The Futility of Wind Power

From Viv Forbes of Australia’s Carbon Sense Coalition comes this new document intended as “a submission to the Australian Senate Enquiry into Wind Farms” on the extraordinary costs of wind power generation both economically and environmentally:

Wind power is so dilute that to collect a significant quantity of wind energy will always require thousands of gigantic towers each with a massive concrete base and a network of interconnecting heavy duty roads and transmission lines. It has a huge land footprint.

Then the operating characteristics of turbine and generator mean that only a small part of the wind’s energy can be captured.

Finally, when they go into production, wind turbines slice up bats and eagles, disturb neighbours, reduce property values and start bushfires.

Wind power is intermittent, unreliable and hard to predict. To cover the total loss of power when the wind drops or blows too hard, every wind farm needs a conventional back-up power station (commonly gas-fired) with capacity of twice the design capacity of the wind farm to even out the sudden fluctuations in the electricity grid. This adds to the capital and operating costs and increases the instability of the network.

The entire document is 30 pages long.

Can I suggest that rather than just read and comment on the document, perhaps some talented WUWT readers could help Viv by doing some fact-checking or provide some further concrete examples of how wind power will cost the Earth.

Viv’s email address is in the doco (as they say in those parts)

Link to the PDF

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131 thoughts on “The Futility of Wind Power

  1. These are state of the art wind turbines, totally useless as generating equipment.
    However they make excellent water pumps. Any forward thinker with money should obtain the many dead ones and set up a pumped storage capacity for hydro electric peak feed in and make money for jam. California has hundreds of dead ones and lots of high country. Thousands of miles of coast line around the world have high elevations close to the coast, pump the sea water uphill and use the power as you need it. Do not these fools in their folly see the idiocy of electricity from the fickle winds. However they are excellent water pumps.

  2. I still like this report on wind energy:
    http://incoteco.com/upload/CIEN.158.2.66.pdf
    It basically says that Denmark, Europe’s biggest wind producer, has never used any of its wind energy, as it is too unreliable. It sells most of it (at a loss) to Sweden, who can mix it with hydro power more effectively.
    The report also has a few gems like:
    Actual energy production was only about 20% of rated power.
    They have such rapid outages of power, that no conventional power plant could take up the load.
    Sometimes, the wind carpet becomes an energy consumer.
    Denmark was without any wind power for 54 days in 2002.
    Denmark was below 10% rated wind output for 14 weeks in 2003.
    You cannot run a 24/7 technological society on such unreliable electrical supplies. And backing this unreliability up with conventional power would be massively expensive, and negate any CO2 savings. Everything in our society runs on electricity. We would go back to the Dark Ages (literally) within a week of losing all electrical power.
    .

  3. Free range chickens are scared of hawks and eagles that fly high and just swoop down and eat them . Wind farms are excellent way to expand the supply of free range chicken as those wind blades scare or kill many hawks and eagles 🙂

  4. Yes, wind power needs backup. But it is not true that this has to come from conventional power stations. Different types of backup are needed for different timescales of wind power outtage. Htydro is best for shor spikes, nuclear only for prolonged outages, various fossil fuels in between.
    But from our side of the debate we should avoid the charge of cherry picking. As David MacKay has described another route would be smart meters for charging car batteries. For a financial incentive car owners could indicate how long they would be prepared to delay or slow down their charging, so that that power could be used to replace wind power. E tirely possible, needing computing capability comparable to that needed by today’s mobile phone nerwork.
    We really must be more careful in our arguments.

  5. I am not sure turbines CAUSE bush fires unless they explode spitting shards hot enough to lead to combustion of bush material on the floor or wherever of the sort we have in Australia. Turbines are, usually, installed in cleared areas with dedicated access paths (Note in the article). As for lightening strikes, they are earthed (One would assume so with tall structures, safety for maintenace crews etc), so that is a moot point IMO.
    But yes, Australia seems to be about 20 years behind the 8-ball (Ignoring ALL trends in the US and the EU). The Gubmint is commited to killing off industry (Claims to not want the “car industry” to die off. What did Toyata do with the AU$32mil it was given to make an Australian made hybrid (Thanks KRudd747)? How will you do that Ms. Gillard? Oh yes, put a price on carbon.) and production, and substituting that “income” from taxation with “a price on carbon” on everything. A wet dream!Not sure where state and federal gubmint is going to get the extra “income” to pay for the subsidies it talks of if there is no industry and no production, and therefore, fewer people working (If CA in the US is anything to go by), can you answer that Ms. Gillar?

  6. I assume the white dusting is snow on the ground, in the picture with the dead windelec.
    As with the last crumpled windelec we saw on WUWT, it looks like some brain-dead engineer did not calculate the extra drag (bending moment) that a windelec covered in blade-ice would produce (ice considerably disrupts the airflow over the blades, and causes greatly increased drag). If this miscalculation is widespread, this means that many if not all windelecs are in danger of falling over in icing conditions.
    If this was an aircraft fault, all planes of the same type would be grounded until a modification had been carried out. I would suggest that all windelecs of the same design as this (and the previous crumpled windelec) are not operated in icing conditions, until suitable repairs and modifications are undertaken.
    .

  7. Wayne points to one if not the only way wind turbines can be useful; as water pumps.
    As for an excellent piece on the futility of wind as a primary source of electricity see; “The Wind Farm Scam” by Dr. John Etheringham. Although written from a British perspective it covers the full range of all that is wrong with wind. The advantage of his inquiry is that it is based on the reality of operating wind farms in Europe. “Power Hungry” by Robert Bryce talks of power density, something that wind has little of.

  8. Just ask Scotland this past December when their wind turbines failed to deliver as the wind dropped sharply and they were forced to use French nuclear power. Furthermore, windpower has a hidden dirty secret which the Greens don’t want you to know about.

    ‘Green’ Scotland relying on French nuclear power
    “Output from major wind farms fell to as low as 2.5 per cent of their potential generation capacity during the cold snap as power demand rose to close to the highest level yet recorded, new figures have revealed.”
    The Scotsman 27 December 2010

    Other things to consider regarding this form of ‘clean’ energy.

    This toxic lake poisons Chinese farmers, their children and their land. It is what’s left behind after making the magnets for Britain’s latest wind turbines
    “…the region has more than 90 per cent of the world’s legal reserves of rare earth metals, and specifically neodymium, the element needed to make the magnets…”
    Daily Mail 29th January 2011

  9. Here in the UK, Call me Dave’s ‘greenest government ever’ (I assume the double meaning has been lost on him) are still relentlessly pursuing wind power – although one of his other Big Ideas (Localism) seems to be putting a much-needed spanner in the works, as ‘local’ people and the planners are frequently turning down applications for wind farms. A recent government sub-committee (see Bishop Hill’s blog) has, basically, implied that they are a waste of time, money, and resources – but of course it takes a brave man/government to say: ‘Yep – you’re right and we were wrong – Britain may be windy – but not THAT windy and not CONSISTENTLY windy, so we’ll concentrate on energy SECURITY – because that’s much more important…’
    Won’t happen any time soon – bear in mind our government has actually passed a LAW (The Climate Change Act) which makes it a legal requirement to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions by EIGHTY PERCENT by 2050..! Break out your horses and carts, and spinning wheels, folks…
    Anyway – back to the main subject. I have written to our dear Department of Energy and Climate Change (like they’re connected in some way) asking them to desist from trumpeting THEORETICAL outputs for wind farms. A new offshore farm has just been approved off the mouth of the Humber – and the press release stated that this would power (note the phrase) ‘UP TO 150000 homes’…
    At the time I wrote to them, I suggested they took a look at the NETA tables for electricity production (updated every ten minutes). It was a typical February day – and wind was providing 6% of installed capacity (0.3% of total demand). On that basis, this money pit in the North Sea (our money, of course) would have powered 9350 homes.
    The other thing which they fail to ‘get’ in my view, is this. 200 years ago, sailors, millers and drainers-of-the-fens, dumped wind power in a big hurry, in favour of steam power (and eventually diesel and electric power) – due to the one unassailable fact – that wind does NOT blow when you need it..!
    Finally – not only are these things a blot on our precious landscape, but sited as they must be on windy uplands far from centres of population (no gigantic wind turbine in Parliament Square, I notice, droning away) – they of course require a whole new infrastructure of pylons, transmission lines, roads and substations.
    Let’s keep up the pressure – someone MIGHT eventually listen to us…

  10. Forgive me for being a bit facetious, but that dead wind mill in the photo reminds me powerfully of a giant frozen leek ….

  11. TFNJ says: February 14, 2011 at 2:07 am
    “Yes, wind power needs backup. But it is not true that this has to come from conventional power stations.”
    You should apply for a job in the UK with National Grid (National Grid own the electricity transmission network in England and Wales and operate the entire transmission system throughout Great Britain.), because you obviously know more about this topic than they do.
    /sarc off.
    In 2006, in their 7 year statement NG said (http://tinyurl.com/4gb45fy):
    However, as the amount of wind increases, the proportion of conventional capacity that can be displaced without eroding the level of security reduces. For example, for 25000MW of wind only 5000MW (i.e. 20% of the wind capacity) of conventional capacity can be retired. This implies that, for larger wind penetrations, the wind capacity that can be taken as firm is not proportional to the expected wind energy production. It follows that the electricity market will need to maintain in service a larger proportion of conventional generation capacity despite reduced load factors. Such plant is often referred to as “standby plant”.
    In other words, this means that in order to accommodate 25GW of wind power there is a need for 20GW of conventional generation capacity as “standby plant”.

  12. TFNJ said, on February 14, 2011 at 2:07 am.
    QUOTE
    Yes, wind power needs backup. But it is not true that this has to come from conventional power stations. Different types of backup are needed for different timescales of wind power outtage. Htydro is best for shor spikes, nuclear only for prolonged outages, various fossil fuels in between.
    UNQUOTE
    TFJN – I’m not sure where you live, but it does not seem to be in Australia.
    Australia is a dry continent. We have already dammed all the rivers that are there and that the Greens (and perhaps many others) will allow. So there is NO MORE hydro power potential in this country.
    Again I’m not sure where you’re from, but the majority of Australian voters and both political parties, are not extremely, crash hot keen on nuclear power.
    Also have you considered that having both a hydro AND a neclear power station on hand, both ticking over, (because who can tell if the need is short term orlong?) so they can instantly ramp up to full output, whenever mother nature decides to suddenly take a break – well that may be just a bit more expensive than we Ausies are prepared to bear?
    But now I see.
    You do mention fossil fuels as a base for electricity production.
    Now THAT is a great idea.
    Clever thinking.
    We have odles and oddles and odddles of top quality coal very handily located to the main population centres.
    Clever lad.
    You left the obvious answer until last.
    Very droll!

  13. November came, with raging south-west winds. Building had to stop because it was now too wet to mix the cement. Finally there came a night when the gale was so violent that the farm buildings rocked on their foundations and several tiles were blown off the roof of the barn. The hens woke up squawking with terror because they had all dreamed simultaneously of hearing a gun go off in the distance. In the morning the animals came out of their stalls to find that the flagstaff had been blown down and an elm tree at the foot of the orchard had been plucked up like a radish. They had just noticed this when a cry of despair broke from every animal’s throat. A terrible sight had met their eyes. The windmill was in ruins.
    With one accord they dashed down to the spot. Napoleon, who seldom moved out of a walk, raced ahead of them all. Yes, there it lay, the fruit of all their struggles, levelled to its foundations, the stones they had broken and carried so laboriously scattered all around. Unable at first to speak, they stood gazing mournfully at the litter of fallen stone. Napoleon paced to and fro in silence, occasionally snuffing at the ground. His tail had grown rigid and twitched sharply from side to side, a sign in him of intense mental activity. Suddenly he halted as though his mind were made up.
    “Comrades,” he said quietly, “do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!” he suddenly roared in a voice of thunder. “Snowball has done this thing! In sheer malignity, thinking to set back our plans and avenge himself for his ignominious expulsion, this traitor has crept here under cover of night and destroyed our work of nearly a year. Comrades, here and now I pronounce the death sentence upon Snowball. ‘Animal Hero, Second Class,’ and half a bushel of apples to any animal who brings him to justice. A full bushel to anyone who captures him alive!”

    From Animal Farm, Chapter VI by George Orwell.
    We notice time and again the script for AGW hysteria is stolen right from Orwell. This windmill thing is not an exception. It can’t be anything else, but a conspiracy.
    Therefore Animal Hero, Second Class, and half a bushel of apples to any animal who brings the traitors responsible for destruction of windmills to justice. That would take care of the problem.
    It is surely not some power game of pigs, is it?

