Britain’s only wind turbine plant to close

Who would have thunk? Maybe it had something to do with this video of a Vestas wind turbine:

I wonder if it used “Lucas” electronic parts? I owned an Austin Healy Sprite and a Triumph TR6 at one time, and the failure above looks familiar.

Excerpts from an article in the Guardian:

Vestas is to shut down its Isle of Wight factory in the face of collapsing demand from a wind-farming industry hobbled by the recession and red tape.

The group had planned to convert the factory in Newport so it could make blades for the British market, but said this morning that the paralysis gripping the industry meant that orders had ground to a halt. Such low demand could not justify the investment, Ditlev Engel, the chief executive, told the Guardian.

The UK’s only wind turbine manufacturing plant is to close, dealing a humiliating blow to the government’s promise to support low-carbon industries.”

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/28/vestas-wind-turbine-factory-close

See Vestas Wind Power Solutions here

Of course, windmills produce clean emissions free power, they don’t pollute.

Just to be fair, anyone have video or photos of a coal fired power plant exploding or uncontrollably catching fire?

h/t to David Segesta

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222 thoughts on “Britain’s only wind turbine plant to close

  1. OT but… I drove an Austin Healy Sprite (1967 vintage) through high school and for a number of years after. Fun little car, but you really needed to be an amateur mechanic to own one.

    Reply: Everyone, please stay on topic. ~dbstealey, mod.

  2. Quick, US congress and Obama need to Bailout and stimulate profitable green jobs, now is the time to act decisively.

  3. We see advertisements on TV from the alternative energy supporters about wind power being “Free” . It’s free energy, they state. Compared to coal or natural gas power plants; Nuclear power or even Hydro-Electric plants start up and operating cost, wind energy should be damn cheap. Why then is power from wind energy so expensive? Why do utilities who generate electricity from wind turbines need a subsidy or need to charge rate payers more for power generated from wind?

  4. AAHH yes Lucas Electric. Otherwise known as the Prince of Darkness, since you had to be home by nighttime because your not sure if your lights will come on. I had a GT6 MKIII and had to hot wire the lights to get them to work.

  5. I watched a news story from Britain on how nobody wanted the wind turbines (towers) near them or on roads where they drive because it wrecks the view and creates a slight swishing sound. So no one wants to build them or have them built anywhere around them and yet all these people want to consume green power…. well something has to give and the environmentalists just don’t get it.

    No none wants wind turbines, natural gas plants, nuclear power plants, or coal power plants built…. yet they all want to consume power like we have some magical process to create it – and if there is a shortage, they all will be the first to scream bloody murder, well I think they’re going be screaming unless they allow us to build.

  6. Wow so this is one negative outcome of the wind energy theroies. Hmmm I’m still in proposition for such a thing. Wind energy has a lot of potential, that systems was probably outdated.

  7. The only markets left are….the minds of goblal warmers (the only things on earth really melting down). In the future only imaginary windmills will be built, under controlled dreaming conditions, at asylums all over the world.
    One of the most important human right, the right to a healthy life was finally enforced on global warming individuals, who, thank to these measures, will be free to build their dreamed “Brave New Woirld” in safe confinement.

  8. Here’s a british news clip about that Danish incident. A family who lives 500 meters from the crashed windmill had parts of the construction flying over their house. :/

  9. “Why then is power from wind energy so expensive? Why do utilities who generate electricity from wind turbines need a subsidy or need to charge rate payers more for power generated from wind?”

    TComa,

    To generate enough power they have to construct many many turbines covering a lot of land. The material and labour power doesn’t come cheap and they want to make profits too. But the biggest expense is actually the land that the turbines are built on. Miles of turbines fall upon both government and privately owned land. Only in a few cases does land belong to companies who build the turbines. The rents and rates that have to be paid are very high because of the amount of land that the turbines cover. Think how much an out of town shopping mall pays in rents and rates yet takes up far less space.

  10. These videos prove that wind turbines will create jobs. People to build them, fix them, put the fires out, and tear them down. They will be sustainable because mechanical things continue to fail. When a PV system fails, they just stop working.

  11. TComa, in my engineering opinion, the reason it is so expensive is the ratio of cost of building and maintaince to energy output is higher for a wind turbine. The idea that wind power is free is marketing hype.

  12. I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error. Bucks change hands, fortunes are won and lost. It’s just a new face on the same old same old.
    Chill.

  13. Perhaps someone here could pass on their thoughts regarding these turbines. I understand the inefficiencies associated with putting wind farms on the power grid. What if the turbines were to be used to perform electrolysis on water on site? That would eliminate the need to wire the turbine to the grid, and I don’t think it would matter at what speed the blades were turning as long as current was generated.

    It would produce a fairly reliable supply of a scarce and valuable resource. Any thoughts?

  14. Interesting article on the worldwide cascade effect of adopting any new Kyoto-style treaty: click

    [scroll down to "Bound To Burn"]

  15. I wonder, every time this issue appears here in WUWT, if Miguel de Cervantes in his “The ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”, where Don Quixote battles against the windmills, believing them to be dragons, really predicted the not less irrational and preposterous idea of windmills’ generators. So, undoutbtely predicting the appearance in our century of another ingenious gentleman called Don Anthony Watts.

    http://www.spanisharts.com/books/quijote/thequijote.htm

  16. TComa

    Basically because wind is only about 20% efficient i.e. you need to install 5 MW of generating capacity for every 1 MW of sustained power. Further, it is intermittent so you need a natural gas turbine or a coal (horrors!) fired plant running on standby for those times when the wind doesn’t blow at all. If that’s not enough, note that all those turbines scattered over the countryside need a power line run to them to collect the power. It is estimated that the $150 billion that the new president wants to spend on “sustainable” energy would only be enough to build about a third of that collection network … and that’s before you put up any windmills at all.

  17. In the clip they say “The collapse is a reminder that even a man made machine can be pushed beyond its limits by mother nature.”

    Anyone who wants money for research on that global warm… climate change force mother nature to crash turbines easily get them, I think! ;)

  18. Cory (10:03:20) :

    No none wants wind turbines, natural gas plants, nuclear power plants, or coal power plants built…. yet they all want to consume power like we have some magical process to create it – and if there is a shortage, they all will be the first to scream bloody murder, well I think they’re going be screaming unless they allow us to build.

    Exactly. The people fighting the coal plants in western Kansas aren’t volunteering to turn off their A/C, furnace, dishwasher, stove, TV, DVD player, MP3 player, computer or cell phone. But where do they think the energy will come from?

    Imagine a world where AGW believers ‘walked the walk’. I want to see them turn off their appliances and conveniences. If they all do that, we wouldn’t need any new power plants.

  19. UK Singer-songwriter Alan Price wrote a great song a while ago now in the early 1980’s entitled, “England, my England”. In one verse he sums up Britain completely, “in an island built on coal, & with oil beneath the sea, we struggle to get by & we’ve joined the EEC!”, (EEC was what is now the EU). We were told back then that the UK had enough coal reserves for 200+ years at current demand! So we shut down the mines because Margaret Thatcher was battling the miners strike, & her plan to get a renewed nuclear programme back-fired as a result (sorry if I’ve said this before) becasue of the green lobbyists. It is true that Chenobyl didn’t help the argument & put nuclear back 20 years as greenist upon greenist siezed upon the incident as “proof” of nuclears poor safety record, it is the safest industry I know to date, with the only exception as already noted. It’s a shame becuase virtually none of the fears about it have ever surfaced, rather like DDT. We’ve been saying things like those lyrics in the UK for donkey’s years. Greenism destroys economies. They’re deluding themselves which I have no objection to, but do when they try to delude me!

    These wind turbines are dangerous, deadly to bird life, inefficient, & expensive things to build & run without massive taxpayer funded subsidies. If these turbines were the Golden Egg we’re supposed to believe they would have built thousands yesars ago. There was one at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory for well over 20 years on experiment that worked intermittently. We will need more fossil fuel power stations to keep them going when the wind won’t blow on standby/base load demand. Not much oil left under the North-Sea at the moment as I understand it, unless more exploration can demonstrate that it’s there & viable! Lets get sensible & build coal & nuclear power stations, before the oil really does run out & the Russian gas price hits the stratosphere! North-Sea gas will start to run out if it isn’t already. The coal-fired stations can even have their silly carbon capture technology facility, from what I understand the government has merely said they need the capability for CCS, but not that it needs to actually work, a bit like having an air dam & spoiler on a Citroen 2CV, it’ll never reach a speed to benefit from either addition! They can’t even do their sums right. We now have to buy in pulverized fuel ash for concrete making to reduce the amount of cement in it for certain types of works when we had loads of it ourselves & didn’t know what to do with it.

    Love the video clips of these things self-distructing – excellent! Let’s have many more for the collection.

  20. Having a bunch of little machines is a maintenance headache.

    This is an infamous problem in the computer industry called the “Blockbuster Problem” where they used to have a single server in each of their stores. One store, fine, 10,000 stores – you are a fool if you work for them.

    I think people put wind in without doing the full life cycle costs of the system. Just imagine the cost of getting parts machined 10 years from now as they begin to break. I’ve sat in so many meetings where people do not think 3-5-10-20 years down the road and do the full costs of doing business. You need to factor in maintenance for the whole period – not just labor, but parts and whole refurbishment of all the systems or forklift upgrades – and then you have to take care of that maintenance tail to make sure its there when you need it.

  21. Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error. Bucks change hands, fortunes are won and lost. It’s just a new face on the same old same old.
    Chill.

    I am opposed to being forced to replace something that is reliable and inexpensive with something unreliable and expensive.

    It’s not new energy that I oppose and I’m no fan of ‘Big Oil’. But if wind and solar really worked, nobody would have to force me to use it. People didn’t give up the horse and buggy for the automobile because of the government but because they wanted to.

    Nobody mandated the candle companies out of business so we’d buy light bulbs. And not everyone rushed out to electrify their homes, either. Most people waited until electricity was affordable and reliable before wiring their homes and businesses.

    Believe me, if you come up with a new energy source that’s as cheap and reliable as fossil fuels and is cleaner, I’ll line up to buy it.

  22. Smokey (10:16:36):

    A comment from the article you posted:

    Global warming is real. There is hard evidence that the
    carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing, and there
    is hard evidence that high atmospheric carbon dioxide
    levels in the past were correlated with high global
    temperature levels.

    Some paragraphs ahead, the blogger says the CO2 is toxic.

    Clear example on brainwashing windmills machine. Low frequency noise affects cognitive functions… “Hard… hard… hard evidence”. Heh!

  23. Cory has it right. This doesn’t represent a return to common sense. It’s just more of the same. Fact is, the UK is at this point virtually guaranteed to experience major power shortages starting in about 6 years time when the existing nuclear plants reach the end of their life.

    Even if a company started the project today (April 28th, 2009) the planning process is so vulnerable to special interest groups that it would be *at least* 15 years before a nuclear plant could actually generate any electricity.

    Given that the anti-CO2 meme is still deeply embedded in the media, the public and Whitehall, new coal fired stations would probably take as long (if not longer) to plan and construct.

    So to summarize:

    Coal – No, can’t build those, too much C02.
    Gas – No, Supplies are too unreliable
    Nuclear – No, people are still afraid of glowing in the dark.
    Wind – No can do. Need thousands and no-one wants them nearby. Places that aren’t near to people are beauty spots so no building there either.
    Hydroelectric – See wind, plus the UK one of the densely populated countries on the planet.
    Tidal – ROFLMAO

    Start investing in hamster futures now!

  24. I saw a very good article once that showed that wind turbines never repaid the carbon debt incurred in making, installing, connecting to the grid, maintaining and decommissioning them. the high cost reflects this simple observation. they are a joke.

  25. REPLY to Dan Gibson Actually I’m very much for alternative energy, see the “about” tab above for a look at solar on my home, a local school, and my electric car.

    Alternative energy can’t just be a dream, it has to be practical, economically sound, able to provide a constant source of power, and safe. The current windmill technology doesn’t get us there.

    My brother in law headed up a company in the USA that made gearboxes for most of the windmills in the Tehachapi pass in SoCal. The maintenance was overwhelming. His company is now bankrupt, and if you drive the pass on hwy 58 you’ll see a good percentage are not functional. They just don’t hold up. – Anthony

  26. It seems to me that, despite government intervention, the free market system is the best way to determine energy sources and this story supports that.

    …And the Brits drink warm beer because they all have fridges made by Lucas…

  27. NoAstronomer (10:44:52) :Start investing in hamster futures now!

    I would say, “instead Start investing in French Energy futures now!” because, chances are that you will have to buy energy from France.

  28. Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    “I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error.”

    The only way your examples relate is that saying ‘wind energy is free, so let’s spend bundles to capture it’ is analogous (given the known ratio of wind power cost vs. result) to saying that we should convert to steam engines because the air is full of free water vapor.

  29. [snip - you and I may disagree with the president, but I will not have name calling on this forum - Anthony]

  30. DaveCF (10:47:29) :

    …And the Brits drink warm beer because they all have fridges made by Lucas…

    Hey hey hey! We drink warm beer because we *like* it and it has more flavour. Just keeping the facts straight here… ;)

    I’m glad to see further outbreaks of common sense regarding wind turbines. I’m sure with a few more years of R&D they’ll become a lot more efficient, but that really isn’t the point; what popular proponents of wind and solar power always seem to skirt past quickly is the fact that it’s the *storage* of the energy that matters. If you can’t store it efficiently, you can’t balance it against demand, and the whole system becomes an expensive white elephant.

    I say again (for the umpteenth time), money needs to be poured into nuclear fusion research. Anything else is folly.

  31. Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    Just a few questions for you:

    1). What is the cost per Kwh from one of these machines?
    2). What is the cost per KwH from alternatives such as nuclear, coal and oil?
    3). What is the end to end carbon footprint of a wind turbine?
    4). What is the additional cost to the grid of running wind turbines – which operate in a way that requires back-up from other energy providing platforms that often have to operate at inefficient levels in such a system?

  32. John Galt (10:29:16) :

    “Imagine a world where AGW believers ‘walked the walk’. I want to see them turn off their appliances and conveniences…”

    …and their expensive computer data centers which are wasting massive amounts of energy (and computer time) running their inaccurate climate models.

    With regards to the topic at hand, as a mechanical engineer, I am all for utilizing the entire spectrum of practical energy production methods, especially those which are the most economical and make use of native resources we have here in the US (e.g. coal and nuclear). I am amused by the people who think that technologies like solar and wind are “new” – in the US alone we’ve been working on these technologies for years and years! I am 47 and we were doing solar cells and wind turbines in high school (remember Jimmy Carter?). In fact, we have government research institute called NREL (the national Renewable Energy Lab) which has been devoted to this for over 30 years!

    http://www.nrel.gov/

    I am hopeful that some of the technologies will eventually be cost effective enough to deploy on a wide scale, but I’m afraid that will only happen once onerous Carbon taxes are imposed upon us to artificially make them cost effective. Unfortunately, we will then learn a big lesson about energy availability and reliability…

  33. Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    “I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error. Bucks change hands, fortunes are won and lost. It’s just a new face on the same old same old.
    Chill.”

    I don’t see any opposition to a new form of energy on this site. What many are opposed to is billions and billions of wasted subsidies and more billions in higher electric rates. Why spend big bucks to put up a windmill now when you know in advance that the thing is unreliable and expensive? The things are obsolete before they are constructed. A fraction of the subsidy money could be spent to develop better technology. Your comparison to the early days of motor vehicles is misapplied. It is more accurate ask what would have happened if the government mandated and subsidized steam powered cars that ran only on special roads that only worked about half the time.

  34. Gee, go figure. An industry that exists only because it receives massive subsidies from taxpayers via a government that has supped from the Global Warming cup.

    Here’s the real problem. They jsut can’t afford this level or type of religion anymore.

    The UK is the second most indebted nation in the world and is still quickly digging. With a GDP of $2.787 trillion and a National Debt of $9.30 trillion, their % Dept to GDP is 336%. Only rich nations can afford to blow money on windmills and solar farms and the UK is no longer rich enough to afford both pursuit of AGW religion and doing the more mundane things like pave the roads and keep the schools open.

    It could be worse. Ireland has a % debt to GDP of 811% so there’ll be no wind farm subsidies there either.

    The USA could still be screwed over. Right now the US status is a measly 95% dept to GDP. Obama is working hard to get that number up to the 160% range where he would be tied with France.

    Just for giggles . . . of the top 15 indebted nations in the world . . 13 are European nations.

    Go figure. They are so Green & Pious, but someone should tell them the green is money owed not the planet saved.

  35. Oh, and having owned one (1) MG and two (2) Nortons, I can say with authority that Lucas Electronics is no more reliable that windmill generators. (Maybe worse.)

  36. To clarify this issue of clean energies vs. dirty ones I would suggest to everyone here (and pass the word also) to ask the following question to your friends, neighbours,etc:

    Which is the color of CO2 gas?

    To whoever answers you BLACK, you are in the obligation to teach the truth:

    Colorless, transparent, clean, it is the gas you exhale and plants breathe

  37. We’ve had over 100 Automobile companies in the U.S. All have gone broke, save 3 (really, more like 1.)

    My gut says “Wind” is a niche industry at best. A doomed industry, quite possibly. Still, why root against them?

    Let’em do a few. See how it works out. Wish’em well.

    “Kneejerk Negativism” against All attempts at Renewables only reinforces the suspicion that all anti-AGW’ism is rooted in, and financed by, “Big Oil,” “Big Coal,” Big Pigs, yada, yada, ad infinitum.

    This experimentation isn’t costing us much money, in reality, and will help reinforce the sensible options in the long run. It’ll all work out.

  38. I don’t understand all of this picking on Lucas. Sure the USA was the first with intermittent wipers but Lucas lead the way with intermittent headlights and intermittent ignition.

    The wind may be intermittent too, but wind turbines will work as long as subsidies are steady.

  39. It seems they weren’t subsidized enough…but perhaps here’s the solution to the “walk the walk” thing: instead of subsidizing such farms, why not power distribution companies and sellers offer renewable power at a cost comparable with it’s actual cost?

    if Windpower Farmer John LLC needs to sell his power to Big Bad Power Company Inc. for $0.55 per kWh to stay in business, why then should not the big bad power company sell it to the consumers at, say, $0.56 kWh for those that want to ‘save the planet’? (note, these are made up numbers – I don’t know the true consumer cost would be).

