Climate Craziness of the Week: lighting up your windmill

I was in Newcastle, NSW AU on Wednesday night to give another lecture as part of the Australian speaking tour I’m doing. I had the pleasure of following David Stockwell in a presentation, and David Archibald followed me.

We were a bit late getting there due to airplane scheduling snafus, and as we rushed from the airport at 6:15 pm we passed the coal loading terminal at Newcastle. There, as if there was some madcap attempt at sustainability, was one of those huge wind turbines like I’ve seen on the US plains. I attempted to get a  photo, but my camera misfired with bad focus due to the car window, and I missed the shot.

The next morning, on the way to the airport again at 6AM, the windmill was still there, just like it was before. My driver (Anthony#2 of Team Anthony) gladly pulled over to allow me to get this shot as dawn crept in. I was incredulous that the shot hadn’t changed.

Ummm. I thought windmills were all about generating electricity, not using it. So why put torches on it that run all night? Want to bet the lighting power is coming from coal? While the turbine probably generates more power than it uses most nights, it sure seems odd.

Of course, maybe the people that run it really didn’t want a wind turbine in their coal town, and this torch lighting is their form of silent protest. Or, maybe they are proud of it and felt it needed to be illuminated all hours of the night. Maybe the lights are to warn off birds and small planes. Nobody seemed to know. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t help but be amused.

I don’t wish to demean the proud hard working people in Newcastle in any way, I just thought this was very odd and worth noting. Thanks to everyone who attended our talk. A special thank you to the two protesters handing out flyers at the city hall telling everyone how wrong we are.

https://i0.wp.com/cache.virtualtourist.com/978473-Town_Hall-Newcastle.jpg

Too bad you didn’t stick around to see what you were protesting about, you might have found it interesting. The flyers handed out were obviously written without the benefit of knowing what was being presented that night. Kids, do your homework.

Here is what the Newcastle wind turbine looks like during the day, note the coal terminal in the background.

From the Newcastle City Photos Blog:

Newcastle’s only big wind turbine seems to be reaching up to the sky for the breezes to keep the city running during the approaching night! Is this the future of energy, ‘free’ renewable and non polluting. For a city which has been based on technology we are slow to move on from the old coal based power structure. People want their power but what is the cost? Later generations will have to put up with the results of our excessive use and pollution it causes.

Background on Newcastle from Hunter Valley Eguide:

Newcastle lies approximately 160 kilometres north of Sydney. Newcastle is the seventh largest city in Australia and is the largest city which is not a state or federal capital. It has a population of approximately 300,000. Newcastle was founded on 30th March 1804 as a penal settlement, so has a selection of buildings old by Australian standards, as well as beaches, surf, impressive coastal scenery, bushland and a well-known lake. It is also an important port, especially for the export of coal, of which resource some 70 million tonnes passes through the city annually.

Thanks to Anthony, Sue and many others who helped out in Newcastle. On behalf of David Stockwell, David Archibald, and myself, I thank you for your hospitality and efforts.

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128 thoughts on “Climate Craziness of the Week: lighting up your windmill

  1. Anthony, I hope you are enjoying your tour of Australia and finding a little time for sightseeing as well as speaking. It’s a place I’d love to make an extended trip to. You noted you had just two protesters handing out leaflets. What was the mood of the audience in the Q&A?

  2. Well spotted Anthony. Isn’t it a wonderful system: they make you feel guilty about enjoying all that wealth the country is getting from coal (did you see the long line of coal container ships queueing for miles down the coast waiting to transport coal China?) then they assuage that guilt with a token windmill. Of course they have to light it up so everyone can feel shriven 24/7.

  3. Nice to see that the coal terminal doesn’t seem to have changed much since I used to load coal there in the mid 1960s to take to Japan. The plant used then, though, lifted the coal wagons over the hold and a man with a hammer knocked out a pin, opening the bottom of the truck causing the coal to fall. Very dusty. The last time I was there this had been replaced by state-of-the-art dust-free conveyor belts.
    The illuminated windmill will make a good night mark for the Newcastle Pilots I guess.

  4. Small typo. “…handing out flyers at the city hall telling everyone who [sic] wrong we are.”

  5. I have an idea, why not light up the solar panels? So the panels could produce energy 24h a day!

    Oh wait, they already had that idea (remember that story in Spain)….

  6. They have one of these on the top of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver. Haven’t turned it on yet. It even has an observation level for the public!

    http://www.grousemountain.com/Winter/about-us/sustainability/wind-turbine.asp

    Dispute keeps Grouse Mountain’s wind turbine from turning.
    BC Hydro not satisfied with project so it won’t sign off to allow electricity production on the ski hill.
    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Dispute+keeps+Grouse+Mountain+wind+turbine+from+turning/2877469/story.html

  7. Might be lit up so that folks not only have the whooshing noise at night, they can also have the flickering shadows on the bedroom curtains.

    Aussi, (French for Aussie), “…telling everyone who wrong we are.” should be “…telling everyone who right we are.”

  8. It was a pleasure having you in Newcastle Anthony.

    Newcastle is a schizophrenic town; on the one hand it is the world’s largest coal port; on the other it is a hub of ‘renewable’ energy expenditure [development of renewables is still an oxymoron given the manifest failures of renewable energy everywhere, so expenditure is a better description].

    Coal is still the only energy game in town with nuclear blocked, but coal is also still its own worst enemy with constant failures to deal with real pollution issues such as particulate matter from mining and transport.

    The ‘debate’ about AGW is well symbolised by the photo of the illuminated windmill; surreal.

  9. Newcastle is a nice town and the coal export facility is impressive. Nice to see Big Coal in action rather than little tiny coal which is all we have left in the UK.

    Perhaps the wind generator is there to demonstrate to those in the know how infrequently and unreliably these things actually generate electricity.

    Again in the UK, after the three months December to February 2010 where Big Wind generated 0.8% of our national electricity needs, the following three months showed improvement, with a stonking 0.83%.

    Meanwhile, I am absolutely humiliated to reveal that my own Professional Institution, the once proud Institution of Civil Engineers has fully signed up to the AGW scam:-
    http://iceconferences.ice.org.uk/ve/ZZ63j90G3197tj95Nr89/VT=0/stype=dload/OID=410617101529

    When Civil Engineers get into bed with WWF, National Geographic, The Carbon Trust, Internalional Emissions Trading Association and all the rest, I think it’s maybe time to hang my boots up.

    Note that one of the speakers is from Shell. That reminds me, Big Oil still haven’t sent me my cheque…..

    We are doomed. And not by Global Warming.

  10. Only two protesters? But you had five or six in Brisbane! Time to use Mike’s Nature trick to hide the decline :)

  11. Electricity prices are to rise down under by up to 64% because of power companies subsidising “free” energy from the sun. This is in the form of domestic solar collectors that can feed back into the grid and earn the consumer income at a much higher rate than the cost of power from the grid.

  12. The new statues to Green have been erected and lit.
    Do they collect tithes yet, or is that where you buy your carbon credits?

  13. I expect they were using low-energy bulbs.

    In the Antipodes the Ozzies get easily get confused on account of being upside down – all the blood rushing into their heads… poor things. The scam, as perfected in Spain, is supposed to be shining lights at night on solar arrays, not windmills, to generate power which can be sold at a higher price than that consumed to produce it.

  14. I live near a sizeable windfarm on top of one of the tallest hills in the Pennines. Unlike radio masts around the area, this windfarm doesn’t have any mounted aircraft warning lights. Two things struck me.. one, that the windfarm SHOULD have aircraft warning lights and two, that it would be impossible to get them “signed off” by the Health and Safety Executive if they were expected to be powered by the windmills they’re mounted on.

  15. Anthony – it’s a shame you can’t make it down to NZ whilst on your trip

    Our “all sectors, all gases” ETS is about to start in two weeks.

    If you do ever get a chance to drop by, you are most welcome here.

  16. “People want their power but what is the cost?” Good question. Exactly what does that power generated by that token turbine cost? Be sure to include all of the costs, from production, installation, operation, and decommissioning. Dollars to donuts it’s a lot more than people would like.
    “Later generations will have to put up with the results of our excessive use and pollution it causes” climate hysteria, and misguided and costly energy policies. There, fixed.
    The two “protesters” were probably just paid lackeys of Big Wind.

  17. It’s pretty clear now that the politicians will only abandon their carbon obsession when the general public become hugely sceptical of the Gore hypothesis.