  14. TFNJ says:
    February 14, 2011 at 2:07 am
    Yes, wind power needs backup. But it is not true that this has to come from conventional power stations. Different types of backup are needed for different timescales of wind power outtage. Htydro is best for shor spikes, nuclear only for prolonged outages, various fossil fuels in between.
    But from our side of the debate we should avoid the charge of cherry picking. As David MacKay has described another route would be smart meters for charging car batteries. For a financial incentive car owners could indicate how long they would be prepared to delay or slow down their charging, so that that power could be used to replace wind power. E tirely possible, needing computing capability comparable to that needed by today’s mobile phone nerwork.
    We really must be more careful in our arguments.
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    I don’t want to be rude but car batteries are absolutely hopeless and cannot possibly work as a practical solution to back up times when wind does not provide sufficient energy.
    About 15 to 18 years ago, my dad decided he would have an electric car. He liked the idea of a car being powered by electricity. This was a big swop since he was driving a Lotus sports car. Any way, the car had about 70 batteries (may be more) and although it was meant to have a range of about 100 miles and a top speed of 50 mph, in practice in the hilly countryside in which he lived, the range was nearer 30 miles and the top speed was nearer 40 but after 5 to 10 miles you would struggle to get 40mph particularly at night if you had to use the lights. The car was a novelty and if my dad went to a restaurant or a pub, they would run a power lead so the car could be charged whist my dad was having a meal or a drink. In practice, this was quite necessary.
    The point I make is that 70 (or even more) car batteries could not run a small car for more than a few hours. The power consumption of a car is modest indeed (electric lights say 150 watts, heater, windscreen wipers say 120 watts plus the main power motor – I don’t know what that was but that was the most power hungry item). Now consider a house – electric kettle 3,000 watts, cooker 5,000 to 9,000 watts, microwave 600 to 1,200 watts, electric water heater 3,000 watts, electric shower 7,000 to 11,000 watts, lights say 800 to 2,500 watts, fridge/freezer say 550 to 1,000 watts, washing machine/dryer 500 to 4,500 watts, dishwasher 1,200 to 1,500 watts This list does not include any form of electric heaters.
    In the UK, the main fuse to a house is usuallly rated at 100 or 120 amps. We have 240 volts, so the maximum wattage is circa 25,000 watts. Obviously, no one is expecting this to be the continous loading of the house and perhaps the continous loaading is more in the region of 10,000 to 15,000 watts.
    Just imagine how many car batteries you would need to run a house at 240 volts for just 6 hours. In the UK, the 2009/10 winter there was an about 3 week period when windfarms were producing only between 3 to 8% of their rated power output and some days when they produced zero. How could car batteries cope during such a lengthy period?
    Houses don’t run on 12volts. Of course, you could instal low voltage lights and of course, batteries could run a computer and other high tech electrical items eg., amplifiers, dvds, tvs etc. However, they are incapable of running power hungry items. Even if you were to gang them up both in parallel and in series say 5 parallel rows of 20 batteries in series (ie., a total of 100 batteries which would be capable of delivering 240 volts), they would quickly run flat when used for a power hungry application such as boling water and cooking, drying clothes etc.
    The idea of car batteries being used as back up even for just a day is ridiculous. You would need thousands of batteries.
    The financial cost would be prohibitive. The batteries in my dad’s car didn’t last very long. He had to replace these at a cost of about £3,000 and this was at least 12 years ago. The price today would be considerably higher. The capital cost of this idea is enormous. The environmental costs involved in manufacturing the required number of batteries would be outlandish.
    The bottom line is that without a suitable storage device (such as a water dam and hydro-electric plant) wind is a hopeless form of energy provider. Anyone with an ounce of commonsense can see that the plans for further windfarms should be stopped immediately.

  15. Hydro may be best for short spikes, but then that means that, when the wind is blowing, we will have to cut back on the generating capacity of hydro. Because wind is so unpredictable, using nuclear for long outages would result in a difficulty in ramping back down when the wind starts to blow again. The sudden spike would also necessitate hydro to ramp back down quickly to compensate. — John M Reynolds

  16. wayne job writes “These are state of the art wind turbines, totally useless as generating equipment. However they make excellent water pumps”
    I am intrigued by this statement. First, I know nothing about the subject, so I am really seeking information. Here in Ontario, Canada, we have an ideal situtuation to use wind power for pumped storage, but there are absolutely no such facilities operational or considered for the future. And I wonder why. I suspect that wind power cannot be used DIRECTLY to power any sort of electric system, such as a water pump. The output is far too variable.
    Does anyone know whether my guess is anywhere close to reality?

  17. In South Australia where windy politicians proudly pronounce our State as the leading windmill State, our first windmill farm at Starfish Hill is now up for sale by all accounts-

    Watch the video carefully for the one not turning due to damaged blade tips no doubt, as were 3 out of the 23 I counted as damaged only a few weeks ago when I was there. I believe blade tip disintegration is a common problem in a matter of a few years, rather than complete catastrophic failure, although that can depend on location. Caveat emptor for all those ‘green’ taxpayer subsidised investments now.

  18. RE: Metal Thieves
    The always clever and resourceful metal thieves will find a way to knock the turbines down, cut’em up and haul the metal to the scrap yard.
    In BC, copper thieves were ripping old copper ground lines off of utility poles. BC Hydro had to start a program to replace these with aluminium wire.
    In several cities thieves would take down light standards, rip out the copper wire for scrap and then haul the light standard to the scrap yard.

  19. Jim Cripwell,
    The idea is to use the mechanical energy of the wind turbine to drive a pump directly, no electrical power involved. When the wind blows you get water pumped to a potential head that can be used to generate hydro when it is needed.
    Totally proven technology that is reliable, pumped hydro is used in many places, usually pumped by off peak electricity from coal plants then kicked in at high demand periods.

  20. wayne Job
    These are state of the art wind turbines, totally useless as generating equipment.
    However they make excellent water pumps. Any forward thinker with money should obtain the many dead ones and set up a pumped storage capacity for hydro electric peak feed in and make money for jam. …

    Unfortunately this wont, in most circumstances, deliver useful power – unless you have a very large water storage area for your pumped water.
    I’ll demonstrate the problem.
    Consider how much energy is required to power a 2Kw heater for a day.
    2Kw = 2000 Joules / second
    Assuming a drop of 30m (100ft) – how much water would be required to sustain 2Kw of power?
    energy = force x distance
    so force = energy / distance = 2000J / 30m = 66N
    Divide by 9.8 m/s^2 (acceleration due to gravity) to get the mass:
    66N / gravity = 6.8 Kg of water / second, to generate 2Kw of power.
    How much water would be required for a day?
    6.8Kg/2 * (seconds in a day: 24 hours * 60 minutes * 60 seconds) = 587,755 Kg
    or 587 metric tons of water, to power a 2Kw heater for a day.
    Scale this calculation up to see how much water you would need to power a city, and you will see why hydro schemes are so enormous, yet only deliver a small fraction of global energy.

  21. Harold Pierce Jr,
    Re: Metal Thieves. True dat. I had a shopping center in Sacramento in 2006. When copper prices were at $4 a pound I noticed some water dripping from the roof. I went up and found that someone had cut out and removed all the copper drain pipes from the air conditioning units.
    They probably got $400 – 500 for the scrap copper. Cost me $6,000 to replace it.

  22. Meanwhile in Obamaville:
    “In the energy area, the budget would support Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and doubling the nation’s share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
    The budget proposes program terminations or spending reductions for more than 200 programs at an estimated savings of $33 billion in 2012. Programs targeted for large cuts included …, while a program that helps pay heating bills for low-income families would be cut in half for a savings of $2.5 billion ….”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Obama-unveils-373-trillion-apf-145221377.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=
    So, let’s see; to balance the budget we will waste a bunch of money making power more expensive and then stop helping the poor to pay for this unnecessarily expensive power? Yeah, that should work.

  23. The Turitea wind farm in Palmerston North, New Zealand has after a protracted and debilitating battle just been approved. We did our best to stop it. The likelihood that Kyoto will not be renewed next year could be the wild card. Lots of info on useless wind farms here,
    http://www.palmerston-north.info

  24. Any source info on the great photo of the destroyed windmill?
    The report is a great summary of the inherent problems of windmills. My take, is that it is so confrontational and judgmental in its unvarnished assessment that it will simply be ignored, unfortunately.

  25. Murray Grainger says: February 14, 2011 at 4:53 am
    “Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015”
    I expect that this will be achieved by giving 500,00 essential goverment employees two vehicles each, one will be at home charging up (at taxpayer expense) and one will be in the office car park charging up (at taxpayer expense).

  26. I’m offering a friendly wager that 5 years from now, all wind turbine farms world-wide will be eliminated–replaced with safe, eco-friendly and very cost effective E-Cat units. Then all of those ugly, expensive, noisy, destructive and inefficient wind turbines can be scrapped and the land returned to pristine vista again.
    http://pesn.com/2011/01/17/9501746_Focardi-Rossi_10_kW_cold_fusion_prepping_for_market/
    http://pesn.com/2011/01/19/9501747_cold-fusion-journals_warming_to_Rossi_breakthrough/
    Oh, this little wager also applies to all those carbon-burning electricity-generating plants, too (coal accounts for almost half of the electricity generated in the United States)–but instead of scrapping these facilities, they’ll simply be retrofitted with cold fusion devices. Think of the benefits–no more effluents to impact the surrounding countryside except waste heat, which could be put to agricultural use. Electricity rates will go down, too, and coal and petroleum can be saved as raw materials for much better uses than simple combustion.
    Think what this will do to current energy policy in every nation of the world.
    Five years from now–anybody care to refute this prediction?

  27. Viv Evans says:
    February 14, 2011 at 3:08 am
    > Forgive me for being a bit facetious, but that dead wind mill in the photo reminds me powerfully of a giant frozen leek ….
    Missed it – I was too taken with the GoogleAd on the main page just above this post that goes to http://simbio.com/promos/climate-change?gclid=CLe35q7ih6cCFQl_5QodAg7FfQ – uses the Ursus bogus image of a polar bear on a chunk of ice that we destroyed here after Science used it in a lame attempt to tame acrimonious discussion.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/12/new-bear-species-discovered-ursus-bogus/
    A downed tower like that would make a heck of a poley bear den!
    —-
    An aside – my website was essentially taken down by a false report about some of my wife’s legal pages. I’m in the process of moving things to a better ISP, but it looks a bit challenging to repoint and transfer the domains. For now, http://werme.bizland.com will have to do, the old site is kinda, sorta running and might get restored to its old glory (hah!) for a while.

  28. Pumped hydro was big in the 1960’s and 70s in the US to accommodate the big ordering boom in large nuclear plants. The ideas was to pump up to the upper reservoir at night when prices and demand were lower and let it down during the day. Efficiencies were about 70-80% all in (energy input as pumping vs energy output). The real value of pumped hydro was not energy storage but fast response to load changes so if a power station tripped off line, the hydro storage could make it up quickly. Costs were high since you need a large reservoir at a higher elevation, dual directional turbines (pump/turbine), tunnels/pen stocks etc. The all in capital of wind + transmission + pumped storage would be unaffordable.

  29. A bit of digging on Starfish Hill in South Oz came up with some interesting figures. That sales pitch for $4-5mill asking price was actually in late 2009 and no takers apparently as Transfield Infrastructure Fund still own it here-
    http://www.tsinfrastructurefund.com/page/Infrastructure_Assets/Starfish_Hill_wind_farm
    Now note the initial owners/builders coughed up $65mill in july 2003 which included the cost of a transmission line to Yankalilla which we know from here-
    http://solarenergypartners.co.uk/about-us
    was $20mill max because the 23 Vestas NM64C turbines were at least S45 mill (perhaps not including installation or local pylons, etc). Transfield bought them in late 2007 and by late 2009 wanted to flog them off for only $4 to $5mill with that $200k mooted annual income but no takers. Makes you positively green with envy as an investor now doesn’t it? As well you need to bear in mind all this fabulous green return was also being forcibly subsidised by power consumers to prop that up, while the props stop turning. Welcome to the greens Industrial Devolution folks!

  30. @richard verney – too true. The life of a lead acid battery is determined by a number of things, but first and foremost is the number of charge cycles times the depth of discharge. I have a 100 KWH bank of Rolls cells around. Out of interest, I asked Rolls what the lifetime/discharge characteristics were so that I would know if I should be pulling from the bank at night when my solar system was not operating. I got back a curve that gave me the number of charge cycles versus the depth of discharge. If you drove the bank flat, you would get 1500 charge cycles at 100% discharge and 6500 cycles at 10% discharge. Of course, you have to maintain them too. Keep the fluid level in the correct and periodically perform an overvoltage charge cycle to keep the plates clean. Lead acid is nice for casual backup but a total loser for continuous usage.