    (of course, I’m aware that most, if not all, AGW advocates want to spend other people’s money to save the planet).

    {Great site, btw. Been reading it for a while and enjoy it immensely}

  40. The AGW connection is the Isle of Wight.

    April 2009 – Windmill plant on the Island threatened with closure.

    April 1912 – Titanic passes by the Isle of Wight on way to Cherbourg and then onwards for rendezvous with iceberg.

    The iceberg that sank the Titanic could have been prevented from calving if the Victorians had installing more wind turbines. Case closed, science settled.

  41. DaveCF
    Yes we have ambient temperature beer which allows the subtle aromatic hoppy flavours to develop on the palate, and in the part of England where I was born we have no need of windmills to blow off the froth – we prefer it flat!…..which means…..low CO2…….. which makes me …… a warmist – AAARGH!

  42. I’m no stranger to wind farms as there are several nearby in Colorado and Wyoming, and thought that they looked kinda cool at a distance.

    However, I recently had the opportunity of driving past a huge new wind farm in Kansas. There was a stiff wind blowing, and many of the turbines were not in use. Several of these turbines were remarkably close to I-70, and I wondered about the danger of an accident like in the video, but more importantly, what danger there was to travelers after an ice storm has coated the blades of the turbine.

    I no longer think that they look kinda cool. They are most definitely ugly and block the scenery. As a part time Nature Photographer, I already have enough trouble trying to keep power lines out of my photos, something that looks like a giant robot invasion from a Japanese movie, I don’t need.

  43. Soon it will be so freakin cold that we will burn whatever is available to keep us warm and heat the greenhouses to grow our foods and maybe run hot water pipes or use microwave arrays to melt the glaciers that will be knocking at our doors.

  44. Aron
    The problem with wind energy is that the wind does not always blow.
    When it doesn’t blow, you need standby gas-fired power plants to kick in. The rule is that for every megawatt of wind capacity you have, you must also have one megawatt of gas-fired generators on standby.

    That means in order to assure 100% supply, you need 200% capacity.

    If that doesn’t make economic sense to you, well then welcome to the club! Unfortunately today, economics is off the radar screen for the “progressives” in power.

  45. There are many recorded instances of fires breaking out at Coal Fired plants, any time dust is present there’s a chance of an explosion.

    See once case below

    http://www.wisn.com/news/18629803/detail.html

    I agree with Anthony’s earlier comment about the stress that is put through the gearboxes of the wind turbines. They chew up transmissions which was probably the cause of the fire in the video.

  46. Aron,
    This is why T Boone Pickens, who is deep in the gas industry, has suddenly turned “green”.
    There’s money in them thar mills (for the natural gas industry that is).

  47. I understand that maintenance of the blades is time consuming and expensive. First they are prone to ice up and become unbalanced. Then too I have heard they pick up bugs and other debris which also affects dynamic balance and can cause pitting so that they must be washed routinely.

    Proponents often claim that the land in and around the installation is suitable for farming, but it looks a bit noisy and dangerous to me. I wouldn’t even want to mow the grass around a wind farm.

  48. superDBA (12:00:58) : like a giant robot invasion from a Japanese movie

    Do you remember the UFO crash in Roswell?, do you?, well HE was one of them, the dark prophet of doom. You were really invaded!. Those windmills are HIS hardware, intended to drive all of you crazy with its low frequency noise

  49. Climate change or otherwise, coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, are all finite resources, so one way or another, we’ll need 100% renewable energy at some point.

    Hopefully everyone on this blog recognizes that.

    Ben

  50. Technically, I’d like to point out, that this self-destructing windmill was a runaway.
    Something failed in the generator that led to zero rotational resistance.
    With no resistance, the rotors simply sped up until the centrifugal forces exceeded the mill’s limits and caused it to fail catastrophically.

    The manufacturer of the turbine generator could have been bigtime liable had someone been injured or killed.

  51. Adolfo Giurfa (12:19:15) :

    I knew it!!! And everyone said I was crazy!!! I like my tin foil hat in a cone shape with a point at the top. How about you? :-)

  52. Regarding “We see advertisements on TV from the alternative energy supporters about wind power being “Free” . It’s free energy, they state. ”

    Hydro power is also free … it’s building the dam and power plant that aren’t.

    Nuclear power is also free, it’s the mining and enriching uraninum, building the reactor and power plant that aren’t.

    According to Einstein (E=mc^2) free energy is all around us, in every speck of matter. It’s the turning it into a form that energy that can do work that isn’t free.

  53. Another response to Dan Gibson (10:14:49) who wrote “I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site…..”

    Dan is misreading the sentiment expressed on this and other sites. Imagine if the horse (think coal, oil, and nuclear) had been outlawed for the decades it took to develop the horseless carrages (think wind, solar, etc). People don’t object to wind and solar, they object to the government making them pay for energy that wind and solar isn’t capable of providing while at the same time preventing the construction of reliable sources of energy. Personally I would like to see nuclear power plants being built while other altrernate solutions mature. Let the people and the market place decide. Passing laws that select winners and losers is a guaranteed way to criple this nation and its people from insufficient energy.

  54. Why don’t you guys stick to the science rather than picking on everything you think is related or even partially related to the AGW argument … it would make this site more interesting … and credible!

  55. Just West of Reading UK, by the side of the M4 [Major west auto route out of London] is a large wind turbine. The other morning [early] with absolutely No wind and the nearby Brewery steam venting vertically to a greater height than the turbine, guess what? The blades were merrily turning, presumably drawing power from the National Grid [ at much a cheaper rate than it could generate any power, had the wind been blowing] as I suppose they have to keep the blades turning for maximum Greenie points. What a total waste of our money. Vesta are blaming the local NIMBY population and Planning Laws and saying they will triumph in the USA and China. As a result of their claims their stock climbed some 3% today.
    Scam, Scam, Scam, Scam, Scam. The whole stupid Green attitude. Shows what medieval mindsets they have.

    At least commonsense is beginning to appear over the horizon. Even the once AGW biased UK paper The Independent is altering its views.

  56. It’s important that turbine designers, windpark operators and designers be held accountable for the property and personal damage caused by these wild contraptions.

  57. There are a lot of people out there who don’t like the West and disruption to our supplies of oil/gas must rank as a much greater threat than AGW, quite apart from the huge transfer of wealth that buying imported power represents.

    Consequently It makes perfect sense for each country to use whatever mode of energy generation is most appropriate to their circumstances. As someone remarked previously, the UK is stuffed full of coal and if the co2 scare hadn’t started we would undoubtedly be building several coal fired power stations at the moment (thanks Mr Hansen)

    That doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t be exploring other means as well-including renewables- so we have a balanced energy portfolio.

    Unfortunately- unlike Anthony’s experience- solar power is a non starter in the UK as a serious source of power. Wave and tidal generation is at least ten years behind wind, and is fraught with problems -environmental and practical.

    This all helps to explain our current power dilemma. The present UK govt is composed of ministers who actually marched against nuclear thirty years ago and so are reluctant to go down the nuclear route. They are scared stiff of using coal. Solar is inappropriate, wave and tidal doesn’t exist in any meaningful way so….you’ve guessed it, wind is the only answer (in their minds).

    Unless someone sees sense soon the UK will have the most enormous energy gap. I think it would do consumers-including the greens- a lot of good to realise just how much energy the simplest task requires-such as boiling a kettle.

    The sad fact is that despite the warm words and pious aspirations a modern economy can’t exist on renewables for its base load energy-however nice that may sound. In twenty years time perhaps, but there is an awful lot of trial and error to go through first, and in the meantime we need to build some new power stations using coal or nuclear-and quickly.

    Tonyb

  58. Here in Missoula, MT, the biodeisel supply has dried up, because a supplier in Washington went belly up as did a local plant set up (and subsidized by the state) to make the fuel out of locally produced oilseed. The local (subsidized) bus line has used in for 7 years and the city has maintenance vehicles set up to use it but lack of funding (read: subsidy) forced the city to stop using it 2 years ago. Money quote: “There are a lot of ethanol and biodeisel plants that are distressed”. It doesn’t pay (literally) to ignore economics in favor of feel-good public policy.

  59. If we are to seek for alternative sources of energy, one is using hydrogen as fuel, but generated “in situ”, and in order to produce it cheap you have to have high surface area electrodes, only achievable with nanoparticles.
    By the way, some time ago, I discovered a method for producing metal nanoparticles in big quantities (as much as you could need), so making them cheap enough for these applications. The process has not been patented yet, but you can see the nanoparticles at: http://www.giurfa.com/ultranano.htm

  60. The factory making these things in the Isle of Wight was on TV this very week. Pity. Still, they’re ridiculously inefficient anyway. They’ve only become popular because of the grant they’re given.

  61. And cut out jibes on our car electronics – or we’ll start on the fact that the US can’t put together a decent rock band. BritRock rules.

  62. We used to call Joseph Lucas “The Prince of Darkness”.

    If you owned a Lucas-eqiped automobile, we used to say, it was guaranteed to fail catastrophically in the middle of the night, far from home, in a driving rainstorm. Oh, and the Skinner’s Union fuel pump too.

    I have personal experience; I’ve owned two MGAs, an Austin Healy Sprite, an XKE Coupe (nice one), a Humber Super Snipe (got you with that one I bet) and TWO of the original Sir Alec Issigonis-designed Austin Minis, one RHD and one LHD. I can still balance a triple SU carburetor set-up by ear with a piece of hose.

    I once had a bumper sticker that said :
    “The Parts That Fall Off Of This Automobile Are Of The FInest British Manufacture.”

    At least the British had an excuse; they pride themselves on their brilliant eccentrics (Bletchley Park, RADAR, The Comet) and when they get rich, they retire to The Manor. Hardly a formula for continued manufacturing success (e.g. The Comet; oh, you wanted the wings to stay ON the aeroplane? Right. We’ll get on that straightaway. Spot of tea?)

    America, OTOH, created Interchangeable Parts, The Assembly Line, Serial Entrepreneurs, and Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM); unfortunately, when push came to shove, American management became dominated by accountants (see: GM) who didn’t BELIEVE Deming when he said “quality is free”.

    The Japanese DID believe (and revered) the man, and the rest is history.
    I wonder who the Chinese will copy?

  63. see now the thing about coal fired power plants is that they CONTAIN the fire and use it to harness energy. I’m just devastated to see the double wammy of energy not being produced from the windmill nor the raging fire spewing from it. Horrible

  64. Ripley Wind Farm in Ontario, Enercon E82 wind turbines

    Modern Wind Turbines Generate Dangerously “Dirty” Electricity
    By Online Tuesday, April 28, 2009
    – Catherine Kleiber, electricalpollution.com

    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/10634

    Residents of the area around the Ripley Wind Farm in Ontario where Enercon E82 wind turbines are installed feel that the turbines are making them ill. Residents suffer from ringing in the ears, headaches, sleeplessness, dangerously elevated blood pressure (requiring medication), heart palpitations, itching in the ears, eye watering, earaches, and pressure on the chest causing them to fight to breathe. The symptoms disappear when the residents leave the area. Four residents were forced to move out of their homes, the symptoms were so bad. Residents also complain of poor radio, TV and satellite dish reception. There is no radio reception under or near the power lines from the wind turbines because there is too much interference. Local farmers have found that they get headaches driving along near those power lines.

  65. I read the other day that a wind farm was built on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Unfortunately, it never generated any energy because the site where they were built it is too windy.

  66. Pierre, I know all that.

    I also noticed that whenever the media talks about forests, ice sheets, glaciers, volcanoes, asteroids, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc they always use the line ‘roughly the size of Manhattan’.

    Examples of use…

    ‘This year the planet lost an area of ice roughly the size of Manhattan. If the trend continues within ten years sea levels will rise and engulf an area of land roughly the size of Manhattan!’

    ‘Unless something urgent is done an asteroid roughly the size of Manhattan will hit an area of Mahattan roughly the size of Manhattan!’

    If you want to force the creation of new laws nothing works better than scaring the bejesus out of wealthy New Yorkers.

  67. Benjamin P. 12:23:44

    A common assumption that we are/will run out of …….. Maybe this will help:- I fully accept that coal and oil are finite resources and that we do eventually need to find other suitable sources of power. However a simple search on the internet (mainly Wikipedia) tells us that proven coal reserves are sufficient for at least 170 years at the present rate of consumption., and oil reserves over 100years. This last figure does not include oil obtainable from shale of which there are huge deposits in Canada. Include that and we have enough proven oil for some 300 years at present consumption rates. Historically, new discoveries of fossil fuels exceeds use. E.g. during two decades recently, known oil reserves increased by 36%. As for uranium for nuclear reactors, there is sufficient for many thousands of years. Considering how far we have come in the last 100 years or so there is every possibility that in a few 100 years from now we will have learned to harness the almost unlimited power from hydrogen (nuclear fusion). Alternative energy sources may be needed in the future but there is clearly no need for a panic reaction.

    TG

  68. Electricity is nice to listen to drive your electronics and move things around as well as feed the robots that manufactur things but lots of processes need the high temperatures of FIRE! No wind, tide, nor solar power can give you that amount of energy density. Chemical bonds in hydrocarbons are still the best source of energy for many processes.

  69. I owned an MGB for 15 years, and the saying was that the British drank warm beer because they had Lucas refrigerators.

  70. Wind power’s dirty little secret is ‘capacity value’. This is what utilities must determine in order to fairly pay for the actual electricity used from a wind power plant. If a one megawatt (nameplate capacity) turbine generates power 33% (capacity factor) of the time when the wind is blowing it should produce enough power for 330 homes. However the utility can not necessairly use the power when it is generating power. Capacity values are generally 10% or less. Therefore really only 100 homes are being served. A thousand megawatt wind farm is really a 100 megawatt farm.

  71. Tim F (10:14:54) : Perhaps someone here could pass on their thoughts regarding these turbines. I understand the inefficiencies associated with putting wind farms on the power grid. What if the turbines were to be used to perform electrolysis on water on site?

    The problem with storage is that you lose about 1/4 to 1/2 the energy in the conversion to something else and back. Grid connect is in fact the most efficient since you can just turn off a gas turbine somewhere else and that unburnt fuel is a 100% efficient ‘storage’.

    I don’t think it would matter at what speed the blades were turning as long as current was generated.

    Well, the physics don’t work that way. Energy goes as V cubed, so almost all the wind energy is in the few very high wind speed episodes. To capture that energy efficiently, you need a higher speed airfoil.

    It would produce a fairly reliable supply of a scarce and valuable resource. Any thoughts?

    Only that there is nothing particularly scarce about energy. We never run out and we can have as much as we want very cheaply forever:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/

  72. Sorry, but to actually be fair instead of pretending to be, ~snip~ fails. You want nothing to ever happen with a windmill? LOL!! Right. Everything else can fail and does, but if a windmill goes, SHUT DOWN THE INDUSTRY! LOL! K, quit building bridges, cars, airplanes, dams, nuclear reactors. Hey – there’s a thought. You sound just like the people against nuclear….”Well there can be problems, so stop doing it all together…and just go to wind.” LOL!

    Sorry guys….very sorry – but failures happen. I’m not saying wind is the best, but when pointing out these failures which, compared to a nuclear or dam failure….aren’t ~snip~ – don’t be petty and get this thing called PERSPECTIVE. I know it isn’t popular with the greenneads either, but being like them sure doesn’t make you any smarter.

    This failure didn’t cause radioactivity or a flood. Not saying don’t build reactors or dams, saying you’re being petty ~snip~. Yeah….it’s ok if dams fail, but a windmill? *gasp!* With all your technical knowledge, all that crap you’re all spewing….you don’t have that much sense!!! LOL!!!!

    Wanting perfection from windmills……..or anything for that matter……..BWAHHAAAHAAAHAAAA!!!!! ~snip~.

    Like some coal plant hasn’t caught on fire somewhere…right! Lol!!!

    Do it all, explore it all, we need or will need it all…we’re addressing a serious problem and you ~snip~ are playing “my team’s better than yours”…..

  73. “”” delecologist28 (10:04:19) :

    Wow so this is one negative outcome of the wind energy theroies. Hmmm I’m still in proposition for such a thing. Wind energy has a lot of potential, that systems was probably outdated. “””

    Well that’s just the problem; the utility companies can’t charge for potential, and the customers can’t run their electric equipment on potential. We can’t put it into our gas tank in place of stored chemical energy, and we have other options for potential that are not an eyesore and are even cheaper than wind potential.

    No you’re backing a losing horse there mate’ and you need a dose of reality.

  74. There was an article by Eric Janszen in Harper’s a while back that made a good point about the motivations behind the push for alternative energies:

    We have learned that the industry in any given bubble must support hundreds or thousands of separate firms financed by not billions but trillions of dollars in new securities that Wall Street will create and sell. Like housing in the late 1990s, this sector of the economy must already be formed and growing even as the previous bubble deflates. For those investing in that sector, legislation guaranteeing favorable tax treatment, along with other protections and advantages for investors, should already be in place or under review. Finally, the industry must be popular, its name on the lips of government policymakers and journalists. It should be familiar to those who watch television news or read newspapers.

    (snip)

    There is one industry that fits the bill: alternative energy, the development of more energy-efficient products, along with viable alternatives to oil, including wind, solar, and geothermal power, along with the use of nuclear energy to produce sustainable oil substitutes, such as liquefied hydrogen from water. Indeed, the next bubble is already being branded.

    Full article here.

  75. CAS (13:45:59) :

    I owned an MGB for 15 years, and the saying was that the British drank warm beer because they had Lucas refrigerators.
    ————–
    Aaaah! That explains it all! The first time I was in the UK there was a sign that said “We sell cold beer”. When I got my beer it was warm and flat. Major deception!!!!

  76. Re the efficiency of wind turbines – there are a lot of non-rotating windmills in the video, even though the wind is blowing (as some ARE rotating).

  77. Ironic really that this should occur on the very day that Scotland’s Government is seeking “Views … on the proposals for a strategic centrally co-ordinated plan for adapting to climate change. The proposed aim is to increase the resilience of Scotland’s people and the natural and economic systems on which we depend, to the impacts of climate change.”

    I have read a little about this on their website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/04/23145206/0 and shall be formulating my views in due course.