    Here’s an idea for a poll: Question: “In comparing the energy produced by Newcastle’s windmill to the energy content of the coal passing through, which of these statements is most accurate: The windmill produces (a) More energy than the coal (b) half as much (c) one percent (d) a thousandth of one percent.

    Would anybody like to estimate the actual figure? I would guess that (d) is wildly overoptimistic. The educational value of such a survey would come when publishing the results: I reckon many a citizen of Australia, having plumped for (b) or (c), would be glad to discover just how trivial a contribution wind generation makes to energy supplies. “Every little helps,” they say. Well, actually no. Doesn’t help. Such tokenism actually hinders the energy security planning process.

  18. Obstruction lighting for the windfarms is an interesting challenge. In any radio antenna array consisting of more than one mast, when the masts are tall enough that regulations require them to use strobe warning lights, the lights must be synchronized to all flash simultaneously, to be less confusing for aircraft. This could be a challenge for a multi-turbine wind farm. The best answer to date is to put GPS-referenced clocks on them, and set them to all flash at the same time of day, correct to the millisecond. I think it is symbolic – all individuals must toe the line.

  19. Anthony:

    It makes perfect sense to illuminate wind turbines at night. Indeed, the illumination helps them to fulfil their true purpose.

    With respect, you are mistaken when you when you say;

    “I thought windmills were all about generating electricity, not using it.”

    That is not the purpose of wind turbines which supply to an electricity grid. If it were their purpose then they would not be built because no wind turbine provides any useful electricity to a grid at any time.

    Wind turbines operate intermittently: they only generate electricity when the wind is sufficiently strong but not too strong. So, they do not supply continuously available power to the grid. And thermal power stations take days to start up so they cannot be started and stopped so they have to keep operating during the times when wind turbines supply electricity. Hence, when wind turbines supply electricity to a grid they merely displace a thermal power station on to spinning standby (so the power station continues to operate with little if any reduction to its fuel consumption and emissions) or to operate at reduced output (so the power station operates at reduced efficiency that may increase – yes, INCREASE – its fuel consumption and emissions). I provide a more full explanation of this at
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    Wind turbines supplying to an electricity grid have the same primary purpose as the Great Walls of China.

    The Great Walls had a tertiary purpose of military defence, but they were grossly excessive for that.

    The Great Walls had a seondary purpose of military deterence: people approaching them would fear what they would confront if they attacked those with the power to build, maintain and man such structures. But the Ming Wall near Beijing is in the wrong place for that purpose.

    The primary purpose of the Great Walls was political propoganda.

    The Great Walls were large, covered the tops of hills over large distances, and so could be seen for miles. Subjects of China’s Emperor would see the Great Walls whenever they saw the hills. Thus, they were reminded that the Emperor was so powerful he build, maintain and man such structures, and the Emperor had the power to take taxes from his subjects to pay for all that.

    Wind farms are large, cover the tops of hills over large distances, and so can be seen for miles. Citizens of a country that builds wind turbines can see the wind turbines whenever they see the hills. Thus, they are reminded that their government is so ‘green’ that it can build, maintain and man such structures, and the government has the power to take taxes from its citizens to pay for all that.

    No more powerful method of political statement has been discovered for two millenia. And governments will continue to subsidise wind turbines that supply to an electricity grid until either the governments no longer feel a need to proclaim ‘green’ credentials or an equally effective method for the proclamation is devised.

    But wind turbines cannot be seen in the dark. Hence, they do not fulfil their function at night unless illuminated. So, illuminating wind turbines makes perfect sense.

    Richard

  20. A post script to my previous message.

    Three Chinese dynasties – the Xing, Han and Ming – built Great Walls. They each collapsed because they were bankrupted by the costs of maintaing the Walls.

    History has lessons that can be learned.

    Richard

  21. Our provincial government is pulling a fast one yet the media never reports any of this garbage???
    Paying 2 and 3 times the going rate for wind power and solar power and every 3 months our price of electricity keeps rising on our bills. Have to pay for this subsity somehow.

  22. Windmills consume a lot of electricity when the wind is blowing below the cut-in wind speed, which is typically 4m/s.

  23. From the WSJ, May 7th:

    Cape Wind to Sell 50% of Offshore Output to National Grid

    By MARK PETERS

    NEW YORK—National Grid PLC plans to buy half of the power from what would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm, a key step in the development of the long-planned project off the Massachusetts coast. . .

    . . .Under the terms of the deal, National Grid would buy output from the project starting in 2013 at 20.7 cents a kilowatt-hour to deliver to its customers. The price would increase 3.5% a year over the 15-year life of the contract. National

    Grid estimates the agreement will increase the bill of a typical residential customer by roughly 2%, or $1.59, a month. “If we keep stalling on advancing forward because of the existing pricing scenario, we will never (move) forward in the United States” with renewable energy development, said National Grid President Tom King during a conference call.

    The cost of power under the contract is more than double the 8-10 cents a kilowatt-hour state residents currently pay. Electricity prices in the Northeast are among the highest in the nation, though a slump in demand and a drop in prices for natural gas has driven a sharp decline over the last two years.

    King said the agreed-to pricing is adjusted for inflation and includes the environmental benefits of wind generation, while locking in stable prices in the often volatile energy markets. The Northeast U.S. already requires generators to pay a price to emit greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change, a program that’s being debated on the national level. . .

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703338004575230713031864530.html

    So we in Massachusetts will pay more than double our current electricity cost for the privilege of using ‘free’, ‘green’ wind power. And we’re already being taxed for using ‘greenhouse’ electricity. Where’s that money going—to buy carbon credits from the Goracle?

    And don’t tell me to write my congressman; his name is Ed Markey.

    /Mr Lynn

  24. “Dr A Burns says:
    June 18, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Electricity prices are to rise down under by up to 64% because of power companies subsidising “free” energy from the sun. This is in the form of domestic solar collectors that can feed back into the grid and earn the consumer income at a much higher rate than the cost of power from the grid.”

    The up to 64% uplift in prices over 3 years was on the basis of the establishment of the CPRS. As that is not happening, rises won’t be as much, but prices will still rise. Excuse? Infrastructure upgrade costs. I guess that’s what happens when a state utility, all paid for by the taxpayer, get’s privatised. Look to Thames Water in the UK as a recent example of privatising a public utility allowing the comany to “asset strip” to pay debt in favour of it’s shareholders. No investment in repairs, no investment in infrastructure leading to consumer paying ever higher prices.

    As for the solar thing here in Australia, well, if you own your roof you can install such systems however, as more and more Australians rent, and rent an apartment, that option is unavailable. So, how benefits? The businesses who make the panels and Govn’t, all at taxpayers expense.

    Still in NZ, they pay GST (12.5) on their power. They pay some of the most expensive power too even considering much of their power is renewable (Geothermal and hydro). Their GST has just gone up to 15%, so even before any ETS, they already have had a 2.5% GST increase in power costs. And, going on commenst here i this thread, NZ is 2 weeks away from destrying it’s economy.

  25. Friends:

    Several here have commented that wind and solar energies are said to be “free”. And they are “free” because all sources of energy – coal, oil, gas, nuclear, etc. – are “free”.

    But collecting the energy so it can be used has costs.

    The costs of collecting wind and solar energies are exhorbitantly high when compared to the costs of collecting energy from coal, oil and natural gas.

    Richard

  26. The wind turbine operator in Newcastle can easily afford to light up the tower. He gets three times the rate for power produced by the turbine over the rate he pays for the lights. Like the turbine in my local town, the operator can probably afford to motor the turbine during periods of no wind and still make a profit.

  27. Maybe they could mount a solar panel on the wind turbine facing towards the light source ?

  28. Richard Courtney, pretty much yes, to all you have said. It may or may not be true that “the rich are not like you and me” but it is for certain true that the politicial class is not like us. We poor beknighted souls look to pragmatism for basing our decisions, but to those whose lives are dedicated to seeking and maintaining political power every decision is based on political considerations. EVERY decision. Should we promulgate support for wind generators? For belief in AGW? For war? Or peace? Human lives and human labor do not enter into the equation. The only consideration is “does this action allow us to retain power?”

  29. typo: telling everyone who wrong we are.

    the windmill is perhaps lighted at night for safety reasons.

  30. “Richard S Courtney says:
    June 18, 2010 at 5:07 am
    Friends:

    Several here have commented that wind and solar energies are said to be “free”. And they are “free” because all sources of energy – coal, oil, gas, nuclear, etc. – are “free”.