  31. Way too much misinformation and exaggeration on this blog…
    Yes, wind power is intermittent, but wind parks are developed where the wind profile has been studied and measured. Thus, the wind is predictable, and the task for utilities is to match demand with the multiple resources at hand. It is true that when the wind blows, utilities back off their most expensive resource, typically natural gas. In America, studies have shown that wind diversifies energy sources, so that as a replacement for gas, it actually reduces the cost of natural gas. Also, fossil fuel-fired power plants often go off-line, sometimes without notice, creating rolling black-outs and power failures.
    Second, the speculation that when turbines are not spinning that it “must be because the wind turbines are broken” is silly. The reality is that often wind turbines will be taken off line when too much power is being generated for demand load. That is, like throttling back on a gas power plant or reducing the amount of water through a hydro facility, wind turbines are often turned off to balance generation with load.
    Third, regarding the visual impact, have you seen a strip mine coal field or the pollution generated from a coal-fired power plant? Not pretty either. Wind power produces no stench, pollution, toxic chemicals or mercury, greenhouse gases, nor does it use precious water in dry climates. Indeed, agriculture and energy are constantly at odds about regions’ water budgets. Water guzzled from conventional power plants reduces what can be used to produce food. Wind is one energy source that does not threaten ag needs.
    Fourth, the subsidies for coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas far outstrip subsidies for wind. The need for government built railroads and pipelines are eliminated with wind, as well as diesel fuel to transport coal from mines to power plants.
    Fifth, it is true that bats continue to be a problem with turbines, and the industry is working on that issue. The situation with birds, however, can be addressed with proper siting, and many bird advocacy groups actually support wind. Additionally, other things, such as cats, cars, and buildings have significantly higher bird kill rates compared to wind power plants, and these things are rarely criticized for their impact on birds.
    Finally, the “land footprint” for wind turbines is actually embraced in many communities as it allows the economic benefits for wind to be spread around among many landowners in a community. Of course, no one will get rich with a handful of turbines on one’s property, but it can be a very helpful economic supplement for agricultural lands. Indeed, some studies indicate that wind can be a significant economic boost in rural communities, creating local jobs and opportunities for “farm kids” seeking to stay in the very communities they grew up in.

  32. Wind power is not a replacement for stationary power generators, but it can be a useful supplement. It increases the diversity of energy sources, making the supply less dependent on price shocks and cutoffs of fossil fuels. In some cases, for particular installations, where sell-to-grid arrangements are in place, it is very economical. Wind power isn’t all that hard to predict, and the negative effects cited in your excerpt could be laid to many other power generators and public works ‘improvements’ in general. Nothing is without cost.
    More energy diversity, pursued with proper costing methods, is good. Seeing windpower as a panacea and replacement for our current system is ridiculous. And this paper, from your excerpt, sounds over-the-top.

  33. Farmers and land owners have been flocking to the money. That tells me that price constraints (read subsidies that keep consumer costs at the market low) on food keep farmers from making a decent wage when food production costs soar as they do now and then. But they are buying a pig in a poke. There is no easy money.
    Farmers and ranchers must learn to diversify what they produce so that they have a mix of subsidized and non-subsidized products, as well as a mix of raw and finished products. This job is similar to teaching. Everybody hates what you do but needs your product anyway, you are severely limited in what you can do because of regulations, and somebody else controls how much you make. But you do it anyway because it is your passion.

  34. From the good folks over at The Resilient Earth:
    “If all German wind power projects are realized as planned, the country will incur economic losses well over 100 billion Euros by 2030,” says Thomas Heinzow, an environmental economist at the University of Hamburg. “The only word that describes this ‘world improvement’ strategy is suicidal.”
    http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/dying-breeze
    and
    “The toughest challenge facing turbine builders may be mitigating the noise associated with the coming wind storm. People who live near turbines can be subjected to an annoying mix of whooshes, whines, and “thwumps,” depending on the model and wind conditions. Wind developers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand have all faced “vehement” local opposition due to noise, says Jim Cummings of the Acoustic Ecology Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.”
    http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/fighting-co2-endangers-raptors

  35. Viv Evans says: February 14, 2011 at 3:08 am
    ‘Forgive me ….., but that dead wind mill in the photo reminds me powerfully of a giant frozen leek ….’
    Forgiven, since no-one else did. I thought you were just being truthful.
    What’s your take on the vulture video then?
    Harold Pierce Jr says: February 14, 2011 at 4:25 am et al
    Re: Metal Thieves
    That’s interesting. Here in Australia a school that burned down during holiday times someone had mentioned that the copper had been taken also. As does, in some suburbs, the copper from the gas cylinders.
    Apologies Antony and co, I had posted the Forbes Senate submission on Willis’ post in response to a commenter, before reading this post. I guess I just enjoy Willis’ articles and didn’t scan the day’s postings. Also the bones reaching to the groin, extra bones, ?broken neck and the oversize scapula was a good take. I didn’t count the ribs.

  36. In particular note in The Register article I linked to first about the Dutch finally ditching wind for nuclear it’s reported-
    “Critics of wind turbine expansion have found it difficult to get figures to judge whether the turbines are value for money. In January, Ofgem refused to disclose the output of each Feed-In Tariff (FiT) location.”
    Judging by those Starfish Hill figures is it any wonder politicians and wind-farm operators everywhere are stony silent about this? Not hard to whiff a scandal of international proportions here and why the Hell have all our paid journos and investigative reporters rolled over and accepted being fed like domestic chooks on this?

  37. Eric Worrall says:
    February 14, 2011 at 4:41 am
    For hydro electric powerplants you can use the following formula.
    P=pφgh
    Wher P is power in watts.
    p is the water density in kg/m^3, lets use 1000 which is density at sea level.
    φ is the flow per second in m^3/s
    g is the acelleration under gravity 9.81 m/s^2 lets use 10 for simplicity
    A one cubic meter/s powerplant with a 30 m drop then gives.
    P=1000*1*10*30=300,000 watts
    The throughput is constant so the flows gives a daily water usage of 1 m^3 * 86400 seconds in day (24 hours), which amounts to 86,400 m^3 a day or 86,400 metric tons of water a day for a 300,000 watts power plant.

  38. Wayne Job, Many thanks. I was thinking of using exisitng hydro installations, which would then require the wind pumps to be installed at the already existing hydro site. I suspect, not very practical.

  39. Viv’s email address is in the doco (as they say in those parts)

    I can’t be sure, because it’s been 8 years since I left Australia, but in the half a magnitude or more time I spent there, I think I developed the feeling that the doco refers to documentation in general rather than a specific document, which I believe is your intended meaning. Thus your usage would be grammatically incorrect.
    Of course, I am sure there are Aussies who would disagree with me.

  40. *****
    Jim Cripwell says:
    February 14, 2011 at 4:01 am
    wayne job writes “These are state of the art wind turbines, totally useless as generating equipment. However they make excellent water pumps”
    I am intrigued by this statement. First, I know nothing about the subject, so I am really seeking information. Here in Ontario, Canada, we have an ideal situtuation to use wind power for pumped storage, but there are absolutely no such facilities operational or considered for the future. And I wonder why. I suspect that wind power cannot be used DIRECTLY to power any sort of electric system, such as a water pump. The output is far too variable.
    Does anyone know whether my guess is anywhere close to reality?

    *****
    I have doubts about this too. I don’t see how an electric motor of sufficient size (say at least 100 HP) to pump significant water volumes could last long or even work when directly connected to the variable output of wind turbines. Those motors need constant power supplies.

  41. The entire installed electricity generating capacity of the UK has to be replaced in the next ten years. It’s big money, in control of the government, and the newspapers are the public battleground where the battle is being fought for our opinions. But everybody is fighting dirty, so the victim is the truth. Ordinary people have no real way of knowing what the truth is.
    What I can say is this, after doing some “back of a cigarette packet” calculations that suggest wind power in the UKwill pay for itself over its lifetime – you’ve got to do a lifetime costing because windpower is expensive upfront but very cheap in running costs. That’s at today’s prices – we can expect fuel costs to rise dramatically over the next decades making windpower in the UK look like a great investment. No big surprise that so many windfarms are being built in the North Sea right now by big concerns that have done the calculations for themselves. But bear in mind that this small island gathers 35% of all Europe’s wind energy -so what works here won’t necessarily work elsewhere.

  42. Ryan says:
    February 14, 2011 at 8:25 am

    … because windpower is expensive upfront but very cheap in running costs.

    No, it’s horribly expensive. Just what do you do when there’s absolutely no wind across the UK? If you rely on wind power for all your electricity, you’ll have to have 100% backup of conventional baseline capacity. And that doubles the cost because of the unreliability factor. Wind is so unpredictable all that backup baseline has to be ready at a moment’s notice–either to go offline or come online. Talk about inefficiencies.
    Wind power is not the answer.

  43. What’s futile is thinking that these rather large fans will cool us all down. I walked past two today and they had no effect whatsoever. Looks like a waste of electricity to me!

  44. Baron Scarpia says:
    February 14, 2011 at 6:17 am
    Way too much misinformation and exaggeration on this blog…
    Yes, wind power is intermittent, but wind parks are developed where the wind profile has been studied and measured.
    __________________________________
    In CA the Energy Commission has released 100m wind maps. We’ll get to that below. Each wind turbine uses 80 acres. That provides a 1/3 to 1/2 mile separation between turbines that occassionally disintegrate. The separation is needed to protect the neighboring turbines. I’ve posted this before, but here goes again:
    To provide 10% of power needs in CA would require 10,000 1.5 MW wind turbines. On 80 acres each, you need 1250 square miles of land. Except there isn’t enough land area with the required wind speeds (the CEC wind speed maps at 100m AGL). That means the turbines need to be built off shore. 1250 sq miles translates to 500 miles of coastline with 7 or so rows of tubrines from the shore out to sea covering a band 2.5 miles wide.
    Who would support such a ridiculous scheme? Nobody without a financial or political interest. There is a dirty little secret. These unreliable green power sources require autoresponse through smart grid to monitor and turn off devices in your home. But smart grid is much more than that. It is much more dangerous than that. The government plan is to create smart grid first, before the wind power is installed.
    The excuse for the total assault on freedom and privacy is the supposed need for green energy (green is the new red, by the way – very chic with a hammer and sickle). When it becomes clear the scheme doesn’t work, they will still have smart grid. They know the green power plan is unworkable now. That tells me the only part they care about is smart grid.
    Smart grid will let government monitor what you do in your home (data mining provision in Title XIII, EISA 2007). Government and hackers will be able to get to your personal information through the wires in your home (Home Plug, Intellon) when computers have the new power supplies with the Intellon chip built in. With these power supplies you are networked whenever your computer is plugged into the wall. They are being sold in Europe now.
    Big corporations are backing this travesty (GE, CISCO, Intel, IBM to name a few), believing they will reap huge profits in new regulation-based markets. This is a horrible cabal of government and industry planning to force you to spend your money and simultaneously take your freedom away.
    Europeans gave their freedom away a long time ago, if they ever had it, so they don’t seem to notice much of a difference with and without smart grid. Amercians are still the last best hope to fight back. Aussies, strap on a pair and lets do this together.

  45. As regards what Ryan says: February 14, 2011 at 8:25 am, this is not the experience of the Danes. Maintenance costs are very high and their turbines are coming to the end of their useful working life before they have repaid the capital costs.
    Further, it does not automatically follow that alternative energy proces will rocket in price. First there is shale gas which could provide plentiful and cheap energy. Second, there is no reason why nuclear should dramatically increase in costs and if Thorium reactors can come on stream, real costs may actually reduce. Third whilst coal mining may become slightly more expensive, there is no reason from a supply point for it to rocket in cost. This just leaves oil which in any event is not used in significant quantities for wholesale energy production. The price of oil is largely speculatively driven. Presently, its value has not reflected either physical supply (note OPEC control release quantaties to influence the market price) nor cost of extraction. If we set up coal to liquid plants, then this will help stabilize the cost of oil since these plants breakeven at about $60 per barrel. If we were to set up such plants then oil would have to compete and (subject to inflation) this may cap oil prices at below 470 per barrel.
    Wind does not make economic sense since you always need back up. This will apply in the future such that 10 or 20 years down the line you will still need 100% backup with conventional stations on line. The cost of wind therefore must additionally include the costs of building, maintaining and running the backup conventional generation stations.

  46. The final sentence of my second paragraph should read:
    “If we were to set up such plants then oil would have to compete and (subject to inflation) this may cap oil prices at below $70 per barrel.”