    I would strongly recommend that all interested people read the “information” that they present and express their views accordingly.

    Anthony, you may consider that this requires a new topic of its own.

  78. @Thomas Gough (13:44:46) :

    May as well put it off then is what you are saying?

    And hopefully those Saudis are honest about their reserves…

  79. Professor David MacKay’s book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” is freely available to download from http://www.withouthotair.com/. It contains useful numbers showing the futility of low energy density ‘sustainable power sources’. It is a veritable gold mine of information.

  80. What I found significant in the video of the burning wind turbine was that only two of the turbines along the whole row were actually working. That appears to be the major problem with wind power – the unreliability factor.

  81. “”” Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error. Bucks change hands, fortunes are won and lost. It’s just a new face on the same old same old.
    Chill. “””

    Well Dan, I don’t know where you find the opposition to new forms of energy at this forum. But we don’t include zero point energy or cold fusion, or Dark energy among the list of proven available energy technologies.

    As for wind energy; it has been used for eons, to pump water out of wells on farms. One thing about pumping water; it’s a bit like chopping wood for the stove; it really doesn’t matter when you do it, so long as it’s ready when you need it; and that is the idiosyncracy of wind energy; sometimes its in the doldrums; like most of the time for example; which means you have to back it up with some other form of energy that is available when you turn the switch on. In which case, what good is the sometime wind energy.

    When somebody comes up with a dependable source of energy; I’m sure you will find it embraced on this forum; like Nuclear for example; even the French can make nuclear work reliably; then there’s petroleum, such as that sitting in a big puddle under the Dakotas waiting for someone to come and put a pipe down into it.

    Wind energy is solar energy, so it arrives on earth at about 168 Watts per square meter, so it takes a lot of square metres to collect it. A wind turbine is a form of gas turbine engine that operates with a very low temperature differential between source and sink temperatures; so it has a very low Carnot efficiency. That translates into even more space required to collect more energy. Then wind energy is very subject to wind speed; cut the wind sp0eed in half, and 87.5% of your generating capacity just went down the drain. Not very dependable. Ask teh Europeans who have been trying to make it work; they don’t get even 205 availability.

    So tell us what other impractical new forms of energy you would like to waste taxpayer dollars on ?

  82. In the video of the windmill which presumably “went out for a quick smoke”,
    In one shot I did a quick count of visible ‘mills and saw:-
    4 of the 8 were idle.
    3 of the 8 running and
    one on fire.
    Now, just to be fair, has anyone got a photo showing 8 conventional power plants to equal this….?
    Peter Melia

  83. Oddly enough after the oil crisis of 1973/4 I was asked by HMG, the UK gov”t, to assess the possibility of wind, hydroelectric and other alternative sources.

    The report was pessimistic, power demand then was lower than today but the basic problems were just the same as today: windmill pollution for one.

    In wind we foresaw the problems of these giant windmills and of variable output and the solution suggested was a quite different aerodynamic arrangement which drove a hydraulic motor, so avoiding fast spinning gearboxes, with a hydraulic accumulator in the tower which could store quite a lot of power. The hydraulics were interconnected with other towers to a main generating station which also avoided problems of phase locking with the grid and could supply power on remote demand using an existing telephone command and control system developed by the Central Electricity Generating Board. [CEGB].

    A demonstration unit was built and worked quite well but HMG was virtually bankrupt and North Sea gas and oil were beginning to flow so the project was cancelled.

    In the same way we looked at the Severn barrage again, a tidal plant first proposed in the 1920’s. Tidal power is intermittent but to some extent you can trade output for time and the tide times are predictable: so with the CEGB’s new gas turbine plant the gaps could be filled. In addition the barrage could carry road and rail links.

    To be economic this was a far bigger scheme than the one revived today which is a tiddler, about one tenth the capacity , for fear of upsetting the birdlife on the seashore or some such malarky.

    In terms of costs at the time it was barely economic although it offered marginal benefits but again HMG had no money so it was never built.

    It just amuses me that all these old ideas are being recycled in the name of Greenery.

    Kindest Regards.

  84. E.M.Smith (13:55:44) :

    Tim F (10:14:54) : Perhaps someone here could pass on their thoughts regarding these turbines. I understand the inefficiencies associated with putting wind farms on the power grid. What if the turbines were to be used to perform electrolysis on water on site?

    The problem with storage is that you lose about 1/4 to 1/2 the energy in the conversion to something else and back. Grid connect is in fact the most efficient since you can just turn off a gas turbine somewhere else and that unburnt fuel is a 100% efficient ’storage’.

    On attractive things about producing hydrogen is that you could just pump it into a pipeline which is a lot easier than syncing up the the power grid. It also answers some of the energy storage problem and would help promote wind energy from an intermittent source to something that could be handled as baseload, especially if the hydrogen augmented a natural gas power station.

    I don’t recall what the MIT “breakthrough” last year in electrolysis was efficiency-wise, and certainly a Carnot cycle power plant is awful compared to direct generation….

  85. The problem with wind turbines is that little gizmo at your house called a meter. If you didn’t have to connect them to the grid and could suffice with intermittent power in isolated communities then they may be just what you need.
    I think they would be useful in areas where it would be prohibitively expensive to run transmission lines long distances just to serve a few people.

  86. “”” John Laidlaw (11:10:58) :

    DaveCF (10:47:29) :

    …And the Brits drink warm beer because they all have fridges made by Lucas…

    I say again (for the umpteenth time), money needs to be poured into nuclear fusion research. Anything else is folly. “””

    Well I posted a comment on “nuclear fusion” on another thread on this site. But you can find anice article in SCIENCE Vol 324 for 17 April 2009 (see how up to date I am) “Fusion’s Great Bright Hope” on pages 326-330

    It describes the “National Ignition Facility” which is the “match” that lights up your nuclear fusion reaction. 192 lasers generate 500 TerraWatts of Ultraviolet radiation at 351 nm wavelength which travels 305 metres in 25 nanoseconds to blast a pea-sized Beryllium sphere which is cooled to 18 Kelvins so as to form a thin layer of Deuterium and Tritium ice on the inside of the spherical shell. The Beryllium shell gets blown to smithereens by the laser blast, and squishes the D&T down till it reaches 1E8 Kelvins which is quite a bit hotter than 18 K
    That excess heat is then led off to no doubt run a steam engine; until the target chamber cools back down to 18 K (maybe an hour or two later, and then you can safely put another Beryllium fuel pellet in there without melting the D&Tice inside it; which would wreck the whole contraption.

    Did I say that this match box is a 10 1/2 storey building; or that the 500 TerraWatts of power it requires exceeds the entire generating capacity of the entire USA; well that’s okay it probably blows the fuze everytime, since the laser shuts down before the beam even travels that 305 metres.

    Charles H Townes, a somewhat knowledgable Laser person; once told a laser convention (maybe CLEO) in his Keynote address; that fi they thought laser implosion was a way to make thermonuclear energy; they were all crazy. Well they are all crazy; but that hasn’t stopped the Government from sloshing billions of taxpayer dollars into this white elephant.
    Oh our present Secretary of Energy; Steven Chu, used to run this place. That’s what we have running the ship of energy in this country.

    And we can only pray that these fools never succeed; because then we would really be able to destroy this planet.

  87. I own a ’71 Volvo 1800 with Lucas electronics. The Bosch stuff on it works great. The Lucas parts, however…..

  88. I occasionally pass the Smokey Hills Wind Farm–the one along I-70 in Kansas that was referenced above. The last 2 times, only about one half of the turbines were turning, and it was windy both times. Then last week, there were tornados nearby. If they can fly apart because of small, easy to predict problems, like impacted bugs, imagine how they could fly apart in a tornado.

    Between the average capacity factors (low), the danger in a catastrophic failure, and the blight on the landscape, I am not a wind farm fan.

  89. “”” Adolfo Giurfa (12:54:34) :

    If we are to seek for alternative sources of energy, one is using hydrogen as fuel, but generated “in situ”, and in order to produce it cheap you have to have high surface area electrodes, only achievable with nanoparticles.
    By the way, some time ago, I discovered a method for producing metal nanoparticles in big quantities (as much as you could need), so making them cheap enough for these applications. The process has not been patented yet, but you can see the nanoparticles at: http://www.giurfa.com/ultranano.htm “””

    So explain to us again how these nano particles “generate” hydrogen. it isn’t hydrogen that we need; it is energy that we want to generate; not hydrogen.

    There’s plenty of hydrogen on the sun; but getting it here is too expensive.

    Here on earth we have plenty of hydrogen that has already been once through the horse, so it is sort of used up as it were, and we haven’t yet learned how to get it again without using more energy than we can get from the hydrogen; so once again; how do your nanonparticles generate hydrogen without using some other energy that we don’t have ?

  90. Kum Dollison (11:38:28) :

    We’ve had over 100 Automobile companies in the U.S. All have gone broke, save 3 (really, more like 1.)

    My gut says “Wind” is a niche industry at best. A doomed industry, quite possibly. Still, why root against them?

    Let’em do a few. See how it works out. Wish’em well.

    The problem is dreamers, accountants and engineers keep trying to put square pegs in round holes. Each of the various forms or alternate energy has its appropriate niche.

    The problem is economies of scale do not always work, bigger is not necessarily better. Wind power is ideally suited for small power demand applications where interment power is acceptable, and commercial power is very expensive. The classic example is for water pumping where the only concern is that the pump moves enough water on average to exceed the need. Farmers and ranchers in the American West have been using small windmills for 70-80 years to pump water for live stock. As long as the live stock tank has water in it when the cattle need it, it is good enough. Those small windmills also are bullet proof low tech, and include mechanical fail safes which allow them to be turned at right angles to the wind during high wind periods that would damage them or use centrifugal brakes to prevent over speed of the fan.

    The Dutch of course have used them for the same sort of low time sensitive use for centuries.

    Wind also has a place as a small topping generator to top up a battery pack on a solar system. When it is stormy and you have little sun, you are relatively likely to have some wind, so it can be used to fill the dead time when solar cannot get the job done and harvest power at night. In a residential application the user can manage and modulate their power needs to fit the power available. Not so easy for an industrial operation that needs reliable power to run their processes.

    The problem is they are trying to push a high tech system that tries to squeeze high efficiency out of a system that becomes unreliable (and not cost competitive) when scaled up in size, capacity and land area. If they got away from super high tech airfoil wind turbines and gave away some out right efficiency for the simplicity of dirt reliable low tech Savonius turbines that put the generation unit at ground level they would have higher availability and lower construction costs and maintenance costs. They would loose significant “theoretical power” but I would be inclined to think that real world power output would the same or better, as the Savonius can produce usable power at lower wind speeds and does not care if the wind is gusty or coming from multiple directions.

    Years ago I worked as a machinist in a barbed wire plant. We had two generations of barbed wire machines. Very old ones that were manufactured in the late 1800’s and new ones that were built in 1957. I was hired to help them redesign and refurbish the old machines because replacement parts were no longer available, but the were more reliable than the newer machines. They would cut barbed wire at 50 barbs a minute day in and day out, the new machines would cut barbs at 120 barbs a minute for several hours before they jammed. Seems there is a limit to how fast you can push a piece of wire through a hole without it buckling and turning into a birds nest due to some small bump on the wire.

    Likewise solar power works well in grid connected home applications where the storage is moved off site, and the feeder lines already exist. It is also cost effective in out lying areas where it costs a home owner several thousand dollars a mile to bring commercial power to the home site, and a complete solar array and battery storage system is cheaper than the initial installation costs for commercial power.

    I think solar is a technology that will slowly infiltrate construction but would be prohibitively expensive to force in to use en mass over a short period of time.

    The real problem, is most of the alternatives suffer from intermittent availability and cost of storage or backup power if they suddenly drop off the grid.

    Right now the only relatively efficient peak load storage that is actually in use is pumped water hydro where excess power is used to pump water into reservoirs and then is used to generate power at a later time via hydro generation. Even there you have pumping losses, electrical losses to power the pumps, maintained for the reservoir and dam infrastructure, and losses during generation compounded by evaporation if the water is stored for long periods of time.

    In my opinion wind, solar, tidal power generation will tend to remain as supplementary power only. Base load power needs to come from systems that scale well, and can run at high availability like steam generation using biomass, coal, fossil fuels like natural gas and oil, and renewable oil from biomass thermal de-polymerization, some geothermal and nuclear.

    One other possibility for a system of alternate energy that could scale well and run at high availability would be Sterling engine generation that use large heat sources and heat sinks like the temperature differential between warm surface waters and cold deep ocean water.

    Larry

  91. I feel the problem of many renewable energy sources has always been energy storage. Hydrocarbon and nuclear fuels represent stored and transportable energy sources. Wind, wave, solar thermal and photovoltaic are intermittent sources of energy. At present there seems to be little interest in developing storage systems for renewable energy.

    Some systems have been proposed, such as compressed air, fuel cells or hydraulic towers. Off shore wind mining rigs utilizing lower speed rotors to pump water to hydraulic storage, then running hydroelectric turbines on demand, could make wind power more viable. Placing heavily subsidized wind farms on land seems to be a dead end. The wind gradient is lower over land, the area needed is too great and large wind turbines with internal generators are mechanically too complex and difficult to maintain.

    As an industrial designer I have been upset by the whole AGW hoax. The development of many useful technologies may be abandoned simply because they have been associated with the mendacity of environmentalists. In future when asking “Who killed the electric car?” the answer may be “Al Gore!”

  92. I grew up on my Dad’s farm in what is now Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia). We relied on wind power to drive the windmills which pumped subterranean water (we were not allowed to draw from the river on our doorstep) into our six ‘dams’, each a concrete ring 60 feet in diameter and 8 feet deep (4 feet below ground level, 4 feet above). The windmills were perfect for this, pumping into storage. It didn’t matter that the wind wasn’t blowing when we needed water, the water was already in the dams for us to use.
    When it came to electricity we ran a diesel-powered generator like everyone else. We were thirty miles from the nearest power line.
    Almost on our doorstep we had the Kafue river which was perennial and fast flowing. We bolted two derelict fibreglass speedboat hulls to a platform, put a total of four paddle-wheels onto a car rear axle with differential gear intact. We used the prop-shaft drive to turn a generator mounted on the platform and held the whole thing in place on the Kafue with two 3/8″ steel ropes. With a week or two of tweaking we had the genny running our cold room and our deep-freezers. Free. For as long as we wanted.
    Wind is good for pumping storeable water. Electricity needs a constant power supply. We proved this in the early 70’s.
    Why can’t the politicians and the AGW crowd see the simple fact that wind cannot be relied upon for something which requires steady in-put?
    If a farmer can figure it out, why can’t the powers that be?

  93. Silly people. Windmills aren’t being built for power generation; they’re being built to generate subsidies. They’re a money losing proposition without the subsidies and should those ever end, so will the windmills. The owners will take a tax write-off and still win. It’s just the taxpayers who’ll be left holding the bag.

  94. Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    “I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error. Bucks change hands, fortunes are won and lost. It’s just a new face on the same old same old.
    Chill.”

    Uhmmm wind energy is not new, and we did not stop using it because it was free, clean and green. We stopped grinding flour and pumping water because it was not reliable. A water wheel is much more reliable, and behold Hydro Electric Power is still the best electrical generation source.

    I for one have proposed taking the major Hydro Dams and expanding them with step down Dams to double their output. ( Add three tiered reduced output Hydro step dam at 60%, 30%, 10% of capacity) that use the output of the original installation. The step down is required to allow normal river outflows to remain during shutdowns and maintenance cycling. Yet Greens have a fit saying it cannot be allowed, so who really are the opposition to solving the problem?

  95. Adolfo Giurfa (12:54:34) said:

    “If we are to seek for alternative sources of energy, one is using hydrogen as fuel, but generated “in situ”, and in order to produce it cheap you have to have high surface area electrodes, only achievable with nanoparticles.
    By the way, some time ago, I discovered a method for producing metal nanoparticles in big quantities (as much as you could need), so making them cheap enough for these applications. The process has not been patented yet, but you can see the nanoparticles at: http://www.giurfa.com/ultranano.htm

    The electrodes you mention, I take it are part of an apparatus for the electrolysis of water?

    By using an intermittent source of electricity (such as a windmill generator) to split water into hydrogen (and oxygen), the energy can be made available over a longer period of time.

    Electrode materials in this role have to withstand corrosion well: have these copper particles you make been tested in such electrodes? I looked at your pictures, but was not sure of the various features they show.

    My personal take on windmills is that they fit into the larger scheme of things best, when they are implemented as small & local energy-capture equipment. Trying to make them attractive as large-scale utility installations, strikes me as a case of diminishing returns on investment, and proliferating conflicts.

    I am not surprised to see large windmills encountering operational problems, both on the engineering side, and the social aspect.

  96. Ted Clayton (16:22:42) :
    Yes indeed, but as you can guess, that hydrogen is to be used to fuel, say, for example, a car , etc.
    But forget those “windmills of your mind” (as the lyrics of a song reads), these are really preposterous.

  97. Wind does work, and it works well in California. If we can figure it out in California, anybody can. This is not rocket science. If the gearboxes fail, that is just an engineering failure, not a technology killer. Somebody should hire a better engineer.

    Latest figures from California Energy Commission for 2008 show that wind provided 2.5 percent of all gigawatt-hours generated. That is 7,000 GWH that did not require the burning of natural gas.

    http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/total_system_power.html

    The natural gas is therefore available for burning in vehicles, thus reducing demand for petroleum imports. A win-win-win, all around.

    That is the T. Boone Pickens Plan in action.

  98. Roger Sowell says:

    Latest figures from California Energy Commission for 2008 show that wind provided 2.5 percent of all gigawatt-hours generated. That is 7,000 GWH that did not require the burning of natural gas.

    Did CA actually switch off that much base load capacity, or some lesser amount because it is not that flexible?

  99. Years ago I read a summary of the economics of power companies. It said that the costs to provide power can be divided into thirds. One third for the fuel, one third for the capital to build the power plants, and one third for the distribution system. Eliminating fuel only saves one third.

    Assuming this is still close, one can see the cost of the capital for the plants and windmills is doubled to pay for both. There will be an increase in distribution costs to bring the power in from the distributed windmills. Perhaps another 6th? Thus that “free” power gets to be expensive.