    But collecting the energy so it can be used has costs.

    The costs of collecting wind and solar energies are exhorbitantly high when compared to the costs of collecting energy from coal, oil and natural gas.

    Richard”

    One reason why the steam engine is more “efficient” than the IC engine, it costs more to extract fuels suitable (Oil) and then refine them (So that once burnt, emit “cleaner” emissions). Mind you, the term “fossil fuel” always has bugged me. I mean, wood, peat, oil and coal are THE original bio-fuels, right?

  31. Just a guess – the single large wind turbine in Newcastle is run by the CSIRO. It’s tokenism at its worst and will undoubtedly be left in place as a work of art, when global cooling takes hold.

  32. There is an old phrase to describe sending resources to a place where they are manifestly unneeded: “…coals to Newcastle.”

  33. From the exposure of 1/30 of a second and the amount of blurring of the blade I have calculated that a blade was taking just over two seconds to go right around. That’s fast enough to generate more than enough power to run the lights.
    They look like at least 33,000 volt insulators on the poles:

  34. How high is that windmill? If it works at all I’d expect it to be above all surrounding objects. That would make it an air navigation hazard which should require some lighting for avoidance. A spot light seems a bit much though.

  35. I’ll preface my comment by saying that I am neither a scientist nr an engineer, although I do have a fondness for tinkering with mechanical devices, and I spent almost a quarter century on active flying status with the Air Force, and have many of the rudimentary principles of aerodynamics ingrained in the noggin quite deeply, as my life directly depended upon their application. . .

    It has always struck me about the design that seems most favored for ‘wind turbines’ – that just as I can look at the basic design of various aircraft and ascertain poor designs from rather good ones simply by nothing more than the aesthetics – these things just look “wrong” to me. True, the conclusion that they are butt ugly is by no means supportable with facts and figures rendered on a mountain of paper or gigabytes of electronic spreadsheet – but these damned things just LOOK horribly inefficient and poorly designed to my eyes, only partially engaging or exploiting the total of the wind energy passing by their spindly constructs. As I said, I’m not a professionally trained engineer, but if I were to use the analogy of automobiles, it’s like looking at a Ford Fiesta when you instinctively know that a Porsche is quite possible. Not because you’ve ever actually seen a Porsche, but that you perceive the inherent limitations of the Fiesta, even if you can’t articulate them.

    My sense is that they’re doing it wrong. And making a boatload of money (as well as killing quite a lot of birds) in the process.

    What sort of design ‘looks’ right to me? Tesla had some good ideas, I think. Efficient enough to make the economic equation work out? No idea. But probably better than the crap their tossing up all over the place, would be my sense of it.

  36. Anthony:

    I’d like to write a guest post about my new “green” flashlight. It’s solar powered!

  37. Just wait until some genius decides the aircraft warning lights need to be at the highest point of the windmill. The three lights whirling at the tips of the blades should make everybody dizzy. Small planes will be falling out of the sky like flies as the pilots succumb to vertigo. Now add that to a massive wind farm where there always seems to be one windmill rotating in the the opposite direction……

  38. In Ontario they have spent billions on wind farms and are now up to 1,100 MW of capacity (compared to a total demand of over 18,000 MW). But the interesting part is that you can see how much electricity they are actually generating at any given time – right now it’s sitting at about 80 MW!

    http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/windpower.asp

  39. C’mon, you all know the deal, greenies are all about needing the ego stroke from showing the world how eco conscious and morally superior they are. The main reason the Prius sells better than other hybrids is that the other cars are hybrid versions of a normal car, the Prius is a dedicated hybrid only model. If you were to drive a Fusion hybrid, lord, heaven forbid, someone might actually think you didn’t care about the polar bears and were driving a regular old gasoline powered baby seal killing car. Same thing here, we have to show the world how green our windmill is.

  40. Anthony:

    Once again, excellent stuff. Any chance you could put a PDF of the protester’s handout? Just curious as to what they are writing over there.

    All the best

  41. The Columbia Gorge, home of many water control and energy generating facilities, has been overrun by the damnable things. Once scenic, it is now beginning to look like a porcupine on each side of the river. In the high plains near the Snake and Columbia, the same thing is occurring high on the palouse mounds where the wind does indeed blow about.

    Might it be that one day there will be enough windmills to allow the power generating dams to be removed (yeh, I know, won’t happen but some people are thinking it will)? Downtown Portland oughta love the idea. Since the populace there is largely responsible for voting in Oregon political idiots, I am perfectly willing to let the rivers back into their old meandering, bank full, swampy courses through that city. I live in NE Oregon and will remain so, at 3500 feet above sea level and have no intention of buying property near a river. Only stupid people do that.

    Power generating dams, once removed, will cause such a productivity and economic slide that it is a fair bet the US will not recover from it, and so weakened, will be sold to any country so inclined to offer coinage.

  42. BTW, my light beverage I am drinking right now is filled up with greenhouse gases and it’s delicious and it didn’t choke me.

  43. That is an interesting adornment that city hall has commissioned, with the evening light appropriate to publicly funded abstract modern metal sculptures we all love so much and can’t get enough of.

    At least it is not sited where it is chopping birds in half, falling on people’s heads when the blades come off, or accosting the aesthetic sensibilities of innocent passersby in some peaceful downtown park. Who knows what silly program they cut in order to have that Picasso twittering machine, probably some old rediculous program assisting homeschooling families with getting private tutors in Latin or cello.

    In Portland yesterday I saw three very tall wind turbines–on top of a many story building! Now that is reckless endangerment.

  44. A closer, fluid dynamic and thermodynamic look at wind turbines shows two possible local climate effects, depending on the siting.

    On land the reduction in wind speed downstream of the turbine (as a result of the extraction of kinetic energy by the turbines) reduces air mass flow rates and increases surface temperature. Surface moisture evaporates more easily at higher temperature, but the evaporative increase is offset somewhat by the lower air speeds.

    On water, the reduction in downstream speed also increases surface temperature; with the effect of increased evaporation. Moreover, the downstream turbulence provides sufficient localised energy and droplet/salt generation from blown surface water to promote condensation of water vapour, leading to greater precipitation downstream with prevailing winds. If the wind farms is far enough offshore, it reduces the rainfall on land; and at least causes rain to fall closer to shore; perhaps away from arable land.

    So wind farms directly cause warming and drought. i.e. Produce climate change.

    …now where’s the emoticon for tongue partly in cheek?

  45. The wind turbine is an icon for carbon indulgences. If the guilt feelings return, they can erect another and feel some more of the green virtue flowing.

  46. Bernd Felsche says:
    June 18, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Don’t worry, chances are windmills won’t run on air but methane (see above)

  47. When you do your thing at Adelaide, bring these pictures and ask Barrie Harrop to comment on them.

  48. With respect to Richard S Courtney (June 18, 2010 at 4:06 am), I would like to add the following conjecture: Someone once told me that they believed the Great Wall of China was built to control commerce so taxes could be reliably collected.

  49. Having been a processional civil engineer since 1967, retired now, at first engineering economics were very important in making decisions as to what would and what would not be constructed at taxpayer expense. It is not an easy thing to do, to determine what all of the costs are and will be, and to determine quantities and values of what the benefits would be. But we engineers certainly, then, did our best to do so. All benefit/cost ratios were of course, best estimates.

    Over time, I have seen the costs and future costs substantially and purposely far underestimated to promote construction and spend taxpayer money on various and myriad projects, and have seen the estimates of benefits grossly exaggerated and include the most nebulous and completely contrived “benefits”. I personally have no confidence whatsoever in either as of now. Civil engineers have themselves become part of the slight of hand political show.

    We, as a civilization, have apparently decided en masse that real economics aren’t at all important, that we can somehow have anything and everything we wish for without actually paying the costs thereof, and that it will take only political agreement and consumer confidence to achieve it.

    IMHO, this absolute foolishness will cause, and is causing, the destruction of what is called “western civilization” and in not all that much more time All previous civilizations have fallen, sometimes as a result of natural disasters, and a good many from simple human hubris.

    We are not immune to either.

    I may sound like a Cassandra, but Cassandra’s predictions proved to be right on spot.

  50. Phillip Bratby says:
    June 18, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Windmills consume a lot of electricity when the wind is blowing below the cut-in wind speed, which is typically 4m/s.

    That seems to be a high number. I would expect it to be about half that. A 1mW turbine at a 40mph design speed would have a 15kW overhead. Higher if the design speed is lower.