  47. “Hydro may be best for short spikes”
    Here in the Pacific Northwest we have 18 GW of peak hydro and 3.5 GW of wind.
    We don’t really have a problem backing up wind for short spikes.
    The problem goes in the other direction. If all the windmills are blowing we can’t completely turn off the hydro otherwise we would dry up our rivers and kill all the fish.
    It’s just a part of natures patterns that good wind tends to follow good rains.
    It’s also part of natures pattern that August tends to have little wind and no rain.
    In August the hydro dams are running on minimum to conserve water and the windmills are doing nothing.
    So our grand plan to close our coal fired plants as we had all this ‘clean energy’ failed. The poor eco-friendly governors of Washington and Oregon had no choice but to extend the licenses on our coal fired plants.

  48. Baron Scarpia: The reality is that often wind turbines will be taken off line when too much power is being generated for demand load.
    I have trouble following you here. The goal of wind generation is to displace power from conventional sources. Only when wind has displaced 100 percent of conventional power can it be said to generate too much power. Has that ever happened?

  49. observa says:
    February 14, 2011 at 6:07 am
    So, investors in wind farms and such are in a dilemma? As investors, they cannot reveal the truth about what they invested in, that it has no future, and cannot criticize the people who ripped them off because they are hoping that some more governments follow Britain and make the same stupid investments. I was wondering why investors in this wind farm idiocy, and many others, were not suing investment houses left and right.

  50. Baron Scarpia says:
    “Fourth, the subsidies for coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas far outstrip subsidies for wind. The need for government built railroads and pipelines are eliminated with wind, as well as diesel fuel to transport coal from mines to power plants.
    “Fifth, it is true that bats continue to be a problem with turbines, and the industry is working on that issue. The situation with birds, however, can be addressed with proper siting, and many bird advocacy groups actually support wind. Additionally, other things, such as cats, cars, and buildings have significantly higher bird kill rates compared to wind power plants, and these things are rarely criticized for their impact on birds.”
    All your points are debatable, but regarding these last two: if all subsidies were eliminated [which I would support], we would still have fossil fuels and nuclear. But wind power, being a ridiculous, inefficient waste of resources, would go the way of the buggy whip.
    Without the huge taxpayer subsidies being shoveled out, wind power would be almost non-existent. There is no economic justification for this foolish travesty. It is based on the falsehood that CO2 is harmful.
    Wind power is inefficient and a blight on the landscape. So-called environmentalists have been bought off, and now support this environmentally damaging hoax.
    Re: your point #5, how is ‘industry working on that issue’ coming along? And how will birds be informed that a windmill has been properly sited? Those claims sound like pablum for the masses. And sparrows being caught by cats or flying into windows doesn’t compare with apex predators like eagles and large scavengers like condors being sliced and diced.
    Wind power is a total misallocation of resources that puts many thousands of people out of work. See Bastiat’s Broken Window fallacy. The sooner that wind power subsidies are eliminated, the sooner these ugly monstrosities will disappear.

  51. Bqron Scarpia,
    You simply fib, not to put too fine a point on it.
    Wind power is in its nature tied to wind. Wind is in fact intermittent.
    Wind depends on direct operating support in the form of price guarantees paid for by tax payers and favorable depreciation and tax credits.
    Fossil fuels do not.
    The obfuscation that windmill supporters use to pretend that the tax treatment of oil and gas is the equivalent of an operating subsidy and price guarantee at tax payer expense is annoying and make me think cynical on the part of your side, since it so untrue.

  52. Baron Scarpia says:
    Wind power produces no stench, pollution, toxic chemicals
    Oh yes it does!!! I guess you didn’t see the item about the five-mile-wide lake of toxic sludge in China caused by maufacturing these things. Or perhaps you don’t care because it’s only Chinese children who are having ther life expectancy slashed bit by bit every time one of these subsidised monstrosities goes up in the West!

  53. When it comes to wind and solar installations, I think we have the whole thing backwards. Rather than spending millions (billions?) on boondoggle projects that only make the multinationals (like GE) richer, why not spend the money in the form of REAL tax breaks for local installations on privately owned homes, commercial real estate centers, apartment buildings and so on? It doesn’t happen because the government only wants to reward the big corporations and investment bankers who reap the profits from construction of these useless “farms” and then return the favor in campaign contributions. This is crony capitalism at work.
    In small, localized, private installations the energy is used when it is available, thereby reducing our “carbon footprint” during those favorable times. The energy is used more efficiently at the source, so that if you have a solar installation on your apartment building in Denver, and it is generating power while the sun is shining, you don’t have to worry about the fact that the sun isn’t shining or the wind not blowing in central Kansas where there are huge farms that have to send the electricity hundreds of miles to you. When the sun isn’t shining in Denver, you use the grid’s conventional power sources.
    It has been shown that, in small, private installations, people can recoup the cost of the equipment and installation for wind and solar within about 5 years. The life expectancy of the equipment runs about 20. The government could make it even more attractive by offering MEANINGFUL tax credits – not the token one’s we see.
    Of course, the utilities hate the idea of the government subsidizing private individuals, viewing this as a missed opportunity for profits, but they are still going to be needed for conventional “grid power” and the demands for that will still grow.
    When you have many private individuals buying wind and solar installations you create more opportunities for private enterprise AND you create competition. Nobody will buy windmills that freeze up in cold weather or solar panels that have half the life expectancy of the average. You get better, more efficient stuff through competition.
    Global warming or not, the idea of alternative energy is still a good idea for many, many reasons, most of them political.
    People might think that the idea of windmills and solar panels sprouting up all over large urban centers is distasteful, but why would we want this stuff all over our beautiful countryside? Isn’t that more distasteful? Private power generation puts more control in the hands of the people and less in the hands of big government entities. Isn’t that what most of us ultimately want?
    Unfortunately, we have the best government money can buy. It will continue that way until the people demand something different.

  54. To the several commenters who are still enthusiastic for pumped storage I would recommend reviewing this table
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epates.html
    It is fairly densely packed with information, but it is still quite easy to locate the data for pumped storage. Just let you eye scan down the page until you come to the row which has a minus sign in front of every annual value, that’s the pumped storage line. It supplies a negative contribution that runs a order of magnitude or two bigger than the entire solar sector and until 2002 eclipsed the combined output of wind and solar together. The table does show the rather impressive growth in wind’s contribution. Impressive unless you look at it terms of total overall demand and consider that it’s percent contribution has been boosted greatly by the serious downturn in demand as a result of the declining economy. If the economy has really turned, wind’s growing trend is likely to be reversed as demand return’s to pre-recession levels, even if the dramatic proliferation of wind turbines is continued, which seems more and more unlikely.

  55. Some sad stats about wind farms…
    Oil kills 2.5 birds per peta-joule of energy produced, wind kills 1,114 per peta-joule.
    Considering that the oil industry is taking precautions to avoid killing birds, the wind farms can’t do anything about it since they can’t change their design.
    http://dailybayonet.com/?p=7899

  56. TFNJ says:
    February 14, 2011 at 2:07 am
    Yes, wind power needs backup.
    You stated the problem exactly. You pay twice for electricity. So wind power by your own admission is expensive and not reliable.
    Good job.

  57. RockyRoad says:
    February 14, 2011 at 5:49 am
    “I’m offering a friendly wager that 5 years from now, all wind turbine farms world-wide will be eliminated…”
    Yeah, interesting point. If all these wind installations really, really are a bad idea with the only thing keeping them going being government subsidies and fad thinking; then at some time there will be a tulip-bulb-madness-of-crowds moment. I have casually mention 10-20 years from now but I like your number better.
    And I wonder why the save the earth crowd continues to ignore the cost on wildlife destruction?
    http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/110202.html

  58. wayne Job says:
    February 14, 2011 at 1:05 am
    “These are state of the art wind turbines, totally useless as generating equipment.
    However they make excellent water pumps. Any forward thinker with money should obtain the many dead ones and set up a pumped storage capacity for hydro electric peak feed in and make money for jam. California has hundreds of dead ones and lots of high country. Thousands of miles of coast line around the world have high elevations close to the coast, pump the sea water uphill and use the power as you need it. Do not these fools in their folly see the idiocy of electricity from the fickle winds. However they are excellent water pumps.”
    Interesting idea. The pumps would need to supply enough head to make the climb and overcome pipe friction on the way up and you’d lose energy to pipe friction on the way back down too. A improvement would to feed the water turbine directly from the wind turbine when there was a market for the electicity and when the market was less than current production capacity pipe the excess uphill. When the wind isn’t blowing but there’s a market for the electricity then drain the reservoir to produce it. That way you avoid the two-way cost of pipe friction losses a significant portion of the time and won’t add very much at all to system cost or complexity.
    Possibly a great idea the devil is probably in the details of finding a suitable location 500 feet above sea level where the ecoloons won’t freak out when you make an artificial salt-water lake in the fresh-water environment. There probably isn’t any location where you could do that economically. They’d definitely want, and would be justified in demanding, an impermeable basin so you don’t salinate the ground water in the area.
    An workable alternative might be to use a fresh water reservior and a jet-pump system where you have two pipes – going the the reservoir and a closed system where the water coming downhill to power the hydro-electric pump is pumped back uphill the the reservoir by the wind mills. That would double the length of pipe going the windmills and all that doubling of pipe lengths which would of course double the friction losses in the pipe making the whole shooting match substantially less efficient.

  59. hunter says:
    February 14, 2011 at 5:16 am
    I thought it a great picture too. It really encapsulates the term ‘wind power’ – power of the wind…

  60. 11:40 am
    RockyRoad says:
    February 14, 2011 at 5:49 am
    “I’m offering a friendly wager that 5 years from now, all wind turbine farms world-wide will be eliminated…”
    I’ll make a friendly wager that 5 years from now the current installed base of wind turbines is not only still spinning but also that will be larger number of them in operation. Furthermore I predict there will be an improvement in the ratio between faceplate capacity and the amount of electricity the windfarms actually sell. Currently faceplate capacity (optimal winds blowing constantly across every turbine in the state) is 1 gigawatt, average saleable electricity is 300 megawatts, and the amount of saleable electricity that is actually purchased is about 100 megawatts.
    Unless the price of coal and gas goes down instead of up over the next 5 years that will mean more saleable wind-power actually gets sold because the spot market price for electricity will have a starting price during periods of low demand and less price increase needed during high demand for wind-energy price to become attractive. I understand during the rolling blackhout in Texas last week spot price was bid upwards to over $2000/mwh hour from a normal price of $100/mwh.

  61. Umm… I meant that friendly wager above to apply only to windpower in Texas. I believe conditions in Texas are optimal for wind farms in all kinds of climate conditions – political climate, ecoloon climate, economic climate, and weather climate.
    Adverse climates elsewhere may very well make wind power generation decline on a global basis so I won’t bet against that.

  62. Baron Scarpia says:
    February 14, 2011 at 6:17 am
    “Way too much misinformation and exaggeration on this blog…”
    And then he goes on to spread a generous portion of it in rebuttal I think. Is he from the wind industry public relations? Windmills are a perfect example of a subsidy black hole, the more there are the more they suck in ever greater quantities of subsidies which become an ever greater burden on those who actually have to foot the bill. Windfarms will never pay their way, are we to believe that somehow by magic each windmill will magically and drastically improve its efficiency from the fraction of capacity it now produces? Now Mr Scarpia is not keen on actually telling us any figures and it may be because they are so truly appalling.
    Windmills DO NOT work, they are the most inefficient method of generating usable electricity on the planet and on a par with burning bundles of ten pound notes to keep warm. Windmills will never produce any net profit and only a tiny number of jobs, a fraction of those lost in the real economy that will surely be damaged by removal of affordable plentiful and reliable electricity. They are so unreliable that any electricity they do generate is useless for much of the time and the more windmills there are the greater the instability in the grid which will lead to fewer sites able to contribute anything. Landowners gain and those that feed off the subsidies gain and the public loses both in having to finance this ludicrous adventure and a collapse in economic activity due to unbearable electricity costs.
    Smart grids? Their purpose is to ration energy and impose blackouts and a further reduction in economic activity. People without jobs cannot pay the inflated bills so the house of cards pyramid scheme collapses. This is what will happen, no ifs or buts. The undoubted representative from the wind industry PR HQ has no figures to offer us and there is a very good reason why he didnt include any, the figures are truly appallingly terrible.
    The wind industry is not meant to stimulate industrial and economic expansion and its proven increase in individual wealth and wellbeing, it is meant to have the opposite effect. It is designed to inhibit and prevent economic growth by making electricity scare and rationed and expensive, it is in fact a tool of de-industrialisation and economic shrinkage, the people who support it most are the most determined to see us revert to some kind of post industrial pastoral existence.
    Now Mr Scarpia wants us to believe that an expansion in the numbers of windmills will them more economic when in fact every addition to the numbers we are already cursed with will see more money lost and a vulnerable and ageing supply matrix become ever more prone to failure until the inevitable collapse occurs. The thing about subsidies is that someone always has to pay the price and its usually those who can least afford it, those at the bottom will be hit hardest of all, the elderly and the poor and those on low incomes. The wind industry is a pyramid scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff. If it were only money at stake it wouldnt be so bad but this is going to hurt a lot of people and a lot of ordinary people are going to suffer greatly for it.