    Pity. I always kind of liked windmills. I wonder if there is anyway to use that power to produce liquid fuels for transportation. Fuel would have higher value and it would eliminate the need for more power lines and duplicate power plants. Plus we could eliminate the stupid subsidies.

  100. BCH (10:17:40) :

    “Basically because wind is only about 20% efficient i.e. you need to install 5 MW of generating capacity for every 1 MW of sustained power. Further, it is intermittent so you need a natural gas turbine or a coal (horrors!) fired plant running on standby for those times when the wind doesn’t blow at all.”

    Absolutely…and the key point here is that to have a gas turbine or coal fired plant running on standby (essentially acting as a buffer to the wind generation) is about the MOST inefficient thing you can do. You just can’t switch on a gas turbine or coal fired plant – it takes hours to come up to capacity – it has to be running (essentially idling) all the time to act as a true buffer.

    So to “prop up” a wind farm or multiple wind farms you actually waste almost as much energy from the buffering mechanism as you generate from the wind. But because some power is being generated by the wind it is seen as “green” power. The whole thing is a scam as big as AGW itself.

    Now add an increase in off-peak demand to that unstable grid from the charging of electric vehicles and you have 1 of several recipes for disaster for our kids to enjoy in the future. Thanks green lobby … you idiots.

  101. ’64 Cambridge A60 2 speed automatic. Best car in the snow I ever had… Had to re-lap the valves every 1000 miles or she would bark and fart! I never had much trouble with the electrics believe it or not. Man I miss that car… Wish I’d never sold it. Low beam was simply dimmer lights! Hand crank etc. Trunk slept 6.

    sigh… Guess I miss that ’79 211 type II as well. 2litre F.I. Porsche engine.

    AAAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!

  102. Those comparing the energy issue to the horseless carriage missed their history – government didn’t subsidize the invention or implementation of autos. The creepiness of wind et. al. is it has no economic viability without Uncle Sam’s (taxpayers) money.

  103. Here is the problem with wind. In a coal plant, one generator will give you 100 MW. If it is a 1,000 MW plant, you have 10 generators, maybe a few spare. To replace this, you need 1,000 turbines. So you have 100 times the number of bearings that need to be maintained. The bearings are also a few hundred feet in the air. How do you lubricate them? Furthermore, you have to run a ton of copper to link these 1000 generators together. Hundreds of miles. The maintenance headaches are astonomical. And finally, the wind farm will be far away from the populations centers that need the power. How are you going to get it to market?

  104. My buildings environmental coordinator just got back from a meeting and they are going to start installing wind generators on top of buildings at my facility. I have read WUWT long enough to know the troubles with wind mills. Sitting on remote ridges or off the coast, maybe but on top of buildings???? They would have to be very short not to interfere with a local airfield or tear the roofs off in strong winds, and my location is not exceptionally windy. I have no idea what the benefit would be.

  105. Where can I buy one of these wonderful Bird Beaters?

    These really look like something I would like to have in my backyard. [/sarcoff]

  106. Wally (18:33:22),

    That reminded me of when the Empire State Building was built. They put a blimp docking pole on top [blimps were high tech in the '30's], but it turned out blimps couldn’t use it, because the surrounding buildings made wind gusts come from all directions. You’d better tell your enviro coordinator to start with one building. Then you can ask him, “How’d that work out?”

  107. DCH, realitycheck: It is just not true, that a gas turbine takes hours to bring up to power. A steam plant that burns gas does require hours. A gas turbine requires roughly half an hour.

    Wind power is not 20 percent of nameplate capacity in the U.S.,it is much better in most places.

    Have a look at Table 7 on pg 24 of the DOE reference I gave above.

    The worst, in 2006, was 22.1 pct in New England. The best was 45 pct in Hawaii. The Heartland, which is where most of the wind is, has better than 40 percent.

  108. Dan Gibson (10:14:49) :

    I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations. On and on. New concepts take time, trial and error. Bucks change hands, fortunes are won and lost. It’s just a new face on the same old same old.
    Chill.

    Dan, I don’t think anyone here is opposed to “viable” new forms of energy, but “wind energy” is not “viable”. It costs more, does not produce these “millions of green jobs” as purported. They are ugly, dangerous and inefficient. They cost far more per kilowatt hour to operate than many other forms of energy production. They have grievous side effects that are either not well known, or are well known but covered up. They can pose dangers to humans, animals and may even now be linked to changes in migratory bird patterns and their populations. They have to be subsidized through taxes and still maintain a much higher consumer cost. You would have to build millions upon millions of them in order to have any positive effect on overall power generation. Simply said, wind power is absolutely useless. Now, bring up a topic of an alternative energy source that is

    a) currently available
    b) truly sustainable
    c) practical
    d) does not suffer from the above mentioned issues (and more)
    e) affordable without subsidy

    If you can do this, then I think you will find a whole lot of friends in the speak about alternative energies. Until then, keep it away from me, I’m not interested!

    You know, if environmentalists and alternative energy freaks would just take a deep breath, have a little patience and put their money where their mouths are, utilize those funds into research of “viable” solutions (not things like corn ethanol) but like Fusion, better Fission, and “real” alternative energy, it would not take long for the free market system to grab a hold of this and find something that can really work. But unfortunately, everybody has this insatiable appetite for quick and dirty money, the very same things that have gotten us into the financial situation we are in now and are about to get us even deeper through the AGW hogwash and “green engergy” hogwash. Stupid is as stupid does…

  109. BCH (10:17:40) :

    TComa

    Basically because wind is only about 20% efficient i.e. you need to install 5 MW of generating capacity for every 1 MW of sustained power.

    BCH, although the 20% you cite here may be what the wind energy industry is boasting, I believe the the more recent studies of actual “realized” efficiency are more in the neighborhood of 5% at best. I do not have any handy links to this, but I recall reading this several times over the past year, and I am sure one could scare up some credible information rather quickly.

  110. Alan the Brit (10:30:40) :


    These wind turbines are dangerous, deadly to bird life, inefficient, & expensive things to build & run without massive taxpayer funded subsidies. If these turbines were the Golden Egg we’re supposed to believe they would have built thousands yesars ago.

    Alan, you are absolutely correct! California has been running these things since the mid 70’s!!! They haven’t worked well in over 35 years! There are continuously massive complaints by locals, and they have cost Californian’s a tremendous amount of money. They have failed in every way possible, and they have not been able to improve upon them in over 35 years! How long does it take before one figures out “hey, this crap doesn’t work!” ..?

  111. doug (18:22:08) :
    government didn’t subsidize the invention or implementation of autos. The creepiness of wind et. al. is it has no economic viability without Uncle Sam’s (taxpayers) money.

    Bit out of date isn’t it – how much has the auto industry been given now?

    Some wind turbines use no gears:

    http://www.enercon.de/www/en/broschueren.nsf/vwwebAnzeige/EF467F8AE23F96D4C12571940023E1BF/$FILE/ENERCON_Technology+Service_eng.pdf

    And are designed to integrate with the grid:

    http://www.enercon.de/www/en/broschueren.nsf/vwwebAnzeige/A1F46D4783166914C125747B002DD858/$FILE/Netzintegration_Windpark_eng.pdf

  112. jon (12:40:35) said :
    Why don’t you guys stick to the science rather than picking on everything you think is related or even partially related to the AGW argument … it would make this site more interesting … and credible!

    I myself “stick to the science” every day; have done for the last 28 years, trying to make it cheaper to produce oil & gas. So far, only 17 US Patents to show for it, but lots more in application and I’m working as fast as I can.
    I do like to think I am pretty credible.

    BTW 6 or 7 of those issued patents are for composite materials manufacturing apparati and methods, so I guess I know some about windmill manufacture, too.

    Unfortunately, every single week during that time I have been subjected to some juvenile, ignorant diatribe from one of the Coasts about my profession “killing” something or another, whether polar bears or shore birds or Nigerians or babies or now “the planet”. No coverage about the stunning improvements that my generation has wrought in oil & gas production, or the huge technical and economic successes we’ve had; only the KILLING. Oh, and half-baked theories from social scientists like “Global Peak Oil”

    I thought about dropping the NYT after reading it daily (even when overseas) for 40 years, but now the AGW idiocy seems to have spread, like a fungus, into the lingua franca; just ask a six year old about “the planet”. I guess my only recourse, in my dotage, is to follow T. Jefferson’s advice and only associate with folks I find agreeable.

    So perhaps you’ll forgive me if I sometimes “stray” away from the science which I practice. Or at least, maybe, hold the AGW crowd to the same standard. Good luck with that. And think of me and my colleagues when you buy gasoline for a price lower than milk.

    Oh, and a bit of oilfield engineering for the earlier post which favored “pumping hydrogen” in a pipeline. What the technical nimrods in the AGW movement won’t tell you (perhaps because they don’t know) is that handling hydrogen at high pressures (as would be required for use as a fuel, for example) is that (a) sealing hydrogen is VERY difficult (very small pesky molecule); elastomeric seals generally don’t work well, generally need to use metal-to-metal seals, which are technically difficult and a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive (e.g an o-ring versus CNC lathe time and materials) and (b) carbon and most alloy steels REALLY don’t like elemental hydrogen, particularly if it’s wet; it EMBRITTLES the steel (hence, hydrogen embrittlement). Brittle failures of a pressure vessel (pipeline, tank, etc) are generally sudden and catastrophic. H2 generally requires a liner of a corrosion resistant alloy (with chrome and/or nickel alloying elements). Tres cher, mon amie.

    Yes, H2 allows you to “eliminate carbon”, but WHY? The whole concept of H2 as a fuel is WAY past the point of diminishing returns, and, uh, pretty soon we’ll likely be BEGGING for some added soot and CO2 in the atmosphere.

    See http://www.solarcycle24.com/ The recent SC23 low-latitude spotlette has faded, and we’re spotless again.

    Meanwhile, domestic natural gas (methane has FOUR nasty disgusting baby-killing carbon atoms per molecule, but then you knew that) at the wellhead is below $4 per thousand cubic feet (due mainly to technical advances in tight shale drilling), roughly equivalent to $24/barrel oil. Folks are stacking drilling rigs because the price is too low to justify more drilling. You’re welcome.

  113. Squidly,

    have you read the reference I gave? Your statements are ludicrous. Wind power generation works quite well, and has done so for decades. 7,000 GWH in one year in California is not trivial. The previous year, 2006, had almost the same amount of wind power generation.

    A great number of sound businessmen are building these at an ever-increasing rate, and are financed by additional sound businessmen. Wind energy is tried, true, proven, and here to stay.

    No amount of denial will change those facts.

  114. Adolfo Giurfa (11:00:52) :

    NoAstronomer (10:44:52) :Start investing in hamster futures now!

    I would say, “instead Start investing in French Energy futures now!” because, chances are that you will have to buy energy from France.

    I agree and can see this coming. France is also where they are building the first full-scale fusion reactor. If they stay on this road, they are going to be light years ahead of the rest of the world in energy! Me thinks perhaps the French aren’t so dumb after all? (no disrespect to French intended…)

  115. John Laidlaw (11:10:58) :

    I say again (for the umpteenth time), money needs to be poured into nuclear fusion research. Anything else is folly.

    Here here! John, you are one of the sane ones of the bunch! Fusion is not that far off! What was once a pipe dream is not that far from potential reality. However, I often wonder just how quickly it would be implemented given the probable “cheapness” of it, when there are other energy sources that may afford greater corporate profits. Precisely why GE is on the wind bandwagon. GE stands to make billions from this wind garbage (Bird Beaters) while we all pay unreasonable prices for our energy both directly and indirectly through subsidies. It’s all a profiteering scam!

  116. Tom Mills (11:22:58) :

    Do people really want this – http://visitwalesnow.org.uk/environment-in-wales.htm

    Great link! And I think one of the most important parts to take away from this (in the context of this site, and besides the other enormous list)

    …during its lifetime, one 3MW turbine will “save” 6,356 tonnes of carbon and “cost” somewhere between 27,213 and 40,773 tonnes of carbon.

    That does seem like such a good deal to me if you are worried about CO2 production…

  117. Roger Sowell (19:10:00) :

    “DCH, realitycheck: It is just not true, that a gas turbine takes hours to bring up to power. A steam plant that burns gas does require hours. A gas turbine requires roughly half an hour. ”

    I agree that a gas turbine requires a very short time to put on line and a cold start of either a gas or coal fired power plant can take hours but I worked on a program that developed hot starts for a coal fired power plant that only required about 2 hours to put on line as I recall. Of course these were just overnight shutdowns to avoid the higher generating costs at minimum load.

  118. Coupled with base load of coal or nuclear and offset with hydro reservoirs that are used purely for storage, wind can make sense.

    Otherwise they are monuments in stupidity. You have to leave it to regions with the intelligence to deregulate electricity successfully and extract hydrocarbons from the oil sands with increasing efficiency to do it properly. That jurisdiction is not California.

  119. hotrod (15:18:57) :

    A cogent analysis.

    Wind and Solar are currently used by some RV people to stay off the grid for longer periods. They use low-voltage DC and in relatively small quantities, and the parts for the installation are spendy. Batteries are the storage. And RVs are power sippers, minimizing electric use unless they run the micro or the air.

  120. Re: costs of wind. Wind farms in Ontario are getting paid 14 cents per kWhr, and if they are required to pay property tax on the capital costs of their installs, can’t make a profit.

    Nukes in Ontario are getting round about 5 cents per kWhr and are making a tidy operating profit. This includes paying into the fund for decomissioning and disposal of spent fuel, which now has some tens of billions in it.

    EPRI estimates the “all in” costs of nuclear, including fuel cradle to grave,
    construction, maintenance, operation, decomission, plus the govt subsidy,
    to be in the range 8 cents to 14 cents per kWhr. They also estimate that
    the CO2 production due to construction, maintenance, and operation of
    wind turbines is roughly double that of nukes.

    The capacity factor of wind in Ontario is hitting round about 10 percent.
    This is because the turbines are dispatched off if the wind is too low
    *or* too high. Or just too variable. Also, the turbine may not be needed,
    as cheaper power may be available at low demand times. Why should the
    water at Niagara be spilled over the falls at 2AM when nobody is watching,
    when the price of electricity is about 3 cents per kWhr. And the highest
    wind availability tends not to match peak demand, which is typically
    in the 4PM to 7PM time in Ontario.

    And the price paid to the operators does not include the costs required
    for upgrades to the grid, nor increased operating costs per kWhr at the
    backup generation required to operate fewer hours but still have all
    their employees on the job. A coal plant that operates for 70 percent
    of the time costs a lot more per kWhr than one that operates all the time.

    Wind is mighty silly as it is currently used.

  121. Why is it that the most common scene of these windmills is idle?
    I have driven by the I-580 site too many times, only to see them in their
    natural state…doing nothing.

  122. TonyB (12:48:39) :

    The sad fact is that despite the warm words and pious aspirations a modern economy can’t exist on renewables for its base load energy-however nice that may sound. In twenty years time perhaps, but there is an awful lot of trial and error to go through first, and in the meantime we need to build some new power stations using coal or nuclear-and quickly.

    Tonyb

    Tonyb – Sad to say, but the UK looks like a slow motion train wreck that will take the next 5 to 10 years to play out. Perhaps buying electricity from France will take the edge of some of the pain.

    I predict serious and prolonged blackouts will occur, local industry will be decimated, social unrest will occur, and the rest of the world will use the UK as an object lesson in what not to do.

  123. Eh?

    The standard CEGB 200 Mw set of the 1960’s on coal firing held on spinning reserve at 10% capacity could run to half power in about 30 minutes and full power in about 45 minutes.

    The 500 Mw sets introduced in the 1970’s, Drax etc, with the new so called fast forced boilers were slightly slower and had serious teething troubles at first but were sorted after a few years.

    The standard CEGB 25 MW gas turbine set installed from 1975 could reach full power from cold in 2 minutes, and as later built in pairs in the mid 1980’s with a steam second stage of a further 35 MW could be run up without steam generation in much the same time but with steam reach full power in about ten minutes.

    Bit dodgy though running them down in dual mode with all that excess heat.

    The Magnox nuclear stations of the 1950’s were very slow compared to their coal fired counterparts but the AGRs, when finally got to work, were surprisingly fast because being gas cooled using helium the conductivity was amazing and unlike PWRs there was no danger of a cold slug problem.

    When I was sent to recommission Seaton Carew AGR just before the miner’s strike, it hadn’t turned a wheel in five years, I could hold her on idle at 100 MW and run her up to her full 2000 MW in twenty five minutes.

    My counterpart at the Isle of Grain, oil fired, which also had been mothballed for years, needed nearly fifty minutes and he had the latest, then, oxygen boost fast ignition.

    KIndest Regards

  124. @ bill (19:25:12) :

    http://www.northyorksfire.gov.uk/news/photo_galleries/incidents1/drax_power_station_fire/index.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/05/japan-nuclear-power-fire

    http://www.gov.im/lib/news/mea/peelpowerstation.xml

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/6668657.stm

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1422474/Ball-of-fire-killed-three-at-power-station.html

    http://www.banthebomb.org/archives/news/970127.htm

    http://www.fire.org.uk/BBC_News/news/bbc020500a.htm

    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1005/1005039_fire_at_power_station.html

    You cite 8 references to incidents spanning the globe in a timespan of 12 years. Now, consider the potential incident ratio per kilowatt/hour and compare that to Bird Beaters. I suspect that you will find the ratio for Bird Beater failures to be significantly, many magnitude, higher than power stations (of any kind). It would take thousands upon thousands of Bird Beaters to replace just the power stations you have cited here, and I suspect they would have a far greater failure rate.

    Cost of windpower comparisons and other related things:

    http://www.energywatchgroup.org/fileadmin/global/pdf/2009-01_Wind_Power_Report.pdf

    I am suspicious of these quotes:

    4. Stable life-cycle-cost of its use can be guaranteed;

    They can guarantee this? This does not seem plausible.

    5. Wind power is competitive with other new power sources;

    To date it has clearly not been.

    6. Operating wind turbines cause no carbon emissions, no air pollution and no hazardous waste;

    This does not include any manufacturing, maintanence, etc… Very vague and simply not true.

    8. Wind has a short energy payback of energy invested, normally less than one year;

    Then why the need for such lavish subsidies?

