Uh oh, North sea wind power a hopeless quest – it’s all about the foundations

http://lamodeverte.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/thanet-windfarm.jpg?w=460&h=288

Thanet wind farm in the North Sea

Bishop Hill points to an essay in the Spectator Matt Ridley: The Beginning Of The End Of Wind which is a summary of the arguments against wind power. He (and I) were not aware of this point:

Putting the things offshore may avoid objections from the neighbours, but (Chancellor, beware!) it makes even less sense, because it costs you and me — the taxpayers — double.

I have it on good authority from a marine engineer that keeping wind turbines upright in the gravel, tides and storms of the North Sea for 25 years is a near hopeless quest, so the repair bill is going to be horrific and the output disappointing. Already the grouting in the foundations of hundreds of turbines off Kent, Denmark and the Dogger Bank has failed, necessitating costly repairs.

So even if you accept the most alarming predictions of climate change, those turbines that have ruined your favourite view are doing nothing to help. The shale gas revolution has not only shamed the wind industry by showing how to decarbonise for real, but has blown away its last feeble argument — that diminishing supplies of fossil fuels will cause their prices to rise so high that wind eventually becomes competitive even without a subsidy. Even if oil stays dear, cheap gas is now likely to last many decades.

Though they may not admit it for a while, most ministers have realised that the sums for wind power just don’t add up and never will. The discovery of shale gas near Blackpool has profound implications for the future of British energy supply, which the government has seemed sheepishly reluctant to explore. It has a massive subsidy programme in place for wind farms, which now seem obsolete both as a means of energy production and decarbonisation. It is almost impossible to see what function they serve, other than making a fortune from those who profit from the subsidy scam.

Even in a boom, wind farms would have been unaffordable — with their economic and ecological rationale blown away. In an era of austerity, the policy is doomed, though so many contracts have been signed that the expansion of wind farms may continue, for a while. But the scam has ended. And as we survey the economic and environmental damage, the obvious question is how the delusion was maintained for so long. There has been no mystery about wind’s futility as a source of affordable and abundant electricity — so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?

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187 thoughts on “Uh oh, North sea wind power a hopeless quest – it’s all about the foundations

  1. Let’s Compare Power Generation Costs

    Here are the statistics on the cost of power generation in 2010 from the Australian Government’s own Productivity Commission:

    Coal fired power station $79 per kw/h (kilowatt/hour)

    Gas fired power station $97 per kw/h – or 1.2 times the cost of coal power

    Wind farm power $1502 per kw/h – or 19 (nineteen) times the cost of coal power

    Solar power $4004 per kw/h – or 50 (fifty) times the cost of coal power

    I wonder why these stats are not in the recent Carbon Tax Government brochure; they are certain to warm the hearts of those who pay the electricity bills.

    sent to me by a friend today:-)

  2. We in the engineering sector have known about this ‘pile’ problem for years, for YEARS. Why did no-one listen?

    Just wait. They’ll try to sell you seabed suction-cup technology next.
    Nice work if you can get it.

  3. “it makes even less sense, because it costs you and me — the taxpayers — double.”

    It’s been well known from day one that all things “green” cost more then real, proven and cheaper energy sources.
    So just bringing up the fact that it’s going to cost more won’t make anyone reconsider the project !!

  4. And as we survey the economic and environmental damage, the obvious question is how the delusion was maintained for so long. There has been no mystery about wind’s futility as a source of affordable and abundant electricity — so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?

    Whatever makes people think the policy makers were fooled? Windfarms in the UK – like ‘green power’ projects in the US – are money laundering schemes for politicians to repay favors. Is it a coincidence that family members of both the UK prime minister and deputy prime minister make money from wind power?

  5. Lemonade from lemons: Turn each offshore windmill into a power source for a drilling rig next to its foundation. When the windmill finally comes loose and pops out, GUSHER!

  6. “… how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?”

    They held their fingers to the wind.

    (Asked focus groups what they thought of it.)

  7. Are there any reliable sources to back this up other than “I have it on good authority from a marine engineer…”?

  8. “so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?”

    The scam didn’t fool the policymakers since they [ or their families ] are the major stakeholders and benefactors.

  9. The problem in the UK is that a succession government ministers put in charge of energy have no grounding in science or engineering. Most are lawyers, PR, or media lovies whose training is in wishfull thinking not reality. Huhne was a case in point. He failed to listen to anyone but his closest ministry civil servants telling him what he wanted to hear rather than what the problems are. It is plainly obvious to even the dimmest that using wind was not a good idea let alone putting them into the North Sea one of the roughest seas on earth with no infrastructure for the transmission of any power to the coast. Cost of North Sea wind generation £100Bs, cost of the infrastructure £100Bs. A double whammy.

    Dreamers have no place in government.

  10. Seems to be a shallow water problem from this article on scouring:
    “A question mark hangs over the long-term stability of Europe’s shallow-water turbines, after research linked to the Horns Rev 1 wind farm found that high-powered currents were causing the stone “armour” around the base of monopile foundations to collapse.”

    [http://www.rechargenews.com/energy/wind/article302545.ece]

  11. Sorry OT. The BBC had a programme on last night called Orbit in which they discuss how the orbit and rotation of the earth affects climate. A bit Blue Peterish in parts but very interesting even morte interesting the word climate cropped up numerous times but no mention of Global Warming or Climate Change? It is a series so I won’t hold my breath.
    The scenario I hope doesn’t occur in later programmes is, if we change the earth’s climate then we may affect the earth’s rotation and orbit :-)

  12. “There has been no mystery about wind’s futility as a source of affordable and abundant electricity — so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?”

    Simple – they had to appear to be ‘doing something’ about AGW. You recall the mantra – “We have only (fill in the blank) years to keep the planet from overheating!” And windmills were supposed to provide ‘carbon free’ power.

    Never mind the energy or materials necessary to construct them, or whether the power they’d make would EVER equal or surpass the energy needed to construct them, or whether they were even a good idea – the policymakers were caught with their nuts in a vise.

    If they waited, and didn’t do anything – they’d get hammered in elections by their opponents who WOULD promise what was needed.

    I give the whole AGW scam about another year, then it’s going to implode and the folks who have been profiting from it big time are going to find some very persistent people looking to see where all the money went.

  13. It does not just flow to your home you know, it has to be pushed.
    The electron flow meets resistance.
    From the top of the windmill out at sea to your homes wires, resistance.
    Transmission has issues.

  14. I live in north east Norfolk, England. There is a wind farm offshore of Great Yarmouth at Scroby Sands and a huge new development, Sheringham Shoal, further north round our coast, yet to come on stream.

    The Scroby Sands development was implemented against expert recommendation that the site was not suitable. Ignoring the usual problems such as intermittency, a bigger one for offshore sites is that the bearing tolerances for the blade mechanisms of these beasts allow a SOA of +/- 3 degrees off the perpendicular. As predicted, many of these turbines have failed prematurely because of bearing burnout caused by running outside of their SOA – the darned things are tilting!

    A hopeless technology and testimony to the monumental stupidity of the (oxy)moronic green economy taken on board so quickly by our blind and non expert politicians in their fight for votes.

    SOA = Safe Operating Area

  15. A fundamental cost that is also excluded from the cost of off shore turbines is bringing their power to where it is needed. This not only means bringing it onshore-which is ferociously expesive- but then gerting it from where it lands to the consumer. There will like as not be a transmission line system in place as the existng power stations and their tranmission lines are generally in a different place to the onshore terminal of the wind power.

    We had several interesting days in the UK last weel where there was no wind and no sunshine thereby knocking out the two prime means of renewables.

    The only way forward (assuming we don’t see sense with shale gas) is to use the ocean via waves/tidal power.
    tonyb

  16. Well, if the Green/Left was interested in reality, instead of their feel-good eco-fantasies, they would have given up on wind power years ago.

    The trouble is, and will continue to be, that they prefer moralistic solutions (those that sound nice and feel good) to moral solutions (those that actually benefit people and the environment).

  17. ….so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?

    Did it? Some of them may have been on the scam. How many are landowners / spousal land owners with windmills? How many with wind / carbon investments?

  18. If I’m not mistaken, EU lowered the life expectancy of wind mills to 20 years due to so few of them being economical after 15 years and some such.

  19. The arguments just get louder and more intense – when WILL our (UK) politicians start to listen..?
    As a retired mechanical engineer who spent much of his career trying to keep production machinery working under one roof – never mind dotted over our (once) picturesque upland landscapes, or, worse still – way out in the North and Irish Seas – I have no doubt whatsoever that expecting these monstrosities to last twentyfive years is just laughable.
    At a fundamental level, our politicians are entrusting a large part of our electricity generating capacity to – the weather. Are they under some illusion that The Climate Change Act is just that – and includes a clause that will cause the wind to blow steadily at 25mph over the whole United Kingdom..? When will ‘groupthink’ eventually fail – or is the ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ arrangement SOOOOO attractive to the Exchequer that to question it amounts to heresy..?

  20. The linked article is well worth a read. Further down, there is mention of a Matt Ridley prize, to be awarded for the best essay that uses actual empirical facts to show the short-comings of wind power.

  21. At some point this scandal is going turn from the poor science to the rampant stock manipulation conducted by those with close links to politicians. That’s when it will really hit the fan.

  22. It often occurs to me that, in today’s world, our tottering governments are still conduits for oceans of money. In such an environment, even a small ‘leak’ at the bottom creates innumerable opportunities for politicians, hangers on, and rent seekers to tap these streams with little straws, for a tasty drink.

    Every program you consider that just makes no sense at all is far better understood by the realization that a ‘program’ is a leak. It’s a way to make legal, covert theft from the public treasury. Better yet, done correctly, it not only creates new places to drink, it also makes the folks filling the ocean fall in love with the concept. In their rapture they continue to re-elect the ‘drillers’.

    Wind turbines are about money, period. In the U.S. they’re about General Electric. They’re about all the money it takes to get them put up. They’re about all the money given to farmers to place them in their fields. The very last consideration to them is energy.

    This is why we pay for scientific studies to validate things that everybody over the age of 5 knows in their gut. This is why countries create carbon trading in the vain promise to reduce pollutants in quantities amounting to a stream of pee in a tropical storm. This is why we pay for models dominated by tuning wheels. None of it is what you think.

    All of it is theft by people who have discovered the enormous advantages of a law degree and suit, over a gun and mask. And oh, by the way, don’t forget all the ‘scientists’ driving the getaway cars either.

  23. wind has been declared dead many times before. it has nine lives.
    “decarbonisation” is a joke. How about all those gas-fired power plants that need to stay running in case the wind stops?? Are you telling me installing pillars under the marine gravel is energy-efficient, along with the continual repairs?? I think the people who claim wind reduces carbon are from the big-bank scoll of accounting.

  24. Jimbo says:
    March 5, 2012 at 5:34 am
    ….so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?
    Did it? Some of them may have been on the scam. How many are landowners / spousal land owners with windmills? How many with wind / carbon investments?
    ============================================================
    In the UK, there’s a noteable one. The father in law of our prime minister trousers 1000 UK pounds per day from his subsidy farm http://windfarmaction.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/david-camerons-father-in-laws-350000-annual-bung/

  25. amicus curiae says:
    March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am
    Let’s Compare Power Generation Costs . . .

    Did your friend send a link to the source of those figures?

    /Mr Lynn

  26. 5MW at 50 % efficiency is 10MW, converted to Kg force and multiplied by tower height gives a torque figure of around 80,000,000 Kg metres or 579,000,000 lb ft in old money. Plant your turbine in wet sand and gravel, add in tidal scoring, what can possibly go wrong?

  27. amicus curiae

    Did your friend supply a reference for the cost data? I would like to use the data in class.

  28. Howcome?
    Einstein: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

  29. amicus curiae says:
    March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am
    “….Power Generation Costs….Australian…..
    Coal fired power station $79 per kw/h (kilowatt/hour)…”

    I think you are out 3 orders of magnitude. In Canada I pay $0.10 / kw-hr. Perhaps your units should be MW-hr. The relative costs seem about right though.

    Bill

  30. wws says (March 5, 2012 at 5:37 am)
    North Sea? That’s a pretty calm place that never has any really bad storms, right?
    ———

    The Spanish Armada came through it totally unscathed. Oh, hang on a min….

  31. “amicus curiae says:
    March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am
    Let’s Compare Power Generation Costs”

    The rates quoted may or may not be correct, but let’s get the units right,
    The rates are intended to be $/MWh (dollars per Megawatt.hour)

  32. I added a comment on Christopher Booker’s recent article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/9120756/How-much-profit-will-a-turbine-turn.html with a tongue-in-cheek link to a “scheme” for getting continuous electricity out of wind turbines, even if there is no wind.

    One response lambasted the suggestion (apparently failing to recognize satire and not reading the entire linked article). The respondent suggested “Try working out the sums.”

    Had me laughing and chuckling for half an hour.

    The ubiquity of the patently-absurd schemes promoted and built by governments (and carpet-baggers) is wreaking havoc with people’s ability to recognize and enjoy a joke. Or to perceive the deeper message.

  33. It is very windy today in the UK and the total usage on the grid is 44,585MW and wind is producing 1069MW of that (dropping from a peek of 1500MW at 07.30 this morning). I dread to think how much it is costing per MW to produce but the power companies are required to buy it in preference to power produced by other means.
    You can see the graph at http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html
    Unfortunately I have not been able to find a site showing the comparative costs.

    James Bull

  34. jlc says: March 5, 2012 at 6:42 am
    [The rates are intended to be $/MWh (dollars per Megawatt.hour)]

    Iin Europe it is M$/Whr.
    (the metric system eh)

  35. In Ontario, the current globally adjusted rate for wholesale power is CDN$0.485 per kWh. The actual price thanks to almost 0% contribution from wind today is $0.22 / kWh

  36. Amicus Curiae,

    Perhaps you meant megawatt hour? My domestic tariff, as high as it seems to me, is only around 15pence per kilowatt hour.