  63. The quote provided is neither quantified or accurate and is therefore meaningless. See
    http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=843 and
    http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=981 to get some quantification of eg energy extracted from wind, footprint, and birdkill. If the referenced material only contains hyperbole like the quote, it is just a crock of emotionally laden rubbish and not worth anyone’s time. All the good folks here who know that wind-power can’t be effective, but who also know that industrial free enterprise is always best should really talk to those free enterprise dummies at eg General Electric.

  64. As an engineer, I am saddened by the total lack of intelligence regarding alternative energies. No one ever asks the most important question of all regarding any alternative energy. That question is: Will the alternative energy return more power than was needed to create it in the first place? If the Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) is less than unity, then the alternative energy is not sustainable and is a total waste of resources. This is true of solar pv, solar hot water, and wind.
    I was so incensed about the nonsense of wind power, I wrote a book on it: Wind Power Fraud. In it I analyzed the only Embodied Energy (Emergy) analysis on the Internet I could find; Livermore Pass in CA. The EROEI was stated as 14.37. After correcting all the errors, it turns out the EROEI is really 0.29. The original Danish Wind Power web site had the audacious claim that wind power pays for itself in 3 months. (If that were true, then why does wind power have to be subsidized?) After analyzing a Danish example I showed the EROEI to be not 3 months, but 130 years!
    Ask the most important question: Is the EROEI for a wind power project > 1? The answer IS ALWAYS NO! If they say it is yes, they are burying the substation, grid upgrade, VAR correction, and numerous other costs, which are ultimately passed onto the electric bill payer and taxpayer. In addition, they are most likely not paying for any of the electricity sucked off the grid to power the wind turbines auxiliaries, which are significant.

  65. Open pit coal mining areas are reclaimed here in Montana: http://ecorestoration.montana.edu/mineland/histories/coal/eagle_rock/default.htm Plants that convert this coal to electricity are “scrubbed” to minimize pollution. If we go broke trying to use all the high cost methods the Sierra Club wants us to, concern about the environment will be one of the first casualties. The dirty little secret that lefties/greens don’t want out is that our air quality is much better than it was decades ago, thanks to technology: http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2009/04/earth-day-2009-air-qualitys-better-than.html

  66. P Walker says:
    February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm
    Baron Scarpia , could you please list the government subsidies that the coal industry receives ?
    ____________________________________________________________
    Electricity generation from coal receives a subsidy of about $0.40 per MWH. Wind, on the other hand, receives about $23.50 per MWH.

  67. Dave Springer,
    “I’ll make a friendly wager that 5 years from now the current installed base of wind turbines is not only still spinning but also that will be larger number of them in operation.”
    You may be right, but that only speaks of the eternal stupidity of Governments.

  68. Baron Scarpia, do you think windmills appear from thin air? In order to build a windmill you need to destroy large land areas in order to dig up rare earth and other metals that are needed. You need costly and environmentally unfriendly industrial processes in order to extract the metals from the ore you dig up. Energy consuming processes are needed in order to make magnets from the metals. The rotor blades are made of steel, made from iron dug up from the ground. The foundations are made of concrete, also dug up from the ground, and produced in an energy consuming process which also generates a lot of CO2. The machine parts are then transported, often by boats, run on fossil fuels, which spew out a lot of sulfur leading to acidification of land and water. After that, as others have mentioned above, the wind farms require a lot of land use, transportation networks, cause local destruction of nature, etc. I am quite sure that the economical, ecological and “energetical” costs of producing a wind mill will not be compensated for during its lifetime.

  69. Dr. Dave ,
    Thanks , but that wasn’t exactly what I was asking . Subsidies to power plants are not the same as a subsidy to the coal industry – AFAIK power companies don’t mine coal . In addition , not all coal goes to power production . I’ve read about alleged subsidies to the coal industry in environmental literature , but have yet to learn what these subsidies are – the closest I could find was a tax break on royalties paid on leases . This does not qualify as a subsidy , imho . I was hoping that B S could enlighten me .

  70. Seems like almost everyone is dancing around what is needed to make windmills useful – buffering. As a matter of fact, buffering would bring new life to the tired, old power grid at a very reasonable cost. A fair amount (don’t have numbers, can anyone shed light?) of on – and off-peak power is dissapated due to over production. Adding buffering to each branch of the grid would store that power (maybe in batteries, water, compressed air, reversible chemical reactions, lifting giant weights, etc.) for use when needed.
    At any rate, unreliable power can be made useable through buffering. This will become obvious as more residential wind and solar systems come on line. These systems will be adding power back into the grid in a completely uncontrolled fashion, increasing the amount of wasted power on the grid and costing each non power system owner more per KWH to make up for those who are no longer paying and who may be getting a check from the utility company.

  71. >>Baron
    >>Thus, the wind is predictable, and the task for utilities is to match
    >>demand with the multiple resources at hand.
    Ha, ha, ha. What planet are you on? Predictable windpower is an oxymoron.
    Read that Danish wind report I posted, at the top of this thread. The wind power in Denmark is so unpredictable and so unreliable, that the Danish have never used any of it. The sell it to Scandinavia instead, who can integrate it with hydro electricity.
    But there is not enough hydro capability in the UK to do this. Not enough hills, and too many people.
    .

  72. I notice some glib discussion about backup power to wind turbines. Do you have any idea how a serious turbine in a generating station is started up from standstill and run down again? No? Look into it. You will laugh yourself sily when somebody says “just have some back up power”.

  73. Baron Scarpia, beware of Cassandra King above. I suspect that she is really Floria Tosca in disguise. I can’t wait to hear her singing Vissi d’arte as she rebuts your arguments. Of course, you have to sing Già, mi dicon venal before she enters. That aria seems appropriate given that sufficient data has been accumulated for the economics community to render moot the various claims about the economic benefits of wind farms. Several are linked above and others are easily found by using your favorite search engine.

  74. In fairness to renewables (and unfortunately they are politically used as ‘reshiftables’ by our rent-seeking graduazzi class) they are best used for desalination, where the desal water is added to existing supply (ie it does not have to be 100% desal) and variability of supply with automated plants is not an issue.
    In Australia various States have rushed out costly desal plants in response to the long General Drought and just as they’re about to come online, naturally we’re up to our mantel-pieces in water. Murphys Law! Presumably with all that snow on the ground in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re not about to build desal plants?
    With respect to fossil fuel subsidies like coal quite the reverse is happening in Australia with the Federal Govt proposing a hefty Minerals Resource Rent Tax soon due to the rising price of commodities. This will impact heavily on coal as Australia is a major world supplier.

  75. Here are some more wind turbine failures. They look pretty dangerous devices, to me.
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_blnN-QHR9C4/TJw65jcXDvI/AAAAAAAAApE/MSNEU4-OPM0/s1600/434004b66ee8ae81a169af47f6d24dc9-jpg400x400.jpg
    http://www.abd.org.uk/images/photos/fallen_wind_turbine.jpg
    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/u14tBwO5QVQ/0.jpg
    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/12/02/article-1232540-076E050E000005DC-775_634x427.jpg
    http://www.noturbinesin.saddleworth.net/Pictures/FallenTurbine1.jpg
    http://ruralgrubby.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/windmill-collapse.jpg
    http://www.windbyte.co.uk/ims/safety/noble_turbine.jpg
    http://windconcernsontario.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/searsburg-vt-sept-2008-collapse.jpg
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/167877_10150383324780214_518940213_17120736_1293224_n1.jpg?w=640&h=480
    http://images.icnetwork.co.uk/upl/nejournal/jan2008/7/2/6D6EE720-EAC5-DA69-46CDFD94DC123460.jpg
    http://www.windcows.com/files/100_0355_op_399x600.jpg
    And here are a few that have burst into flames.
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_4ify7vDXrDs/THE6GVeA81I/AAAAAAAAGcU/XxZ1qgqQVxE/s1600/wind-shock-2.jpg
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_r78OS9t_bOY/SdPw4HJfGYI/AAAAAAAAALY/a-S4TBN5d6s/s400/5d81cf0b86232ee22722444f0d7d12c9-jpg400x400++wind+fire.jpg
    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/u14tBwO5QVQ/0.jpg
    http://www.theresilientearth.com/files/images/german_turbine_fire-der_spiegel.jpg
    http://www.changecollege.org.uk/img/Cape_Wind_Turbine_Burning.jpg
    http://www.backcountryagainstdumps.org/images/007.png
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_3D5RYqYRgLY/TF29LZLGo3I/AAAAAAAAAFQ/80ryKqbuMcM/s400/windmill-failure-02-400.jpg
    .

  76. Wind turbines have a built in self destruct vibration; that has cost implications. The cause is wind shear. As every sailor knows, the wind at the mast head is quite a bit stronger than at deck level. In case you haven’t noticed; the recent evolution of America’s Cup class main sails, have slowly morphed into the same design as Chinese Junks have had for centuries. They have gone from triangular to square topped; in an effort to put more sail area aloft where the stronger winds are.
    So a wind tubine blade encounters much higher wind speeds when the blade tip is going over the top of the tower, compared to when it is closest to the ground. The collected power goes up with the cube of that wind speed, and the thrust against the axle and tower goes as the square of the wind speed, so as the blade rotates, it sees a synchronous axial thrust cycle, that causes the blade tip to oscillate in the axial direction at the rotation speed. For the same reason, the circumferential thrust (the wing lift) also undergoes a torsional cycli variation also synchronous with the roation speed.
    So the blade is warped in two directions simultaneously; which is why they shake like the dickens, and kick up a row that annoys the neighbors. Eventaully it leads to fatigue failure of the composite blades.

  77. How about this theory: Windmills are causing “apparent global warming”.
    Windmills are interfering with normal wind patterns, pushing warm air into the Arctic and redirecting the normal Arctic flow to NA, Europe, and Asia. Arctic ice is melting and Northern Hemisphere is freezing.
    If we don’t reduce our “wind footprint” immediately, the Polar Bear will die of heatstroke and humans will starve and freeze to death due to “permanent winter”.

  78. “”””” George Steiner says:
    February 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm
    I notice some glib discussion about backup power to wind turbines. Do you have any idea how a serious turbine in a generating station is started up from standstill and run down again? No? Look into it. You will laugh yourself sily when somebody says “just have some back up power”. “””””
    I’m sure that is quite true, a cold start-up of a giant water turbine is not a trivial exercise; so why would you want to cold start one; or shut it down; except for mainteance requiring access to the rotor.
    But alternators obey Lenz’s law, so if you want to draw more power from one; remebering that it is phase locked to the grid; you don’t start up a stationary one, you increase the water flow drive to the turbine, in step with the load pick-up, and when you want to shed some load, then you cut back on the water drive.
    The big weakness of wind turbines, is that the operator has no control over the input energy source; the wind, so he cannot adjust the wind to meet increased grid loading demand.
    All successful practical power (electric) power generating systems; have fully throttleable primary energy input sources.
    Wind turbines do not; nor do solar cells; but they are a little easier on connecting to the grid, since they are electronically synchronised to the grid cycle; and behave somewhat like current sources, operating at a fixed Voltage.
    Renewable energy (solar) works best when it can be used as it comes straight from the sun; to either put rain into a watershed hydro dam, or perhaps to pump water in a pumped storage system. It could also be used thermally to pump; via heat pipes, a discontinuous source of solar heat into a deep oil shale deposit to melt the oil out for recovery; so oyu don’t have to set fire to the oil shale, and waste some of it melting the rest. It’s a perfect situation for just continuous input of solar thermal energy, anytime it is available from the sun. Sooner or later, it will get hot enough down there for the shale oil to flow for recovery, so oyu don’t have to dig all the shale out of the ground first. So what if it takes two years to get up to the needed Temperature !

  79. All the facts about wind turbines can be had from the companies sporting the damnations in the first place.
    However if you’re interested in the birds and bats getting slaughtered it seems one has to turn to proper ornithologists NOT connected to hippie organizations such as Greenpeace or WWF or their respective wannabe organizations, nor appropriate local or federal government entities if them are running the common scheme to get subsides, or otherwise getting extra tax funds for “saving the planet from CAGW” which, apparently, ironically, tend to be the local and federal entities getting subsidized for letting whom ever setting up hundreds and thousands of windmills in their geographic areas. Of course if you can find the ones going against the same flow that pays their salary . . .