    11. Fast innovation cycles prevail, based on maturing know-how;

    Clearly not true. They have been attempting this technology for better than 35 years without success.

    12. Wind is still a young technology, allowing progress on the learning curve and cost reductions;

    Again, clearly not true, unless you consider almost 40 years of operation a “young” technology. Further, this contradicts their own prior statements.

    13. Wind is decentralized power; it allows small organizations or groups in various places to become a part of the power generation business and to sell it for a profit – very different from the exclusive structure of the oil, gas or nuclear business;

    Really? How well has this worked out so far? All reports I have seen are completely to the contrary, and this doesn’t even factor in the cost of subsidizing.

    14. Distances from good wind sites to consumers in general are moderate (1-1000 miles) compared to other energy sources (oil, gas, uranium, coal)

    Power plants clearly have the upper hand here since they do not require placement in viable “windy” areas.

    15. Wind energy has positive side benefits for various stakeholders such as job creation, taxes, income options for farmers, infrastructure for remote areas, investment opportunities for local communities etc.

    This is absolutely contrary to observed and as soon as I see the term “stakeholders” it is a blaring signal to me that politics are involved. The term “stakeholders” in political terms means “bend over and get ready for it”

    16. Wind energy replaces expenses for (often imported) fuels by technology, creating energy, know-how and human labor in a decentralized way.

    Again, not what has been observed and quite to the contrary.
    No real reason for me to continue on with this report.

    My summary of this report:

    I have seen these very same reports since the mid 1980’s as I had a long-time client of mine very heavily involved in pushing this technology from a political standpoint. Over the years he convied to me that the intention was purely driven by oportunity by a few, fueled by subsidy from government, and a means for political platform. In coffee based conversation, he admitted that the overall cost and viability wasn’t there and not in the foreseable future. Things may have changed some from these converstions in and around the 1990’s, but I suspect largely still hold true. As he pointed out, this was about pleasing certain groups, not providing necessarily a viable energy solution.

    bird deaths

    This information does look somewhat plausible to me, however, I do believe the metrics would change considerably once a usable volume of Bird Beaters were put into place. There are a lot more buildings and cars around then there are Bird Beaters. Additionally, the type of birds in harms way differs greatly, and the current concern are for migratory birds such as Geese. How many 25 pound Geese fly into buildings and cars? I saw a YouTube once of a flock of Canadian Geese flying through a Bird Beater farm and it wasn’t pretty. Took out quite a few.

    Costs compared

    These costs do not factor in subsidies, but they do factor in the enourmous cost to Nuclear, Natural Gas and Coal power plants to cut through the years of red tape purpetrated upon their industries by the Greenie Weenie’s. Because of these issues, this is not a properly balanced assessment.

    US wind power costs

    This cites a purported “tax credit”, definately something one cannot count on, especially for any duration. And if it is so cheap, why the need for a “credit”. Additionally, this does not include the cost of subsidy. Even without factoring in these extra costs and the inevitable demise of the “tax credit”, this would affectively increase my current rate by some 60%. Doesn’t sound like a good deal to me, and this assumes that they are accurate, but as we usually find out later, the costs are likely to be grossly underestimating.

  125. Another of the reasons wind power is quite a bit less efficient, there are electric oil pumps that are needed for the bearings – even when the wind isn’t blowing! Several readers have commented about seeing windmills turning when the air is still. Big windmills that aren’t turning are out of commission, even if the wind starts blowing, they won’t spin. If a large windmill sits still, the blades sag and get out of balance, so even when the wind isn’t strong enough to power the system – electric power needs to be used to power the oil pump and spin the air foil – when there is no wind you don’t get no power, you get negative power!

    The media always uses the size of Manhattan as an example because they are mostly from Manhattan – They often think that the weather in NYC represents the entire country – It’s all about them.

    British beer is served warm because it can be – there are no off flavors, etc that need to be disguised by being ice cold. American beer is HORRIBLE warm (it’s not great cold either), not so with a good Pale ale, ESB or brown. British beer is wonderful. [just one American's opinion]

  126. Roger Sowell

    You need to read the source documentation when you link it, 2008 is a preliminary and renewables are high and also include out of state purchase of renewable power. So lets be real and not use unconfirmed numbers, ok?

    The numbers for 2007 are accurate and have source documentation..

    They come in 1.5% of total consumption and when Calculated into MW Production equals 653 Mw of average generation from 2539Mw of installed nameplate capacity or 25.7% capacity utilization averaged over the year. Sounds Good yes? Well no because of one thing this report does not tell you and the latest report with the data which is needed was 2001, but the data is seasonal percentages so it should be accurate…

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/reports/2003-01-17_500-02-034F.PDF

    Page 44 – Table 5

    Statewide Total Wind Power Generated by Fiscal Quarter…
    1st = 16%, 2nd = 35%, 3rd = 33%, 4th = 15%

    I know the argument is that AC uses more power in the summer and it adds when it is needed most but consumption does not change 19% seasonally in California, and if we are indeed in a warming world the need for cooling will only increase in winter.

    When the electric car shows up how is this going to jive with demand year round?

  127. Roger Sowell (19:48:14) :

    Squidly,

    have you read the reference I gave? Your statements are ludicrous. Wind power generation works quite well, and has done so for decades. 7,000 GWH in one year in California is not trivial. The previous year, 2006, had almost the same amount of wind power generation.

    A great number of sound businessmen are building these at an ever-increasing rate, and are financed by additional sound businessmen. Wind energy is tried, true, proven, and here to stay.

    No amount of denial will change those facts.

    Roger, I read the information in your link, you are incorrect about the 7,000 GWH .. Northwest imports were 1,026 GWH, Southwest imports were 2,279 GWH, leaving local production at 5,724 GWH. This is for a total budget of 302,072 GWH. I would call that trivial, and this is after 35 years of build-out and operation! It doesn’t sound to me like it is working so well, and I believe there are others here that will agree with me on this.

    You are correct about “sound businessmen”, not building, but investing in companies that build these products (GE being one big player). They are jumping on the subsidy bandwagon just as they have in Britain and elsewhere. Once the subsidy well dries up, they will move on, leaving the inevitable costs to the consumer, which really won’t be a lot different since the subsidy is our tax money anyway. This type of thing is and has been happening in other places around the world. If this were such a good technology, why has it taken almost 40 years for these “sound businessmen” to finally jump on board? I suspect because it has not been such a “sound investment”, until now that the current administration is announcing some $160 billion in “incentive” to invest (just first round and the tip of the inevitable subsidy iceberg). With this kind of money involved, as an investor from that perspective, I too would be interested in investment. But that doesn’t make it a sound “alternative energy” source, but it could buy a whole lot of pizza’s!

  128. @ a jones (20:58:42) :

    Fascinating stuff! I love it when we get “hands on” people in here contributing and laying down some “real world smack”! That’s what it’s all about!

    Thank you for the wonderful insight!

  129. @ Roger Sowell (19:48:14) :

    Roger, looking over that data a bit more, I have to say, there is not only a huge problem with California’s overall energy plan (as they import nearly 1/3 or their energy needs from other states), but they are also only able to produce 1.89% of their energy needs from almost 40 years of Bird Beater trials. This doesn’t sound like a very good track record to me.

  130. dgallagher (21:16:01) :

    British beer is served warm because it can be – there are no off flavors, etc that need to be disguised by being ice cold. American beer is HORRIBLE warm (it’s not great cold either), not so with a good Pale ale, ESB or brown. British beer is wonderful. [just one American's opinion]

    I went to the 1980 World’s Fair in Vancouver British Columbia were we enjoyed a quart of warm Bavarian beer. Best beer I have ever had, and I have had a lot. Beats any beer made in America, by far. IMHO

  131. We were never leaders in this field anyway………..if Danish/German ones shut down, that would be the key indicator that the industry was going tits up……..

  132. I repeat. Wind makes sense in very special circumstances.

    In the land of DIRTY OIL, there is about 1/2 GW of windmills that have been intelligently deployed without subsidy or any handouts.

    Mind you people pay the real cost of power in this jurisdiction where the only true successful deregulation in NA took place.

    I am a consumer in said jurisdiction so I should know. After living under the umbrella of the TVA for 5 years and returning to DIRTY OIL land, I was shocked at what the real cost of power was. Everyone else in NA is subsidized in some fashion by politicians with no balls … including Arny.

    As an operator of Coal Base Load in this jurisdiction’s grid, I still do look at the windmills as fluff … but having watched the energy trading system for 10 years, they do have a place.

  133. Oh, would you like a link to watch how the grid is dispatched over time in DIRTY OIL land? Definately not England although they did steal a little English scenery in a tourism ad …

  134. Adolfo Giurfa (11:00:52) : I would say, “instead Start investing in French Energy futures now!” because, chances are that you will have to buy energy from France

    Actually a practical solution. Lay a superconducting power cable (such as those produced by American Superconductor) under the channel and put the French nuclear grid on line in England. No Problem. (This really would work).

  135. John Laidlaw (11:10:58) : Hey hey hey! We drink warm beer because we *like* it and it has more flavour. Just keeping the facts straight here… ;)

    Um, I thought Brits drank “room temperature beer” which last time I was there was about 56 F (or about the same as a California Fridge during the repeated energy shortages we had from similar government energy meddling nonsense ;-)

    what popular proponents of wind and solar power always seem to skirt past quickly is the fact that it’s the *storage* of the energy that matters. If you can’t store it efficiently, you can’t balance it against demand, and the whole system becomes an expensive white elephant.

    While this is true at large percentages, for less than about 15-20% you can forgo storage. Simply turning down a gas turbine saves the fuel you would otherwise need, much as is done with gas turbines vs nukes for peaking. Basically, wind becomes your lowest variable cost, but least dispatchable, peaking plant.

    I say again (for the umpteenth time), money needs to be poured into nuclear fusion research. Anything else is folly.

    Sorry, but no. There are lots of non-folly energy sources at reasonable prices while fusion has been ’50 years away’ for each of the last 50 years and is still 50 years away… Now a place like the U.S.A. has many more options than Britain, but there are still plenty of options for every location.

    Yes, too, each option has good points and bad points. So wind power in North Texas is not a bad idea ( while living there might be due to the incessant wind!) and solar in Arizona makes sense but wind, not so much. For anyone with access to sea water, near infinite Uranium is available and fission works rather well; with the quantity of waste to ‘dispose’ of so small that we’ve run about 40 years and still haven’t bothered to designate a disposal site(!). For Britain, wave bobbers makes a lot of sense (not tidal generators, but surface waves). But, IMHO, what makes the most sense is the several hundred years of coal scattered all over the planet. Yeah, scrub the flue for mercury, uranium, etc. But let the CO2 go.

    FWIW, the last I heard numbers wind in N. Texas was headed for 7 cents / kWhr while solar in Arizona and S. California was at about a dime, but some new stuff in lab scale was at the nickel / kW-hr rate. Nuclear is all over the board with old plants at about 3 cents and new build at up to 25 cents depending on how much litigation they expect 8-{

    There is a wave farm going in off the coast of Hawaii that looks to have decently low costs (and far less impact visually or as sound than wind turbines with no bird kill issues…).

    The point? We have dozens of systems to make energy services that work just fine. What we don’t have is an economic system that lets them compete in a free and open market; we have massively regulated energy markets and political management. Thus we have a mess…

    Markets may not be perfect, but they blow the doors of politicians for efficiency, low cost, reliability, and ability to pick winners well.

  136. I live in an area where these windmills spring up like weeds (Lancashire coast, UK). We even have a forest of the things a couple of miles offshore. All of them were useless during the recent freeze. What use is energy technology when it fails just when you need it most?

    I have installed a wood/coal burning stove to make sure we don’t freeze to death. There is an abundant supply of wood washed up on the beach which we saw up, dry out and store. What the British eco-Nazis will make of my carbon footprint is anyone’s guess but then, I don’t give a toss what they think. They won’t be the ones freezing their bums off in winter. Need I point out that Hitler was the last one to get the lights turned off (or blacked out) in Britain?

    Forget useless sustainables. Bring back coal before the damn lights go out.

    PS Squidly, I second the great taste of British beer but only that of the independent breweries. The big company commercial stuff tastes every bit as bad as the US commercial stuff. :D

  137. PaulHClark (11:15:08) :
    1). What is the cost per Kwh from one of these machines?
    2). What is the cost per KwH from alternatives such as nuclear, coal and oil?
    3). What is the end to end carbon footprint of a wind turbine?
    4). What is the additional cost to the grid of running wind turbines – which operate in a way that requires back-up from other energy providing platforms that often have to operate at inefficient levels in such a system?

    1) Highly variable with site specific wind speeds. Bigger turbines are cheaper than little ones. From about 25 cents / kW-hr down to 7 cents / Wk-hr for typical U.S. sites. Hope is to hit nickel / kW-hr “soon” in the steady wind corridor of Oklahoma / Texas.

    2) Highly variable with construction costs. Nuke could be the cheapest in some parts of the world (2 cents / kW-hr possible) but in most of the U.S.A. today (and especially in California) figure about 25 c/kW-hr. Coal has been hanging in about 5 cents per kW-hr (with some variation with coal prices and construction costs). Oil is almost 100% transportation fuel, not generator fuel, other than in very small scale emergency generators or small village scale systems (i.e. remote Alaskan village…) It just isn’t really important, but figure about 10 to 25 cents / kWhr in small scales.

    3) Irrelevant (and somewhat impossible to figure out anyway. It’s mostly an exercise in stating what assumptions you like for where the energy to make the thing came from). You can make it smaller by using farm grown bio-plastics and wind or solar sourced electricity; or larger by using petroleum based chemicals and coal electricity. There is just no point to the exercise.

    4) Near zero at small percentages, rising to some minor management of existing peaking plant at the 10% of capacity scale, then a bit more significant as you approach the 15% to 20% level. After that it rises darned fast since then you need to build duplicate plant for stable capacity. Depending on what you build (i.e. gas turbine vs nuke) you can get high fuel costs / low capital costs; or high capital costs, low fuel costs. Management to a stable grid becomes ‘problematic’…

    All these questions are best handled by an electric company in a free market, but that won’t happen…

  138. Benjamin P. (12:23:44) : Climate change or otherwise, coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, are all finite resources, so one way or another, we’ll need 100% renewable energy at some point.

    Hopefully everyone on this blog recognizes that.

    Yes, we do. And I hope that you realize the sizes involved. For coal the problem is about 250 to 400 years away. For Uranium, it’s 10,000 years for the known reserves on land. Then we would have to switch to Thorium for the next 30,000 years. After that, we would need to spend about 10% more to get our Uranium from sea water for the next 3 or 4 billion years. Unfortunately, the sun will incinerate life on the planet in about 2.5 billion years, so we can’t quite use it all up in time… But yes, if the planet could survive just a couple of billion years longer, we could use up the non-renewables…

    Oh, and there is more carbon in methane clathrates than we can count (estimates are about as much as all other fossil fuels combined) so if we every use them, that’s another 1/2 millennium or so. Oh, and the tar sands and oil shales have as much oil as all other oil combined, call it plus a couple of hundred years…

    Yes, we will run out… hundreds and hundreds of years for some fuels, billions and billions for others… I’m not going to lose sleep over it…

    From:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/

    “Uranium is not renewable, but it is functionally unlimited. This clever scientist in Japan made a polymer that absorbs it from sea water at a price of about $150 / lb. Not competitive with the land based U by a few dollars, so not counted as an “economic reserve” today; but certainly cheap enough to make cheap electricity. And if we powered the whole planet on sea water U, we would extract slightly less each year than washes into the ocean via erosion… We run out of energy when we run out of planet. Literally. See:”

    http://www.taka.jaea.go.jp/eimr_div/j637/theme3%20sea_e.html

    Learn to use numbers when talking about ‘running out’. It is very enlightening…

  139. Benjamin P. (14:22:54) :
    @Thomas Gough (13:44:46) :

    May as well put it off then is what you are saying?

    Yes. Precisely. But if solar drops below a nickel, or wind, and someone wants to pay market rates for it, go right ahead. Basically, there is no urgency so we ought to do what is cheapest now (thus leaving more money for things like parks, medicines, etc.

    And hopefully those Saudis are honest about their reserves…

    Hopefully, yes, but they most likely have not. They have not really drilled much at all since they had a superfield that is over producing their OPEC quota anyway. Why drill for more that has to be shut in? So the best guess is that they are sitting on way more oil and that some day they might go drill for it. FWIW, every time they have been accused of not having the spare 2 mbbl/day they’ve claimed, they have eventually opened the spigot and pumped it. They have more capacity than they admit, and probable reserves are understated as well. But if not, Petrobras in Brasil has found what looks like a superfield (it will take a decade just to explore it all, but 10 B bbl is known now) and Standard Oil hit oil in the Gulf of Mexico at a depth everyone said was theoretically impossible. So now a lot of “explored areas” may need redrilling to a new depth …

    We know that Hubberts Peak is a roughly bell shaped curve, and we know we started 150 years ago for Drakes first well, so we have 150 more at least (though we are not yet at Hubberts peak globally, so it might be longer) to be pumping out the oil. I’m not worried at all.

    Heck, we have substantially not drilled at all on both east and west coasts and coastal Alaska.

    Then there is:

    This page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_shale

    puts the recoverable shale oil estimate at about 3 trillion barrels. That is about 100 years at present oil consumption rates if all oil consumption was supplied from shale oil. Somehow I don’t feel like I’m running out…

    But if we did have a surprise oil shortage, we can turn coal into oil and petroleum products. That’s good for a couple of hundred more years (and is being done today in South Africa and China on a commercial basis. SSL, SYMX, RTK, and SYNM are companies stock tickers in this business. SSL is the largest).

    http://www.sasol.com/sasol_internet/frontend/navigation.jsp?navid=1600033&rootid=2

    That’s another hundred or two.

    Look, we are just not going to run out of energy. Ever. The only questions have to do with price and esthetics… We can make “petro” chemical from trees, algae, even trash (RTK does this one) and we have plenty of trash… so why ‘save the oil’?

    We don’t need to develop anything, it’s already developed. We just need to let free markets decide which one gives us the most bang for the buck.

  140. Robert Bateman (20:56:34) : Why is it that the most common scene of these windmills is idle? I have driven by the I-580 site too many times, only to see them in their natural state…doing nothing.

