can, and you stand down your fuel-burning generating sources, in order from most expensive to least.

Energy cost = capital cost for plant (amortized), plus operating cost for fuel (and maintenance).

Renewables are unreliable, sure... at least on a local or regional scale. So every renewable scenario has excess fuel-powered capacity that can be brought online when needed... this is part of the cost of going renewable. But still, every kWh you generate from renewable is a kWh of fuel you didn't have to buy and burn, and that adds up economically, environmentally, and politically.

BTW, renewables are more reliable when you go beyond regional to national or continental scale... basically the wind is always blowing somewhere in North America and the day is three hours longer. Which is why rebuilding the grid for efficient coast-to-coast wheeling of power is something worth researching now and planning to build in a decade or so.
 
2012-02-15 02:59:57 PM

lysdexic: Now what.demotivational.jpg
[farm6.staticflickr.com image 500x382]


Keep doing what we are doing obviously.

upload.wikimedia.org
 
2012-02-15 03:07:30 PM

sectorg: wingnut396: I agree, it would be stupid to put your energy production facilities in a location where they could be destroyed by hurricanes. Only idiots would do something like that! Stupid greenies who don't want to drill .

Being nitpicky but petroleum is a relatively stable energy storage medium. Which means you can pump up tons of it and store it in a safe place for when a rainy day comes. Oil rigs aren't needed to pump 24/7 to assure people and business can keep the lights on and running. This means they can safely shut down for storms and the economy that relies on them won't shut down. Not at all the same wind farms. If you lose them you are completely without until they are repaired which could take months. If you're going to spend the money putting them up you kind of need to rely on them or what's the point?


Its not like we have months and months of petrol stored up for a rainy day. The year of Katrina, Rita and others caused the price of oil to spike significantly. The market was going ape thing that coast refineries from Mississipi to Texas would be shut down.

As for worryting about hurricanes damaging production facilities, we already have that worry. Billions are spent fixing or even abandoning oil production platforms now. Capped and abandoned wells are a bigger long term threat than a windmill on the ocean floor.

What its seems to me is that we need to figure out a short term, say a week or so, method of storing renewable energy. The bonus of renewables is that we don't threaten ecosystems like the Gulf nearly as much as we do with oil production. In all likley hood however, we are not going to stop petroleum production. Too many products aside from energy are made from it. But to me, it seems like a prudent course of action to find alternatives to it for energy.
 
2012-02-15 03:52:23 PM

Hector Remarkable: No design options here whatsoever? Stronger, more protected units, or remote hurricane-mode collapse designs? Anything at all that can protect them from the big bad hurricane? Nothing? Really?


They are designed with a safety procedure when winds hit speeds in excess of their design. First, the blades are tilted against the wind/rotation to slow the turbine to a stop. Then the turbine is locked into position to keep it from rotating and the blades turned perpendicular to the wind to decrease cross section. From that point, until winds are back to operating ranges, a computer keeps the turbine facing directly into the wind.
 
2012-02-15 04:32:28 PM

MrSteve007: Every week or so, I enjoy taking a look at the Pacific NW's energy production and consumption (I know, I'm an exciting person like that). It's pretty interesting to see how it changes throughout the day/week:
[transmission.bpa.gov image 640x471]


Which shows the fundamental problem with using wind power as a primary source. With the other sources on your graph you can control the amount of power generated at any given time. Wind power you kind of get what you get. Not that we shouldn't do it, it just won't be a replacement.
 
2012-02-15 06:10:38 PM

wingnut396: What its seems to me is that we need to figure out a short term, say a week or so, method of storing renewable energy.


We already have a great way to do this - pumped storage. (new window) The USA already has some 21GW of pumped storage capacity.
 
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