  37. I don’t think I’d mind so much if the energy to maintain and repair the offshore windmills came from … the windmills.
    Why do I find it amusing that the so-called “renewable” energy sources rely, each and every one, on fossil fuels for their support?

    How many windmills does it take to make a windmill? ( we already know how much ethanol it takes to make a gallon of ethanol..)

  38. Here is sunny and rainless North Carolina, a solar power station is being built under 10 miles from me. Of course, I’m being facetious when calling North Carolina sunny and dry. This is not even close to a desert here. So solar power does not make much sense here. The company building this (thanks to tax dollars subsidization) is taking 11 acres to build this. And this is the bad part, under ideal circumstances, it will only power 200 homes. There are over 200 homes in a 1 mile radius around the solar power plant! And the local paper acted like this was a good thing!

    All of this “green” energy does not make sense! The only thing keeping it alive is taxpayer subsidization due to government policies. Wind and solar does not make sense for large scale deployment. Now I will admit that if solar becomes more efficient, as in greater than 50% efficient, then it would be viable for small scale deployment, such as on top of buildings and homes. But when are a long long ways before solar gets even 30% efficient, much less 50%+. And the more I see, the worse wind power becomes.

    Why is it so hard to get people to think! Why can’t people see the obviousness of the truth! Green energy is a money pit. It cannot meet our energy needs.

  39. Politicians love to give the public what the public wants — or what they believe the public wants. When a vocal minority controls the discussion and yells loudest, it’s no surprise they are the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, to use mixed metaphors. This problem is compounded when access to those in power is limited to only a few.

    These things constantly remind me why the USA was founded on the principle of limited government. It’s an idea whose time has come again. When government is limited in scope and doesn’t attempt to control our lives or provide for all our various wants, corruption and waste are restrained.

  40. climatereason: “A fundamental cost that is also excluded from the cost of off shore turbines is bringing their power to where it is needed.”

    How do you know that? It’s my guess that the engineers that prepared the project cost estimates were well aware of that basic cost and included it.

    My experience is that costs of projects that involve new and unique challenges are frequently underestimated not because something is left out, but rather because the construction is more difficult than anticipated and takes longer. So show these costs were left out with something more than an assertion.

  41. See this:

    http://social.windenergyupdate.com/operations-maintenance/offshore-wind-corrosion-control-more-guidance-needed?utm_source=WEU%2BE-Brief%2B2102&utm_medium=WEU%2BE-Brief%2B2102&utm_campaign=WEU

    The cost of corrosion damage in offshore wind monopile foundations can be crippling, yet industry guidance is falling short. Andrew Williams reports.

    The provision of detailed guidance relating to the corrosion control design of monopile foundations for offshore wind turbines is a vital requirement for manufacturers, given the risk of serious financial implications of ‘getting it wrong’.

    Independent risk management firm, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), provides much of the corrosion advice currently offered to the industry, but is their most up to date advice adequate to ensure long-term prevention of corrosion damage? If not, how can the industry ensure access to state-of-the-art guidance?

    Interesting read…

  42. Exactly how strong does having it on good authority from a marine engineer make Matt Ridley`s point? I don`t see this as sufficient evidence at all.

  43. We had several interesting days in the UK last weel where there was no wind and no sunshine thereby knocking out the two prime means of renewables.

    The only way forward (assuming we don’t see sense with shale gas) is to use the ocean via waves/tidal power.
    tonyb

    There are less (sometimes no) waves when there is no wind, so that could be a double whammy.

    Tides change directions a couple of times a day and therefore switch off power generation. I admit this is more manageable being predictable. If we make use of the Solent then there is potential for fairly continuous power generation?

    “The unusual phenomenon of the ‘Double High Water’ in the Solent and Southampton area is well known, but it is not caused by the existence of the two entrances to the Solent or the Isle of Wight as is popularly supposed. However, the two entrances to the Solent do cause other effects to the tide which are not so well known, namely, the ‘Young Flood Stand’ and the short duration of the ebb tide which are both valuable assets to the mariner.”

  44. Ooops make that CDN$0.0485 and $0.022 / kWh…I was the using “Wind” pricing conversion in my calculator (10x all the reliable forms of power generation).

  45. Wonder if anyone will take inventory of the amount of wind and solar capacity lost in the US over the past week as the latest series of major storms crossed the Mississippi and Ohio valleys.

  46. Orkneylad:

    Welcome to the club of professionals that no-one wants to hear from until something goes wrong. Just try to get someone to cough up money BEFORE a land use/development project to assess geologic hazards (such as unsuitable substrate for foundation support). They then expect you to be able to retro-fit their construction AFTER it has failed and they finally listen to what you have to say. Result – original cost X 10.

  47. The sea is a harsh mistress; you can ask anyone who has a boat how much maintenance costs them!

    I keep laughing every time they suggest putting wind farms here on the coastline of South Florida. I’ve been through too many hurricanes and tropical storms in the past 25years I’ve lived here and it’s hard enough just keeping a bunker-style concrete-block house in reasonable shape over the years, let alone a 400-ft-high winged generator system!

  48. Simple solution. Get Greenpeace to buy another thousand boats, and have Xena et al lean over and prop the damn things up. Should be fun in a storm.

  49. wws says:
    March 5, 2012 at 5:37 am

    North Sea? That’s a pretty calm place that never has any really bad storms, right?
    =============================
    …….no icebergs either

  50. How do you service these ocean wind turbines once they are installed. They will fail and require maintenance just like anything mechanical placed in a violent and corrosive environment does.

    I am familiar with offshore platforms that include space in order to service equipment and the producing wells.

    A floating vessel with dynamic positioning, a wave motion compensated crane and diving support (for inspection) is like 30 to 40 K per day. Have they anticipated hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual operating cost to maintain these devices?

  51. For an authorative analysis of UK generation costs see:

    http://www.iesisenergy.org/lcost/

    Summarizing: coal, gas, nuclear and the Severn Barrage (now there’s a surprise) come in at about £60/MWh. onshore wind: £190/MWh, offshore wind £270/MWh.

    To quote a Private Eye cover from 1990 (picture of Cecil Parkinson) “Higher prices mean cheaper electricity for everyone”.

  52. Latitude says:
    March 5, 2012 at 8:18 am

    windmills in the ocean + icebergs = shave ice.

    (refreshing on a hot day)

    We’re all going to be “eating it” with windmills…
    Thank you Mr. President.

  53. Approximately one sixth of UK members of parliament appear to be able to think clearly and rationally on the subject of wind power energy:

    http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=uk%20mps%20wind%20power%20letter%202012&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEYQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegraph.co.uk%2Fearth%2Fenergy%2Fwindpower%2F9061554%2FFull-letter-from-MPs-to-David-Cameron-on-wind-power-subsidies.html&ei=LO5UT62QM6Pr0gH8sfncDQ&usg=AFQjCNFdM2edYRA5ltxwou5J-p32Cl9-KQ&cad=rja

    The other five sixths are science challenged, sociology majors, or career lefties, so the UK has little hope of a sensible energy policy any time soon. The exit of Chris Huhne was a useful start, but the formal final go-ahead has still to be given for the next generation of nuclear reactors, so the UK will shortly be facing a decade of rolling brown outs and black outs.

    And the stupid, egotistical, proponents of wind power will just say: “well, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

    Advice to potential investors in industry in Britain: “Don’t – there won’t be enough power.”

  54. As a believer in AGW and somewhat who believes we must take the right action, I observe the following. Mitigating and adapting to climate change will require a great sum of money down the line. wasting money today on solutions that are not ready for prime time is worse than pouring C02 into the air. Worse because its sunk cost that can never be recovered. It’s sunk cost that could have gone into nuclear, could have gone into water projects, could have gone into making a society that is more resilient to change rather than less rich and less able to mitigate or adapt in the future. We need to take action, but smart action. the right actions not flailing about.

  55. Renewables seem to be planned by enthusiastic amateurs, not engineers.

    It was amusing to read of a huge wind turbine development in southern Germany where they did not plan for connecting it to the grid! They are now trying to install 1000 km of power lines against strong public opposition.

    Germany has spent 100 billion Euros on solar panels, and gives 6 billion a year in subsidies, but they only provide about 0.3% of German power requirements. They can’t afford it. The current situation could have been predicted before the first panel was installed, but the idea of cost/benefit analysis never seems to be used for renewables.

    There are issues with most ‘green’ solutions :
    – Experts point out that if wind power comprises 20% of the grid the variations in output will destabilise the grid causing blackouts or even damaging the infrastructure,
    – If 15% of cars were electric it would require hundreds of billions spent on upgrading the grid with new power stations and transmission lines.
    – Biodiesel is claimed to produce 4 times as much CO2 as the oil it replaces, and almost a litre of oil is used to produce a litre of biodiesel, plus the destruction of forests and wetlands for palm plantations.
    – Ethanol has been proved to require 40% more energy to produce than it creates [a green group said they had disproved this but as is often the case I suspect ‘disproved’ should read as ‘ignored’!], and the watts per square metre using corn is abysmal.

    It seems that many decisions are made by people who don’t have a clue, surprising when such vast quantities of money are involved.

  56. LarryD says:
    March 5, 2012 at 8:04 am

    2009 American levelized cost estimate for 2015 http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2009/05/12/levelized-cost-of-new-generating-technologies/

    2011 estimate for 2016 http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity_generation.html

    Over here, only solar thermal is more expensive than offshore wind.
    ——————————————————————
    I was looking at the second table (the EIA one) the other day and had trouble interpreting it. It seems to me that it obscures more than it reveals. Firstly, it excludes all subsidies, which in the case of wind are a significant cost. Secondly, it is not clear how the capacity factor relates to the final figure – it seems to have been ignored in reaching the numbers in the last column. Thirdly, the second lot of coal figures are supposedly for ‘clean coal’, which I think means carbon capture technology, which is so far pretty much non-existent.

    Can anyone shed any light?

    Regarding the reference to the Productivity Commission above, here is the link to their latest report on CO2 abatement costs:

    http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/109830/carbon-prices.pdf

    There is a table of generation costs for various electricity sources in Australia on page 91 of the report. The costs per MWh (AU$) are:

    Coal – $78 – $91
    Combined cycle gas – $97
    Wind – $115 – $214 (we only have onshore here)
    Medium sized (5 megawatt) solar PV – $400 – $473

    They regard small domestic PV systems as even more expensive, but do not provide a figure.

  57. “”””” ColinW says:
    March 5, 2012 at 4:59 am
    Are there any reliable sources to back this up other than “I have it on good authority from a marine engineer…”? “””””

    So Colin, who would then back up your “reliable sources” that you propose would back up the author’s Marine Engineer ?
    Would Connolleys wikipedia, be an authoritative enough source ? Why would anyone believe ANY opinion other than their own ?

  58. The Spanish Armada came through [the North Sea] totally unscathed. Oh, hang on a min….

    It’s hard getting a solid foundation off of mounds of shipwreck.

  59. Bob Dylan may have been wrong [The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind….]

    CO2 continues to be the red herring needed by so-called environmentalists to push their anti-human agenda through… energy starvation to cram humans into smaller and smaller spaces and allowing the earth to return to its “normal” condition. Recently, however, environmentalists have been successful in using H2O as their environmental, anti-human, red herring.

    Conveniently forgotten is that, as a species, we are capable of implementing rational solutions… if a non-rational agenda does not get in the way.

    http://hallofrecord.blogspot.com/2012/03/h2o-continues-to-be-more-important-than.html

  60. Steven Mosher writes:

    =================
    As a believer in AGW and somewhat who believes we must take the right action, I observe the following. Mitigating and adapting to climate change will require a great sum of money down the line. wasting money today on solutions that are not ready for prime time is worse than pouring C02 into the air. Worse because its sunk cost that can never be recovered
    ==============

    And as well, the advocation of an impractical policy raises doubts about AGW that do not have to be there. The failure of wind power will erode the public support for any action. Some could argue that the example of wind showed that such strategies are unworkable and expensive to no end

  61. Steven Mosher says:
    March 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

    “…cost that could have gone into nuclear, could have gone into water projects,…
    We need to take action, but smart action.”

    Nuclear or water power is the only current practical source of a replacement to fossil fueled energy that will not cripple our civilization. We need plentiful and cheap power to make things, melt steel, melt glass, and make the world a better place. Electric Arc Furnaces. Safer nuclear is one of the few solutions that will succeed in this endeavor.

    Stop the delusion and fund nuclear now. It’s the best we have.

  62. There is nothing new about marine wind power being more expensive. For one thing, construction is more expensive since the turbines and power lines must handle salt-related corrosion problems.

    Using California as an example, the areas with sustained class 5 wind speed (about 6-8 m/s depending on height AGL) are limited. Only off shore does enough area exist to produce wind power in quantities suffient to put a dent in energy needs. Each turbine needs 80 acres, and because wind has a 30% capacity factor (being generous) you have to build 3x the number of turbines to produce the baseplate power and then store it.

    To be serious about replacing fossil fuel or nuclear power, for a small nation or large state, tens to hundreds of thousands of turbines must be constructed, covering thousands of square miles of land or ocean. People cannot live among or near the turbines. The operation and maintenance costs quickly make the approach impractical (salaries and benefits alone explode a budget). Gear boxes fail, blades spinning too fast fly apart, turbines catch fire. How much fossil fuel is used to make one turbine?

    “Levelized” costs analyses are manipulated for poltical purposes easily up to one order of magnitude. When you see them, avoid swallowing hook, line, and sinker.

  63. “As a believer in AGW and somewhat who believes we must take the right action, I observe the following. Mitigating and adapting to climate change will require a great sum of money down the line. wasting money today on solutions that are not ready for prime time is worse than pouring C02 into the air.”