    Several years ago I began planning what I expected to be my retirement home. (Life has a way of disrupting plans) For electricity, I would have had to pay the electric company for fifty poles and two transformers to branch off the single ended line ten miles out from the source. I felt a backup plan was needed, and looked into solar and wind. Solar, at the time, was ridiculously expensive, so I settled on a wind turbine plus battery solution.

    Some things I learned:

    The efficient design wind speed is about twice the average. Thus 10mph avg; 20mph design speed.

    The power capacity is proportional to the swept area of the turbine.

    The turbine must be in the laminar flow; above the turbulence caused by ground effect, including those trees, outbuildings, and that 1000ft ridge a mile upwind.

    Winds above the design speed provide zero additional energy.

    Winds below the threshold speed (5mph for the common homestead design) provide zero energy, period.

    Energy is proportional to the cube of the wind velocity. That turbine, on average, provides only ⅛ its rated power. The rule of thumb says you get an output of three hours (⅛ of a day) full capacity per average day.

    All things considered, wind turbines are an especially expensive way to capture energy. Today’s turbine designs approach closely the theoretical limits of efficiency, and still the best you can expect is 12.5% of the rated capacity.

  51. Bernd suggests: “So wind farms directly cause warming and drought. i.e. Produce climate change. ”
    This is something I had been thinking about. Energy has to come from somewhere, so windmills must take energy from the environment and reduce wind speed. In some locations, towns in valleys being the obvious example, putting windmills on the surrounding hills must reduce air movement making it hotter, but more importantly preventing pollutants and particulates being cleared so quickly which will reduce air quality and affect anyone with breathing problems. So windfarms are bad for asthmatics.

  52. I think I can have a guess. Look at the picture of the wind turbine at night again. Now go find a picture of the Washington Monument at night. Now go find a picture of the Lincoln Memorial at night. Now go find a picture of Christ the Redeemer in Rio at night. Now go find a picture of L’Arc de Triomphe at night. Now go find a picture of St Peter’s Basilica at night. All objects that the viewer is expected to respect if not venerate in an overtly religious way.

    Now look at the wind turbine again.

    See?

  53. LarryOldtimer says:
    June 18, 2010 at 11:36 am
    And here I am, once civil engineer now turned philosophical. Life has been good to me.

    The turn of the screw…is inexorable
    ♫♫♫……………….
    Round, like a circle in a spiral
    Like a wheel within a wheel.
    Never ending or beginning,
    On an ever spinning wheel
    Like a snowball down a mountain
    Or a carnaval balloon
    Like a carousell that’s turning
    Running rings around the moon

    Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
    Past the minutes on it’s face
    And the world is like an apple
    Whirling silently in space
    Like the circles that you find
    In the windmills of your mind

    Like a tunnel that you follow
    To a tunnel of it’s own
    Down a hollow to a cavern
    Where the sun has never shone
    Like a door that keeps revolving
    In a half forgotten dream
    Or the ripples from a pebble
    Someone tosses in a stream.

    Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
    Past the minutes on it’s face
    And the world is like an apple
    Whirling silently in space
    Like the circles that you find
    In the windmills of your mind

    Keys that jingle in your pocket
    Words that jangle your head
    Why did summer go so quickly
    Was it something that I said
    Lovers walking allong the shore,
    Leave their footprints in the sand
    Was the sound of distant drumming
    Just the fingers of your hand

    Pictures hanging in a hallway
    And a fragment of this song
    Half remembered names and faces
    But to whom do they belong
    When you knew that it was over
    Were you suddenly aware
    That the autumn leaves were turning
    To the color of her hair

    Like a circle in a spiral
    Like a wheel within a wheel
    Never ending or beginning,
    On an ever spinning wheel
    As the images unwind
    Like the circle that you find
    In the windmills of your mind

    Pictures hanging in a hallway
    And the fragment of this song
    Half remembered names and faces
    But to whom do they belong
    When you knew that it was over
    Were you suddenly aware
    That the autumn leaves were turning
    To the color of her hair

    Like a circle in a spiral
    Like a wheel within a wheel
    Never ending or beginning,
    On an ever spinning wheel
    As the images unwind
    Like the circles that you find
    In the windmills of your mind
    ………………………………………♫♫♫

  54. I can see that these bat-whackers, like TV towers, would be a hazard to air traffic at night. But I’d guess a simple 10W red light at the tip of each blade would make it plenty visible to airplanes.

  55. Anthony, when you fly into Canberra take a look at the wind farm on the shores of Lake George – if Parliament is in session you will actually see the rotors going round due to all the hot air emanating from Parliament House. Otherwise they dont move at all!

  56. Wind Rider says:
    June 18, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Wind turbines use the full diameter of a circle. Any energy not touching the blades is inefficient. They are less then 2% efficient even before they move. There are other factors that contribute to make it even more inefficient but suffice to say, if you spin the blades fast enough, NO energy will touch the blades.

  57. Glad you liked our windmill!

    I do have to say though its a pilot windmill that has been around forever (I’ve been here 20 years and I can’t remember when it was built). After the first one the state government power company didn’t build any more, to their credit. They have been avoiding building new generator capacity for years because the only sane option coal is political suicide, but recently after some epic political fights they’ve quietly authorised a couple of new coal fired generators.

    Meanwhile last month a new coal loader was opened, taking coal capacity to 130 Mt/a. No government officials or politicos dared be seen, so only opposition pollies were there.

    I once was on the same flight you took, but in the day, and sat next to a retired USN captain who’d never been to Newcastle before. I said look out the window, you’ll see our fleet. Fleet? He was floored by the view, which was about 3-4% of world bulk carrier capacity at anchor. Demurrage costs alone are about $1.5 billion per year for the ships to just sit and wait until they can get in to the loaders.

  58. Where are you off to next? You might wish to pay a visit to the Mexican Gulf. While you are there you might also wish to reassure the locals along the coast they have nothing to worry about, as fish have been swallowing muck for the past few million years and an Exxon Valdez every four days spewing oil didn’t hurt anyone. After reading your churlish post I hope you and your followers are right, or else we are in a god almighty pickle.

  59. Is it just me or are the blades in the exact same position in both photographs?

    Mrs. Brute and I came accross a windmill “farm” afixed to a ridgeline in central Pennsylvania last winter. Eight of Ten weren’t moving……….

  60. Hugh Hunt,

    I recommend you read up on the Ixtoc-1 oil spill disaster of 1979, which was uncannily similar to this Deepwater Horizon one, only bigger.

    The Gulf seems not to have suffered too badly from that one, not that BP should escape liability.

    One difference is that the owner was the then state owned Pemex, who cited sovereign immunity when asked to pay compensation. In other words ‘get lost’. You can see why most oil production is being taken over by state oil companies given the relative cost of production this implies.

  61. Roger Sowell links to some official data, courtesy of big Arnie purporting to show wind capacity factor, actual output, as high as 70% of capacity [San Gorgonio, 2nd qtr 1998]; whoopie do! The graphs also show the main concern with wind; that is, when it doesn’t blow in one place then it doesn’t blow anywhere; San Gordonio’s 4th qtr result in 1998 was 19% of capacity!

    Then there is the relative cost of these stupid indulgences cf with fossils and in particular, nuclear. That’s the point and I note the big Arnie report on wind did not include the relative costs per capacity factor; every 1 of those MW’s from wind cost up to 10 times the equivalent MW from fossils. End of story.

  62. Brute – yes our windmill works, and probably even makes some power.

    Not apparent from the photos is it is just across the river from the main centre of Newcastle, and is highly visible, so I think the (state owned) power company makes sure it at least looks like it operates.

  63. here’s a good site showing the output of Australia’s wind farms.

    http://windfarmperformance.info/?date=2010-05-08

    Regards solar in Australia.

    I have been offered a 1.48kW solar system by a local solar company.

    It will consist of 8 x 185W panels and a new power meter to feed back into the grid.

    The cost to me after all the government subsidies is $2999.00 @ $890 deposit and the balance paid interest free over 2 years @ around $88/month or $263.6/quarter.

    My last quarter electricity bill was $298 which is my summer bill – my winter bill is nearly twice that.

    I currently pay 19.620c /kWh and 7.480c/kWh for off peak consumption (my water heater).

    The government will pay me 60c/kWh for the power I feed back into the grid. The solar company estimate my system will average 5kWh/day which over a quarter will return $273.75 so my total summer bill should be around $25.00 the remainder being subsidized by the Australian Taxpayer to make the government appear green.