    Because windmills can only work effectively in a modest range of wind speeds. You can design for slow ( think wild west water pumper dozens of blades), medium (egg beaters) and fast ( 3 wings on the prop high in the sky). Now the slow one will run a lot of the time, but not make much power, since it folds out of the way in modest to fast wind, but when that winter killer storm comes in with near gale force wind you have LOTS of power from the high speed ones. Except that 90% of the time the wind speed is way lower than that, so they sit idle. But for total $$ sold in a year, that 10% of the time gives you 90% of the $$$ …

  141. Graeme Rodaughan (20:57:31) : Sad to say, but the UK looks like a slow motion train wreck that will take the next 5 to 10 years to play out. Perhaps buying electricity from France will take the edge of some of the pain.

    I predict serious and prolonged blackouts will occur, local industry will be decimated, social unrest will occur, and the rest of the world will use the UK as an object lesson in what not to do.

    Um, been there, done that. Thanks to governor Grayout Davis California had blackouts, local industry packed up an left (helped by tax beatings), folks were grumpy. But I’m sorry to say, no body seems to learn from the experience of others. So I don’t thing the object lesson will happen.

    BTW, California buys a lot of power from Arizona and Nevada … Did you know that Nevada has coal power stations and that Arizona has a very large nuclear facility? But California has windmills (which we can load level because we have), lots of hydro? (about 10% hydro). We also buy lots of power from Washington state via the DC Intertie. We buy lots of power from other folks. We put it on the credit card (issue bonds) and generally freeload, since we have 14% unemployment and rising. We only have a $14 Billion $$ deficit this year projected to grow to $45 Billion Real Soon Now. Sure hope they don’t ask to be paid… But we’re not broke because folks keep buying our bonds… How can you be broke if the credit card still works!

    But no, nobody will learn from it. We’re an existence proof…

  142. hareynolds (19:45:07) : Meanwhile, domestic natural gas (methane has FOUR nasty disgusting baby-killing carbon atoms per molecule,

    Um, I think you meant that it has 4 hydrogens and one nasty … carbon. Ethane is 2, propane is 3, at butane you get 4. But I like Octane with 8, as does my FI V8 sports car (Benz SL …)

    but then you knew that) at the wellhead is below $4 per thousand cubic feet (due mainly to technical advances in tight shale drilling), roughly equivalent to $24/barrel oil.

    Yeah… I’ve been thinking about getting a Phil station and a CNG car…

    Folks are stacking drilling rigs because the price is too low to justify more drilling. You’re welcome.

    Yup. I’ve sold out of my natural gas companies and oil / gas services stocks. While my heater bill is happy (even though we’re back to the 36 F range at the SF bay area which ought to be more like 50F with May just a day or two away…) I’m not so much since it’s hard to make money with gas so cheap… But I’ve hung on to CLNE (T. Boone Picken’s company) doing the CNG truck conversions and building out CNG gas stations. $25 / bbl equiv. beats the pants off $50 / bbl and bouncing to rising longer term oil…

    I sure hope we don’t drop another 4 F degrees. Got about 3 more hours till sun up. I don’t want to lose my garden to a frost 45 days late… Already lost some tomatoes to a frost 15 or so days late. I’m getting tired of killing tomato plants…

    This late cold start to the garden / farm season is not good… One side of the jet stream is fine, normal, and warm. Then we flop to the other side and it has a nasty blustery coldness to it that is just not right. The polar side is just way too cold way too late in the season. We are losing a lot of heat from the poles (slowly pumping heat from the oceans via these long fingers of the polar jet protruding more N and S than ‘normal'; cold on one side headed south, hot on the other headed north) and I wish the mechanism was clear.

    Sun sleepy. Poles FreezeMAO cold. Massive heat / cold flows. I don’t like where this is headed… I want my May tomato harvest of 45 day wonders, not to be replanting what died of cold and looking at the others not growing from lack of heat… Heck, even my cold tolerant purple pod green beans are sulking in the cold.

    Maybe time for an article on what makes the jet stream be this way and what it implies for gardeners?…

  143. I say chaps, now look here! British beer (or real ale) is not served warm. It should be served at just above room temperature when it is cold, or just below room temperature when it is hot, just like a fine red wine! I am expecting it tp be served as the former for quite a while to come!

  144. How any government can invest billions of pounds or dollars in a technology that only works a quarter of the time (if you’re lucky) is beyond me. It does suggest that when it comes to energy and the environment, common sense flies out of the window.
    For Britain our only real option is probably nuclear, like it or not. I see it as a short or medium term solution, however. The long term solution is almost certainly fusion, which in principle should be very cheap, reliable and clean. Unfortunately fusion is always at least thirty years in the future, but significant progress is being made. We’ll get there one day.
    If, as seems certain now, fortunately, Britain goes for significant nuclear, then it seems that wind power is completely pointless. As Christopher Booker points out, all these thousands of pointless windmills that disfigure our countryside generate less than a single conventional power station. And only when the wind is blowing, of course.
    We’ve just had a very hard winter. For much of the time there was high pressure with virtually no wind. Just when we need it the most, wind power delivered the least.
    They’re not wind farms, they’re subsidy farms.
    The wind my be free but wind power certainly isn’t.
    Chris

  145. E.M.Smith (00:43:19) :

    ” 3). What is the end to end carbon footprint of a wind turbine?

    3) Irrelevant (and somewhat impossible to figure out anyway. It’s mostly an exercise in stating what assumptions you like for where the energy to make the thing came from). You can make it smaller by using farm grown bio-plastics and wind or solar sourced electricity; or larger by using petroleum based chemicals and coal electricity. There is just no point to the exercise.”

    What about the massive amount of concrete required for the foundations? As I understand it concrete manufacture is a leading contributor to “greenhouse” gases?

  146. Roger Sowell (19:10:00) :

    “DCH, realitycheck: It is just not true, that a gas turbine takes hours to bring up to power. A steam plant that burns gas does require hours. A gas turbine requires roughly half an hour.”

    I could be off on timing – that I will agree with.

    However, lets be clear here. Suppose the wind stops blowing – you are ok being 1000’s being without power for 30 mins while the gas or coal fired power plant ramps up to meet demand?

  147. E.M.Smith (01:47:38) :

    We don’t need to develop anything, it’s already developed. We just need to let free markets decide which one gives us the most bang for the buck.

    I dare say, I believe you hit the nail on the head with this one! Wish more people would realize this.

  148. realitycheck (05:38:58) :
    However, lets be clear here. Suppose the wind stops blowing – you are ok being 1000’s being without power for 30 mins while the gas or coal fired power plant ramps up to meet demand?

    Let’s be real here.
    Base load is required, Gas turbines are required for fast response and CCGT are required for efficiency but slower start.

    If a 1GW nuclear station scrams then there MUST be sufficient running warm start to take over the loss -this happened in UK when Sizewell went down followed shortly after by 600MW coal station bringing the grid down over a large area. So there is not much change between running normal stations an running wind turbines in this respect except that if a WT crashes 3MW is taken off line and is easily handled
    Interestingly modern WT with electronic connection to the grid can INSTANTLY provide additional power at the correct V and F.

    Should the wind suddenly stop you then have to take into account the distributed nature of WT. A 15metres/second wind can provide full output from a turbine. This wind is obviously travelling a meter in 1 second! Assume an abrupt cessation of win at one spot. 1.8km furter on it is still blowing at 15m/s. In 30 minutes this too will cease. So providing you have scattered windfarms greater than 1.8km apart and at different angles to the wind there should be time to get your gas turbines on line.

  149. “I have a hard time understanding all the opposition to any new form of energy on this site. All the same things could have been said and probably were said about the horseless carriage (noisy, unreliable, dangerous), the cost of converting from steam and whale oil to petro, the lack of roads to support cars, the lack of gas stations.”

    Your specious litany is rather one-sided don’t you think? Top of the list is that conventional capacity is not relieved; windpower is interrmittent and the production disappears in evening. The power is difficult to switch on and off the network when grids are interconnected so that ND power isn’t available to Chicago.

    Not to mention enviornmental issues, like here in MN, our southwestern areas most regularly windy are migratory flight paths for birds on their way to/from Canada.

    Now, analogous to tons of horse manure, what are the practical, overlooked payoffs?

  150. E.M.Smith (00:25:52) :

    Well, if you’re going to pick it apart :)…

    Um, I thought Brits drank “room temperature beer” which last time I was there was about 56 F (or about the same as a California Fridge during the repeated energy shortages we had from similar government energy meddling nonsense ;-)

    Strictly speaking, British beer (or ale) is normally served at cellar temperature. This will vary according to season, but will almost always be considerable colder than room temperature, for obvious reasons. It will start to warm, just like American beer, the second it’s poured. I can’t speak of the exact temperature as I don’t carry a thermometer with me when I visit a pub, plus I haven’t lived in Britain for seven years now.

    While this is true at large percentages, for less than about 15-20% you can forgo storage. Simply turning down a gas turbine saves the fuel you would otherwise need, much as is done with gas turbines vs nukes for peaking. Basically, wind becomes your lowest variable cost, but least dispatchable, peaking plant.

    Agreed to a degree – but load balancing becomes much more of an issue as one cannot predict when the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

    Sorry, but no. There are lots of non-folly energy sources at reasonable prices while fusion has been ‘50 years away’ for each of the last 50 years and is still 50 years away… Now a place like the U.S.A. has many more options than Britain, but there are still plenty of options for every location.

    Sorry, but yes. This was not a “short-term view” statement; if we do not start funding nuclear fusion research in a serious fashion *now*, it is always likely to be 30 or 50 years away. My statement was not one of “oil, gas and coal are evil”, just one of common sense about the future. The sooner we can use nuclear fusion to generate power, the sooner we can leave these ridiculous concepts of so-called renewable energy behind. It is folly to turn food into fuel, and to expect to replace a functioning coal/oil/gas/nuclear power generation grid with wind turbines and solar cells. These concepts are all typically short-sighted and narrow-minded knee-jerk reactions to an alleged problem, the burden of proof of which has yet to have been met by its proponents.

    So in a way, I agree with you, but would add this: let’s keep what we’ve got going, and rather than spending huge amounts on stuff that almost certainly *cannot* meet even current demand (that’s my “folly” statement from above), use that money to invest in future technologies that can not only meet current and future demand, but also have the added advantage of being “clean”.

  151. We also have to contend with hurricanes (east coast significantly) and tornadoes (east an mid states). How durable are these turbines under such conditions? Even if the chance is low, it’s still a factor to consider.

  152. Pumped storage does work, but it is not a panacea for all wind energy problems.

    Missouri had a pumped storage facility on the top of Taum Sauk Mountain from the 1960s until 2005. Water was pumped to the top of the mountain during off peak hours and used to generate power on peak. There was a loss of thermal efficiency but brought a cost savings in installed capacity of coal fired plants.

    The containment failed disastrously in 2005. The high elevation of the reservoir allowed more energy to be stored per gallon of water. Unfortunately the higher reservoir caused a greater disaster from the failure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taum_Sauk_pumped_storage_plant

  153. to Climate Heretic (21:27:53) :

    “Roger Sowell You need to read the source documentation when you link it, 2008 is a preliminary and renewables are high and also include out of state purchase of renewable power. So lets be real and not use unconfirmed numbers, ok?”

    Sir, I do read, and quite well, thank you. The bottom line is more than 7,000 GWH of power were generated by wind, thus reducing the natural gas consumption. The preliminary nature of the numbers is immaterial. Fine tuning in June of 2009 likely will change the numbers by a mere percent or two.

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with one quarter of wind generation being more than another. One week is likely to be more than the next, also. So what? Wind is variable. We knew that going in.

    @Squidly: “you are incorrect about the 7,000 GWH .. Northwest imports were 1,026 GWH, Southwest importswere 2,279 GWH, leaving local production at 5,724 GWH. “

    Sorry, sir, but I am correct in quoting the official California numbers. And what is your point about California importing power from other states? Do you also have a problem with all the states that import gasoline and diesel fuel from Texas? Do you have a problem with all the states that import food from California? If not, please justify your concern with electric power importation by California. The fact is that several Western states are inter-connected electrically, not the least reason for increased reliability. Other areas of the country also are inter-connected.

    As to the triviality of 7,000 GWH, that corresponds to 800 MW of steady power over a year. You have an interesting definition of trivial.

    realitycheck (05:38:58) :

    ”Roger Sowell (19:10:00) :
    “DCH, realitycheck: It is just not true, that a gas turbine takes hours to bring up to power. A steam plant that burns gas does require hours. A gas turbine requires roughly half an hour.”
    I could be off on timing – that I will agree with.
    However, lets be clear here. Suppose the wind stops blowing – you are ok being 1000’s being without power for 30 mins while the gas or coal fired power plant ramps up to meet demand?”

    Actually, we have had nobody without power due to the wind not blowing. Our power dispatch guys are good, and know that they must have power plants running at something around 80 percent so they can be ramped up if the wind fails. And the wind is distributed in roughly three areas in California: Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and near Palm Springs, so complete failure is unlikely.

    In general, to the nay-sayers on wind-power: I was under the impression that WUWT was a site in which reality and facts are brought to bear to refute un-substantiated myths and outright falsehoods related to AGW. There has been a plethora of unsubstantiated claims, myths, and falsehoods stated on this thread regarding wind-power. I cannot change a closed mind. I can, however, as I try to do, set forth facts from reliable sources along with some background information.

    It would be instructive for the nay-sayers to learn the history of the wind-power industry, exactly when the technology breakthroughs occurred, which allowed the industry to progress from 10 KW systems to 100 KW systems on to 1 MW and 2.5 MW. It was not because 2.5 MW systems were sitting on the shelf 30 years ago, and we just wanted to leave them there for a few decades to ripen like fine wine.

    Similarly, it would be instructive for you to keep up with the developments in low-speed wind generation technology, as there is far, far, more wind-power available in that category.

    Also, it would be instructive for those who employ such juvenile and inflammatory words as “Bird Beaters” to understand the evolution of wind-generation from trussed towers to monopoles. And I don’t recall anyone complaining about the thousands upon thousands of windmills used for water pumping on farms and ranches over many decades, and the birds that those windmills killed.

    Finally, it is instructive that there is a huge research effort, well-funded, in large power storage.

    Sowell out for today. Back again around 6 p.m. Pacific time.

  154. Magnus A (10:10:14)

    I was wondering why there was a video of this. After all, making a video of a turbine would be ever so ho-hum. Obviously, despite what was said in the video you linked, the destruction wasn’t without warning.

    This is British? The announcer doesn’t sound British.

    I like the ending: “It’s a reminder that EVEN a man-made machine can be pushed beyond its limits…” Really? Who’da thought? Man-made machine? Is there another kind?

  155. Despite the 12 – 15% availablility of the wind turbines (bird beaters as cleverly described above!) their much bigger problem is their unreliability: Denmark, Germany, and the Scandinavian farms around the North Sea – otherwise and theorectically the world’s absolute BEST area for wind-generated power because of low speed steady winds coming from a clear sea-surface closely surrounded by tens of millions of users – have proven worse than useless.

    The random ups and downs, outright failures, and frequency control problems of these wind farms have literally forced them OFF the grid – because these COUNTRY’S connected grids have collapsed several times due to the wind farms’ random failures and unstable production. Sure, the Danish grid isn’t too large – but if it is the only grid you have?

    And Germany’s ranks in the top of the worlds’ services.

    Remember – ALL of these “green” and renewable enrgy sources are a WASTE of effort is more economical, more reliable power is already available – but the enviro’s don’t WANT relibale power.

    They must want poor, destitute, unhealthy (dead ?) and economically wasting “natural” (dung-fired ?) fuel sources for a people who can’t feed themselves nor use pesticides properly – because those ARE the only solutions – to an AGW problem that does not exist – that they can come up with.

  156. A single six to ten foot diameter windmill on a farm of 640 acres – complete with dozens of “close-linked” vanes running less than 20 – 30 feet high at 20 rpm – CANNOT kill as many birds as a 300 ft tall tower with three 120 foot radius wings.

    Sorry – You’re using a bad example. OK – Cut the subsidies, cut the exaggerations – in a recent issue of Power magazine the wind power group is stupidly claiming to be able to replace 30% of the US’s CURRENT power needs by 2030 with wind – with EVERY one of their “10 proposals for the new administration” merely a different way to demand more taxpayer money.

    At an efficiency of 15% – can you see THEIR lie in pretending to be able to locate, build, site, and transmit 210% of today’s ENTIRE power capacity (30% of the need/15 availability factor = .30 x 1/15 = 210% ) in only 20 years?

    No – Wind can (maybe) produce 5% of our power needs – and that only rarely. While losing most of that energy in transmission losses across country.

    If the enviro’s would let new transmission lines be built in the first palce: it took 13 years of permitting procedures to build ONE 150 mile line across the foothills of the Appalachian Mts in West Virginia and Penn. recently.

  157. Håkan B (12:18:59) :

    Reality talks for itself, Swedish windpower right now:

    Send that graph inmediately to repair. There is a PHD physicist , in Boulder, Colorado, who will fix it up in the blink of an eye. Ask for a JH (if they don’ t recognize the initials tell’em he is the guy of those “trains” ya know…)

  158. Anthony.
    You started it. We demand a British Sports Car / English electicity thread!
    Former 1960 Sprite owner.

  159. Håkan B (12:18:59) :

    Reality talks for itself, Swedish windpower right now:

    Sobering: The daily changes are between 1200 and 4000 – with an “average” of only 2250 or so, compared with a peak ability of 8000.

    So, if 8000 “could” be generated “sometimes” but “most of the time” only 2000 can “usually” be generated, doesn’t that show exactly the point amde up above: You have to build 4 to 5 wind turbines to get the power out of one.

  160. Until power storage systems are improved and become economic, it is perhaps helpful to consider wind power like this:

    You are pushing a stalled car by yourself, with the driver’s door open and trying to push while steering at the same time. This is difficult. Then two strong guys run up and begin pushing the car from behind, which makes your job of pushing much easier.

    Wind energy is a bit like the two guys that run up to help push. When the guys are there to push, your job is much easier, and you can reduce your effort by the amount provided by the two guys. When they leave, the job of pushing falls entirely back upon you.