    Then you’ve missed the point of the new “Green-Collar” industry altogether.
    1) Start with a dump-truck full of money.
    2) Use it to prop up as many Solyndras as you can find.
    3) Reap the political benefits of making rich new friends and a nifty new factory as the backdrop for your next campaign speech
    4) Win re-election
    5) Repeat as necessary, or until term limits kick in.

    Viable solutions? Those actually detrimental to the process. Once the problem is solved, the crisis is over, and I’ve lost my reason to secure additional dump-trucks of money.

  64. ColinW : March 5, 2012 at 4:59 am

    said: “….Are there any reliable sources to back this up other than “I have it on good authority from a marine engineer…?….”

    Common sense and logical thinking should give you a clue that he might be on the right track.

  65. amicus curiae says:
    March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Let’s Compare Power Generation Costs

    Here are the statistics on the cost of power generation in 2010 from the Australian Government’s own Productivity Commission:….

    It is disappointing that in a science blog no citations are provided with figures like that. Here is something of vital importance with respect to the figures you provided, which specific figures may have come from a quote in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, in Australia:

    Correction: An earlier version of this piece misquoted energy figures. The Productivity Commission said the cost of electricity generated by wind was $150 to $214 per megawatt hour, not $1502; and solar was $400 to $473 per MWh, not $4004.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/labor-all-tied-up-in-red-and-green-tape-20110724-1hv8i.html#ixzz1oGUu4imp

    That makes me wonder why it is that the Sidney Morning Herald in it original article so seriously misquoted those figures and exaggerated them by a factor of ten. How can such a gross exaggeration happen?

    I have not been able to find the report at the source, the Australian Productivity Commission.

  66. Any alternate source of power generation will be “discovered” to have social and environmental impacts that far outweigh the benefits they provide and those problem will be promoted loudly so that they become engrained in the social consciousness. The only alternate sources that are to be promoted are one that don’t work, or are economically disastrous. The goal, after all is the destruction of capitalism. Economies need to be destroyed, personal liberties must be abridged, and property confiscated to serve the greater good of everyone. This is the only way to bring about the great Socialist Utopia.

  67. Sandy in Derby said

    ‘There are less (sometimes no) waves when there is no wind, so that could be a double whammy. ‘

    Come on Sandy, if you are in Derby you are as far from the sea as it is possible to get in the UK and are therefore disqualified from this debate :)

    Seriously, the water solution requires us to make use of tides-highly predicatable-waves, ( less so) and also the thermal gradient of water. A thirty foot tall device floating submerged in the water could pick up all those sources of energy but of course still needs to be situated close to transmission lines or, bearing in mind how many people live next to the sea, could power the homes of those of us fortunate enough to do so without new transmission lines defacing the countryside.

    The devices would need to be very robust but unfortunately in order to meet our EU obligations on carbon there is very little research into using the power of the ocean and instead we are lumbered with the relatively mature technology of inefficient wind turbines.
    tonyb

  68. cwj said to me;

    ‘How do you know that? It’s my guess that the engineers that prepared the project cost estimates were well aware of that basic cost and included it.’

    I know that because I wrote an article about it. Also see the reply above about the German project where they forgot to include the power line costs.

    Im not saying that the engineers necessarily forgot it but by the time it gets to the political level all sorts of inconvenient costs disappear.

    tonyb

  69. amicus curiae. There are times where the costs on wind are far larger that you say. Here in Ontario, Canada a lot of wind power has been installed. The grid is not stable, unless wind power is less that 15%. So, when the wind blows, you need to produce nearly 6 times as much power from stable sourses, as the wind is generating, just to keep the grid stable. If we dont need that much power, then Ontario has to PAY other places to take the excess power off our hands. Or it has to pay the wind producers NOT to produce power. I am sure this must add to costs.

  70. anticlimactic @9:01: “- Ethanol has been proved to require 40% more energy to produce than it creates [a green group said they had disproved this but as is often the case I suspect ‘disproved’ should read as ‘ignored’!], and the watts per square metre using corn is abysmal.”

    If ethanol uses more energy to produce than it creates, please explain why the wholesale cost of unblended ethanol is less than the wholesale price of unblended gasoline. The wholesale price includes the cost of all resources that go into the product with a profit.

  71. Bruce Hall :March 5, 2012 at 9:08 am

    said: “Bob Dylan may have been wrong [The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind….]…”

    Obviously in error here.

    Bob Dylan is never wrong ;-)

    Dylan : And the masters, make the rules, for the wise men, and the fools….

  72. “so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?” Demonization of carbon (repulsive, archaic and world destroying) and vanity (fashionable, self-serving, and self-righteous). Nothing to do with technology or economy – obviously

  73. This sort of reminds me of the remake of the .’War of the Worlds’ where at the end the Tripods were all broken and leaning up against buildings or fallen over in fields.. Wont be long now.

  74. Bill Garland says:
    March 5, 2012 at 6:25 am

    amicus curiae says:
    March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am
    “….Power Generation Costs….Australian…..
    Coal fired power station $79 per kw/h (kilowatt/hour)…”

    I think you are out 3 orders of magnitude. In Canada I pay $0.10 / kw-hr. Perhaps your units should be MW-hr. The relative costs seem about right though.

    The units should not be MWh, they should be MW of name-plate generating capacity. The cost figure should be $ per MW of generating capacity because they relate to initial capital investment.
    The rate of $0.10 kWh that you pay on your electricity bill is what you pay for your energy consumption. That rate is calculated to include a rate of capital recovery for the initial capital investment plus overhead (mainly profit margin, you pay extra, over and above all of that, for transmission and distribution to your home and for billing).

    The average price paid in Alberta to producers of electric energy where it is fed into the grid is about $23MWh, and that is a conglomerate price for energy from all sources of energy generation that includes the costs of initial capital investment plus the cost of production and maintenance of generating plants.

  75. kbray in california @ 9:17 “Nuclear or water power is the only current practical source of a replacement to fossil fueled energy that will not cripple our civilization. ”

    Although nuclear should be part of the mix, it is not the perfect power source, every source has drawbacks and advantages. Nuclear cannot be modulated to match loads, nuclear covers base load only. When a plant goes off line, it is a large impact on the system, a nuclear plant is a large fraction of the generation capacity. When it goes off line for maintenance, it is off line for extended times, and a nuclear plant in Nebraska was kept off-line this past year due to the potential for flooding. When off-line that capacity has to be made up from other sources.

    Water can serve as base. It can also be modulated unless you are trying to keep the reservoir from overflowing, then you have to run the generators at capacity of lose the potential energy of the water that bypasses the generator. However, try to get a new reservoir approved.

  76. re post by: climatereason says: March 5, 2012 at 5:30 am

    …The only way forward (assuming we don’t see sense with shale gas) is to use the ocean via waves/tidal power.
    tonyb

    Nuclear would make vastly more sense than wave/tidal.

  77. “If ethanol uses more energy to produce than it creates, please explain why the wholesale cost of unblended ethanol is less than the wholesale price of unblended gasoline. The wholesale price includes the cost of all resources that go into the product with a profit.”

    ethanol has about 2/3rds the energy density of gasoline. So even if they cost the same per gallon, ethanol would still be more expensive.

    Beyond that, subsidies baby, subsidies.

  78. We need to take action, but smart action. the right actions not flailing about.

    I think the word you were looking for is, right actions, not fashionable actions. If a consensus among some climate scientists, who aren’t engineers, develops around an engineering solution, it’s virtually guaranteed to be spectacularly wrong.

  79. Och, it doesn’t matter too that they’re unstable; it’s their inefficiency that’s the greatest and most obvious problem (and I suppose cost comes into that equation). Wind and wave power systems don’t deliver when they’re most needed: in the midst of a long calm very cold spell for example. Clear winter skies usually mean hard frost and no wind, meaning a greater demand for power for heating . . . .just when the turbines are standing stock still and the waves have died away.

    And the idea of installing WIND turbines out at sea, ABOVE flowing water – a much more powerful and reliable source of force – looks a wee bit absurd to me. It’s an industrial insult. A commercial joke.

    I despair at the antics of the wind and wave power brigade in the uk, when our coastal waters are constantly on the move. The tidal currents flow to a pattern; they are utterly reliable – so long as the moon continues to do its work – and they are readily accessible. Give me a decent sized RIB and in one hour I could take a dozen of our politicians and industrialists to numerous locations off the coast of Galloway which would supply the solution to Scotland’s electrical energy needs for a very long time to come. And I don’t mean by using an underwater version of the turbines that some have in mind for the job: the approach should be large scale marine equivalents of our loch and river HEP systems; massive operations that are stable and capture and convert vast amounts of tidal power. All they have to do is space them out around the coast to ensure that differing, but short, slack water periods are adequately covered.

    Too obvious? I’m beginning to think so.

    Not about energy supply, but more about profit from subsidies? I’m inclined to believe that too.

    As someone who’s spent much of his life on the sea around Galloway I’ve been waiting for over 40 years for real HEP stations to be built on the tidal rivers that flow within much of the local coastal waters. I don’t expect to live long enough to see them now. So long as they go on building wind turbines on land or at sea in particular, that in itself is prima facie evidence in my view that it isn’t really about solving the energy problem. . . .

  80. rationaldb8

    I agree about nuclear but no nation is likely to use it as their primary source of power at present, just as a small part of the overall mix, if they use it at all

    tonyb.

  81. Tidal power is not much better than wind. There is no proven technology. The tides are standardized in a rule of twelfths for simplicity. The flow rates are described as: 1-2-3-3-2-1 where the middle two hours of the 6 hour tide contain half the flow, hence half the power (+/-) of the tide. This means that the useful tide would be in 4 x 2hour segments each day and the rest of the time would be wasted. Unfortunately the times are later by about 40 mins per day so there is no standard time for power generation. They then vary from Spring (fast) to Neap (slow) over a fortnight so no standard power output there either. Most places have very little tide. i.e. The Mediterranean. Notable exceptions are the Bay of Fundy, Bristol Channel etc. So I would say that tidal power is not going to be much better than wind. Best to just dam the rivers and have done with it. In Brittany the Rance is dammed for hydro electric and the Vilaine for fresh water. Well known and proven technology. So a few swamp toads die out. Life is a bitch. Get over it.

    (Add Oxford commas and parenthesis to your taste)

  82. cwj
    March 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

    anticlimactic @9:01: “- Ethanol has been proved to require 40% more energy to produce than it creates [a green group said they had disproved this but as is often the case I suspect ‘disproved’ should read as ‘ignored’!], and the watts per square metre using corn is abysmal.”

    If ethanol uses more energy to produce than it creates, please explain why the wholesale cost of unblended ethanol is less than the wholesale price of unblended gasoline. The wholesale price includes the cost of all resources that go into the product with a profit.
    ###

    What planet do you come from. Here on earth governments manipulate the cost of thing via taxes and subsidies.

  83. I expect that salvaging these turbines will be a very lucrative business soon.
    Maybe connect them to natural gas turbines, sell them to small municipalities.

  84. cwj says:
    March 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

    If ethanol uses more energy to produce than it creates, please explain why the wholesale cost of unblended ethanol is less than the wholesale price of unblended gasoline. The wholesale price includes the cost of all resources that go into the product with a profit.

    The explanation (a fact, not a guess), is that the price of ethanol is so much lower because it is heavily subsidized.

  85. re post by: Latitude says: March 5, 2012 at 8:18 am

    …….no icebergs either

    Now why does the idea of icebergs in a wind power turbine field bring to mind the very graphic image of a super sized slow motion pin-ball machine?

  86. tonyb

    I think we’re both singing off the same hymn sheet. Problem is that investment in sea generated energy has been virtually nil. I think to meet the treaty requirement in the time available is impossible. The sensible option is to abrogate any treaty about reducing CO2 emissions.

    BTW I’m not a native of Derby, home is Comrie Perthshire, almost as far from the sea as possible in Scotland :)

  87. cwj says:
    March 5, 2012 at 10:17 am
    “Nuclear cannot be modulated to match loads, nuclear covers base load only.”
    ———————————————————————————————–

    Although I did not spell it out, I include new generation thorium salt reactors and many smaller facilities. My understanding is that nuclear power plants generate heat to boil water that spins steam turbines that generate electricity. To match loads, all one needs to do is switch a valve to turn the turbine on or off. Keep the plant online and making steam… turning a valve will generate power just as quickly as a hydro dam water valve…. what’s the problem?

    The old generation nuclear breeder plants are white elephants. Best bet is to perfect thorium.

  88. It is entirely possible that politicians get their solar and wind power information from watching the Teletubbies on the BBC as children. Subliminal indoctrination! What a devilish conspiracy!

  89. Steven Mosher says:

    March 5, 2012 at 9:00 am
    As a believer in AGW and somewhat who believes we must take the right action…
    =======================================
    Please share your view of what “right actions” are and where the ‘C’ in CAGW is, and what disasters you expect to occur that simply responding to them as they manifest, (which I doubt will happen) would not be far less expensive then proposed “right actions”.

  90. PS: If current nuclear power plants cannot quickly adjust to demand loads, then the original design was lousy. A plant should have 20 or 30 separate turbines to start and stop with valves in the design to adjust to the load. If they only have one big turbine, then they were idiots.

    We need to build thorium reactors by the thousands everywhere.

  91. Walter H. Schneider @10:53, “A lot more information on ethanol subsidies is available on the Internet, but I think that the table provided at that link gives you the picture.”

    Your reference is correct that in 2005 the subsidy became a blender’s tax credit. Which means that the distributor got the subsidy the producer did not. The producer had to make a profit based on the price that the distributor paid, which is the wholesale price, without the benefit of any subsidy to the producer. Yet the wholesale price of ethanol has remained less than the wholesale price of unleaded gasoline and producers are producing ethanol.

    Your source does not include that the blender’s tax credit was ended last December, yet ethanol producers are still producing ethanol.