  64. Gary Turner said: “For electricity, I would have had to pay the electric company for fifty poles and two transformers to branch off the single ended line ten miles out from the source.”
    “I settled on a wind turbine plus battery solution”

    This is a point often forgotten. If the cost of a connection to a power supply is large enough, wind or solar power may be an economic option without any subsidies (which are often a bad idea).

    It cost me thousands of dollars to run a powerline underground to the main supply right outside my house. I had to pay for a meter and inspections. I have to pay a supply charge every month. I have had to buy emergency lighting, power and cooking facilities in case of a power cut.

    As time goes on, the cost of mains power increases and the cost of solar or wind power decreases (with newer technology). I’m in sunny, windy and warm New Zealand. At some point it will be economic for me to generate all of my own power. I’m not at that point yet, but that day will come.

    The majority of NZ power is hydroelectric. That is an excellent backup for wind power when the wind stops. We have plenty of hydro generation capability but not enough water. So wind power may be economic for NZ.
    The options for the rest of the world will be different. In the short term a subsidy for wind power may help to get a viable source of power from the wind. Any new technology deserves help at the start, but not a subsidy for ever.

    It takes many years to construct a new hydro dam or nuclear power generator etc. During construction there is no income, perhaps for 10 years or far longer. The powerlines from those may be very long and expensive, since nobody wants to live near a nuclear generator or to live under a dam or near a coal burning power station.. It takes quite a short time to erect a wind turbine, and I’d be prepared to live a few miles from a wind turbine as long as I couldn’t hear it. So the power lines will be short and cheap, and transmission losses will be low.

    Please can everybody include all of the costs when evaluating the different power generation options. Including the huge costs for decommissioning a nuclear generator when it’s 30 or 40 years old. Would you trust a car that old every day? And when your old car fails it is unlikely to splatter nuclear radiation all over Europe.

  65. Hugh Hunt… your point is what?

    Doing things for the wrong reasons is still wrong. Building windmills is tokenism.

    So there is an oil spill. That’s the cost of the society in which we choose to live. What viable alternative do you have or propose (which does not involve some kind of pork barrelling)?

    A large govt handout always leads to snouts in the trough (home insulation schemes? got one here going cheap!)

    —-

    The Weekend Financial Review here in Oz has a nice big article about being green and the amount of the solar rebates – it varies from 44 to 60 cents / kWhr. Mostly this is Net (ie you get paid for what you generate after your consumption is accounted for). A couple of schemes are complete madness – Gross payments of 60 cents/kWhr – you get paid regardless.

    What this all means is that those of us w/o solar panels PAY a subsidy for those who have them. They get to take the moral high ground, at the expense of the rest of us. That does get me grumpy.

    If the economics of putting in solar panels stacked up (even on a net payment scheme), I’d be in like a shot. I like the idea of having a $0 electricity bill (I don’t care about being paid) but I’d really like to run my a/c in summer.

    Power prices in southern Australia have risen way above CPI for the last few years and are set to continue to do so, partly to pay for infrastructure that is now 50-60 years old and has had insufficient maintenance, and partly to pay for the various green subsidies.

    Of course the other moral high ground cop-out is to sign up and buy “green power” from your power retailer, which is usually more expensive. I don’t know that there are any audits done on green power consumption vs generation – my suspicion is that gas fired power qualifies as “green” and thus allows the scam to continue.

  66. @Roger Sowell — the point is useful electricity. Even when the wind is blowing, the output is so skittering that it strains the capacity of the grid to maintain constant VA flow. This has been the universal experience of grid operaters all over the world. Backup plants — most often gas — have to be kept constantly spun up on warm standby ready to fill in on a minute’s notice. As noted by several commenters, turbine output varies as the cube of the wind speed. This means that a breeze gusting from 20 to 30 mph — a 50% variation, not at all uncommon — produces output that momentarily triples, then drops back unpredictably. There is no power grid in the world that could withstand this vacilation by even 25% of its generating units, let alone what that would do to the air conditioners, stoves, factories, and televisions of the end users.

    But the catch-22 is that even though the actual output of these things over the long term is 12% or less of their nameplate capacity, still both the backup plants and the hideously long transmission lines required to get this output from the windswept rural and wilderness areas they infest to the chi-chi city users prattling about how reactionary the NIMBYs are — both of these facilities have to allow for nearly the full nameplate output, or they’ll blow on output peaks. So still more useless capital outlay at the expense of the taxpayers and ratepayers, not to mention still more environmental destruction from the line of marching transmission towers.

    Several commenters have pointed out the incredible cost per MW of these towers — at the moment around $1 million US per MW to erect. The decommissioning cost per tower (regardless of capacity, at present) is estimated at about $1 millon. Apologists for wind have pointed out that these are of the same magnitude as nukes — which is true of the older-generation plants in the US and UK, but not of the newer designs common in France and planned for India (what does that say about American civilization that we now look to France and India for technical innovation?). But this overlooks two points:
    — At the end of their life, the nukes, like coal and gas plants, will have been producing at around 90% capacity for the entire period. Wind won’t even come close — even the plastic enthusiastic promoters never cllaim more than 30%.

    — The useful life of a conventional plant is 40 years. With careful maintenance, experience shows this can be extended to 60 years, as the UK is about to find out. Wind plant calculations are based on 20 years, and experience is starting to show that an average of even ten years per turbine is optimistic. Maintenance on a turbine is hideously expensive, due to their dispersal and specialized (100 tons sitting 300 feet in the air in a remote area) requirements. You can’t just keep spares and a well-trained crew “on site” if you need a 350-foot crane to put the parts in place. If the turbine is offshore, the maintenance costs increase by a factor of around three or four. Such a bargain, “free” energy!

    @Pamela tells us that the beautiful Snake River Gorge is overrun with these monstrosities. She may well be covering over the same heartbreak I feel when I contemplate the wholesale destruction of countryside and wildlife habitat that I’ve seen from Wolfe Island, Ontario, on the St. Lawrence, to Horicon Marsh in my native Wisconsin. Not to mention the Flint Hills of Kansas, the highlands of Scotland, the Lakes District in England, country woods in Germany, and peaceful rural areas from Corsica to Australia.

    There was a time when “green” activists were telling us we had to care for the natural environment to preserve it for our children — and they had a point, the same point made by hunters and fishermen and farmers and other conservationists for decades. But now they are actively promoting the most wide-ranging, hideous, and utterly pointless vandalization of the remaining wild areas of the planet that has ever been seen.

    A couple of generations from now, long after Gore’s idiotic sci-fi horror flick An Inconvenient Truth has become a camp cult classic but is otherwise forgotten, when every square yard of countryside is within site of a phalanx of disintegrating turbines, fans broken and lubricants dripping into the soil, when children ask “why did they do it? It was so pretty” — the tribal elders will have no choice but to answer, “Sorry. We are now all trapped forever as extras in War of the Worlds meets Rube Goldberg: a Scrooge McDuck Production.”

    This is finally the legacy the Greens will leave us. I sincerely hope they are proud of their farsightedness.

  67. Why do I feel like suddenly breaking out with singing…. I am I Don Quixote the Lord of Lamanche – forward and onward I go (the sound of horses hoofs clopping)
    I dream the impossible dream – to reach the impossible hydrocarbon in the clouds causing greenhouse effect, no matter how hopeless no matter how little CO2 has to do with warming….. To dream the impossible dream…
    picture Al Gore waking up from a dream with a beard and a spear in his bed with his little hobby horse hugged at his side since Tippers gone..
    He whimpers and goes back to sleep dreaming about his millions and the impossible dream….

    exit stage left

  68. So Anthony,
    you never said, what did the kiddies down under think you were talking about that they were in such a huff?

  69. janama (and others):

    The solar power thing is a con. The sales-critter’s estimate is (typically) based on 1-sun radiation for 6 hours every day with optimum orientation. They are using customers to gain Renewable Energy Certificates and to harvest taxpayer-funded subsidies with almost no hope of any nett increase in power generation or reduction in any GHG.

    There are other scams in the soup such as the loss of off-peak electricty rates by some providers when the infeed meter is connected.

    I’ve checked the actual amount of insolation in my area and it’s simply not worth it.

    The probable level of insolation is given by the mean minus one standard deviation as per the chart. i.e. about 6750 MJ/m^2 per year.