    Similarly, when the wind blows and provides energy, the other generating plants on the grid can throttle back an equivalent amount, saving their fuel.

    Wind power was never intended to reduce the need for fossil-fired power plants, at least until power storage becomes economic. That day may never arrive. Wind power is intended to reduce the amount of fossil fuel consumed. It does that job very, very well, because the wind is free energy.

  161. just wondering about the comment on the burning windmill clip re: coal fired stations…

    well, they may not burn out of control, but one completely cindered windmill probably represents less than a minute’s worth of coal burn for even a weedy fossil plant. they still burn a lot of fuel after all, just in a more controlled manner. fortunately the windmills typically being a good distance from other buildings (even the 500m mentioned in the comments thread for the netherlands – that’s more than a quarter mile) and having all their combustibles in the high-up part makes them not so risky either. and as we saw, it’s not like they’re burning en masse. just the one out of a bunch was badly made and/or maintained, or suffered some critical parts failure, a bit of freak weather comes along, and whoops there we go. there’s nothing to say other types of generation can’t fail in a similar way, with worse consequences, and indeed at least three nuclear plants have made good cases for not being so flippant about it all…. at least the mills don’t have any radioactive material in them, aren’t too susceptible to operator error (which is what did for Pripyat), and don’t continually burn through a train-load of compressed dead archaeo-plant every few days.

    :-/

    the blades coming off is a bit worrying, but typically you’re not going to be close enough for it to be an issue anyway. not that you’d *never* be (I’ve stood right beneath one that was within 50m of a major road, in Cumbria), but usually, and it counts as a low overall risk (i’ve been through the visitor centre at Sellafield on that same trip after all… maybe not the safest tourist attraction ever)

  162. Robert A Cook PE (16:02:26)

    It’s even worse, theoretically the peak would be 24×715=17160 MWh per 24 hours. And only god knows what it would look like if it was displayed in real time.

  163. So why are we using old technology windmills? There are newer designs you know. Some of them even claim to be bird friendly, city friendly and useful in ranges from light wind to storm forces. The also work vertically or horizontally.

    Just for some examples.. so tell me why exactly are we still putting up huge ugly towers with 70’s technology on them? Why do we have to destroy miles of beautiful scenic landscape and run endless transmission lines when any city could supplement its own power supply locally? The same sad technology is being tried in cities with the same sad problem as the big ones..
    sustainable means that it should be mostly local. Current large wind and solar projects are no different then the nasty old coal companies devastating environments to get their product. Can you tell me massive solar and wind projects wont be as environmentally devastating? I thought the idea was to save mother earth?

  164. Fascinating thread. Re wind power, the real question is:

    If there were no taxpayer subsidies, would anyone bother with power-grid level wind turbines?

    If so, then some of the technologies mentioned seem promising (e.g. the Enercon gearless generator [making Anthony's brother-in-law's business obsolete], and the Savonius tube-type). If not, i.e. if there is no chance the free market can see wind turbines competing with existing power generation, then wind power will (and should) be relegated to strictly local installations.

    All this taxpayer money going to ‘alternative’ energy is based on one premise: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel electric generation is bad. Unwittingly, even the climate Realists fall into the trap of agreeing that it is good to reduce our ‘carbon’ output.

    This premise is false. There is nothing wrong with CO2, and more of it is better for plants, animals, and people. In order to combat the lemming-like rush to AGW mitigation, we have to convince the people and The Powers That Be that their basic operating assumption is wrong. You can’t do that by agreeing with the premise that we need ‘alternative energy’. Then all you can do is argue about technicalities; you’ve given away the show.

    Alternative energy systems are interesting, even exciting, but there is absolutely no need for government to be involved in fostering one technology over another, and good reasons why government should not. As E. M. Smith has pointed out, we have ample supplies of coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium to give us all the cheap, bountiful domestic energy we could possibly use for the next few centuries.

    Every US administration since Jimmy Carter has been pushing ‘alternative’ technologies (remember W’s fanciful ‘hydrogen economy’ ambition?), without accomplishing much of anything except enriching companies that couldn’t survive in a free market.

    If the US, and ultimately the world, is going to continue growing and prospering, the one essential component is abundant, cheap, and growing supplies of energy. Yet where are the scientists and politicians making this case? Hiding in the bushes, afraid of CO2!

    Miscellany:

    Beer: The quality of beer is inversely related to how cold it must be kept, i.e. the worse it is, the colder it must be drunk. I keep my beer in the cellar, where it is perhaps 55-60 degrees, and that’s fine for current favorites Harpoon IPA and Sam Adams Cream Stout.

    British cars: My brother has a rare Jensen-Healey. As far as I know the electrical systems work well. My Honda on the other hand. . .

    /Mr Lynn

  165. Mr Lynn, (05:53:10)

    I have a different view. CO2 reduction is a very recent fad, and was not even on the radar when wind-power began to generate electricity.

    The motivating factors were the concern for ever-increasing energy costs of petroleum, and by extension, natural gas, and eventually coal. The cost overruns of nuclear power plants fed this concern.

    It was patently obvious that renewable energy is absolutely free, thus wind and solar were the subject of experimentation and innovation. Everyone knew that the initial costs would be high, but those would reduce over time with experience and economy of scale. But the cost of energy would forever be zero. At some point in time, as renewable (wind) initial costs declined, and fossil fuel costs increased, a crossing point would be reached at which wind energy would be competitive with, then cheaper than, fossil fuel-based power.

    It was deemed a desirable goal by governments, both federal and state, as witness the subsidies and grants provided over many years. The societal benefits from abundant renewable energy include reduced imports of petroleum from nations not aligned with the U.S., among others. Recently, a balance of trade argument is made also.

    That point has been reached with wind and solar, in which those renewables can compete economically with many conventional power sources, especially nuclear with its $10,000 or more per kw installed. Additional advances will undoubtedly be achieved, including massive energy storage systems.

    Other renewables have been and continue to be under study and innovation, including wave energy, tidal energy, ocean current energy, run-of-the-river energy, small-head hydroelectric energy, bio-gas, bio-mass, and others.

    Only recently has the CO2 madness intruded upon the renewable energy field.

  166. There was a statement that Windmills don’t pollute . Nonsense & Drivel. They require a disproportionate amount of steel, copper, and concrete for the energy they generate. Does the cost of making those products pollution free? Of course not.

    But there is no such thing as a free lunch. Science expresses that formally as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Extracting energy from the wind is altering the climate in a detrimental all way. Greens without any scientific background, swallow that mindless zero pollution drivel.

    What is wind but the attempt by the Earth to equalize temperatures produced by unequal solar heating of the planet. When you prevent some of that equalization you are insuring that the temperatures remain unequalized, but only for a short period. As high and low pressure systems get closer, the gradients become steeper.

    But the Earth Will equalize temperatures. So the Storms and Winds to do so will become more intensive and destructive.

  167. Instead of wind, the Brits go for coal to fuel up their future fleet of electric cars!

    April 30, 2009
    Britain going full speed ahead on coal plants
    In Britain they’re playing a funny game. The government knows costly alternative energy schemes can’t possibly supply Britain’s future energy needs, it knows coal (or nuclear) is the only viable option, but it is also a professed true believer in the AGW religion, which views coal as Satan himself. What to do? Well (wink, wink), they’ll permit new coal-fired power plants now “on the condition they can be retrofitted [later] with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology within five years of 2020 – subject to the technology available” (link). This is a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. Future promises, coal-fired power now. The green fanatics will be apoplectic:

    “Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Martin Horwood said the government’s proposal were subject to “a dirty great loophole” – that new stations will only have to implement the retrofitting of CCS if the technology is ready.

    “The technology does need to be proven,” Mr Miliband insisted.

    “It needs to work. I believe it will work. But we need to discuss the conditions if it doesn’t.”” “Another step towards Kingsnorth” h/t CCNet

    “So the government will give the go-ahead to new coal power station before the technology is proven. And then there will be the mother of all lobbying battles over a future decision by the Environment Agency over whether CCS must be installed.

    The interim proposals make the companies happy since they mean power stations get the go-ahead now. Environmental groups are pleased at the safeguards, but ultimately nervous CCS may never be passed fit for service. And the chance of carbon capture becoming commercially viable? And what happens to the new coal-fired power stations if it doesn’t?” “The cold reality of today’s energy strategy” h/t CCNet

    CCS is a terrible idea for two reasons. First, it doubles the cost of electricity and halves electricity output (the other half is consumed by the CCS process). Second, it deprives Earth’s CO2-impoverished atmosphere of the vital life-giving trace gas. What idiocy.

    http://heliogenic.blogspot.com/2009/04/britain-going-full-speed-ahead-on-coal.html

  168. stas peterson (11:55:25)

    “Extracting energy from the wind is altering the climate in a detrimental all way.”

    How does a wind-turbine alter the climate in a way that is different than a forest with tall trees? Or a series of palm trees, especially the tall slender type with a broad band of fronds up top? Or mountains with the occasional low pass? Or cities with tall skyscrapers (many that are much higher than the tallest wind-turbines)? Or high-rise condos on the beach?

    I have a scientific/engineering and legal background. Can you please explain the difference?

    http://mirror-uk-rb1.gallery.hd.org/_c/places-and-sights/_more2007/_more12/Fiji-palm-trees-against-twilight-sky-1-CKB.jpg.html

  169. Roger Sowell (08:50:37) :

    Roger, your point is well taken. It is true that the initial concerns that led to the interest in alternatives to fossil fuel and nuclear power were (a) increasing costs, (b) energy independence, (c) fears of scarcity, and (d) safety hysterics (in the case of nuclear), all stemming as I recollect from the ’70s.

    But more than anything, it was the growing force of the ‘environmental’ movement that, after stopping nuclear power in its tracks, turned its attention to oil drilling, coal pollution, refineries, etc., aided by the Nixon-era EPA. So it is no wonder that these enviro-activists seized upon the alarms over ‘global warming’ promulgated by the Club of Rome and later the IPCC. The myth that CO2 is evil has enabled this movement to co-opt every government in Western Europe and North America, and now they dominate the rhetoric and are calling the policy shots.

    In point of fact, as you well know, no alternative energy system is “absolutely free,” not even partially free. Yes, the winds and tides and radiance of the sun and heat of the earth are all there for the taking, but to exploit them on any scale requires substantial investment in engineering, construction, operation, maintenance, and distribution—and, in the case of these episodic sources, once they constitute a large portion of the energy grid, they require backup storage systems, requiring all the same cost factors.

    If wind and solar are now in some implementations beginning to approach the low cost of coal, gas, and nuclear power, well and good. Then let them compete in the free market, without taxpayer subsidies. The only one of the four original reasons (a – d above) for pursuing the alternatives that has any real importance is American energy independence. Otherwise, there is no reason whatsoever to eschew coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. On the contrary, the artificial restrictions that have been imposed over the last three decades out to be lifted, and these resources fully exploited, to the great benefit of the American people and ultimately all the people of the world.

    /Mr Lynn

  170. Correction:

    Last sentence should read: On the contrary, the artificial restrictions that have been imposed over the last three decades ought to be lifted, and these resources fully exploited, to the great benefit of the American people and ultimately all the people of the world.

    /Mr L

  171. Mr. Lynn,

    Waxing a bit philosophical here, but I see other worthy reasons to pursue renewable energy. You are of course correct that nothing is free, but must carry the cost of its production and maintenance. Even a canister of compressed air is not free, yet the raw material (air) is certainly free. Nor is a bottle of spring water free, although the water flows eternally from a spring. Not even hydroelectric power is free, even though the rain falls from the sky to fill the reservoir behind the dam.

    But I disagree about using coal, oil, and nuclear power. I leave natural gas to the side for the moment. My point is that combustion of fossil fuels is not truly clean, but produces various levels of toxic substances, such as SOx, NOx, soot or particulate matter, and in the case of coal, mercury, plus ash that contains solid toxics. I also have written about this (on my blog), and hope to see the day when all our energy needs are provided by clean renewable sources such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, wave, ocean thermal, and ocean current, and possibly geothermal. Then oil can be used exclusively for high-value purposes such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, lubrication, and asphalt. When that day comes, oil will drop in price due to low demand, and pharmaceuticals will also drop at least somewhat in price. Lower prices for medical drugs are good for society. The world political balance will shift dramatically, and some of the current tensions will ease.

    As for nuclear power, in my view, it is now completely uneconomic, unnecessary, and should be forever banned. That should be the goal of any world-wide body such as the U.N. I am encouraged each time I read that another planned nuclear power plant is cancelled.

    I look forward to the day when the engineers (my clients) can proudly state that the renewable power they developed is cheaper than any other power, also more reliable, more abundant, more secure, and less polluting than any other power source. No more coal miners need die deep underground, or from breathing black coal dust. No more children need grow up with the spectre of nuclear bombs falling on their heads. No more poor and elderly need make horrible choices between heating their homes or buying medicines or buying food. No more people anywhere need suffer from a lack of abundant, fresh, clean water, as they will have sufficient cheap energy to make fresh water out of seawater or brackish water. No more people anywhere need suffer from tainted food because they will have abundant, and cheap, electric power for refrigerators and freezers. No more people need sleep miserably in hot, humid homes while fighting off mosquitoes and flies, but will sleep in air conditioned comfort with the insects buzzing outside.

    The promises that were made in the 1950’s by the nuclear power engineers regarding abundant power, that is too cheap to meter, will finally be realized. However, it will not be nuclear power providing that cheap energy, it will be a mix of renewable energy sources coupled to reliable energy storage systems.

    Those are worthy goals for renewable energy, and CO2 has nothing to do with any of it. The engineers are close, and getting closer.

  172. Regarding the factory closure which is the real issue here, not the NIMBYism.
    The Vestas factory is located on the Isle of Wight which has a population of just over 100K people. Vestas is the biggest employer on the Isle of Wight and the the top of the list for skilled and graduate employees. The redundancy will effect 700 people directly and there isn’t one person on the Island that isn’t directly or indirectly effected by this crisis. The local economy will lose up to £20 million in revenue from houses, businesses who support the Vestas factory and the employees wages being spent here. It is going to be a disaster.
    The Isle of Wights’ only other industry is Tourism, hotels and guest houses opening during the seasons and school holidays employing unskilled people who only work for 6 months of the year to support it.
    When Vestas closes the skilled and graduate workers will be tempted to move off the Isle of Wight meaning the people who support the Islands economy will be gone and unlikely to return as the jobs and industry is just not there.
    The Government has promised financial support to assist green manufacturers through the recession and has stated that the creation of green collar jobs will be an industrial revolution, but still 700 jobs are to be lost at the UK’s only Wind Turbine manufacturing plant. It is fair to say that Vestas probably made the decision months ago as the orders on Northern Europe dwindled due to the recession and non requirement. Wind Energy is the only power that can stand on the same platform as natural gas and fossil fuel electricity as the technology is 20 years ahead of tidal and biomass.
    If anyone wants to help and lives in the UK or one of its Commonwealth Countries, please sign the petition to help Vestas remain open on the Isle of Wight.
    Thank you

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SaveVestasIOW/

    There is also a facebook group which would benefit from some of the positive comments made on this site

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=202457290312&ref=mf

    • All of the UK is in for a similar fate if you don’t start building coal or nuclear plants right now.

  173. It’s funny how people will blithely state that the free market should decide our energy sources yet at the same time support massive military spending to support the oil economy plus massive spending on oil stockpiles just in case that doesn’t work. Does nobody see this farcical juxtaposition? Obviously no government anywhere is actually stupid enough to rely on the whims of the market to decide whether we have access to energy or not so that is a complete fallacy. Any energy plan is made by governments, not the markets.

    Bank funding, as opposed to government funding, of coal, gas or oil plants is a US phenomenon but it is only possible due due to it being well-established technology with barriers to entry and economies of scale. It wasn’t quite the same when these energies were being established. Therefore if you want to prepare the ground for commercial, free-market, non-subsidized alternative fuels you need to be prepared for a little government push so that the market can then start to pull. After a time the pull becomes greater than the push.

    Or you can follow this free-market wisdom, run out of your primary fuel source and then say “now what?”. And that is precisely what happened in the UK with the dash for gas; ie zero forward planning due to short-sighted free market ideology of the type advocated on the site.

    Of course the US has abundant cheap coal and gas so your case is rather different from the major Europeans, who only have expensive deep-mined coal and scarce natural gas, most of which comes from Russia via the Ukraine

  174. And just in case anyone still believes in the free-market of energy, just review the California versus Enron case to see what can happen:

    http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2005/07/15/enron-gouge050715.html

    Now you might that they free-market works after all because the correction came – well you are partly right, even though a lot of pain is inflicted before said does come. But imagine there were no legal controls to stop monopolistic companies or cartels. And now imagine if a regulatory body didn’t allow the predatory practices of the likes of Enron to happen so that we didn’t have to endure the pain in the first place.

    Now you are perhaps realizing that the free-market isn’t so great – or even free – nor is it always cheaper in the long run. Trouble is they can only do the real accounts at the end of a preventable fiasco and that’s when it’s too late. On the way to a debt catastrophe everyone thinks they are doing just dandy.

  175. Roger Sowell (19:32:48) :

    I certainly can’t argue with your vision of a world run by cheap, renewable energy; it is devoutly to be wished.

    But none of the alternative ‘clean’ energy solutions proposed will in the near future come close to meeting the energy needs of a growing economy, neither for the USA and Western Europe, and even less for the rest of the developing (and stubbornly undeveloped) parts of the world. And world economic growth, growing prosperity fueled by abundant, cheap energy, is the key to the bright future you so eloquently describe.

    Coal is being mined more safely and burned more cleanly than in the past, and we can still improve as older power plants are retired and new ones built. Nuclear power is safe and economical—just ask the French—and can be run on recycled fuel. What is the problem? The old bugaboos were the fear of meltdowns (which have never occurred) and (in the case of breeder reactors) the fear of plutonium getting into terrorist hands (there are precautions than can prevent that). Somewhere I read that a company was developing small nuclear plants that could serve local communities with minimal maintenance, anywhere in the world.

    The point is that to ensure a prosperous, vibrant future for mankind (and energy security for the USA), we have to push ahead on all fronts. I don’t think government should be picking winners and losers in this process. Just a few years ago the ‘hydrogen economy’ was all the rage—what happened to that? People began to look at the real costs and hazards of switching to an hydrogen infrastructure, costs that no amount of subsidy can overcome.