  80. Hoser says *8:48am);
    “There is a dirty little secret. These unreliable green power sources require autoresponse through smart grid to monitor and turn off devices in your home. But smart grid is much more than that.”
    Hoser,
    The smart meter will also enable dynamic pricing (time of use pricing). Rather then having the electrical supplier turn off your devices you can make a decision to leave them on if you are willing to pay more for the electricity at high demand times. I expect dynamic pricing to become the standard somewhere around 2015 or so (as we will have more renewable energy in the state -CA- as a percentage of the overall supply of electrical power as required by the RES targets) for the residential market.
    A report from the CEC (500-2010-014) entitled “Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Implementation: Testing Implementation of a Demand Response Program Within a Small Business Population” indicates that some folks would modify their demand at peak times (for a price/benefit). http://www.energy.ca.gov/2010publications/CEC-500-2010-014/CEC-500-2010-014.PDF
    I thought that the reference to car dealer who responded to a call to reduce demand by going off grid was rather interesting- and likely a very cost effective activity for the dealer.

  81. George Steiner says:
    February 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm
    “I notice some glib discussion about backup power to wind turbines. Do you have any idea how a serious turbine in a generating station is started up from standstill and run down again? No? Look into it. You will laugh yourself sily when somebody says “just have some back up power”.”
    It’s called spinning reserve. You keep the boiler at operating temperature but only draw off enough steam to keep the turbine spinning under no load. Very little fuel or wear and tear happens under no load conditions. You’re still paying for the cost of capital (which isn’t much for coal/NG but is for nuclear) and have to pay the same number of employees of course but spinning reserve can be brought online and taken offline quickly. Winds are as fickle and to a lesser degree so are temperatures but both are fairly predictable a day in advance and one day ahead is all the grid managers need to shuffle their sources around. Power demand follows temperature along with time of day and day of week so under most circumstances they can plan ahead pretty well even with wind power added to the equation and they’re improving as they go along. The main reason not much potential wind power makes it onto the grid is that it’s still pretty expensive compared to coal and NG so it’s only purchased during periods of peak demand. As more wind farms in different locations are added to the grid the available power at any one time will increase with less variability because the winds don’t just stop blowing everywhere across a state as large as Texas. Economy of scale in manufacturing will keep driving prices down and lessons learned the hard way from failures will feed back into the design cycle and make the turbines and blades more robust.

  82. P Walker says:
    February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm
    Baron Scarpia , could you please list the government subsidies that the coal industry receives ?
    ————————————————————————————-
    And while he is about that, I would be really interested in where all of these “government” built (and financed?) railroads and pipelines are located.
    I’m pretty sure that what the watermelons call “subsidies” , the rest of the world would refer to as “tax deductable expenses”. You know, like depreciation, leases, costs to reclaim mining areas, etc.

  83. There’s another key item that nearly everyone in the discussion about wind over the years has missed. Most of the wind power purchase contracts make no provision for decommissioning. Most of the wind installations are private companies that sell power at a fixed rate. That fixed rate usually enables them to recover their capital costs rapidly, very much so in the case of the early German contracts.
    So what happens when the subsidy spigot from the government dries up? The company pockets its profits and walks away. The taxpayer in many cases will be left with the decommissioning costs for these things, just as it was left with the decommissioning costs of many other things like old mine sites.
    We’ve already seen this situation in the US. There are a number of wind farms that have simply been abandoned, notably one in Hawaii. On shore is one thing; imagine what the decommissioning costs of these monstrosities will be for offshore installations like Horn’s Reef. With conventional large generation like nuclear, it’s not a problem. Regulated utilities collect decommissioning funds as the facility operates, but the wind farms don’t.
    As for Baron Scarpia: “Thus, the wind is predictable…” You’ve just shown that you know nothing about ambient wind conditions which can and do usually change minute by minute. And since energy varies with the cube of the speed, the changes in energy output are disproportionate.
    “In America, studies have shown that wind diversifies energy sources, so that as a replacement for gas, it actually reduces the cost of natural gas.”
    Drivel. The demand for gas is enormous compared to the output of US wind generation. The effect of wind on gas prices is therefore utterly negligible in theory, let alone the fact that gas is driven also by constraints on distribution systems over which wind supply can have no effect.
    “Water guzzled from conventional power plants reduces what can be used to produce food.”
    More grotesque distortions. Water taken in by thermal plants for turbine steam condensation is returned to the river or lake and is still available for any use. With closed circuit cooling, there is no intake at all except for evaporation losses. It is not used up. Evaporation losses are not the entire intake, only a very small fraction.
    “the “land footprint” for wind turbines…”
    Yes, let’s talk about that foot print for just a moment. Perhaps you can explain why on a per unit of generating capacity (leaving capacity factor entirely out of it for the moment) wind requires three times as much concrete and nearly seven times as much steel per MW capacity as does nuclear. Take the power factor into account and it becomes about 12 times and 28 times the resource demand as nuclear.
    Oh yes, and because of the variable and very large number of sources, the transmission requirement is at least double that of any large thermal power station. Left that little “footprint” out too, didn’t you? Fact is, wind has the largest footprint in land use of any form of generation excepting only solar power for obvious reasons. All of the land use implications were all thoroughly analyzed years ago by the very good study “Energy for 300 Years” by Nathwani, Siddall and Lind.

  84. @George Smith
    “Wind turbines do not; nor do solar cells; but they are a little easier on connecting to the grid, since they are electronically synchronised to the grid cycle; and behave somewhat like current sources, operating at a fixed Voltage.”
    I was a bit taken aback by the price of residential grid interconnect hardware for net metering of solar photovoltaics. The DC->AC convertor, phase synchronization, and net meter cost about as much per watt as the solar panels themselves. If the those pieces were standardized and mass produced hopefully the price would come way down along with PV cells and panels. I couldn’t find anything reasonable for storing a few days worth of solar electricity – a bank of lead-acid batteries is the cheapest way but my experience with lead-acid batteries makes me definitely not want to own, store, and maintain a bank of 30 of them in order to get off the grid altogether! So a grid interconnect seems the only way to go for people who have a grid connection in the first place.
    That said it does appear feasible on first blush to store a few days worth of heat in a well insulated hot water tank and a few days worth of cooling in a small ice house. You can make ice during the day with solar electric to drive the compressor and use a DC motor so you don’t have the expense or losses associated with a DC->AC convertor. Hot water can be produced directly from solar collectors with maybe a few fresnel lenses in a final stage to bring the water up to boiling where it can store a lot of latent heat.
    After you have an ice house then you can just circulate air through it with a low power DC fan to get cooled air into the house and do the same to circulate hot water for heating. After those two high power needs are taken care of you can use 12vdc for lighting straight from a lead-acid battery and for those leftover appliances that just don’t come easily or cheaply in DC versions a much smaller battery bank and AC convertor can power those.
    That’s a lot of crap to cobble up just to get off the grid altogether with no major sacrifice in convenience – more than I want to do but I think it can be done and in the long run may be less costly than grid power.
    I also looked into syngas (maker’s gas) which might be familiar to UK citizens old enough during WWII to remember them powering civilian gasoline engines to conserve gasoline for the war effort. A decent size one of those powered by homegrown biomass is feasible. You’d then have a renewable source of fuel for a generator and could use the gas directly for heating and cooling. I read about some people out in the boonies with a homemade syngas rig doing all that but it required fairly uniformly cut wood chips instead of any old kind of combustable biomass so they had to spend a couple of hours a day cutting and chipping wood, fueling it up for the day and removing the ashes. But they were powering a good size machine shop with a few employees so had much larger power needs than a small residence. Syngas generation is still a bit pricey for the hardware and especially so if you’re producing gas clean enough so it doesn’t compromise the service life of a standard gasoline engine but it’s really interesting and there’s plenty of room from improvement especially in being able to use non-uniform sources of combustable biomass so you don’t have to produce your own uniformly sized wood chips. Mass production of syngas generators could bring the price down to something very reasonable. Not for everyone but I know quite a few people up north who still heat their homes in the winter with wood they harvest themselves – some even have new-fangled furnaces that can take just about anything that burns instead of cut & split logs.

  85. Colin says:
    February 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm
    “wind requires three times as much concrete and nearly seven times as much steel
    per MW capacity as does nuclear”
    Yeah, and if enriched uranium fuel was laying around on the ground instead of requiring huge complicated centrifuge farms to produce it (you might ask yourself why a rich nation like Iran is having such great difficulty producing their own nuclear fuel) you might have a point. But it isn’t just laying around and does take an inordinate amount of time and effort to produce it. Then you have the depleted fuel disposal problem to deal with and proliferation concerns. I suppose you’ll start blowing the liquid flourine thorium reactor horn now that I’ve pointed out the great expense of producing enriched uranium fuel. I’ll believe in efficacy of the LFTR reactors when I see a commercial unit up and running. Until then LFTR is just pie in the sky.

  86. Vince Causey says:
    February 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Dave Springer,
    “I’ll make a friendly wager that 5 years from now the current installed base of wind turbines is not only still spinning but also that will be larger number of them in operation.”
    You may be right, but that only speaks of the eternal stupidity of Governments.

    Looks like I’m getting a few takers at the betting table, so let me throw out some tantalizing chips:
    The 1 MW plant Defkalion is currently building in Miami, FL, requires 125 E-Cat units (with dimensions of 1m x 0.5m x 0.5 m each); assuming a 33% conversion rate (to make the math easy) to electricity using the Carnot cycle would require just 375 E-Cats for 1 MW of electricity. Multiply that by 1,000 to get 1 GW of power requires 375,000 E-Cats. Each is loaded with just 1 gram of nickel and a smaller amount of hydrogen and run for half a year, are serviced twice a year, so the total amount of nickel used to generate 1 GW is just 375,000 grams * 2 / 1E6 = 0.75 tonnes per year.
    The most recent electricity consumption figure I could find for Texas is 316 GW, (http://www.statemaster.com/state/TX-texas/ene-energy) which would require a grand total of 237 tonnes of nickel each year. Compare that to the 97,000,000 tons of coal Texas burns to generate just part of the electricity it consumes and nickel wins hands down (nickel currently sells for $12 a lb, or about $26,500 per tonne and world-wide production is about 1.2 million tonnes of nickel produced annually; Texas’ total consumption of nickel in E-Cats would run around $9.9 million/yr). But what about actual cost of the electricity from an E-Cat power plant?
    Cost: Andrea Rossi, one of the inventors of the E-Cat, stated “I estimate that the cost of energy made with this system will be below 1 cent/kWh, in case of electric power made by means of a Carnot cycle…”
    Reliability: E-Cats run continuously for 6 months between maintenance exchanges. They are scalable in series or parallel to meet any power demand, meaning they can be sited practically anywhere. They are considered reliable baseload without any of the vagaries that plague wind power. And they don’t have any smokestacks and effluent like coal-fired plants, don’t require the sun like solar panels, nor a huge volume of water at head like hydro plants. And unlike nuclear power plants, the “waste” of an E-Cat is simply copper and that just happens to be completely non-radioactive. Sweet!
    You’re telling me that windmills will be able to compete with such a unit?
    But perhaps the best thing about E-Cats is that they’re driving the theoretical physicists with their hearts set on hot fusion as the future energy source completely nuts!
    Does anybody want to reconsider their bets?

  87. Mark Miller says:
    February 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm
    Yes, it is also refered to as time-of-use (TOU) metering. We’ll all have to do our laundry and cooking at 2 am.
    TOU metering of water is going to be interesting. With sufficient time resolution, you can tell how many times someone flushes the toilet and whether they wash their hands. You can tell how long they shower and whether they have installed the appropriate shower flow restrictor or taken it out. And then of course, you can fine them for failing to comply with regulations.

  88. David says: “…A new offshore farm has just been approved off the mouth of the Humber – and the press release stated that this would power (note the phrase) ‘UP TO 150000 homes…’ At the time I wrote to them, I suggested they took a look at the NETA tables for electricity production (updated every ten minutes). It was a typical February day – and wind was providing 6% of installed capacity (0.3% of total demand). On that basis, this money pit in the North Sea (our money, of course) would have powered 9350 homes.”
    Well, of course, that’s in the UK, where the authorities talk only “Wrecker-Speak.” What they mean is that the North Sea installation will power 9,350 homes, plus
    140,650 dark ones.

  89. I find this debate very interesting and informative. It is clear that there is growing awareness of the issues involved in choosing an electricity generation strategy. However, I find the references to the raw materials for magnets for wind turbines creating pollution in China rather intriguing. While it is probably the case that a proportion of rare earth metals mined in China are used in wind turbine magnets, there are many other products that use powerful magnets. Does anyone have any information that confirms that wind turbines could be the major user as seems to be implied in some of the posts here?