    The touted 8*185W panels are probably of about 10% to 12% nett efficiency under 1-sun. So that’ll cover about 14 square metres of roof. Looking at the probable insolation levels (and disregarding orientation/shadin/cleaning issues), the total electrical power produced in a year would be about 2700 kWh.

    Without a bribe to feed into the grid, that electricity is worth $0.1962 * 2700) a year.
    About $515.00. The only cost that you’re told about is the $3000, but there’s a subsidy which distorts the market. The true cost is probably closer to $8000, if not $10,000.

    So the total payback period for installation is around 20 years. If the system doesn’t last thatlong, or it needs substantial maintenance, etc, etc, the installation of such systems is a nett societal dis-benefit.

    In other words; it’s a WASTE of money, time and resources.

  70. @ Craig Goodrich, June 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm — ok, I’ll rebut the falsehoods.

    . . .the point is useful electricity. Even when the wind is blowing, the output is so skittering that it strains the capacity of the grid to maintain constant VA flow. This has been the universal experience of grid operaters all over the world. “

    No, it does not strain the grid. You have the theory correct, but only for a monotonic supply system, and few (I would venture none) modern grids are monotonic. Instead, there are multiple generating plants feeding a grid, typically dozens or even hundreds. The actual experience of grids such as California, Texas, and Iowa are cases in point. These grids are not struggling.

    A wind-turbine and its variability should be compared to industrial loads such as motors or steel mills’ furnaces. For a 1 MW wind-turbine, with output of 20 percent capacity due to whatever wind speed exists, the power to the grid from that one wind-turbine is 200 kW. A fifty percent increase, to use your example, is a 100 kW increase to 300 kW. That is not even a noticeable blip on the grid. Even multiplied across by hundreds of similar wind-turbines in the same area, the effect is not instantaneous because the wind-turbines are spaced relatively far apart. In contrast, a large motor in a chemical plant may consume 5000 Hp, or even 10,000 Hp, which is roughly 3,730 kW or 7,460 kW. The load on these motors also can vary, with swings of 10 percent not uncommon – 370 kW or 750 kW at a moment’s notice. The grid can easily handle these swings, and has done so for many decades. The grid also handles a motor such as just described tripping off-line, and drawing zero current instantaneously, or the reverse, startup when much more current is required.

    ” Backup plants — most often gas — have to be kept constantly spun up on warm standby ready to fill in on a minute’s notice.”

    This is simply not true. For a multi-unit grid supply system, the grid operator has a pre-determined plan of adding and removing generating capacity to meet the anticipated load. Most often this is accomplished by reducing several power plants to a comfortable range, perhaps 80 percent of rated output – but not “spun up on warm standby.” Then when load increases, these throttled-back plants simply increase output to meet the new demand.

    “As noted by several commenters, turbine output varies as the cube of the wind speed. This means that a breeze gusting from 20 to 30 mph — a 50% variation, not at all uncommon — produces output that momentarily triples, then drops back unpredictably. There is no power grid in the world that could withstand this vacilation by even 25% of its generating units, let alone what that would do to the air conditioners, stoves, factories, and televisions of the end users.”

    As above, this is absolutely no problem for multiple generating grid systems. California has been doing this for decades, and Texas has a shorter history but is managing quite well with far more wind-turbine generation, not only in MWh but also as a percent of the state’s total power. Iowa is cranking right along, also.

    “But the catch-22 is that even though the actual output of these things over the long term is 12% or less of their nameplate capacity, . . . “

    Again, not necessarily a true statement. The capacity factor, as I wrote above, depends on location and wind. California’s statewide annualized capacity factor is approximately 22 percent, from the link shown above, Table 2.9. The best site, San Gorgonio, has a capacity factor of 28.9. The worst site in the study was Solano, at 14.6.

    “. . . still both the backup plants and the hideously long transmission lines required to get this output from the windswept rural and wilderness areas they infest to the chi-chi city users prattling about how reactionary the NIMBYs are — both of these facilities have to allow for nearly the full nameplate output, or they’ll blow on output peaks. So still more useless capital outlay at the expense of the taxpayers and ratepayers, not to mention still more environmental destruction from the line of marching transmission towers.”

    I’m always amused at this argument:- wind requires long transmission lines, and they mar the view and the environment. It is a very good thing such thinking did not exist when Hoover Dam was built, and the hundreds of miles of transmission lines were built to bring the power to Los Angeles. The same for the hydroelectric dams in Washington State on the Columbia River, and the transmission lines that bring the power into California – hundreds of miles. And the same for the coal-fired power plants in Utah that continue to supply power to Los Angeles through transmission lines of roughly 500 miles. Or the triple-header nuclear reactor at Palo Verde in Arizona, again sending power over transmission lines to Southern California.

    The transmission lines are not at full capacity even when wind-turbines were but a dream. Each night in the off-peak season, typically second quarter in California, the grid demand drops to an annual low. Imported and thermal power each decreases, and the transmission lines are at a low load. Nobody seems to cry in their beer over this.

    As to the remainder of your arguments, you fail to see the benefits. Crane companies love the additional work. Windmill service companies also provide jobs. Plus, the siting of the wind-turbines across the US Great Plains is not “remote areas.” Where rugged terrain is chosen for wind-turbines, the project owners should factor in the additional costs of maintenance. If that kills their project, so be it. Build them in Texas, or Kansas, or Oklahoma, or Nebraska, or another fairly flat state.

    You appear to be pro-nuclear. Not a good position, as it is indefensible. WUWT has had several posts on this, and I hope you read the commentary, some of which was mine. I also wrote several articles on my own blog about the disadvantages of nuclear power.

  71. Anthony,

    You cannot understand Newcastle until you understand ‘The Newcastle Song’ by Bob Hudson.

    Sorry, but I cannot find the unexpurgated version, which is much funnier.

  72. LOL… The reason it is lit up Anthony, is that the Socialists that put it there using our money, think they are advertising the future……

    They sure are.

    But the future we are picturing with it, is not the same future they are envisioning.

    When we look at it, we see a useless article that can’t deliver cheap power, costs taxpayers money to sustain and won’t work in a pink fit.

    When the Socialists look at it they see fluffy bunny rabbits dancing with children while the windmill spins a kaleidoscope of marvelous colours that feed the soul…. or sumthin’ like that……….. D’oh!

  73. Anthony’s photo of the wind turbine on the hunter river is not our only green energy source in Newcastle.

    The one Anthony photographed is connected to the state grid, we can all make use of this green energy by agreeing to pay a surcharge on our electricity cost. People actually believe that by paying this extra cost, their homes can be individually identified as the electricity is distributed along the power lines along with all that dirty coal fired stuff, and selectively delivered only green power. Just across the other side of the river the CSIRO have a development that includes solar, gas and wind generation.

    see their promotional video or is that propaganda video here.
    http://www.csiro.au/files/files/p33s.asx

  74. Power Grab says:
    June 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

    With respect to Richard S Courtney (June 18, 2010 at 4:06 am), I would like to add the following conjecture: Someone once told me that they believed the Great Wall of China was built to control commerce so taxes could be reliably collected.

    We in Australia are told it was built by emperor Nasi Goreng to keep the rabbits out.

  75. Anthony, welcome to The Land of Oz. Follow the Yellow Brick Road to irony;

    I’m surprised you saw (and photographed for proof) that thing actually turning! There’s a swag of ’em out in west Victoria on hilltops where throughout a week of driving past every day, with more than enough wind to power them, only 20% were in working order. The rest were idle (maybe rusted due to poor Chinese maintenance/parts). Our taxes are also subsidising the ones that DON’T work..

  76. I’m depressed.

    WordPress compressed my posting into nothing.
    There goes another hour of my life.

    Reply Rescued: RT – Mod

  77. Reasonable comeback Roger; however you’ve missed out the 2 most important points: cost and if AGW is baloney why suffer the cost and inefficiencies. Ask a Spaniard.

    So to with nuclear; what are the disadvantages, noting that the French, the most complaining culture on Earth, have ‘endured’ nuclear for 40 years.

  78. Wind turbines are okay.

    But;
    It must show it is competitive in a free marked. If subsidies is neccessary, that in itself is proving its just not competitive.

    No arguments are needed. Why use time discussing the price of eggs? Why discuss price on electricity? Let the marked, i.e. the vote of every consumer handle it. Automatically.

    Dont involve politics in it. Let the consumer vote. Via the electricity bill.