  92. kbray in california says:
    March 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

    PS: If current nuclear power plants cannot quickly adjust to demand loads, then the original design was lousy. …

    I wonder what makes you say that. A thermal, coal-fire power plant may take as much as a couple of days between being fired up and having its generating capacity bought up to snuff and fed into the grid. That lag time is generally a few hours for gas-fired power plants. Nuclear-fired thermal power plants are in the same range.

    The problem with bringing a new source of generation on-line is that not only must it adjust to the power demanded of it but it must also be in sync and exactly in phase.

    The more turbines are feeding into the grid, the more complex the regulating issues become. Wind-powered turbines complicate that problem to an enormous extent. The more wind turbines are connected to a grid, the more difficult it becomes to prevent cascading outages. That is on account of the stochastic nature of their generating capacity jeopardizing system stability.

    The European electrical system operators have very great and growing concerns about that and issue warning after warning that the grid in being placed at ever increasing risk of large-scale, cascading outages, due to connecting ever-increasing numbers of wind-farms to the grid. They state that as of now there is no foreseeable solution to the problem. Reaction times for regulating and stabilizing the grid due to the stochastic nature of wind-generation.must be within a fraction of a second, while the reality of power regulation of generating-capacity, -voltage, -frequency and -phase from conventional sources can not ever hope to achieve that.

    The problems posed by that may be alleviated somewhat if all of the transmission lines in the grid were to be converted to high-voltage DC-transmission, but that would in essence require the re-engineering and re-construction of the whole transmission grid, with the construction of DC-AC and AC-DC converters being required wherever voltage needs to be stepped down or up.

    One issue that escalates the problem is that the education of engineering personnel required to address all of that seriously lags the demand.

  93. climatereason says:
    rationaldb8

    I agree about nuclear but no nation is likely to use it as their primary source of power at present, just as a small part of the overall mix, if they use it at all

    tonyb.

    Currently, France produces over 75% of its electricity with nuclear power.
    The key is to have a diverse selection of plants scattered throughout the grid, making downtime something which can be planned for.

    Source: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html

  94. “And I don’t mean by using an underwater version of the turbines that some have in mind for the job: the approach should be large scale marine equivalents of our loch and river HEP systems; massive operations that are stable and capture and convert vast amounts of tidal power. All they have to do is space them out around the coast to ensure that differing, but short, slack water periods are adequately covered. ”

    I thought the whole point was the environment? Sounds enormous.

    On corrosion, I once read about the massive undertaking that it it is to protect the Statue of Liberty from corrosion. That’s one object, wind turbines are thousands of objects ….

    I hadn’t realised that you can’t live on a windfarm. Just getting people to and from work every day must cost a fortune. My father used to work on North sea gas platforms – he went by helicopter. But that was I think for 3 weeks.

    Actually the more I think about it, the more you realise gas/oil are extremely good sources of power, which actually produce small amounts of environmental damage compared to the amount of energy they provide.

  95. kbray in california @ 10:57: “PS: If current nuclear power plants cannot quickly adjust to demand loads, then the original design was lousy. A plant should have 20 or 30 separate turbines to start and stop with valves in the design to adjust to the load. If they only have one big turbine, then they were idiots.”.

    My experience is with coal fired plants, where one boiler fires one turbine. So apparently you consider the designers of coal-fired plants as idiots. But the coal feed to a coal fired plant cannot be cut in a manner to modulate the production of steam, it takes a while for the production of heat from the burner to decrease and for the production of steam from that heat to also decrease. There are some coal fired plants that can modulate production of electricity, but the operators tell me that they are more efficient if run at a constant rate, so the preference is to run those at constant rate and use gas to accommodate the variations in demand.

    As applies to nuclear I would be surprised if the nuclear reaction could be modulated to the extent of the reaction stopping or slowing and production of heat dissipating instantly, or with enough immediacy to modulate the production of electricity, so the design problem in modulating production isn’t the number of turbines, it’s the production of heat.

    That’s my take on the periphery of the industry, (as a structural, civil, and water engineer) but I’ll yield to someone with direct experience in the design and operation of the plants.

  96. “Currently, France produces over 75% of its electricity with nuclear power.
    The key is to have a diverse selection of plants scattered throughout the grid, making downtime something which can be planned for.

    Source: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html

    And what love about it is that we sell a lot of it to Britain, so all those times the windmills are offline, British homes are running on nuclear lol. And the more windfarms therre are, the more nuke Britain will need :)

  97. J Pickens

    Sorry, implicit in my comment was that nations wouldn’t use Nuclear in their current planning scenarios as their prime source of energy. I am aware of the French effort but i think the high water mark has passed judging by Germany’s response to the Japan disaster.

    Which leaves me wondering how we (in Britain) will manage for energy in the future as we seem to be building few grown up power stations but are littering our countryside with silly wind mills whilst the govt pays a fortune to lavishly subsidise solar power in a country that doesn’t get much sun. Madness…
    tonyb

  98. re post by: cwj says: March 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Although nuclear should be part of the mix, it is not the perfect power source, every source has drawbacks and advantages. Nuclear cannot be modulated to match loads, nuclear covers base load only. When a plant goes off line, it is a large impact on the system, a nuclear plant is a large fraction of the generation capacity. When it goes off line for maintenance, it is off line for extended times, and a nuclear plant in Nebraska was kept off-line this past year due to the potential for flooding. When off-line that capacity has to be made up from other sources.

    Water can serve as base. It can also be modulated unless you are trying to keep the reservoir from overflowing, then you have to run the generators at capacity of lose the potential energy of the water that bypasses the generator. However, try to get a new reservoir approved.

    Certainly no source is perfect, and all do have drawbacks. I have to note, however, that your comments are a bit misleading regarding nuclear power plants. I’ll try to address some of the issues.

    Plant down time – first, I suspect that in most nations a single nuclear reactor isn’t a large fraction of the generating capacity, even tho the output of that plant is a huge amount of electricity. In the USA there are just over 100 commercial power reactors, which produce about 20% of the nation’s electricity. Take one of those offline and it’s a quite small fraction of the nation’s electrical supply. Even in France, where those numbers are flipped a bit, they’ve got 59 reactors producing roughly 80% of the nation’s electricity – so each plant provides roughly 1.35% of the nation’s power – arguably not anything close to a ‘large fraction’ of the generation capacity. For the sake of efficiency, they do tend to run their plants at full capacity (rather than load following) and therefore wind up exporting roughly 18% of their total electrical production. All of this, and France has close to the cheapest electricity in the EU.

    In the USA and I believe France also (possibly throughout the EU, but I don’t know for certain), nuclear power has a very high reliability factor. Including all outages for any cause, maintenance, refueling, etc., they are fully available over 90% of the time. Consider also that this very high reliability factor is for plants that are typically more than 20 years old, and yet they’ve maintained that high reliability factor for decades (actually over time their reliability factor has gone up, rather than down, as improvements in planning and maintenance practices have evolved).

    Plants going offline aren’t as big a problem as implied. Yes, each is a large source of power, but nations always require, for any power source, that there is a certain backup capacity available to be brought online as needed. For nuclear power the biggest downtime by far is for refueling – and planning is such these days that a typical refueling outage lasts significantly less than 30 days, once every 18 months or so. These are scheduled during times of the year that have the lowest energy demand. A huge amount of maintenance is done at the same time, taking advantage of the downtime. Key parts (e.g., any that have to be worked on while the plant isn’t running) are replaced before they are likely to fail, regardless of how well they are functioning or how good they look or test, all based on the known durability of that sort of part from industry wide experience and tests.

    So when a nuclear power plant goes offline, if other power plants aren’t able to fill in with sufficient replacement power, then as needed existing backup power plant(s) are brought online to make up any shortfall. In other words, there are already sources of replacement power available that are factored into the various requirements and costs.

    In comparison, because of the intermittent nature of wind, it is estimated that wind needs about 90% backup power sources available, where other conventional power sources (including nuclear) require 25% or less. Building and maintaining all the backup plants required for wind is a huge inefficiency and cost – not to mention since those are conventional power sources, it sure cuts into how much wind even manages to reduce CO2 emissions. Modeling by the UK National Grid Corporation showed that “building 25 GWe of wind capacity, equivalent to almost half of UK peak demand, will only reduce the need for conventional fossil and nuclear plant capacity by 6.7%. Also, some 30 GWe of spare capacity will need to be on immediate call continuously to provide a normal margin of reserve and to back up the wind plant’s inability to produce power on demand – about two thirds of it being for the latter….Because wind turbine output is so variable, for planning purposes its potential output is discounted to the level of power that can be relied upon for 90% of the time. In Australia that figure comes to 7% of installed wind capacity, in Germany it is 8%, which is all that can be included as securely available (ie 90% of the time).* On the 90% availability basis, other technologies can be counted on for much higher reliability, and hence the investment cost per kilowatt reliably available is much less. * Figures from NEMMCO and E.ON respectively. ” (quoted from: http://world-nuclear.org/info/inf10.html).

    Next, the issue of nuclear and load following. Actually, existing power plants can and some have been adapted to allow some load following, although it isn’t the most efficient use of the core. Generation III plants (those now being built) were designed from the beginning to allow more load following if desired. Nuclear is still best for base load, but the point is that they can load follow to some extent and that ability is significantly greater for the current generation designs being built (and some of those already operating for years in other nations). From the same article linked above: “Where it is necessary to vary the output according to daily and weekly load cycles, for instance in France, where there is a very high reliance on nuclear power, they can be adapted to load-follow. For BWRs this is reasonably easy without burning the core unevenly, but for a PWR to run at less than full power for much of the time depends on where it is in the 18 to 24-month refueling cycle, and whether it is designed with special control rods which diminish power levels throughout the core without shutting it down. So while the ability on any individual PWR reactor to run on a sustained basis at low power decreases markedly as it progresses through the refueling cycle, there is considerable scope for running a fleet of reactors in load-following mode. Generation III plants have more scope for load-following, “

    Also, in most nations hydro isn’t well suited for or used for base load. It’s by far more useful in dealing with peak loads. Again from the link already cited: “Hydro-electric power, using the potential energy of rivers, is by far the best-established means of electricity generation from renewable sources. It now supplies 16% of world electricity (99% in Norway, 58% in Canada, 55% in Switzerland, 45% in Sweden, 7% in USA, 6% in Australia). Apart from those four countries with an abundance of it, hydro capacity is normally applied to peak-load demand, because it is so readily stopped and started. This also means that it is an ideal complement to wind power in a grid system, and is used thus most effectively by Denmark (see case study below). World hydro capacity is 867 GWe, and in 2006 it supplied 3121 GWh (41% capacity factor), underlining its generally peak use.

    Hydro is not a major option for the future in the developed countries because most major sites in these countries having potential for harnessing gravity in this way are either being exploited already or are unavailable for other reasons such as environmental considerations. Growth to 2030 is expected mostly in China and Latin America. China is commissioning the $26 billion Three Gorges dam, which will produce 18 GWe, but it has displaced over 1.2 million people.

    The chief advantage of hydro systems is their capacity to handle seasonal (as well as daily) high peak loads. In practice the utilisation of stored water is sometimes complicated by demands for irrigation which may occur out of phase with peak electrical demands.”

  99. Here in British Columbia, Canada’s version of California ,the liberal government, nicknamed the Fiberals because of past and ongoing lies and corruption have applied a carbon tax. Oh by the way BC is also the home of David Suzuki and Andrew Weaver. This carbon tax is applied to so called fossil fuels so that ups the cost to school districts, hospitals and such. Now money from this carbon tax is supposed to be applied to environmental initiatives and c02 emissions reductions. Some of the money just happens to windup in the pockets of companies and luxury resorts of fiberal friends under the cloak of emissions reduction.

    Now with this the fiberals supported the development of Independent Power Producers, IPP’s. The IPP’s are run of the river and windpower private projects. These projects are heavily subsidized by the taxpayer and read like a book of fiberal cronyism. BC Hydro the government run utility is also forced to buy the power from these IPP’s at a rate higher than what Hydro can produce from its own generation.

    Now because of the IPP contracts and other money loosing dealings over the years and dispite our vast natural resouses the province is now heavily in dept. Oh the fiberals have now picked a fight with the teachers as a diversion.

    Now added to all this the natives of Haida Qwaii, formally know as the Queen Charlotte islands, self proclaimed stewards of the environment want to build a vast wind farm offshore in some of the wildest weather and roughest waters on earth. All for the protection of mother earth. My BS meter went off scale on that one.

    C02 a vast money picking entity that has never before been seen. Though economies of the world and now starting to see the devastating results of this money picking.

  100. I see the comment of the pad/base/ platform expense doubling the cost of the installation. In my opinion, the corrosion will greatly reduce the life of the tower and generator. The anti corrision maintenance expense will be double at least of on land expenses and the cost of getting a barge out in “calm” seas to raise a crane will be a hassle.

    I have sailed for over 40 years and served in control of the harbormaster budgets for a little under 10 years.
    About the time we have a leaker and the transmission explodes and dumps 600 gallons of oil in the water, the lawsuit will get the wind farm shut down.

  101. Man Bearpig says:
    March 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

    This sort of reminds me of the remake of the .’War of the Worlds’ where at the end the Tripods were all broken and leaning up against buildings or fallen over in fields.. Wont be long now.
    ———————————————
    I think many of us will see it in our lifetimes, or maybe it’ll be the new land and sea salvage boom. Fact is, the whole idea is totally unsustainable. Ironic, eh?

  102. cwj: .… As applies to nuclear I would be surprised if the nuclear reaction could be modulated to the extent of the reaction stopping or slowing and production of heat dissipating instantly, or with enough immediacy to modulate the production of electricity, so the design problem in modulating production isn’t the number of turbines, it’s the production of heat. ….