  90. >>Sal Minella says: February 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm
    >>How about this theory: Windmills are causing “apparent
    >>global warming”.
    You might be right. Here is a windelec farm creating clouds:
    http://www.treehugger.com/offshore-wind-farm-clouds-wake-photo1.jpg
    http://www.windbyte.co.uk/ims/index/wake_effect_horns_rev.jpg
    These clouds act like aircraft contrails, and keep in the warmth of the seas, so they never get a chance to cool. So we shall get rampant Global Warming and we will all die.
    And I have heard that evil forces in the CIA and Mossad are seeding these contrails with chemicals, so these are actually CHEMTRAILS, designed to extinguish whole cities over night. And some of these wind farms are mobile – so they may tow one into place off the coast of New York overnight, without you even knowing.
    I think all windelecs should be chopped down immediately.
    /sarc.

  91. >>Rocky
    >>Andrea Rossi, one of the inventors of the E-Cat, stated “I estimate
    >>that the cost of energy made with this system will be below 1 cent/kWh
    Yeah, year, where have we heard that before. If the E-cat device was really producing 12kw, that room would be stinking hot.
    My bet, is that we shall never see a working E-cat on the market. Any takers?
    .

  92. Ralph says:
    February 15, 2011 at 1:03 am

    >>Rocky
    >>Andrea Rossi, one of the inventors of the E-Cat, stated “I estimate
    >>that the cost of energy made with this system will be below 1 cent/kWh
    Yeah, year, where have we heard that before. If the E-cat device was really producing 12kw, that room would be stinking hot.
    My bet, is that we shall never see a working E-cat on the market. Any takers?

    Easy bet, Ralph; slam dunk.
    Before you agree, however, you should consider the following reports:
    http://www.examiner.com/breakthrough-energy-in-national/cold-fusion-getting-hot-with-10kw-heater-prepping-for-market
    http://pesn.com/2011/01/17/9501746_Focardi-Rossi_10_kW_cold_fusion_prepping_for_market/
    Base your subjective opinion on whether the demonstration got unbearably hot or not if you want, but most facilities I’ve been in have sufficient ventilation to take care of any such problem. But from the first article above, consider the following:

    According to a Rossi-Focardy paper (p. 4 of 9), similar results have been obtained in the factory of EON in Bondeno (Ferrara, Italy) in a test performed with ENEL spa on June, 25th 2009; as well as in tests made in Bedford, New Hampshire (USA) in a lab of LTI with the presence of the U.S. Department of Energy (November 19 2009) and of the U.S. Department of Defense (November 20 2009).

    Production of the E-Cat is happening right now in the United States–Miami, Florida to be specific. The company is jumping through all the necessary regulatory hoops in order to achieve success. And I have sufficient personal privileged information that taking your bet is a “piece of cake”, Ralph. The amount of the wager is personal satisfaction that the process is real, marketable, applicable, and revolutionary.

  93. Excellent idea from Wayne Job. Use the wind turbines to pump water. Especially in California, which desperately needs more reservoirs for plain old water storage! The hydro power would be a bonus.

  94. FD or anyone suggesting that various home generation devices that allow people to go off-grid might be an answer ….
    Yep, might be in some parts of the world but where the occupation density and property sizes are small enough that even storing 2 weeks of waste between collections becomes a problem some of the fancier solutions are really not very practical.
    However, if you do own enough land – say a large farm or an Estate in Scotland that you never visit (for those in Europe) you can indeed obtain significant benefit from your own personal alternative energy investment. In the case of the very rich they just build a wind farm and take the subsidies available of go Solar on the farm building and get paid a large amount for using the electricity produced. See, it is possible to have your cake and eat it!
    But who really pays?
    The EU is proposing to invest 1Trillion euros in energy by 2020 and produce a saving for each household of around 180billion euros [this doesn’t make sense] (EU version of those numbers) by that time. This investment will also create 5 million jobs, they say. At the same time demand will be reduced by 20% due to ‘efficiencies’.
    So you find to the tune of a trillion, introduce an overhead of 5 million jobs to satisfy a 20% reduced demand and then claim you will cut the cost of energy.
    Hmm.
    So, which economists have they consulted for that idea? Stern? Krugman? A clerk with a dodgy calculator in a basement office in Brussels?
    Next: “How to feed the world with a few stale loaves and a couple of fish.”
    The UK model for wind is based on a fixed payment for output generation. That sets a base price for all electricity as wind is a large enough theoretical contributor. The base rate is doubled if the ‘farm’ is off shore. I’m not sure (as I type) of the current payment (from tax via consumer bills) but it just about doubles the value of the output on land and trebles is off-shore. Producers could, in theory, sell at zero price and still make a profit. That suggests they would be keen to be operating at every opportunity – so why are the outputs registered so often so far from anywhere near the expected ‘optimum’ outputs?
    We may get to the truth once the lights start to go out a few years from now.

  95. To Charles Opalek,
    I disagree with your assertion that all alternative energy technologies take more energy to build than they save. I base this on my knowledge in this field gained over the last 40 years that includes: 1) author of 2 books on Solar and Wind Engineering 2) work on the first major wind farm in Tehachapi Mountains for Zond Systems (now GE Wind 3) development of advanced concentrating photovoltaic systems in conjunction with my company and Boeing 4) experience as VP of a solar thermal company.

  96. “”””” W. Falicoff says:
    February 15, 2011 at 9:08 am
    To Charles Opalek,
    I disagree with your assertion that all alternative energy technologies take more energy to build than they save. I base this on my knowledge in this field gained over the last 40 years that includes: 1) author of 2 books on Solar and Wind Engineering 2) work on the first major wind farm in Tehachapi Mountains for Zond Systems (now GE Wind 3) development of advanced concentrating photovoltaic systems in conjunction with my company and Boeing 4) experience as VP of a solar thermal company. “””””
    Well I’ll take your word for it. I presume that your energy budget analysis, did include all of the energy that was used by profit making enterprises in coming up with the profits and taxes, that were used to pay the tax subsidies on these “alternative energies” That you have been working with.
    So if I have one of your wind farms, and I put a fence around it so no clandestine resupply missions can come in and interfere; how long does it take to grow a duplicate of that wind farm; using just the energy that it supplies, and of course the raw materials of the universe in their natural state ?
    If ANY alternative energy plant can duplicate itself using only its own energy; to gather ALL of the materials and do all the work required; then we know for sure, that it really is an alternative energy source; and not an energy wasting scheme; so the “Doubling Time” is a fair measure of the efficacy of ANY “energy source”.

  97. “”””” Dave Springer says:
    February 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm
    @George Smith
    “Wind turbines do not; nor do solar cells; but they are a little easier on connecting to the grid, since they are electronically synchronised to the grid cycle; and behave somewhat like current sources, operating at a fixed Voltage.”
    …………………..
    That said it does appear feasible on first blush to store a few days worth of heat in a well insulated hot water tank and a few days worth of cooling in a small ice house. You can make ice during the day with solar electric to drive the compressor and use a DC motor so you don’t have the expense or losses associated with a DC->AC convertor. Hot water can be produced directly from solar collectors with maybe a few fresnel lenses in a final stage to bring the water up to boiling where it can store a lot of latent heat. “””””
    Dave, there’s av ery interesting “solar heated” house design, that has been around for quite a few years; and a number of them have been built in the lake Tahoe area. I suspect the design was first publicised in Popular Mechanics. The house has a house within a house construction; well at least it is sort of double roofed. It has a high glass wall south facing wall (northern hemi), and a downward sloping roof towards the north (not steep), nad there is about a foot or so air gap between that weather proofing roof, and the inner “ceiling”. Air can flow freely up the tall glass wall, and flow through the gap to the north of the house, where it drops inside a double wall into the basement. The basement is a deep pit full of scoria; porous volcanic rock, that has lots of air pockets, and surface. The air, which was heated by the sun trapping glass on the south wall, goes down into those rocks and warms the rocks, and the air returns through the floor at the south wall. All just convective flow of course. The south wall is actually an Atrium, where you can put your tropical plants etc.
    When the sun goes down and the south wall starts to cool, the hot air in the basment can rise at the shorter North wall, and over the roof to the cooling glass atrium.
    Even in a place like lake Tahoe, there is sufficient sunshine to keep the house properly warmed without any auxilliary heat.
    My understanding, is that the first such house built up there could not get a loan to build the house, without some built in auxilliary heater; so the put a pot belly stove inside the house (wood burning) and the lender ok’d that.
    The solar heating worked so well, that they basically never used the wood stove; and subsequently people could get a loan without the auxilliary heat requirement.
    The hot rocks approach is probably better than the water tank approach, since you don’t have to deal with the excessive moisture. I’m sure that you can also use both, and have solar input to your house hot water supply. Certainly hot enough for any ablutions; and then you can use flash heaters for dish washing and the like.
    There’s no doubt that in many climates like California, it is possible to go completely off grid; and tell the PG&Es of the world to “Shove it!”. And being off grid lets you run low Voltage LED lighting if you want; who needs 60 Hertz, or even 50 for that matter.

  98. For the problem of batteries for wind/solar, forget lead acid. The future is the past. Nickel-iron batteries, aka Edison cells or Edison batteries, work very well.
    Obligatory Wikipedia entry:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel-iron_battery
    See here first:
    http://www.nickel-iron-battery.com/
    They last a very long time. Made for the original electric cars of the early twentieth century, before the First World War, and there are remaining ones still working. Made in the US until 1975 when Exide Battery Corp, who had bought the Edison company in 1972, killed them off in favor of their lead acid batteries. They are very tolerant of overcharging and deep discharging, every five to twenty years you change the potassium hydroxide electrolyte rather than replace the battery. Expect at least 20 years, to 40 or more. Great for daily charging/discharging. Definitely Better For The Environment than lead acid, nickel cadmium, and virtually anything else out there.
    Downsides: Bulk, larger than modern lead acid. Ordering delay, from China (bulk purchase by supplier) or made-in-USA (Zapp Works, new maker) of one to several months. Cost? Up front, yes, long term, no.
    There is much growing interest in them for home solar and wind power installations, and apparently a lot of customer satisfaction. Worth reading about.
    ==========
    Future of Wind Power
    GE, major promoter and supplier of wind turbines and related equipment, has been doing a lot of work to set themselves up for lots of work with Big Petroleum:
    Deal gives GE a crown jewel of the oil industry
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0298323c-3878-11e0-959c-00144feabdc0.html (registration required?)
    http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/Deal-gives-GE-crown-jewel-oil-ftimes-3601958230.html?x=0&.v=1
    Quite a portfolio they’re building up, which certainly indicates they expect to be making lots of money from fossil fuels for quite some time to come.
    Do you think that indicates we’re going to transition to wind power from oil and gas anytime soon?
    Side Note: From the article:

    Mr Krenicki said: “About two-thirds of the world’s oil comes from 300 highly depleted giant fields, and the world has only tapped about a third of what they hold. So if you can squeeze another 1 or 2 per cent out of them, it is really worth doing. This is the first place oil companies will want to invest their money, because it is a lot more productive than trying to find new fields.”

    Two thirds of what’s used comes from where two thirds is still left? How do they define “highly depleted” anyway? When does that “Peak Oil” kick in?

  99. Dave Springer says:
    February 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm
    ” You’re still paying for the cost of capital (which isn’t much for coal)”
    Have you priced a coal plant lately?
    Here is the Sunflower project in Kansas, 895 megawatt for $2.24 billion.
    http://www.sunflower.net/documents/2010EconomicImpactStudy.pdf
    Here is a coal plant in Mississippi, $2.9 billion for 582 MW
    https://enr.construction.com/engineering/subscription/LoginSubscribe.aspx?cid=14671
    Here is one in Indiana, $2.9 billion for 620 MW.
    http://www.steelguru.com/raw_material_news/New_Indiana_coal_plant_cost_up_to_USD_3_billion_-_Duke_Energy/141755.html
    Here is one in Illinois, $3.5 billion for 716 MW.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-06/illinois-senate-rejects-clean-coal-plant-support-update1-.html

  100. “”””” Baron Scarpia says:
    February 14, 2011 at 6:17 am
    Way too much misinformation and exaggeration on this blog…
    ……………………………..
    Fourth, the subsidies for coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas far outstrip subsidies for wind. The need for government built railroads and pipelines are eliminated with wind, as well as diesel fuel to transport coal from mines to power plants. “””””
    So Coal, Oil, Nuclear, and Natural Gas are ALL Government subsidized “Energy sources” ? I didn’t see Hydro power in that list; but what is in the list covers virtually all of the US (at least) Energy supply.
    So unless I don’t understand the Physics of Perpetual Motion machines; that means that Hydro-powered energy must be subsidizing everthing else.
    I know for sure that there were no “Government Subsidies of energy” back when we were all clambering around in Fig trees, spending every waking minute, gather ing free clean green renewable alternative energy, from those figs.
    Somehow; god knows how; we managed to bootstrap our fig tree energy supply up to today’s massive energy and industrial enterprises; it certainly wasn’t done with Government subsidies; since Government by definition is a non-profit enterprise; it has no lawful means of support; except by stealing from those who create what we made out of our fig trees energy.
    So Baron, please explain to us, just how it is that hydro-electric alone; unsubsidized, is able to create all of that energy unprofitable Coal, and Oil, and Nuclear, and Natural Gas that we have come to depend on; but which you say is subsidized.
    Energy profitable enterprise does NOT need to be subsidized; only energy losing schemes do.
    Some actual real concrete examples of the Government subsidies for those energy losing propositions would be helful, if you could post a short list of them here.