  79. Question for a Meteorologist (and where-oh-where is our main resident one):

    11:00 PM news, last night (June 18), weather report, WNEP-16 from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (which is better “local” news than Harrisburg where I am in central Pennsylvania).

    Weatherman said to ignore some stuff at a particular spot on the radar map, as they were ghosts caused by a windfarm.

    Wait a minute, windfarms mess up radar? The system airports use to track weather and planes to get people to and fro undamaged? That is used to track dangerous weather like strong lightning storms and tornadoes to help keep people from getting killed?

    I do know that TV stations and airports use differently-tuned radar systems, after all one is tracking assorted large clouds while the other precisely keeps track of small metallic flying objects. But are windfarms capable of messing up radar enough that, well, people could die because of it?

  80. Roger Sowell:

    If wind power were sensible then oil tankers would be sailing ships.

    Nobody disputes that wind power “ works”. It has been used for millennia. But it was abandoned when the greater energy intensity and supply reliability of fossil fuels became available by use of the steam engine. Your comment to me June 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm proves that you attempt to misrepresent these issues.

    In his above article, Andrew wrote, “I thought windmills were all about generating electricity, not using it.”

    I responded to that at June 18, 2010 at 4:06 am by saying;
    “If it were their purpose then they would not be built because no wind turbine provides any useful electricity to a grid at any time.”

    And I explained that this results from the grid having to cope with the fact that wind turbines do not provide continuous power. I said a more full version of my explanation can be read at
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    But at June 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm you have responded to my comment in the typical manner of a wind power PR Consultant by saying:
    “Actually, wind-turbines work quite well where the wind blows. The technology works.
    http://www.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf”

    That completely ignores the facts that
    (a) nobody disputes “the technology works” (it has been used to generate electricity for over a century),
    and, impotantly,
    (B) “no wind turbine provides any useful electricity to a grid at any time” BECAUSE “ the wind does NOT blow all the time.

    Richard

  81. Thanks for the rescue RT – Mod

    I’ll try to remember not to put an image inline.

    Here’s a link to the chart (Source data archive and half-bakery are in the spreadsheet.)

    BTW: The “payback” period is actually much longer than 20 years because the taxpayer-funded subsidy is “supply-side” and the cost of generating electricity by “conventional means” is closer to 5 cents/kWh. How much longer depends on actual consumption.

  82. I wonder what the U.S. FAA regulations are in this case. I believe they do require lighting on tall structures. One would think that anti-collision lights would be required on the rotor tips for one that big. I am reminded of the recent video of a bird-strike event.

  83. @ Cohenite, good points.

    Actually, with wind power, AGW and CO2 reduction is a late entry to the party. California has had wind-turbines for approximately 20 years, long before AGW was an issue. The driving force was to reduce oil imports. Per Pickens’ Plan, that continues to be the goal. After AGW dies and goes away (hopefully soon now), the important goal will be there still: reducing imports of oil from hostile nations that terrorize the world. Wind and solar and natural gas can do that, with sufficient changes to transportation vehicles such as natural gas engines and electric power systems.

    @ kwik and cohenite, re costs and subsidies. The costs were high initially but have come down as the technology matured. Subsidies helped the process of maturation. As to wind-energy subsidies being bad, why is that, kwik? Are you categorically opposed to all subsidies, or just those for wind? Note that there are literally hundreds of subsidies or tax deductions in the federal tax code, and state codes.

    @ Richard S. Courtney, you are arguing in circles. As I demonstrated above, the grid has no problem coping with fluctuations from wind-turbines. California is producing approximately 25,000 MWh per day into the grid. Some days it is 40,000 MWh. Apparently, to you, that is not “useful.” Interesting definition of “useful.” Also, I am no PR consultant.

  84. Roger Sowell:

    At June 19, 2010 at 8:51 am you say:

    “@ Richard S. Courtney, you are arguing in circles. As I demonstrated above, the grid has no problem coping with fluctuations from wind-turbines. California is producing approximately 25,000 MWh per day into the grid. Some days it is 40,000 MWh. Apparently, to you, that is not “useful.” Interesting definition of “useful.” Also, I am no PR consultant.”

    I have not argued “in circles” but have made clear statements of fact and have referred you to full explanation of my points.

    Intermittent supply of electricity that merely displaces supply from continuously operating power stations is NOT “useful”: it is an expensive bloody nuisance.

    I did not say you are a PR Consultant. I said;
    “you have responded to my comment in the typical manner of a wind power PR Consultant”.
    That is true.

    And California has suffered scheduled brownouts over many years. It is not an example that supports your erroneous assertions.

    Richard

  85. @ Richard S. Courtney, re clear statements of fact. No, you have made erroneous statements of non-facts, easily and clearly rebutted.

    Wind-energy in its current version is a bit like a man pushing a heavy wagon up a long hill (the power grid without wind-energy). Then some other people (wind-turbines) join in for a while and help him push. The energy the man expends is considerably less while the others pitch in to help. You may consider such reduction in energy expended useless, and you certainly have the right to hold that opinion. It is a curious thing to stubbornly maintain that a bit more than 1000 MW of electrical production is “useless.” By the way, Texas has quite a bit more than 1000 MW of wind-generated electrical power. Is that also “useless?”

    Linking California wind-power to “scheduled brownouts,” whatever those are, is truly a stretch. California did have a brief period years ago when earlier regulations (not related to wind-energy) caused a shortage of generating capacity. There was also market manipulation by Enron and others – again, not related to wind-energy. There have been zero power supply shortages since both of those issues were corrected – installed more gas-fired power plants, and changed the pricing mechanism. Do you seriously believe what you just wrote?

    The fact is, as I wrote in comments on an earlier WUWT post, that wind energy in California is never likely to be a problem for the grid because the grid provides enormous amounts of power and wind-energy is a relatively small amount of that. The grid here supplies roughly 300,000 GWh per year on average, and wind-energy is roughly 6,000 GWh of that, or about 2 percent. Your erroneous beliefs do not change the facts.

  86. Roger Sowell:

    At June 19, 2010 at 10:57 am you assert:

    “@ Richard S. Courtney, re clear statements of fact. No, you have made erroneous statements of non-facts, easily and clearly rebutted. ”

    OK, then rebut my clear statements of fact. I like to be shown when I am wrong because then I learn. However, nobody can learn anything from your propogandist assertions that ignore my substantive point. I again remind you that my substantive point is

    “Intermittent supply of electricity that merely displaces supply from continuously operating power stations is NOT “useful”: it is an expensive bloody nuisance.”

    If that is “erroneous” and if that is “non-fact” which is “easily and clearly rebutted” then you should have no difficulty in refuting it. Please try.

    Richard

  87. @Richard —

    Only addressing the transmission lines: How much electricity, 24/7/365.25, do Hoover Dam and Palo Verde supply to California? Note that this is basically two lines, supplying a large proportion of Southern California’s electricity. Moreover, this is all along major routes anyway; Phoenix-LA and Vegas-LA both have several major highway rights-of-way along them.

    You’ve said a) that the wind plants are spread out all over the state, and b) that one day they even supplied 40 GWh of power. OK. Spread out means high-voltage lines all over, each carrying, on the average, a trivial amount of power. But as I said, the lines have to have the full plate capacity of the plant, even though the best average number you came up with is about a fifth. Note now that the very best all these wonderful turbines (many of which have long been abandoned and are disintegrating) can produce is the equivalent of 1.6 GW of coal or gas plant, which can be placed in units of appropriate size close to the end users, and require around three orders of magnitude less real estate.

    I also note that none of the California wind plants have been placed in Yosemite. In the East and Northwest, unfortunately we don’t have the vast areas of desert that you have in California. (You apparently love desert so much there that you’ve allowed the EPA to return the Central Valley to that condition.) If you have no appreciation for natural landscape, please don’t assume that nobody else does.

    As to skittering useless power, read essentially any actual reports by European grid operators. Denmark and Germany have specifically stopped building new wind plants because their grids can’t take any more — and these are thoroughly modern grids — as confirmed by E.ON, one of the largest contractors over there. And the penetration in Germany is only around 5%.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Wind power on an industrial scale is a crime against economics, physics, ecology, psychology, and aesthetics. It has to be stopped, now.