    The Columbia Generating Station in Washington State is one of the few power reactors in the US capable of performing load-following operations. It does so through use of variable speed reactor coolant pumps which can be used to modulate the power output of the reactor core in real time.

    If I remember correctly, the practical range of output runs between 65% and 100% of its rated 1100 MW capacity. The primary role of this nuclear station is now to stabilize the power grid in the Northwest against short-term variations in windpower and hydropower outputs.

  103. Any way to get a web cam going to film the sea brids getting chop/chop as the blades hummm?

    Sell the film to PETA, then film the naked protestors when they show up and sell that film to ,,, well you know.

  104. cwj says:
    March 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    cwj,

    I think that usefulness and flexibility can be built into any original design. If your power generation is not flexible, then it’s poorly designed. I understand that a hydroelectric plant only needs to open a water gate to get the turbines to start spinning up again. They respond very quickly. I suggest leaving the nuclear plant running “full steam” or “full heat” and as long as you maintain steam pressure the steam turbines would spin up not far behind the water driven ones. When the turbines are shut off, the steam can be used to pump water uphill for supplemental hydroelectric power in the right location. You keep the plant running full bore whether it’s generating electricity or pumping water or steam heating homes or steam heating planting fields for an early harvest. It’s all in the original design and how and where you build it.

    The coal plant is a different issue especially if you want to reduce CO2. Leaving the coal plant running “full steam” is wasting coal, and adding CO2, and shutting down the boiler is understandable. And I do think that having multiple boilers and multiple turbines on each boiler would be better suited to the load situation. So, if it is one boiler and one turbine as standard construction then I think that is a poor design for the task.

    Also, I don’t think that leaving the nuclear plant running “hot” is “wasting” nuclear fuel. It’s not adding the evil CO2 and one can use the steam to do other work, like the water pumping I mentioned.

    I am confident that a nuclear power plant could be designed and constructed to be rapidly responsive to load.

  105. Disko Troop – a little learning about the ebb and flow of the tides can leave you a long way short of a reasonable understanding of the potential of tidal currents at numerous points/locations around the British Isles. I think you need to take a trip out to one of the thousands of areas where there is a rapid tidal flow for upwards of 18 hours a day. And even where it’s not rapid – around most of our less rugged and varied shores – the key thing is that there is considerable flow over a vast area . . . . funnelling slower waters into narrower streams and having reversible equipment that catches the flow in both directions – surely not beyond the modern mind – are just two of the methods by which even a modest and variable flow can be captured. GIven the chance to see one of these tidal streams in action a half decent problem solving mind will immediately recognise the enormous and regular power that;s there to be tapped. A visit by boat to the Mull of Galloway for example, on an average sized tide would open up a world of possibility to you, far beyond the notions of tide tables. If understanding such as yours is widespread amongst those who would make judgements in such matters, then perhaps that explains the lack of developent.

  106. Jean Parisot says:
    March 5, 2012 at 5:40 am
    At some point this scandal is going turn from the poor science to the rampant stock manipulation conducted by those with close links to politicians. That’s when it will really hit the fan.

    You must have not been paying attention – have a look at who funded/founded and operates or operated the Chicago Climate Exchange and the various European emission trading schemes.

  107. Wind power won’t work, mainly because of the huge quantity of concrete required for it’s anchorage. The amount of embodied energy required to manufacturer cement needed for concrete is astronomical. This is the primary reason the EROEI is 1.

    Wind power is unsustainable on land and twice as bad offshore.

  108. If you want your wind-farm to do well, the secret is the fertilizer, put down a good layer of unicorn manure and the crop will take right off!

  109. Many so called nuclear power boosters but want “safer” thorium reactors are are somewhat confused. They will likely get neither.

    Merely “standardising” the existing LWR designs has taken two decades and mega- Billions of dollars. Plus they started with functioning designs that are running safely for some twenty years already.

    You can’t really expect a thorium reactor to be licensed in less than twenty five years from the date that you begin to do so. No one has done so ,and it takes an organization/firm with Billions of dollars to spend to even creditably begin.

    Commercial Fusion is probably as close, and won’t need anywhere near that amount of time to secure a license, because they are inherently safe. They can’t run away; and there is no great store of radioactive materials in a Fusion reactor to fear. If you don’t work very hard to maintain the appropriate conditions, the thermonuclear fire just goes out.

    The “safer” nonsense is just that. Nonsense. There is nothing “safer’ about a thorium reactor that runs on/produces fissle U233. You can make bombs from U233, just as you can from U235 and PU 239. No one not even any of the rogue states have made a bomb from a commercial reactor. But LWRs have permanently incinerated over 10,000 nuclear weapons.

    BTW, the people who negotiated the ” Megatons to Megawatts” treaty should have won a Nobel Peace Prize not phonies like Obama, Gore, and the CAGW hucksters.

  110. kbray in california 1:24 “I understand that a hydroelectric plant only needs to open a water gate to get the turbines to start spinning up again. They respond very quickly. I suggest leaving the nuclear plant running “full steam” or “full heat” and as long as you maintain steam pressure the steam turbines would spin up not far behind the water driven ones.”

    In a hydro plant the turbines are designed to be operated at the temperature of the water, which is close to the temperature of the ambient temperature turbine.

    A steam plant’s turbines are designed to operate at very close tolerances at the temperature of the steam, It takes IIRC 16 hours to get a turbine up to operating temperature from a cold start before it can be brought on line. To bring the steam turbine online at short notice it would have to be kept at temperature via a constant steam feed.

  111. jim hogg, Glasgow says:
    March 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm
    funnelling slower waters into narrower streams and having reversible equipment that catches the flow in both directions – surely not beyond the modern mind
    ——————
    If we can put a man on the moon in 1969…

  112. ========================
    George E. Smith says:
    “”””” ColinW says:
    Are there any reliable sources to back this up other than “I have it on good authority from a marine engineer…”? “””””
    So Colin, who would then back up your “reliable sources” that you propose would back up the author’s Marine Engineer ?
    Would Connolleys wikipedia, be an authoritative enough source ? Why would anyone believe ANY opinion other than their own ?
    ========================
    markx says:
    ColinW : March 5, 2012 at 4:59 am
    aid: “….Are there any reliable sources to back this up other than “I have it on good authority from a marine engineer…?….”
    Common sense and logical thinking should give you a clue that he might be on the right track.
    ========================

    Unlike you guys I went and found something more concrete on the subject, which I posted near the top:
    Seems to be a shallow water problem from this article on scouring:
    “A question mark hangs over the long-term stability of Europe’s shallow-water turbines, after research linked to the Horns Rev 1 wind farm found that high-powered currents were causing the stone “armour” around the base of monopile foundations to collapse.”
    [http://www.rechargenews.com/energy/wind/article302545.ece]

  113. I think the first post by amicus curiae: March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am
    Coal fired power station $79 per kw/h (kilowatt/hour)
    may refer to mw/h as I pay $0.1499 per kw/h off-peak and $0.2499 peak power and get paid $0.68 kw/h for solar feed-in.

  114. cwj says:
    March 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    If that is an issue, you can have the steam turbine connected to the electrical generator via a clutch. Leave the steam turbine at idle speed. The exhaust can do other work in the meantime.

    I find 16 hours to warm up the steam turbine hard to believe if the boilers are up to temperature. I have an exhaust driven turbo charger on my truck, similar to a steam turbine. It also has close tolerances. It comes up to speed within seconds. 16 hours must be related to heating the boiler.

  115. “All of it is theft by people who have discovered the enormous advantages of a law degree and suit, over a gun and mask.”

    When it’s finally shut down, and the thieves are exposed and (hopefully) gutted of their profits, and when we find a way to clean up governmental systems so that presidents can’t give their buddies billions to pursue such obviously worthless busywork, and when we refine those systems to such an extent that we no longer see that every retiring politician and his family and his friends have mysteriously become billionaires during his time in office, you’ll be thanking the lawyers who were responsible for those changes.

    Yes, there are enormous advantages to having a law degree, but that’s true whether you’re a thief or a reformer. If you need to demonize people in easily-recognized subgroups, demonize thieves, not lawyers.

  116. Budgenator says:
    March 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    If you want your wind-farm to do well, the secret is the fertilizer, put down a good layer of unicorn manure and the crop will take right off!
    ——————————————————-
    The crop yields from the unicorn manure are undeniably excellent (for those that own uncicorn farms – they don’t call it funny money for nothing).

    For the rest of us who have families to feed – not so good.

    Makes me sick. They treat us peasants like, well, peasants.

    The sea is a cruel mistress – no way yer gettin’ yer money back, cap’n.

    Specifically on the subject of off-shore windfarms I agree totally with other commenters that 25 yrs operating life is pure BS.

  117. And its not simply the sand and gravel foundations that are a worry.

    I have kept an eye on many modern marine constructions, including shipping, and even those using copious amounts of stainless steel and constant maintenance are hard pressed to keep the structure corrosion free. These windelecs, with all their delicate moving parts and electronic, and none up there every day with the grease gun and paint-pot, are never going to last the decades.

    I fly over these wind fields (wind carpets according to the Danish) daily, and the number of windelecs not facing into wind and turning is alarming (but predictable).

    .

  118. All I want to say here is :

    5)The molten salt reactor can react to load changes in less than 60 seconds (unlike “traditional” solid-fuel nuclear power plants)

    from wiki:
    The molten salt reactor offers many potential advantages:[5]

    1) inherently safe design (safety by passive components and the strong negative temperature coefficient of reactivity) using an abundant supply of thorium to breed uranium-233 fuel.
    2) much cleaner: as a full recycle system, the discharge wastes from the reactor are predominately fission products, most of which have relatively short half lives compared to longer-lived actinide wastes. This can result in a significant reduction in the containment period in a geologic repository (300 years vs. tens of thousands of years)
    3) can “burn” some problematic radioactive waste (with transuranic elements from traditional solid-fuel nuclear reactors)
    4) possible even in small, even 2–8 MW(thermal) or 1–3 MW(electric). Submarine or aircraft size is possible
    5) can react to load changes in less than 60 seconds (unlike “traditional” solid-fuel nuclear power plants)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor

    Let’s try Thorium.

  119. jim hogg, Glasgow @ 1:30 pm “I think you need to take a trip out to one of the thousands of areas where there is a rapid tidal flow for upwards of 18 hours a day. And even where it’s not rapid – around most of our less rugged and varied shores – the key thing is that there is considerable flow over a vast area . . . . funnelling slower waters into narrower streams and having reversible equipment that catches the flow in both directions – surely not beyond the modern mind – are just two of the methods by which even a modest and variable flow can be captured.”

    It would flow a predictable amount of time per day, but just as predictably the flow would slow to a stop twice a day at times rotating through the day, sometimes no flow corresponding to peak demand. It would save fuel, but would require a backup.

  120. The relative costs per kWh output over the lives of various electric power plants utilizing various technologies have been readily available for years to anyone with a calculator, a bit of curiosity and a rudimentary understanding of cash-flow analysis. I’ve lain out those numbers in comments on this site several times. That some governments have traveled so far up the financial dead-end path of wind and solar power generation while many of their citizens cheered them on tells something about institutional and group behavior we should all find frightening.

  121. climatereason says: March 5, 2012 at 10:37 am
    I agree about nuclear but no nation is likely to use it as their primary source of power at present, just as a small part of the overall mix, if they use it at all
    tonyb.
    ———————————————————
    China, France, Russia, Korea, India, and there’s forward motion in the Baltics. There are 37 large nukes under construction in Asia. Reference: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf47.html There’s even hope for the USA increasing its nuke share, with Watts Bar, Bellefonte, and Vogtle making progress. As for throttling capability, the owners have strong incentive to run at full capacity, as most of the cost is building the things. Fuel is cheap and the work force costs the same at part throttle. And the utilities get credit for CO2 reduction. (This is important in some jurisdictions)

  122. shows Availability factor of nuclear is on the decline and currently less than 80%

    Shows a majority of Nuclear plants are older than 25 years and a substantial number are older than 35years. Decommissioning that lot will cost!

  123. climatereason says on March 5, 2012 at 10:37 am:

    rationaldb8

    I agree about nuclear but no nation is likely to use it as their primary source of power at present, just as a small part of the overall mix, if they use it at all

    tonyb.

    When was France demoted in status as a ‘nation’ ?

    (Did your forefathers get stared down Napoleon or something?)

    “Nuclear power is the primary source of electric power in France. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country’s total production of 540.6 TWh of electricity was from nuclear power (78.8%), the highest percentage in the world.”
    – wiki world

  124. @1DandyTroll: it doesn’t matter what the EU says or doesn’t say about the lifespan of wind turbines. Twenty years life expectancy has been standard from the manufacturers for decades. In fact if you read Vestas technical specifications, you discover that the full lifespan is only achieved by performing at no greater than 75% of nominal rating. Operating for extended periods of time at full capacity greatly shortens the life of the turbine. So that 1 MW wind turbine you bought is only a 750 kW machine, because you’re going to shut it down every time wind speed would cause it to exceed that amount.

  125. Funny how “the convential wisdom” or “the meme” of AGW and/or peak oil has penetrated and settled into even the skeptical minds here.

    Nuclear fuel must be mined and distilled from diffuse sources. It can be a costly process and it is not unlimited in supply. It evenually leaves waste which requires disposal.

    Coal mining disturbs vast tracts of surface and also leaves waste requiring disposal.

    We have a vast supply of natural gas stored in shale, probably all over the world. It is cheap to produce and generates no waste requiring disposal.

    We also have great reserves of oil contained in shales, which could be used to produce plastic products for centuries to come. Thanks to the aforesaid shale gas, we can reduce the amount of oil we wastefully burn.

    So why all this argument over “alternatives”?

    Is there nothing important left to wring our hands over? Are we so habituated to drama that we have to create it from nothing? When will we allow ourselves to enjoy the peace and comfort we have found?