  101. “”””” Charles S. Opalek, PE says:
    February 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm
    As an engineer, I am saddened by the total lack of intelligence regarding alternative energies. No one ever asks the most important question of all regarding any alternative energy. That question is: Will the alternative energy return more power than was needed to create it in the first place? If the Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) is less than unity, then the alternative energy is not sustainable and is a total waste of resources. This is true of solar pv, solar hot water, and wind. “””””
    Charles,
    Many years ago; make that many, many years ago, I proposed, in a Letter (published) to the Harvard Business Review; a simple test of Energy Alternative Sources. The test was very simple:-
    Tell me what YOUR favorite alternative energy source is; shall we say; cow dung fired steam turbines in say Banglasdesh, and tell me what peak generating capacity you would like; why not One GWatt max capacity; and how much total energy generating fuel supply you would like to begin operations with; how about ten TWatt-hrs.
    So I will GIVE you, free and clear, a One GWatt Cow dung Steam Turbine plant located on your site in Bangladesh (or wherever); and I will also give you free and clear a supply of ten TWatt-hrs worth of prime cow dung, to get your operations started; go out and knock yourself out and get filthy rich. See I just solved all your economics hesitations about investing in cow dung steam power; so don’t raise that issue again.
    OOoops !! I almost forgot; you see I am not really all that altruistic; I need a favor from you before you go and retire on the Riviera.
    I would like you to build me a duplicate of the plant I just gave you; a one GWattt Cow Dung Steam Turbine plant; and I would like you to replace the mountain of dungfuel I gave you; so that I too, can get filthy rich, and retire to the Riviera.
    So you have at your disposal; all the energy that your BanglaDung Plant, can generate; plus all of the raw materials in the universe; just where Mother Gaia put them all, in their natural state. So you need to use some of your energy to go and round up the materials; dig in the ground for the stuff you see. Don’t forget you will need to make a bulldozer to go digging around for materials; and probably some other tools as well; so you make them with your energy.
    Somebody will have to drive the dozer. Well everybody already is busy with a job; you will need to get some more with your dungpower, and you will have to house and feed them and their children and put them through school, using your energy; well not unlike how we got from the fig trees to the Nuclear power station; all bootstrapped on the energy we already had available.
    Well after you have delivered me a duplicate plant and a mountain of dung, then you can sell what energy you have left (if any) and get rich, so you can retire to the riviera.
    Well we know it can be done; because we already did it; probably with some dungplants too, but not necessarily steam turbined.
    And it was all done without any currency inflation from Government inputs of printed paper money; because there wasn’t any such thing when we did the first few generations of advanced fig power supplies.
    If your favorite alternative energy source can’t duplicate itself by itself; then it is an energy wasting scheme; and should be nipped in the bud.
    And Chasmod; this is certified spelling error free.

  102. George E. Smith said February 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm:

    Who or what is E-cat ??

    A name that’s apparently been recently attached to RockyRoad’s favorite “alternative energy source” that he’s been promoting and defending.
    I’ll mention the disclaimer to the following WUWT post up front. Anthony gave Ric Werme permission to do this essay, therefore (my words) “This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the blog owner.”
    Cold Fusion Going Commercial!?
    Posted on January 22, 2011

  103. Baron Scarpia said:
    Third, regarding the visual impact, have you seen a strip mine coal field or the pollution generated from a coal-fired power plant? Not pretty either. Wind power produces no stench, pollution, toxic chemicals or mercury, greenhouse gases, nor does it use precious water in dry climates. Indeed, agriculture and energy are constantly at odds about regions’ water budgets. Water guzzled from conventional power plants reduces what can be used to produce food. Wind is one energy source that does not threaten ag needs.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Well, Baron, actually I lived amongst four very large coal powered plants just west of Edmonton, Alberta, surrounding one of the nicest recreation areas in the province. Hate to tell you this, but hardly anyone notices them. The overburden piles hide the mines from public view, the plants emit a bit of steam and increase the local snowfall a bit. Other than that, they are much nicer that the visual atrocities in the Altamont Pass in California and all the hill tops in southern Idaho and northern Nevada or the ones near Pincher Creek in Alberta. NOW THOSE THINGS have a visual impact. Even the most horrible polluting coal powered stations in Poland that I had an opportunity to visit in the 90’s were not visually disturbing. They needed pollution abatement technology from the west, but visually, you hardly ever saw them as they were hidden behind well landscaped overburden piles that I initially thought were natural hills. Only David Suzuki who charters planes to fly over these sites and take pictures and tells people that they are bad sees the extent of the mining, and there is actually constant reclamation. Don’t buy into what Suzuki and his ilk tell you. They are visual media experts. They can make a toad into a star. Reality is not part of their world.
    And don’t tell me about wind power and “Ag needs”. We have a local revolt from the farmers on that issue in this province. That comment is a total joke, we’ll go back to running our old “light plants” before we accept another doubling of our electricity prices to pay for “Premier Don Quixote’s” windmill projects … but oh yeah – he just realized how angry the public is about his policies and resigned before the voters turfed him out.
    Wayne Delbeke, P. Eng. and farmer

  104. To George E. Smith and Charles Opalek, PE,
    The paper by E. Alsema, titled “Energy Requirements and CO2 Mitigation Potential of PV Systems,” provides a reasonable estimate of the amount of energy it takes to build PV panels and the so-called “energy payback time”.
    See it at
    igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/copernicus/2006-0308-200117/98054.pdf
    The numbers in the paper are conservative as the cost of building thin film PV is going down. (Although existing technologies use some rare elements that are not in large supply on this planet. Also the Chinese currently control most of the world’s production of the so-called “rare earths”.) Energy payback for a sunny climate is on the order of 2 years.
    See also
    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy99osti/24619.pdf

  105. Dave Springer: “But it isn’t just laying around and does take an inordinate amount of time and effort to produce it. Then you have the depleted fuel disposal problem to deal with and proliferation concerns.”
    Utter silliness. The cost of enrichment is relatively small, less than 1 cent/kWh over the life time of the reactor.
    Proliferation concerns from DU? Surely you’re kidding me.
    Proliferation concerns from oxidized uranium fuel? Surely you’re kidding me. All this shows is that you have no idea how nuclear weapons are made and how hostile nuclear power reactors and their fuel are to being used in this fashion.
    Fuel disposal problems? What problems? Industry has fully funded it. It’s purely the fault of government indecision that prevents the industry from getting on with it.

  106. To W. Falicoff: the Alsema paper contains a lot of rubbish. First, it is based upon a lot of assumptions about energy input and production. None of these values have been shown in practice even under laboratory conditions, let alone real ones. Second, the study completely ignores environmental degradation which commences as soon as a facility is installed. Third, this paper is a mere literature review. It adds no new research or findings of its own. It merely does recalculations of the findings of others.
    So no, it’s conclusions are not conservative. They are highly exaggerated.

  107. From W. Falicoff on February 16, 2011 at 10:38 am:

    The paper by E. Alsema, titled “Energy Requirements and CO2 Mitigation Potential of PV Systems,” provides a reasonable estimate of the amount of energy it takes to build PV panels and the so-called “energy payback time”.
    See it at
    igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/copernicus/2006-0308-200117/98054.pdf

    http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/copernicus/2006-0308-200117/98054.pdf

    Presented at the BNL/NREL Workshop “PV and the Environment 1998”, Keystone, CO, USA, 23-24 July 1998.

    Excerpt from the abstract:

    The Energy Pay-Back Time of present-day grid-connected systems is estimated at 3-8 years (under 1700 kWh/m2 irradiation) and 1-2 years for future systems. (…) In Solar Home Systems the battery is the cause for a relatively high EPBT of more than 7 years, with little prospects for future improvements.

    Critical Flaw, pg 6:

    It is worth noticing the significant contribution of module frames in present-day systems. Its wide range of energy content (300-770 MJ/m2) in past studies is due to large differences in the amount of aluminium used for the frames. Here I assumed 2.5 kg Al to be used per m2 module, requiring 500 MJ of energy input. In any case, PV modules are expected to be frameless for all future applications.

    Thus between current (1997) and future (2007) systems, that 500MJ/m^2 goes away. Also:

    I will assume that per m2 module area 3.5 kg of aluminium is used for the supports of present roof-top installations, requiring 500 MJ/m2 of primary energy and causing an CO2-equivalent emission of 26.5 kg/m2. For future roof-top systems I assume a reduced aluminium use of 2.5 kg/m2.

    Note: Table 4 has correct values of 700 MJ/m^2 current for supports, 500 for future, text is wrong as 500 is given for both 3.5 kg for supports and 2.5 kg for frames.
    So energy used for supports goes down, while that for frames goes away.
    Except… Here is info gathered from a maker of framed and frameless panels with my calculations based on surface area (ignoring thickness):
    http://www.lumossolar.com/

    Framed:
    LS300 Series Solar Modules
    Monocrystalline Photovoltaic Modules
    DImensions: 1956mm x 990mm x 50mm (77.01″ x 39.98″ x 1.97″)
    Weight: 52.47 lbs (23.8 kg)
    Frame: Anodized Black / Clear Aluminum Alloy
    12.3 kg/m^2
    155 W/m^2
    Frameless:
    LSX200 SERIES SOLAR MODULES
    DImensions: 63.39 x 32.91” (1610mm x 836mm)
    Weight: 49.16 lbs (22.3 kg)
    16.6 kg/m^2
    149 W/m^2
    LSX250 SERIES SOLAR MODULES
    DImensions: 65.59 x 40.24” (1666mm x 1022mm)
    Weight: 61.8 lbs (28 kg)
    16.4 kg/m^2
    147 W/m^2

    The frameless are about a third heavier per unit area than framed. I doubt the mass of the roof supports have become less than for framed, might even be more. Where has the author accounted for the energy used for whatever is making those frameless panels stiff enough to survive without a frame, that has made them considerably heavier than framed?
    Plus, as practically a side note, there is another reason why framed might be preferred over frameless. Framed panels can generally be taken apart and repaired, glass or cells replaced and broken connections fixed etc, if nothing else the cells can be salvaged. Frameless, with the cells sealed away and bonded to the backer, not so much. With that, framed is far more readily recyclable. Frameless looks headed to the landfill.

  108. Colin
    Perhaps the following paper K. Knapp; T.L. Jester, “An Empirical Perspective on the Energy Payback Time for PV Modules.” Solar 2000 Conference, Madison, WI, June 16–21, 2000. will meet your standards:
    http://www.ecotopia.com/apollo2/knapp/pvepbtpaper.pdf
    Considerable strides have been made in the lowering the manufacturing costs (and energy) associated with producing PV cells in the last decade since Knapp et al wrote their paper. Also the long term efficiency of PV technologies has risen.
    I follow the long term tests on PV and CPV and certainly there is a small degradation of systems over time (partly due to dust, dirt buildup, something which is handled be regular cleaning in plants). But the numbers I have seen are not significant to say
    that the payback numbers in the papers I have cited are off the mark.

  109. Even I have to admit that Green Energy is not always a total failure. Here is one heartwarming story of how Ontario has found green energy that is cleaner, meaner and greener than even Wind and Solar Power….
    From the Wind Concerns Ontario Site…
    Read and enjoy! Swallow your coffee and set down any sharp objects first…
    http://windconcernsontario.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/breaking-news-province-set-to-unleash-new-untapped-source-of-%E2%80%9Cgreen-energy%E2%80%9D/
    The Province of Ontario announced today a “green energy” initiative to rival all others, including wind and solar.

  110. W. Falicoff: One of the things ignored is loss through reflection and refraction effects produced by light surface scratching. The losses from such effects are extremely high over relatively short periods of time, and they are permanent.
    Second, I don’t accept the assumptions regarding solar input. Actual atmospheric conditions produce insolation much less than that assumed in these papers. These numbers, as best I can tell assume direct sunlight. Under indirect sunlight, production drops to about 20-25% of nominal.
    Third, the payback does not include the underutilized T&D costs from low capacity factors.
    Fourth, maintenance costs are not included. Given the infrastructure involved vs. energy produced, these will be high.
    Fifth, none of the studies include the opportunity cost for land use. Given the enormous surface area required, these, along with environmental damage will be very high, unless confined to buildings such as roof tops. In this case, the question becomes irrelevant, as building footprints alone limit solar to a trivial fraction of electricity production.

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