  88. Hi Anthony, Just thought I might point out a couple of things about Newcastle that you’re probably not aware of…
    -The turbine rarely works – has something to do with the low friction bearings on the front rusting up from being inactive for long periods. Salt air does it apparently.
    -The CSIRO has a big research center near there – if you turned right at the T intersection instead of left, you would have seen the finest minds in Oz, being paid to cock about with paper fans, plastic straws & mirrors to produce expensive electricity.
    -Behind the Town Hall, is the Civic Theater. There’s a big power meter on the wall there that tells us how much electricity is being used in the area, compared to the national average. It too is illuminated at all hours by a 1Kw lighting system…
    -Not even most Novocastrians know of this, but on top of the hill there, was a big old dirty coal fired power plant. The building is still there in part, though the generators are now long gone :( The company that owned it “NESCA” was the one responsible for financing & constructing many of the public facilities around the Newcastle area – like the Civic park & much of the foreshore area just to pick a couple of well-known points out of my head. Even though the company doesn’t technically exist anymore, the name still crops up in older parts of the city.

  89. Craig Goodrich:

    Surely, your comment at June 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm should be addressed to Roger Sowell, and not to me.

    I agree all you say (as anybody can see from my above comments).

    Richard

  90. Here is a very apropos link:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/7840035/Firms-paid-to-shut-down-wind-farms-when-the-wind-is-blowing.html

    “The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households.

    The electricity cannot be stored, so one solution – known as the ‘balancing mechanism’ – is to switch off or reduce the power supplied.

    The system is already used to reduce supply from coal and gas-fired power stations when there is low demand. But shutting down wind farms is likely to cost the National grid – and ultimately consumers – far more. When wind turbines are turned off, owners are being deprived not only of money for the electricity they would have generated but also lucrative ‘green’ subsidies for that electricity.”

    Insane.

  91. Wally the walrus
    Hi, I hope you aren’t one of those 3 million year old walruses that Exxon and those other ragbags pretend to be protecting in the Gulf of Mexico are you?
    My point is..if there is a better way of doing things, then let’s do them. Arguing over how much co2 is here or there is a waste of time and energy. I am sorry that the arguement between the climate change believers and deniers has now split down the middle, with both sides suffering the same delusions and paranoias about world conspiracies to hide the ‘truth’. I am no scientist, and depend on what I see, hear, taste, touch, feel and think. I reckon it is unwise to carry on business as usual with an industry that enslaved the world to bring us light through a bulb. If there is another way a better way, a cleaner, greener way, then let’s do it now.

  92. Hmmmm….let’s see here…If i were in a place where electricity was free, or had a negative value at night due to an excess of wind-energy, what would I do?

    If I had to run an air conditioner, or a building heater, I would do the following. I would install a chilled water system to chill and then store very cold water that would then be circulated the next day. My chilled water system would operate only at night with the free or negatively-valued electricity. I might even install an ice-making system, or an industrial brine system.

    For my building’s heat requirements, whether space heating or hot water demand, I would install a thermal storage system, perhaps employing a hot oil, that would only draw power at night with the free or negatively-valued electricity.

    Both, or either system, would increase the grid load at night, thereby balancing the production and load.

    I would then request (nay, demand) that my electric utility provide me with time-of-day metering so that my water chiller and oil heater would consume only the cheapest power, at night.

    Perhaps this is too obvious.

    A major university in Los Angeles, University of Southern California, did exactly that with the chilled water system. Oh dear, another existence proof!

    http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/10480.html

    It might even be economically attractive to use the excess power at night to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen, then store the hydrogen for use as supplemental fuel in a gas or coal-fired power plant.

    So many possibilities.

  93. “Hugh Hunt says:
    […]
    industry that enslaved the world to bring us light through a bulb.”

    Hugh, what have you been writing your message on? On a computer?

  94. @Richard S Courtney (June 20, 2010 at 12:27 am) —

    Apologies, you are quite right; the response should have been addressed to Roger. Thanks for your excellent posts.

  95. @DirkH — Hugh uses a mechanical computer. Please don’t force him to reply a lot; it overworks the hamsters and PETA gets all upset.

  96. “If it were their purpose then they would not be built because no wind turbine provides any useful electricity to a grid at any time. ”

    Whisky, tango, foxtrot?

  97. “Wind turbines are okay.

    But;
    It must show it is competitive in a free marked. If subsidies is neccessary, that in itself is proving its just not competitive.”

    I don’t know about other countries, but there’s no free market here in energy. Everything is subsidized. If subsidies prove something isn’t competitive, there goes oil and coal!

    Really, I’m surprised people haven’t caught on to something: power producers harp on about the possibility of turbines causing dangerous surges because their existing plants can’t be throttled down. So all the anti-green activists then start screaming about the evil windmills. Did everyone miss that the plants cannot be throttled up and down based on capacity and demand?

    Your local power plant is likely going full-tilt, all the time, even when most people are asleep and the lights are out. We’re fighting to protect that daffy system? That’s insane.

  98. regeya:

    You have made two postings here. Your first is at June 21, 2010 at 11:14 am. It quotes me then says(in total);
    “Whisky, tango, foxtrot?”

    I have no idea what that obscure comment is supposed to mean and, therefore, I cannot addess it.

    Your second comment is at June 21, 2010 at 11:19 am and includes this gem:

    “Your local power plant is likely going full-tilt, all the time, even when most people are asleep and the lights are out. We’re fighting to protect that daffy system? That’s insane.”

    No! It is not “insane”: it is very sensible if the system is to respond to fluctuations in power demand such that frequent power cuts are avoided.

    The grid has to match its provision of power to the varying demand for power. Too little power supplied to the grid and the lights go out. But too much power supplied to the grid and components of the grid will fail (so the lights go out). If you know of any technology that could provide similar ability for the grid to match demand to the varying supply then please patent it because then you will make a fortune and the rest of us will benefit from cheaper electricity.

    What is “insane” is adding the unpredictable variability of wind powr to the supplies to the grid. That requires even more thermal power plants to operate as a method to manage the additional risk of system failures. Indeed, additional power plants need to be constructed so they can operate to enable the wind farms to operate when wind power is more than 20% of anticipated peak demand from the grid.

    Richard

    [REPLY – He means, “What the . . . heck?” ~ Evan]

  99. Perhaps the answer is fusion power. But I do recall hearing one social philosopher who was appalled at the idea of cheap fusion power because there would be “no limit to growth” and we would eventually end up with a ‘Blade Runner’ world of wall-to-wall urban areas with no space left over for free-living wild animals. He might see wind power as an advantage because it would only support a limited population.

  100. Evan:

    Thankyou for your explanation. If ‘regeya’ does mean what you suggest, then his/her obscure comment merely demonstrates that he/she failed to read my explanation before commenting on it. As I first said above at June 18, 2010 at 4:06 am and repeated several times above:

    “Wind turbines operate intermittently: they only generate electricity when the wind is sufficiently strong but not too strong. So, they do not supply continuously available power to the grid. And thermal power stations take days to start up so they cannot be started and stopped so they have to keep operating during the times when wind turbines supply electricity. Hence, when wind turbines supply electricity to a grid they merely displace a thermal power station on to spinning standby (so the power station continues to operate with little if any reduction to its fuel consumption and emissions) or to operate at reduced output (so the power station operates at reduced efficiency that may increase – yes, INCREASE – its fuel consumption and emissions). I provide a more full explanation of this at
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/courtney_2006_lecture.pdf

    Assuming your explanation is correct, then I have repeatedly addressed his/her point in above posts and I have done so again here.

    Richard

  101. 1. Insects are attracted by light sources.
    2. Insect impact (bug splatter) is also a major cause of aerodynamic efficiency losses in wind turbines.

    So in alarmist-speak, the light is not only a negative forcing in the overall output of the turbine, but also “most likely” provides a negative feedback by increasing the insect density relative to ambient nighttime conditions.

    Ooh, ooh! May I have a multi-million dollar grant to study this? Australia seems so nice. Pretty please?

  102. RE: Richard S Courtney on June 22, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I agree in general, but…
    While a BASE LOAD power station will NOT shutdown due to intermittent power provided by wind turbines, a sufficient amount of turbine output could prevent a faster-starting “peaker” (e.g., a small natural gas-fired plant) that would otherwise be at cold-iron conditions from having to start up.

  103. regeya says:
    June 21, 2010 at 11:19 am
    “[…]
    about the evil windmills. Did everyone miss that the plants cannot be throttled up and down based on capacity and demand?

    Your local power plant is likely going full-tilt, all the time, even when most people are asleep and the lights are out. We’re fighting to protect that daffy system? That’s insane.”

    Google spinning reserve. Or look here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_reserve

    Electricity generation is an interesting field. You will learn a lot that is new to you.

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