  126. Load following with nuclear power plants actually reduces their energy availability factor. Because of the inefficiencies and fuel burn issues, it necessitates more frequent refueling. That’s why you’ll note that France’s avail. factor is lower than the USA’s and some other nations. As to other data, here’s some that may be useful or of interest, from: http://world-nuclear.org/info/default.aspx?id=406&terms=availability%20factor

    Sixteen countries depend on nuclear power for at least a quarter of their electricity. France gets around three quarters of its power from nuclear energy, while Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia and Ukraine get one third or more. Japan, Germany and Finland get more than a quarter of their power from nuclear energy, while in the USA one fifth is from nuclear. Among countries which do not host nuclear power plants, Italy gets about 10% of its power from nuclear, and Denmark about 8%.

    Fuel for Electricity Generation
    Improved performance from existing nuclear reactors

    As nuclear power plant construction returns to the levels reached during the 1970s and 1980s, those now operating are producing more electricity. In 2007, production was 2608 billion kWh. The increase over the six years to 2006 (210 TWh) was equal to the output from 30 large new nuclear power plants. Yet between 2000 and 2006 there was no net increase in reactor numbers (and only 15 GWe in capacity). The rest of the improvement is due to better performance from existing units. In 2007 performance dropped back by 50 TWh due to plant closures in Germany, UK and Japan.

    In a longer perspective, from 1990 to 2006, world capacity rose by 44 GWe (13.5%, due both to net addition of new plants and uprating some established ones) and electricity production rose 757 billion kWh (40%). The relative contributions to this increase were: new construction 36%, uprating 7% and availability increase 57%.

    One quarter of the world’s reactors have load factors of more than 90%, and nearly two thirds do better than 75%, compared with about a quarter of them in 1990. For 15 years Finnish plants topped the performance tables, but the USA now dominates the top 25 positions, followed by Japan and South Korea.

    US nuclear power plant performance has shown a steady improvement over the past twenty years, and the average load factor now stands at around 90%, up from 66% in 1990 and 56% in 1980. This places the USA as the performance leader with nearly half of the top 25 reactors, the 25th achieving more than 98%. The USA accounts for nearly one third of the world’s nuclear electricity.

    In 2009 and 2010 nine countries averaged better than 80% load factor, while French reactors averaged 73%, despite many being run in load-following mode, rather than purely for base-load power.

    Some of these figures suggest near-maximum utilisation, given that most reactors have to shut down every 18-24 months for fuel change and routine maintenance. In the USA this used to take over 100 days on average but in the last decade it has averaged about 40 days. Another performance measure is unplanned capability loss, which in the USA has for the last few years been below 2%.

  127. re post by: climatereason says: March 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I agree about nuclear but no nation is likely to use it as their primary source of power at present, just as a small part of the overall mix, if they use it at all. tonyb.

    Hi Tony,

    I agree that it’s unlikely that nations will move towards using it as a primary source if they’re not already. But if you’ll recall, I was replying to your comment:

    climatereason says: March 5, 2012 at 5:30 am …The only way forward (assuming we don’t see sense with shale gas) is to use the ocean via waves/tidal power. tonyb

    I accepted your stipulation wrt shale gas, which would make the most sense… and therefore replied that “Nuclear would make vastly more sense than wave/tidal.” One has to consider, aside from all the problems with wave/tidal still not being developed enough to be commercial (and who knows when or if it ever will be), and who knows what environmental/fish kill/other problems will wind up being an issue, that many nations don’t even have an ocean on their borders! The USA has huge ocean borders, and yet I’d hate to imagine what extensive installations would be necessary to power our vast interior with wave/tidal power….

    Also to: Dave Worley says: March 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm
    On the contrary, peak oil hasn’t sunk in here at all, and we aren’t drinking the alarmist’s kool-aid in this regard (please note my comment above). Quite a few of us argue against the idea any time it comes up. That said, we certainly have noted the all too common absurdities and ridiculous political decisions being made all over the world when it comes to energy issues – and so we debate the pros and cons of various ‘alternatives’ being discussed, because right now some very counterproductive actions are being taken by far too many trying to reduce CO2 emissions. Besides, we really like to toss around ideas and information about all sorts of things, learning more in the process. If all we did was say “it’s clear there are plenty of fossil fuels available, and with frakking, for some nations natural gas is likely to be very cheap and plentiful, so that’s all we ought to consider or discuss….. well, things would get very boring here very quickly, no?

  128. kbray in california says:
    March 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm (responding to)

    cwj says:
    March 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    If that is an issue, you can have the steam turbine connected to the electrical generator via a clutch. Leave the steam turbine at idle speed. The exhaust can do other work in the meantime.

    I find 16 hours to warm up the steam turbine hard to believe if the boilers are up to temperature. I have an exhaust driven turbo charger on my truck, similar to a steam turbine. It also has close tolerances. It comes up to speed within seconds. 16 hours must be related to heating the boiler.

    Your car’s turbo-charger responds that quickly because it weights a few ounces, and has a 2 to 3 inch diameter. It is compressing a few lbs of gasses to a few inches of pressure over nominal.

    A (large) power plant turbine is housed in a cast steel envelope machined to those 1/10000 of an inch at each of 12 24 inch diameter shaft bearings, and to 1/1000 of an inch clearance at the tips of several hundred turbine blades mounted in a 150,000 lb rotor turning at 3600 rm (60 times a second) generating 900 Megawatt to 1200 Megawatt of energy: millions of horsepower. That entire machine has to be warmed up evenly and smoothly each startup so it DOESN’T vibrate and rub and destroy itself. AS it warms, the tops of each blade are in the hot steam at the top of the turbine cover, while the bottom of the blades 12 feet to 18 feet below are in the cooler air of the condenser. Forget the high pressure turbine casings, just that change in temperature across the LP rotors will bend the 200 foot long machine and cause rubs.

    Got a turbine already warm? Already on the turning gear? Boiler already hot? Who’s going to pay to keep it that way? Regulators won’t let you steam out-of-spec, and you can’t burn fuel inside the limited enviro spec’s unless you’re near rated air flow and temperature!

    Smaller ones? Like a 150 Megawatt to 280 Megawatt gas turbine? Sure, you can start those faster – if you’ve kept them turning and kept their lube oil and generators warms and near-operating temeprature. But then again, you better plan on tearing them down every 24 month, replacing all the blades and worn tip seals and inspect for casing cracks and blade damage. And, by the way, plan on another 120,000.00 to 280,000.00 extra dollars for crack repairs in the 25 foot diameter 1/2 inch thick, high-chrome-stainless steel exhaust manifold from those over-fast heatups to 1200 degrees.

  129. Ah, foundations. I know a bit about those.There was a time, in the mid-1990s I think, when I thought windmills were a nifty idea. Free energy, like. I was working in construction when the world was going ape over this new revolutionary marvel that was, incidentally, going to provide a lot of years of work for our guys. There was no Anthony Watts and WUWT around at the time, so I was put right by a general labourer, an Italian gentleman of modest means and partial primary education. In a heavily accented, grammatically mangled, but a melodically pleasing and descriptively lavish language resembling English, he managed to explain to me how the foundation materials and labour for the foundation system alone would out-cost any possible profits from the energy these gizmos might, maybe, maybe just might generate. “But they would be cleaner,” I countered. And so, with the measured, patient demeanour of the ancient Roman construction maestro gently instructing a passing idiot, he explained to me that just the preparation for the projects alone would burn through…poofah-bang, capisce?…any good the windmill could produce even in two life spans. The amount of fuel this work would use up for the construction phase was considerable, but money being a form of energy as well, there would have to be a goodly amount of it too, to cover things like the ongoing transportation needs, accommodation and workplace facilities of personnel, not to mention legal, administrative, medical, licenses, fees insurance, etc. That was one of my many steps in the dharma of skeptical enlightenment, a near-mystical bodhi/awakening event introducing me to the imutable laws of boondoggles. Cripes, we’ve been fooled and ripped off again, havent we?

  130. RACookPE1978 says:
    March 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for that explanation. Your description is much larger than a turbine I saw at a hydro plant.

    I would try to improve that design by adding another steel shell with a vacuum outside the steel envelope to create a thermos effect to retain heat and keep it evenly distributed for a longer period of time. Electric wire heat strips on the envelope could also help keep it up to temperature for a more rapid restart. It sounds ornery and almost too big. The larger you make that turbine, the more everything is stressed to the limits of tolerance. I would design more and smaller turbines that could be “quickly” hoisted from position and replaced, then sent out for overhaul. However one big one like that is very impressive. Throwing blades must be quite the event. Probably not very tolerant of an earthquake’s violent shaking ?

  131. cwj says:
    March 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

    ….Your source does not include that the blender’s tax credit was ended last December, yet ethanol producers are still producing ethanol.

    While others have shut down their plants, because they could not absorb their losses.
    I am not in the ethanol-production business and don’t know why some producers still keep going while others shut down their plants, although I would say that the circumstances and reasons vary enormously with each producer and the location his plant is in.

    However, I seem to recall that what got perhaps all of them into the business of ethanol-production were government loan guaranties, and that those were given independently of the subsidies per gallon that the wholesalers or consumers had to pay later on.

    That makes me wonder whether all of the defaulted loans that the taxpayers are on the hook for will have been recovered by the time all subsidies stop and no more ethanol is being produced.

    Still, I did state that the source out of many others I pointed to (the second one on the list, right after Wikipedia) gives you an idea of why ethanol is being produced. I did not say that the one link out of very many gives you an exhaustive cash-flow analysis of the ethanol-for-fuel-production and -consumption scam.

  132. some British wag renamed these wind farms as ‘subsidy farms’, too true alright

  133. Shona says:

    March 5, 2012 at 12:12 pmAnd what love about it is that we sell a lot of it to Britain, so all those times the windmills are offline, British homes are running on nuclear lol.

    The UK is 20% Neuclear anyway. France is covered in wind farms.

  134. re post by: cwj says: March 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    If that is an issue, you can have the steam turbine connected to the electrical generator via a clutch. Leave the steam turbine at idle speed. The exhaust can do other work in the meantime.

    I find 16 hours to warm up the steam turbine hard to believe if the boilers are up to temperature. I have an exhaust driven turbo charger on my truck, similar to a steam turbine. It also has close tolerances. It comes up to speed within seconds. 16 hours must be related to heating the boiler.

    cwj, it sounds as if you’ve no understanding of the scale involved. See this good article, with photos: http://papundits.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/the-limitations-of-renewable-power-part-1/

    For a typical nuclear power plant, you’re talking a turbine that is about 36 ft long, and 15 to 20 ft wide, used to turn a generator that weighs between 250 to 400 TONS!! Their operating speed is between 3,000 to 3,000 rpm. You can’t do a cold start and spin up anything that massive terribly quickly, it’s just too much torque on the system, too much time to heat up, load & phase have to be balanced, etc. I’ve been on operating turbine decks (actually worked for a while in a room on the turbine floor. Even with ear plugs it’s still loud, and you feel it in your bones). I’ve also walked along and examined a turbine that wasn’t in it’s housing yet. The precision engineering that goes into them is incredible, all to keep it perfectly balanced and able to spin up without ripping itself, it’s housing, and anything in it’s path to shreds. Turbine missiles are carefully planned for, shielding, and including the angle of the turbine so if it does go, it won’t take out anything critical. but you hope to heck you never see one. Frankly, it’s awe inspiring that mankind can build and safely operate such massively powerful things.

    It was on that turbine floor, in the room we had to work in temporarily that they actually had a spider infestation. These were very very knarly BIG brown mottled FAST spiders who lived up on the ceiling, two stories above. They’d wind up coming down on their blasted strings all too often. The guys played macho of course, acting as if the spiders didn’t bother them, but you could tell they didn’t like them at all either, gave us all the willies. smooshed spider all over the floor too where we’d roll a chair leg over ‘em if they were on the floor, or pop them with a step or book as the case may be. I was the newbie, and the only woman too in a bunch of men who were pipefitters or various engineers and operators, supervisors, etc, and basically just used to being crass and crude without thought. The types that just looooooooved to test a woman and be sure she’s not too thin skinned or emotional.

    So I knew beyond shadow of doubt that probably the first day, maybe the second, I would magically discover one of the biggest nastiest spiders in my hardhat AFTER I’d put it on. Or in my books or papers. Or on my chair…. well, you get the idea. They’d be sure to get me. So I Figured I had to do something to head the spider friends off at the pass. Get outside, work in the dirt getting all dusty and nasty, or work on my car and get all greasy, or work with the horses, etc., and I’m fine, I don’t mind it at all Bugs, now I DO mind bugs. I REALLY mind bugs. So it was important to figure out a good way to head off all the upcoming spidy attacks from the guys. So I came back after having been out working for a bit, and everyone was there… the biggest, nastiest spider I’d seen yet just strolls right down it’s string in front of me. A couple of the guys happened to see it and were watching to see my reaction, so this was the perfect opportunity.

    When that spider was nearly to the ground, I reached up about eye level and got that spiders string between thumb and forefinger, and snapped if off, so I had my new pet monster on it’s string walking around. The second he felt me messing with his string, he started swarming right back UP the string towards my hand. Time to start the game of Spider Yo. I started bouncing my hand up and down, which of course bounced him up and down… that slowed him a little, but not much, he was still coming up the string – so I bounced him a LOT harder. Yet he was STILL managing to slowly come up the string!! Well, I was getting a little desperate, but no way I was going to show that to the guys, no, I was all calm and coolness, just playing my little game of spider yo-yo. At this point I had ALL the guys crowded in as close as they dared (NO ONE wanted to risk touching that spider!). I’m bouncing that spider, and bouncing, almost flinging him down each stroke, but he’s just hanging on, that durned spider was NOT going to come off that string for anything – and *I* was not going to let it get up to my hand either, no WAY. Most of the guys were rooting for me, a few for the spider. Everyone was breaking out laughing, inbetween a few exclamations and sequels, especially if the spider happened to get thrown a little in their direction. But this blasted spider, was STILL coming up the string slowly.