    We don’t know what the future will bring. If we can get the cost of lifting people and materials out of Earth’s gravity well down to a low level, we might find that it makes economic sense to build solar-power satellites in geo-stationary orbit and microwave the power down.

    But in the meantime, it doesn’t make sense to penalize traditional energy producers (and the American people) in favor of politically-correct ‘green’ energy that may never be competitive, at least not on the scale we need. The current administration believes that it is acceptable to drive up the cost of energy in order to raise revenue for ‘alternative’ solutions and endless social programs. The inevitable result will be to put the brakes on an already-dismal economy mired in the low point of the business cycle, when instead we should be drilling and mining and building our way out of it.

    /Mr Lynn

  176. JamesG (03:27:13) :
    It’s funny how people will blithely state that the free market should decide our energy sources yet at the same time support massive military spending to support the oil economy plus massive spending on oil stockpiles just in case that doesn’t work. Does nobody see this farcical juxtaposition? Obviously no government anywhere is actually stupid enough to rely on the whims of the market to decide whether we have access to energy or not so that is a complete fallacy. Any energy plan is made by governments, not the markets. . .

    Our massive military spending serves other purposes than to “support the oil economy,” but to the extent that it does protect our access to foreign oil, that is a direct result of government restrictions on domestic drilling. Which shows again that when government makes the decisions, it usually makes the wrong ones.

    The power companies in the USA are regulated monopolies; in any given region, there is not much of a free market, so far as cost and distribution are concerned. However, there is, or ought to be, a free market in technology. Aside from NIMBY concerns, which are legitimately the role of (local) government, why should the federal government be telling power companies whether they can build nukes, or wind farms, or trash-to-energy, or coal plants? Yes, regulation should extend to pollution control, safety, and the rest. But it should be up to the power company to decide what type of electric production works best for its business.

    /Mr Lynn

  177. realitycheck (05:32:10) : What about the massive amount of concrete required for the foundations? As I understand it concrete manufacture is a leading contributor to “greenhouse” gases?

    IF you wanted to, you could get carbon credits for using ‘fly ash’ to make your concrete. Why do you think they are called ‘cinder blocks’? …

    Basically to make cement, you roast limestone to get CaO and add to it some slicates and “other stuff”. If you wanted too, you could either capture the CO2 that came from roasting the limestone; use a non-CO2 laden mineral to get your Ca; use fly ash rather than limestone (thus using a coal plant waste product); and you can use wood to do the roasting of the minerals rather than coal for zero CO2 net from the heat source.

    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cement#Portland_cement

    for a variety of ways to make cement using various waste products from blast furnaces and other purposes. You can also make cement from ‘natural’ cooked limestone from volcanos (how the Romans developed it) and since that’s “natural” there is no net CO2 …

    Not exactly economic, but the whole point of the exercise is to do a non-economic thing for PC reasons, so once you have that goal (wind defined as good regardless of economics) the necessary consequence is that you can set your “carbon footprint” to anything via other non-economic behaviours.

    BTW, once concrete is poured, it starts to suck the CO2 back from the air as it cures and reforms the “stone”. It takes about 50 to 100 years (depends on thickness) so the net addition from concrete over a long time period is just the fuel used to make it and mine the rocks. So run your mine on bio-diesel and roast your stone with wood fires and you have zero carbon foot print cement. And it will only cost you about 5 times as much…

    This, BTW, is why the whole ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘carbon credit’ stuff is just nutty. Dependent variables are held as independent then independent variables are calculated from the dependent variables…

    Rather than saying “This has a carbon foot print of that” the correct statement ought to be “What carbon foot print do you want for that?”.

    My favorite example of this is my car. When I put in bio-Diesel I’m “carbon neutral” and when I run dino-juice I’m considered evil. Same car. Same drive. Same folks get grumpy at me when I have bio-D in the car as when I’m on #2 Dino ’cause you can’t see from the outside what’s in the tank. So is my car a green car or an evil Diesel? “Yes.” Is it’s “carbon footprint” zero or about 1 lb CO2 / mile? It depends entirely on my choice on any given day…

    Heck, when I run waste vegetable oil it’s technically negative carbon footprint since the WVO is being used twice and it’s original carbon content is amortized over the cooking use (yes, it’s an accounting game, but that’s all the carbon trap & charade is about anyway) but since the oil was ‘used up’ in cooking, my use avoids 1lb CO2/mile (from the alternative real Diesel fuel being avoided) for a net negative -1 lb / mile!

    And this is my major complaint about the whole agenda of Carbon Credits: It’s a giant Quatloo Trading Scheme about as valuable as going to Vegas and betting on roulette. Money changes hands a lot and it feels like fun some times; but at the end of the day no body made any real product with any actual value. You can’t eat Quatloos … And as Iceland and others have recently learned, a “financial services economy” only works as long as somebody else is willing to give you stuff…

    (Listen to me, the guy who makes his living trading financial products, tossing rocks at the notion of trading as a viable lifestyle ;-) but it really is true that somebody has to make real goods and they must be willing to accept phantom goods in exchange… (called “intangible goods” in the jargon…) and when they decided they don’t want any more, the game collapses. An economy can only support so much ‘intangible’ action before the drain on the host gets too large ;-)

  178. John Laidlaw (07:24:15) : Agreed to a degree – but load balancing becomes much more of an issue as one cannot predict when the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

    Um, at least in Chico there’s a met who can predict pretty well ;-)

    Sorry, but yes. This was not a “short-term view” statement; if we do not start funding nuclear fusion research in a serious fashion *now*, it is always likely to be 30 or 50 years away.

    Well if your going to go being all polite and reasonable about it, I’m forced to do this:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/mr-fusion/

    I guess you could make one in your basement if you really wanted to! So you can make fusion, it’s getting net energy out that’s hard…

    My statement was not one of “oil, gas and coal are evil”, just one of common sense about the future. The sooner we can use nuclear fusion to generate power, the sooner we can leave these ridiculous concepts of so-called renewable energy behind.

    The renewables are highly variable in how ‘reasonable’ they are. Many of the schemes put up are ridiculous, but there are some that work well. The problem is that they are niche products being pressed into main line use. Wind in Britain is silly, because it does not produce when most needed. Wind in Texas is a good idea, because it’s always windy in west Texas… given all the chili and all ;-)

    It is folly to [...] replace a functioning coal/oil/gas/nuclear power generation grid with wind turbines and solar cells.

    Yup. As an adjunct they can work, as a replacement it’s a bad idea…

    So in a way, I agree with you, but would add this: let’s keep what we’ve got going, and rather than spending huge amounts on stuff that almost certainly *cannot* meet even current demand (that’s my “folly” statement from above), use that money to invest in future technologies that can not only meet current and future demand, but also have the added advantage of being “clean”.

    Well then, I guess we’re just going to have to agree to agree then…

    OceanTwo (07:24:38) :We also have to contend with hurricanes (east coast significantly) and tornadoes (east an mid states). How durable are these turbines under such conditions? Even if the chance is low, it’s still a factor to consider.

    You just put insurance on them and rebuild when they get blown away. Just like everything else..

  179. JamesG (03:27:13) : It’s funny how people will blithely state that the free market should decide our energy sources yet at the same time support massive military spending to support the oil economy

    Our ‘massive military spending’ largely happened to counter communist pressures. Now it’s more focused on militant terrorists. I’ve seen little to indicate that our military spending is dedicated to oil. Yeah, we sometimes protect shipping in the Gulf. Chump change.

    BTW, one can support the idea of a free market even while knowing that the present status is not a free market. The presence of OPEC makes it a cartel driven oligopoly. The presence of massive government regulation also makes energy markets non-free. But yes, I would love to see a free market in energy. (And yes, I know it isn’t really going to happen).

    plus massive spending on oil stockpiles just in case that doesn’t work.

    So far the oil SPR has been of great value primarily during natural disasters, but has also been useful as a countervailing force to OPEC letting them know they can’t jerk us around with an oil cut off. Not much here to do with free markets nor with the military; a lot to do with politics of countervailing force against an Oligopoly cartel. And the stockpile cost is rather cheap. Much of the oil is from ‘in kind’ payments from the oil companies with offshore drilling leases. No dollars need apply… The hole in the ground was made by washing salt out with pumped water. Very very cheap way to make a storage tank.

    Obviously no government anywhere is actually stupid enough to rely on the whims of the market to decide whether we have access to energy or not so that is a complete fallacy. Any energy plan is made by governments, not the markets.

    This country (U.S.A.) had market driven energy planning for a very long time. Once the governments got involved, it’s become ever more expensive and ever less reliable. And i wouldn’t call what our government does an ‘energy plan’…

    Bank funding, [...] is only possible due due to it being well-established technology with barriers to entry and economies of scale.

    Hate to break it to you, but banks also fund things like restaurants and farms. Not exactly large economies of scale and no barriers to entry. Then there’s venture capital firms that fund the real crapsoots… There is no need for government funding of anything. When government funding enters, it just drives out private capital. (See the present fiasco with TARP et. al.) One may use government funding just to get the rate down (at least until California goes bankrupt, they will get low rates on bonds) but that does not mean it is necessary.

    It wasn’t quite the same when these energies were being established.

    Pardon me? Drakes well? Standard oil? You think these were government subsidized? Funded?… It was the most wild and wooly free market capitalism this country has ever seen. Heck, Std. Oil was the thing that lead to the first anti-trust laws and regulations in the country.

    you need to be prepared for a little government push

    No, I don’t need any government pusher for anything. Let them go push they stuff on someone else…

    Or you can follow this free-market wisdom, run out of your primary fuel source and then say “now what?”.

    Since our primary fuel source is coal, and it runs out in 250 to 400 years, I’m fine with waiting for that day… The only ‘intervention’ I think is valuable would be a tariff on OPEC oil (and no other) such that it had a floor under the price at $80 / bbl (to offset the OPEC cartel power). Then leave it alone for the free market. I know of at least a dozen companies that would get private funding and flourish providing alternative fuels. They just can get traction now with the government picking winners and OPEC driving prices to extremes (including to the downside) that make them go broke.

    JamesG (04:08:24) : And just in case anyone still believes in the free-market of energy, just review the California versus Enron case to see what can happen:

    You’re kidding, right? You call that a ‘free market’? When the state of California MANDATED that a perfectly fine private company had to dump it’s own generation capacity and then buy back power “at minibar prices” (to quote Dennis Miller). They were FORBIDDEN from entering long term power purchase contracts by the GOVERNMENT. All Enron did was realize the absurdity of this very non-free market solution and take advantage of it.

    If the state had left the market alone, PG&E and ConEd would NOT have sold off generating capacity and would have made long term stable contracts for purchase power and things would have been just fine – just as they were before the government screwed it up and just as they have been after the government backed off the idiocy of buying all power in the spot market.

    The California / Enron energy crisis was 99% a government created mess and 1% clever greedy traders.

    there were no legal controls to stop monopolistic companies or cartels.

    OR monopolistic governments… BTW, there is no control on OPEC as a cartel.

    And now imagine if a regulatory body didn’t allow the predatory practices of the likes of Enron to happen so that we didn’t have to endure the pain in the first place.

    You have this exactly backwards. It was the regulatory body that “had a bright idea” that was exactly wrong and learned it was wrong at the expense of everyone else. It was NOT a free market, it was an artificial and regulated one and the regulators DEFINED IN a tremendous error. Their thesis was that “spot rates” would be most competitive, so lowest. They were wrong. Long term contracts are more efficient, so cheaper. Dennis Miller got it best. It really comes down to where is your booze cheapest: WalMart with long term buy contracts or the hotel Minibar?

    Now you are perhaps realizing that the free-market isn’t so great – or even free

    No, I’m not. I am hoping you are realizing that there has been no free market in energy in the U.S.A. for the better part of a century and that the California electricity market was an entirely regulated government created mistake. We had a perfectly fine electric system with a fine company that I’d bought power from for 1/2 a century with no problems. Then some petty regulators decided they wanted to play with the shiny thing and broke it. That has exactly zero to do with ‘free markets’.

    Governments can sometimes do useful things, but more often than not they screw it up. Markets can have problems (I had to learn all of them to get my degree in Econ, but I’ll spare folks the details) but those are relatively dinky compared to government ‘issues’ and fairly easily fixed if you can get the regulators to do a little bit AND NO MORE. It’s when the regulators over reach that it all falls apart…

    (The sins of the market tend to be moderately higher prices and moderately lower choices; the sins of the government tend to be complete lack of product, outrageous prices, frozen innovation and stagnation, or a dead industry. See the rationing of medical care in government run systems as an example… BTW, when I was a kid we had great access to a personal doctor with not too much cost, cash on the spot. With every increase in medical regulation and insurance mandates and government subsidized care the costs have gone up and the access has dropped. A cash customer now has to carry a couple of government clients on his back… which makes it untenable to be a cash customer and the spiral decent begins…)

  180. E.M. Smith:

    Well said. As usual.

    My take on the California energy deregulation is that very long and complex legislation was rushed through — leading to a situation in which clever guys found ways to game the system.

    Moral of the story: legislation should not be rushed. (with very few exceptions, like eminent danger to the country).

    The lessons from hasty energy deregulation apparently were not learned and passed on to the current crop of bureaucrats in Sacramento, who are presently formulating the detailed regs under AB 32.

    Let the games begin. Cap and trade, anyone? Low-carbon fuel? Renewable energy? This thing has more options than a gambler in Las Vegas.

  181. Mr. Lynn,

    I do enjoy these civilized discussions. We agree on some points, and not on others. With reference to your statement that “Nuclear power is safe and economical—just ask the French—and can be run on recycled fuel. What is the problem? The old bugaboos were the fear of meltdowns (which have never occurred) and (in the case of breeder reactors) the fear of plutonium getting into terrorist hands (there are precautions than can prevent that). Somewhere I read that a company was developing small nuclear plants that could serve local communities with minimal maintenance, anywhere in the world.”

    Essentially, nuclear is not safe, it is not economical, and the French subsidize their nuclear plants. Mini-nuclear plants are even worse.

    I refer you to my writings on this:

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/nuclear-nuts.html

    And for more extensive reading, (this comprises several blog posts over many months)

    http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/search?q=nuclear

  182. Roger Sowell (17:47:18) :
    I do enjoy these civilized discussions. We agree on some points, and not on others.

    Ditto.

    With reference to your statement that “Nuclear power is safe and economical—just ask the French—and can be run on recycled fuel. . .”

    Essentially, nuclear is not safe, it is not economical, and the French subsidize their nuclear plants. Mini-nuclear plants are even worse. . .

    I should defer to your expertise on nuclear energy. However, I will point out that your conclusion (in your blog) that nuclear power is ‘hazardous’ is based on the legal definition of ‘hazardous’ (not unreasonable given the need to manage highly radioactive materials), and on the possibility that severe problems may occur in the future, not on any actual record of problems to date.

    Since in industrial society we deal with all manner of hazardous technologies constantly, and over time learn to manage them well, I submit that while caution is always appropriate, these fears are overblown.

    Over the years I have been concerned about the problem of disposing of nuclear waste, but others say that that reprocessing technology now can obviate many potential problems.

    As for how economical nuclear power is, or can be, all the data I have seen cited suggest that it is competitive with fossil-fuel power, and results in lower-cost electricity than the ‘alternatives’ being pushed. It has been argued, moreover, that were the regulatory hurdles that have prevented new nuclear-plant construction in the USA reduced, and if the industry were able to develop ‘off-the-shelf’ technology, the cost of building these plants would be much reduced.

    Then, too, nuclear fission can be scaled up to handle the huge demands of modern America. There is little evidence that wind, solar, etc. can be.

    I don’t have chapter and verse to back up these impressions, but I’m sure other respondents on this site do. Let’s hope the topic comes up again on a fresher thread.

    /Mr Lynn

  183. E.M.Smith (08:53:25) :

    Well if your going to go being all polite and reasonable about it, I’m forced to do this:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/mr-fusion/

    I guess you could make one in your basement if you really wanted to! So you can make fusion, it’s getting net energy out that’s hard…

    Well… alright then :). I’d love to, but have no basement, only a crawlspace, thanks to a peculiarity of midwestern architecture. Sadly. Looks like fun.

    Well then, I guess we’re just going to have to agree to agree then…

    Um, yes :).

  184. Thanks for the videos!

    With wind turbines all around me, I’ve witnessed the blades flying as much as 1/4 mile after being struck by lightning and witnessed a few of them burn up during my years on the fire department.

    I don’t see too many people discussing the amount of energy consumed in the building of wind turbines and just how long it will take to offset that energy consumption. I’ve heard it is around 100 years. Wondering if that figure is including the need to rebuild many wind turbines just North of me after less than 20 years of service?

  185. Oh, I don’t know, the question should be, “have you ever seen a wind turbine melt down and release radioactive gas”? Or “have you ever seen a wind turbine cause acid rain that kills millions of acres of trees?” Or “have you ever seen a wind turbine require the removal of entire mountain tops in order for it to operate? The short sighted thinking on display here is exactly the same as the “gee it was cold yesterday in Podunkville so global warming must be a myth” crowd.

  186. Energy Payback Period for Wind Turbines
    Two to Three Months Required
    Modern wind turbines rapidly recover all the energy spent in manufacturing, installing, maintaining, and finally scrapping them. Under normal wind conditions it takes between two and three months for a turbine to recover all of the energy involved.
    This is one of the main results of a life cycle analysis of wind turbines done by the Danish Wind Industry Association.
    The study includes the energy content in all components of a wind turbine, and it includes the global energy content in all links of the production chain.

    http://www.windpower.org/media(444,1033)/The_energy_balance_of_modern_wind_turbines%2C_1997.pdf

    Wind power, according to Swift, just makes sense. Wind has the third highest “energy payback,” following only hydropower and run-of-the-river hydropower. It takes only about nine months to pay back the investment of a wind turbine. The payback period for wind is a fraction of that of other fuels; nuclear power, for example, can have a payback period of up to 40 years (NRDC, 2007). Further, when one considers that essentially all major dammable rivers in the United States have already been dammed, and that damming new rivers is met with extreme resistance, wind just makes sense.

    http://www.todaysengineer.org/2009/Jun/Green-Tech.asp

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