    I started bouncing him off the floor. That buggar STILL hung on!! Finally, when it was about 6 inches from my hand, I swept my hand sideways so the string had to go across the edge of the desk, and that broke it off onto the desk and off of my hand (thank gawd!!!). Whole thing took very little time, happened really fast. The guys thought it was absolutely hilarious. Thus I’d created the game of spider yo, and all the guys had to try it themselves. Everyone was nervous, scared the spider might win and actually make it to your hand. One of the funniest was a fellow who tended to be a bit of a braggart got this really big spidey, and that sucker was unstoppable and ungodly fast. When it got a foot or so from his hand, he got panicky and tried my patented “sweep the string onto the desk in such a way that it transfers.” He tried it, no joy! String still stuck to him even after several tries. And now he’s getting almost panicky, and he finally managed to scrape the spider off it’s string when it was inches from his hand! He was white and sweating at the end, and we were all laughing like mad.

    A few of the guys were pretty spider phobic too, like I was, and they worked just as hard to act as if they were completely unbothered by the spideys. Which meant that they felt they HAD to play a game of spider yo at least once or twice, just to prove their manhood (and avoid finding spiders in their stuff!) I know those ONLY tried spider yo a time or two because they felt that I, a soft delicate (ha-ha!) woman had done it and they couldn’t be shown up by a woman!! You could tell all the guys felt a bit that way about the spiders, I mean, heck, we’re all human. But, there was never a single spidey in my hardhat, or books, or desk, or chair, SUCCESS!!! So, even tho I had the absolute willies inside when I started the game, I sure didn’t let them know it, and the game of spidey-yo was out outrageously successful. I’m sure the spidey’s may have a different view on the issue. Regardless, it did loosen things up a little, provide a little laughter amidst the secretive terror. {VBG} It even got to be a thing of pride to find the biggest, toughest, nastiest looking spider and win at spider yo. (you win if the spider drops off his string before he gets to your hand or before he’s so close to your hand that you have to scrape/transfer his string off your hand onto some other surface.(where upon they were summarily dispatched with book, or shoe, or roller on the chair leg). All it took was a little imagination and ingenuity to develop the game of spider yo-yo, the guts to actually play it the first time, and the ability to pretend to be much cooler about it than I was – and presto, I got along great with all those guys the entire time we worked together. Anyhow, there’s the end of my meandering off into old memories for you all, as I’m sure you’ll be glad to know.

    So, back to the point. A number of other turbines can be seen using bing: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=nuclear+power+turbine&qpvt=nuclear+power+turbine&view=large&FORM=VBCIRL#x0y783

  135. From RACookPE1978 on March 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm:

    A (large) power plant turbine is housed in a cast steel envelope machined to those 1/10000 of an inch at each of 12 24 inch diameter shaft bearings, and to 1/1000 of an inch clearance at the tips of several hundred turbine blades mounted in a 150,000 lb rotor turning at 3600 rm (60 times a second) generating 900 Megawatt to 1200 Megawatt of energy: millions of horsepower.

    My machinist knowledge says something sounds off. The shaft and the housings at the bearings being machined to a tenth (tenth of a thou, tenth of a thousandth of an inch) isn’t much of a problem, such a sizing for a press-fit bearing is not special, although at that size five tenths could be acceptable. More believable as a number would have been a tolerance on the size of +/- a tenth.

    But only a thou clearance blade tip to housing on a monster that size? Credulity strained, broken, disintegrated into fine shrapnel. For a steel housing, I could believe you can get a thou distortion from moving a housing section from horizontal to vertical, at least, thanks to gravity. The housing would have to be much larger than the bore for the blade assembly, providing structural strength to the top part of the bore, to prevent such distortion, if even possible.

    I tried looking for steam turbine manufacturing specs, found the Alstom site with this pdf describing them, but no such info. But I can tell by looking, they are not holding a thou blade tip clearance on those brutes.

    I did find this page describing a new laser technique for measuring turbine tip to housing clearance, it specifies ~500 μm being measured. That’s about a 0.020″ clearance, which sounds much more believable. As mentioned when referring to Figure 3, something else to consider, while testing the new method in operation, the spacing changed during a throttle change. Yup, as the turbine spins faster, the diameter gets bigger, the spacing gets smaller. That’s just normal physics, as the centrifugal force “pulls” on the blade end and causes elastic deformation. For such large spinning rotors inside a non-rotating housing, allowing only a thou for clearance would be disastrous mis-engineering.

    BTW, in that Alstom pdf, pg 6, it says their turbines don’t need preheating before startup. Actually, going by that document, their turbines seem a lot more forgiving and flexible than what you have said about steam turbines in general. Might be worth a read to see what the current technology says is possible.

  136. Capell says:
    March 5, 2012 at 8:40 am
    For an authorative analysis of UK generation costs see:

    http://www.iesisenergy.org/lcost/

    Summarizing: coal, gas, nuclear and the Severn Barrage (now there’s a surprise) come in at about £60/MWh. onshore wind: £190/MWh, offshore wind £270/MWh………………..
    //////////////////////////////////////////

    Any one who has any experience in shipping/off-shore will know that the costs of maintenance with respect to the off-shore farms is grossly underestimated.

    The off-shore environment place a heavy toll on machinery and make maintenance difficult and expensive. The costs of maintenance will be considerably more than twice that of onshore wind, and I would not be surprised if it were even more than tripple.Assuming that the onshore estimate is accurate, a more realistic estimate for off-shore would be £400 to £600/MWH.

    In addition, there will be far more downtime since there will be many more periods when conditions will simply be too dangerous for maintenance to be carried out.

    I would not be surprised if one sees a life expentancy for off-shore generators of around 5 to 7 years; they becoming uneconomic to repair after this length of time.

    When this fiasco is over the shit will hit the fan as wind energy is so patently flawed and it does appear that many of those in power or with influence are directly or indirectly benefactors of this policy. There will be shrill cries to follow the money.

  137. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 6, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Remember what you are measuring: Bearing surface tolerances include various “waviness” (imagine the high frequency ripples on a water surface caused by a rock landing on the water) while wind-driven waves produce a larger, slightly longer wave shape. At the same time, the tide is changing the whole height of the surface. All variations have to be machined out to within spec, and each has a differeent specification at different places on the bearing. Its more than just diameter and length. In turn, the location of the bearing (in terms of x, y, and z) and its angle w/r to the theoretical shaft centerline at different temperatures (in terms of pitch, roll, and yaw) have additional tolerances.

    Tips are machined to that close a tolerance, but the machining tolerance is not the final “fit” into the turbine casing and tip seals. That total clearance between “everything” allows for the differential growth between the casing, the liner, the seals, the turbine blade, and the net air gap for the labyrinth seals. Also, the blade tip clearance (cold) has to be measured w/r to the growth of the rotor itself radially and the blade root margins for all 60 blades in that row.

    If I have just 6 parts, and all six parts have meet their +0.002 tolerance band, I still get a blade rub because the total difference is 0.012 inch – which causes the blade tip to hit the casing when the net 0.010 margin is exceeded. At 700 mph.

  138. My BS meter clangs every time someone starts pushing nice reliable tidal power. Immersing spinning devices in salt water and keeping them from turning into scrap in fairly short order is a very trying business. Maintenance would be almost unimaginably difficult and expensive. If you think accessing 600′ high turbines in the sea is fun, just try the same thing underwater, with 100X more massive devices!

    Clang! Clang!

    P.S. The O&M budgets for windmills, land or sea-based, are total fantasies. There aren’t, to begin with, enough mechanics and techs who can stand working unsupported at those heights… only a smallish minority of those with the requisite skills can handle existing tower repairs, and wind turbines are much worse (smooth aerodynamic support poles not the least of the reasons.) Further, the sites are (necessarily) windy, which makes access far more dangerous.

    Beyond that, the internal turbines and rotors have limited tolerance for angular changes in force (just a few degrees), and few sites have co-operatively directionally consistent winds.

    Literally stupidity on stilts.

    Clang! Clang!

  139. I suspect that the primary use of wind power in the post-carbon era will be what it was in the past, for shipping, unless we learn how to release the potential nuclear energy of thorium on a large scale. I seriously doubt that the energy return on investment would make these complex wind-power systems practical on a planet where many scarce critical resources have been utterly depleted. That state of depletion will probably not be an issue for any of us alive today, but the crunch-off of exponentially increasing usage may be upon us now or soon in the not too distant future.

    On the decline of the Roman Empire, it has been stated that there was no fixed point in time where the average citizen would mark that their civilization was gradually going downhill, until the barbarians finally sacked the city.

  140. ****
    Rational Db8 (used to post as Rational Debate) says:
    March 6, 2012 at 4:23 am

    It was on that turbine floor, in the room we had to work in temporarily that they actually had a spider infestation. These were very very knarly BIG brown mottled FAST spiders who lived up on the ceiling, two stories above.
    ****

    Yeah, the plant where I worked was spider infested, especially in the fall as it got colder & they all migrated from the outside of the building to the inside (or underneath the precipitators). Didn’t usually bother me, but one autumn while underneath the precipitator on the catwalks among the bottom-hoppers where it’s warm, I suddenly realized I was enclosed by hundreds, no thousands of webs each w/their fat owner in the middle. Felt like Hitchcock’s “The Birds” movie. Spiders apparently don’t mind sulfur-dioxide…

  141. From time to time I have my conceptual misunderstandings corrected by the knowledgable folks that frequent this blog. Thank you: RACookPE1978, kadaka (KD Knoebel), Rational Db8, and others.

    Comparing a green windmill to a behemoth thermal steam turbine generator is like comparing one grain of sand to a cubic yard of sand… they are magnitudes apart. The steam turbine output cannot be duplicated by current green energy devices. It’s like removing your car’s engine and replacing it with bicycle pedals… it will work, the car will move, but not even close to its prior performance.

    Steam turbines can provide the power we need. Nuclear generated steam is the greenest non-carbon source of steam we currently have available. The other mosquito solutions are a waste of time and money.

    We need a massive buildout of nuclear power now to satisfy the warming interests regarding CO2 and to provide the power our growing world population requires. Get serious or else don’t bother.

  142. Spector says:
    March 6, 2012 at 6:40 am

    I suspect that the primary use of wind power in the post-carbon era will be what it was in the past

    Powering politicians?

  143. Jim Hogg. Thank you for your comment.
    Better if you try and lose the snark a little because more people would engage with you .( “a little learning”. “If understanding such as yours is widespread amongst those who would make judgements in such matters, then perhaps that explains the lack of developent.” {Your spelling mistake not mine}) This is not SkS.
    I drove rig supply boats around the North of Scotland, occasionally shooting the inner passage at Stroma for the fun of it before the Coastguard got radar, so I am quite well informed about tides. I would suggest you read the following, as I did, from the University of Strathclyde. http://www.esru.strath.ac.uk/EandE/Web_sites/03-04/marine/index2.htm Their conclusions are interesting but my point stands that there are few areas where this technology is useful and that peering out of the window at the overfalls off the Mull of Galloway does not make it into a useful tidal stream. Neither the technology or the infrastructure exist currently for tidal power so it is in much the same ballpark as Thorium reactors, Warp engines, and the controlled black hole from the Mekon. Damming the Clyde and the Forth would be a much better option. Roll on Scottish Independence.

  144. I am currently in France and my last electricity bill showed 82% nuclear power and 9% hydro plus a few minor contributors. There are a few incidents at the power stations, mostly in support structures, but the reactors themselves cause very few problems. There have been no deaths from nuclear contamination, The only major issue has been the availability of cooling water during dry spells. New generation reactors do not have this problem nor do they make fissile material as I understand it. Greenpeace was formed with the intent to destroy the nuclear industry and in the UK they were pretty much successful, resulting in the deaths of countless coal miners, gas rig workers, and many more from respiratory disease, not forgetting the deterioration of buildings due to sulphur etc.

    Now Greenpeace have thrown their weight behind wind turbines.

    I rest my case.

  145. I’d like to know if the low frequency vibrations will drive the fish away. It will certainly affect whales who communicate via low frequency. PETA should be in an uproar.

  146. Here’s a comment from 93′, in an apparent discussion regarding hurricane damage, that gives a brief but good idea of startup issues. You’ll also note that apparently the NRC put the kabosh on hot standby post TMI (e.g., the idea that has been mentioned in this thread a few times, of keeping a nuclear plant at operating temperatures, while bypassing the turbine, to allow quicker return to electrical production or some load following). http://yarchive.net/nuke/nuclear_plant_startup.html

  147. Whilst I am at it. I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to hold a rig boat under a crane in 30 foot waves but if they expect someone to approach a tower structure with a rig tender and land a maintenance crew who will have to climb the structure with all their kit then best of luck. And if their idea is to fly a sikorsky through the blades, even with the brakes on, and drop the guys on the top then good luck with that too. Glad I am retired.

  148. re post by: Disko Troop says: March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Whilst I am at it. I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to hold a rig boat under a crane in 30 foot waves but if they expect someone to approach a tower structure with a rig tender and land a maintenance crew who will have to climb the structure with all their kit then best of luck. And if their idea is to fly a sikorsky through the blades, even with the brakes on, and drop the guys on the top then good luck with that too. Glad I am retired.

    I see a new reality tv series on the way. “Windworkers” or some such. Bringing you the dangerous and difficult travails of the offshore windmill crews. Along the lines of “Dangerous Catch” or “Ice Road Truckers” but in the treacherous waters of the Northwest Sea!

  149. Stas Peterson says:
    March 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Commercial Fusion is probably as close [as thorium], and won’t need anywhere near that amount of time to secure a license, because they are inherently safe. They can’t run away; and there is no great store of radioactive materials in a Fusion reactor to fear. If you don’t work very hard to maintain the appropriate conditions, the thermonuclear fire just goes out.

    I’m definitely not up on current state of fusion research, but I don’t believe even 1 single net watt of power has been generated by all the fusion reactors built to date. And I believe the longest sustained fusion reaction is measured in seconds. Please correct me & provide references if I’m wrong.

    [brief pause while I do my own research …]
    According to Wikipedia see here:

    As of July 2010[update], the largest experiment by means of magnetic confinement has been the Joint European Torus (JET). In 1997, JET produced a peak of 16.1 megawatts (21,600 hp) of fusion power (65% of input power), with fusion power of over 10 MW (13,000 hp) sustained for over 0.5 sec. Its successor, ITER, was officially announced as part of a seven-country consortium.[1] ITER is designed to produce ten times more fusion power than the power put into the plasma. ITER is currently under construction in Cadarache, France.

    Yale University built a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine co-gen facility in 1993 that produces 16 megawatts on a reliable basis whenever they need it while the best fusion research reactor to date can sustain barely 10 megawatts for a half second. And it takes 7 countries pooling their resources together to build a bigger one? This indicates to me we’re a long way from practical fusion power.

    I’m not a nuclear engineer but I know successful thorium reactors have been built going back to 1965 and anything which produces heat can be used to generate power. So I really can’t agree with your assertion above.

  150. @Alan Watt;
    I think that “meso-fusion”, to coin a term, is in a forbidden zone. The Plasma Gods will permit stellar plasma fusion — and micro-fusion. Containment of chaotic potent turbulence is one of the biggies, and neutron flux is the other.

    Check out the micro side, generically called DPF (Dense Plasma Focus) at LPPhysics.com . Their project, “Focus Fusion”, tiny and privately funded though it is, is the closest by far to unity (break-even) of the known (non-black) programs. It uses physics judo to exploit instability to produce an imploding “plasmoid”. Working with deuterium in the test phase, it will soon advance to proton-boron fuel. That is “aneutronic”; the only outputs are alpha particles (helium-4 ions) and electrons. The latter are fed back into the plasma pulses, and the former are squirted out in a beam which will pass through a series of solenoids to “drain” the current into capacitors. X-ray “brehmstrahlung” is both minimized by the tuning of the fusion “temperature” and mag fields and harvested in a shell of thousands of foil layers. Mild shielding suffices to protect from the slow neutron and gamma radiation from stray “side reactions”; the immediate enclosure is expected to be “below background” within 9 hrs of shutdown for refueling, maintenance, etc.

    The net output is pure electricity, neutralized helium, and a low-grade waste heat (perhaps usable for building heating, etc., but probably not worth exploiting). So: no steam turbines required or involved. Capital and operating costs are on the order of 5% of the best/cheapest coal facilities. Fuel cost is negligible (boron is very abundant), <$10/MW-year. The geometry and physics restrict the individual generator size to the 5-25MW range, depending on the advances of cooling tech (for the electrodes). Total footprint of an installation about the size of a home garage. Servicing every few months, a day or two downtime.

    Scientific break-even likely this year (subject to about another $750K in funding on top of the ~$2 million spent since late 2008, when the experimental rig was built). Thereafter, another $20-40 on mass-production prototype refinement over 3-4 yrs should see a licensable design to be made inexpensively available to all interested manufacturers, world-wide.

    It renders the entire CO2/warming discussion moot, as it makes distributed waste-free power available everywhere.

  151. Timeline clarification: the FF (Focus Fusion) experimental rig was funded late 2008, and completed and began running in fall ’09. It has advanced rapidly from the point reached >10 yrs ago when DoE was instructed to cease funding all fusion research except tokamak designs by Congress. Progress has been held back by about 40-50% by the need to engineer in-house and commission custom components to replace under-performing commercial-grade switches etc., with only skeleton staffing (about 3 FT and 3 PT, depending on priorities and funding, at any given time).

  152. From RACookPE1978 on March 6, 2012 at 5:30 am:

    Remember what you are measuring: Bearing surface tolerances include various “waviness”…

    Yup, and down to a tenth you’re normally talking a grinding operation, although these days there are CNC lathes that are rigid enough with advanced tooling that can hold a tenth. But getting the right surface finish can be a bitch, it’ll look nice but the Surfometer says otherwise. And there is the “waviness” issue, if you’re taking your size off of sharp peaks then you’ll get fast wear. For shafts like that, they’ll be heat treated and hard, cylindrical grinding on the bearing surfaces is best. And it’s highly possible they’ll get a “thick” coating like hard chrome, so you grind under, send ‘em out for coating, then grind down the coating to the spec.

    For the housing that holds the outside of the bearing, if it’s a small 1-piece press-in then the inside cylindrical surface may be honed, although inside cylindrical grinding is done. But for that size on those turbines, the outer housing would be expected to be multi-piece and bolted together around the bearing, thus the tolerances would be slightly more forgiving. Regular machining could be enough.

    Tips are machined to that close a tolerance, but the machining tolerance is not the final “fit” into the turbine casing and tip seals.

    So you simply misspoke, that thou was the machining tolerance of a part, not the clearance from tip to housing, as I surmised. Got it.

    If I have just 6 parts, and all six parts have meet their +0.002 tolerance band, I still get a blade rub because the total difference is 0.012 inch – which causes the blade tip to hit the casing when the net 0.010 margin is exceeded. At 700 mph.

    Well that’ll teach the engineers to specify tolerances better. For an assembly they could also specify a total length tolerance, and accept matched sets with that tolerance allowing individual pieces to vary more than, per example, about 1/6 total tolerance. Such problems do crop up, like four holes in a line spec’d at a common +/- 0.005″ spacing, then between the end holes you get +/- 0.015 variance and the customer squawks, but they never called out an end-to-end distance and tolerance. There are ways of calling out things on the print so those problems don’t happen, these days they also use geometric tolerances to control more things to try to eliminate those assembly time “The ******* doesn’t fit!” moments.

    Oh well, the dance continues. Engineers dream up the prints, machinists shape the reality. Give a machinist a tolerance, they will take it. If the engineers don’t like it then they should have specified better, expect it to take longer and cost more. Serves them right for drafting “impossible” parts. A sharp inside corner, under a ledge up to a wall that I’ll be machining with a Woodruff cutter? They deserve what they get.

  153. Human civilization used to rely on wind power for transportation: sailing ships. combustion propulsion systems took over in the 19th century and quickly eclipsed sailing ships in both size and speed. The simple fact is “free” wind power isn’t worth the uncertainty and necessarily smaller hull size. Today sail is only used for pleasure craft; when getting there really matters, you burn fuel.

    Wind turbines suffer from the same unyielding fact: the energy density simply isn’t there. No amount of clever engineering can overcome this.

  154. @Brian H.

    Thank you for the references, but if LP Physics can’t attract more funding than they show, I suspect this is a dead end. When James Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton set up their factory to build steam engines, they put a sign over the door which read “We sell what all the world wants to buy — power”. What was true then is much more so today. If you have any reasonable promise of a way to generate economical and clean power, the world most definitely will beat a path to your door.

    If LP Physics can’t get more than $2 million in funding, then either they are totally incompetent in making investor presentations, or the presentations just don’t hold together. Warren Buffet alone could triple their annual budget out of petty cash. Both he and Bill Gates would probably love to fund a promising clean energy technology. So why is LP Physics scraping along on such a tiny budget asking for donations of lab gear?

    I could easily be wrong, and in this case I would love to be wrong. But I don’t think so. Back to thorium, which has been shown to work with less risk than uranium.

    In any case, what you call stellar plasma fusion simply hasn’t paid off after 40+ years of research at a cost of I don’t know how many billion dollars. Even wind turbines would be a better investment. If you had to place a bet today for a reliable, scalable power technology not based on fossil fuel, what would it be?

  155. Rational Db8 : @march 6, 4:23Am

    “cwj, it sounds as if you’ve no understanding of the scale involved. See this good article, with photos”

    You are mis-attributing a comment by kbray In California to me. It was kbray who commented regarding his turbocharger after quoting a comment of mine.

  156. re post by: cwj says: March 6, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    My apologies for the mis-attribution cwj.

    To do blockquotes, immediately before the text you want to quote, type (hope this works and does print the command codes!) <blockquote> then just after the text you are quoting, be sure to close or finish the blockquote or it can mess up all the rest of the text in not only your own post, but sometimes the rest of the thread. The way you finish the blockquote is just by typing </blockquote>

    The carrots (or less than/greater than symbols tell the system that what is inside isn’t text to be printed, but a command to initiate. You always have to bracket the command with the carrots. The word inside the carrots,blockquote tells it what command to carry out. Then you tell it when to stop or turn off that command by using the same syntax, just with the “/” symbol immediately following the open carrot and in front of the command.

    So:

    <blockquote> = “turn on blockquote”
    </blockquote> = “turn off blockquote”

    You can find a lot of helpful tips along these lines at: http://wattsupwiththat.com/test-2/ There are only a relatively few commands that work on wordpress, so for the most part it’s not at all difficult to remember them once you’ve used them a few times. Then you can always go check the test page, or try out your text on the test page if you’re unsure or using one you don’t regularly use or aren’t sure if it’ll work on wordpress.

    I haven’t tried the firefox greasemonkey & CA assistant add ons mentioned on the test page, although I’ve been tempted. Have to admit I’ve been worried whether it might cause any conflicts or problems on firefox or not.

    There is another firefox add on that I have tried that works fairly well, called bbcode if I recall correctly… I found that once you know a few basic commands however, it seems just as quick to type them in yourself, so that’s what I typically do. Easier to accidentally miss a closing code that way tho! I’m not sure if there are any comparable add ons or scripts for other browsers.

  157. cwj said on March 6, 2012 at 8:56 pm:

    Someone knows how to block quotes – how is it done?

    A. The “helps many things” solution:
    Have Firefox, get the Greasemonkey plug-in, get CA Assistant which is a script that runs on Greasemonkey. All info at link. This gives you the very-helpful Preview button, and other useful buttons above the comment text box. For many options like bold, italics, and block quotes, you can highlight the text, click the button, the html code is inserted. Click without highlighting, you get the start and stop parts of the code and just fill-in-the-blank between. Also does hypertext links, just highlight, click, then input the address. I very nearly always use this for my block quotes.

    B. Go to the toolbar at the top of a WUWT page, click on Test for formatting tips, including block quotes.

    Block quotes can show up with funny line spacing, especially when you have one inside of another. The preview button with option A is very helpful for getting html in your comments to look good.

  158. RE: Stas Peterson: (March 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm)

    “Many so called nuclear power boosters but want “safer” thorium reactors are are somewhat confused. They will likely get neither. …
    “Commercial Fusion is probably as close, and won’t need anywhere near that amount of time to secure a license, because they are inherently safe. They can’t run away; and there is no great store of radioactive materials in a Fusion reactor to fear. If you don’t work very hard to maintain the appropriate conditions, the thermonuclear fire just goes out.”

    I do not think we should rule out any approach for providing an alternative source of power for the coming post carbon era. One reason that Dr. Chris Martinson gives for dismissing any quick technological silver bullet solution for the energy crisis is that it takes about forty years to make such a modal change and no such candidate is being developed. Fusion is potentially cleaner than fission reactors, but I do seem to recall a comment that there could be an issue with the gradual release of dangerous mutated elements into the atmosphere.

    The reason fusion has been so hard to develop is because extremely high pressures and temperatures are required to push two strongly-repelling positively charged nuclei close enough to join. In the case of fission, uncharged neutrons have no problem slipping into an atomic nucleus and making it unstable so that it either breaks apart or throws out an electron to move one-step higher on the periodic table. The liquid-salt thorium reactor has the potential advantage of safe, low-pressure operation and a continuous recycling operation that destroys almost all fissionable nuclei. The only radioactive materials left over are neutron-overloaded fission fragments that quickly decay, in most cases, by just throwing out electrons.

    Here is a video outlining a new proposed design for a 40 Megawatt prototype unit by Charles (Rusty) Holden:

    Charles Holden –
    Liquid Fueled Thorium Reactor 40 Megawatt Pilot Plant Outline
    @ TEAC3

    Uploaded by gordonmcdowell on Dec 30, 2011
    39 likes, 0 dislikes; 2,376 Views; 18:17 min
    “Charles S. Holden gives an overview of his 40 Megawatt Thorium Molten Salt Reactor design. No Plutonium Produced. No melt downs. No fuel rods. No cooling ponds. No 10,000+ year spent nuclear fuel storage.
    “Presented at the 3rd Thorium Energy Alliance Conference, in Washington DC”

  159. RDb8;
    Here’s one more wee control trick: before typing or pasting the material to be “tagged” (with blockquote or any other), create both the opening and closing tags. Then put the cursor between them and you can’t “forget” to close them!
    The CA Assistant Greasemonkey script works fine, though it displays a few options that aren’t actually enabled (sub- and super-script, underline, source code, TeX, and insert image). But the Preview is Priceless!!

    Oh, one or two (i.e., six) other add-ons you should explore:
    Ghostery
    Lazarus
    No-Script
    Read It Later
    Readability
    UnMHT

    :)

  160. Alan Watt says:
    March 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    @Brian H.

    Thank you for the references, but if LP Physics can’t attract more funding than they show, I suspect this is a dead end.

    So why is LP Physics scraping along on such a tiny budget asking for donations of lab gear?

    It seems to be too small. And Eric Lerner, the principal, will not sell voting stock, only participating shares. Not out of greed, but because he’s had a few brushes with the PTB, who find this an altogether TOO disruptive technology.

    Personally, I think it would be more along Elon Musk’s line. But he has controlling interest in Solar City, which would be some of the immediate economic roadkill if this comes to market (or is even proven feasible). That could/should happen this year, on the science side. The engineering seems surmountable over another 3-4 yrs., but even the likelihood would make investing in any renewable a mug’s game.

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