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Is wind energy (mainly wind turbines,not our own wind) really the energy of the future or is all the hype just a load of hot air. >?

Yes, its a good energy source of the future.
5 (71.4%)
No, its not worth the money and time.
1 (14.3%)
Not Sure, havent really bothered about it.
0 (0%)
Other, we have to give it a shot anyway.
1 (14.3%)

Total Members Voted: 7

Voting closed: 03/06/2012 22:03:18

Author Topic: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?  (Read 10740 times)

Offline kierae0608

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Is wind energy (mainly wind turbines, not our own wind) really the energy of the future or is all the hype just a load of hot air. >?
« Last Edit: 12/05/2012 13:57:58 by chris »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #1 on: 05/05/2012 10:42:54 »
I really think that wind is a viable long-term source of power for some situations.

Not great for everything, everywhere.  But... in some places, such as rural/desert areas with good wind, it isn't bad.  Presumably it will also hit the coastal environment soon.

Consider the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm

The Columbia River Gorge has pretty steady winds.  I'm sure the output from the windfarm varies a bit, but I would imagine the turbines don't sit idle a lot.

I believe the Windy Point wind farm is also on the opposite side of the river. 

I think the capacity is about 450MW, for $1 Billion for Biglow Canyon, and an additional $1 Billion for 400MW for Windy Point, for a total of just under 1GW.  Whew, that is a bit expensive though.

I don't find them bothersome in the current environment.  Not damaging to the wildlife (like the dams on the river below them).  I suppose I'll be a bit mixed about future coastal wind farms, and they will have to deal with a much more corrosive environment.  However, I think it will be ok.

The now closed Trojan Nuclear Plant was built between 1970 to 1976 for $500 Million, and only operated for 16 years (not particularly good in the political environment of the 90's).  Generation capacity was 1,130 MW.  A bit more than the wind farms above, but it certainly had more risk, as well as consuming non-renewable resources, and waste issues that the wind farms don't have.  Nuke Plants, of course, are pretty good at steady state generation, but they are also regularly shut down for refuelling.  Although, I assume the refuelling could generally be scheduled during peak hydroelectric generation, or minimal power consumption periods.

These ½ GW wind power installations compare favorably to some of the really big dams which have a capacity in the range of 1-2 GW.  In fact, moderate sized dams such as Lookout Point only have a capacity around 120MW (much less than many wind farms).  However, the current wind farms are dwarfed by the 30 GW (or so) power generation along the Columbia River and main tributaries.

The dams, of course, are good for transportation, but somewhat obsolete this use.  They are damaging to migratory fish.  And, they are quite intrusive.  There is also earthquake and terrorist risk of the dams, as well as a risk of a cascade failure of the dams serially located along a single drainage system.  And, it is unlikely I will ever see the largest waterfall in Oregon.

Anyway, I believe we need more investment in renewable energy, of which wind farms are part of it.  And, I see fewer downsides with wind farms than other competing forms of energy generation.

I do think the existing dams could be better designed for peak-power generation, which could then complement the wind farms and solar.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #2 on: 05/05/2012 10:52:01 »
Of course, there could be a glut of too much energy being generated during peak power production times.

Why doesn't my bill reflect all that FREE POWER?
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #3 on: 06/05/2012 00:16:21 »
The fact is, there is no such thing as 'green energy'. The manufacture of the turbines, solar cells etc and the construction of windmills, dams etc, then the decommissioning and scrap/recycling of materials all produce pollution.

So called 'green energy' may also prove expensive and, as yet, cannot meet demand, but it has to better than burning fossil fuels or leaving a legacy of highly radioactive waste.
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #4 on: 06/05/2012 12:57:27 »
The fact is, there is no such thing as 'green energy'. The manufacture of the turbines, solar cells etc and the construction of windmills, dams etc, then the decommissioning and scrap/recycling of materials all produce pollution.

So called 'green energy' may also prove expensive and, as yet, cannot meet demand, but it has to better than burning fossil fuels or leaving a legacy of highly radioactive waste.

Is the term 'green energy' actually leading people to think it has no environmental impact at all?...perhaps.   Still, since most people have neither the (perceived) time or the interest in such matters, then I'd argue it's best to be pragmatic and not complicate the issue too much, at least for general media consumption.

There are possible exceptions to this, such as the truly enormous amount of concrete (a traditionally CO2 costly material) that may be used in tidal energy projects; not to mention the negative impacts on wildlife of tidal.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #5 on: 06/05/2012 20:17:02 »
All forms of life alter their environment. Heck, if it hadn't been for those nasty blue-green algae spewing their exhaust all over the place, none of this would ever have happened.

The problem is that humans are a bit too good at altering the environment with little regard for the consequences. Some impact is inevitable so it really boils down to finding a minimum impact path, and that is not an easy thing to do.
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #6 on: 06/05/2012 20:49:21 »
The problem is that humans are a bit too good at altering the environment with little regard for the consequences. Some impact is inevitable so it really boils down to finding a minimum impact path, and that is not an easy thing to do.

That ol' matter of rate of change is more specifically the issue that separates human 'intervention' from most macro impacts seen in nature (ie. technological 'forces' as opposed to evolutionary).
 

Offline Lmnre

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #7 on: 07/05/2012 20:49:23 »
My  concern is that we don't know enough of what wind does naturally to know how to tap into into it without reducing it significantly and causing ecological impacts. We don't even know how much a "significant reduction" would be, and we don't know what impacts it would cause. For example:

Quote
The mixing of surface waters by wind and waves increases the rate at which oxygen from the air can be dissolved or absorbed into the water.
source

Humans got into this predicament because developed nations use too much energy, and to reverse that, developed nations need to stop using so much energy per capita, and developing nations (especially the large ones such as China and India) need to make their development less energy dependent.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #8 on: 08/05/2012 00:25:59 »
My  concern is that we don't know enough of what wind does naturally to know how to tap into into it without reducing it significantly and causing ecological impacts. We don't even know how much a "significant reduction" would be, and we don't know what impacts it would cause.

I don't think we should be overly concerned about that. The amount of kinetic energy removed from the atmosphere by turbines is an incrediby small percentage of the total. I imagine they might produce some very minor microclimate changes, but that's about it.
 
Personally, I think their placement should be very carefully controlled, but that's for aesthetic reasons. Anyway, the good news is they are not so hard to get rid of if we need to do that.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #9 on: 08/05/2012 01:58:46 »
The reality is that as we get into the next green energy boom, it won't be a few isolated wind turbines as well as tidal and ocean current generators.  There will be a boom of them everywhere.

I'm not too concerned about oxygenation of water based on terrestrial wind.  At least in the west, rapids (in the absence of dams) significantly oxygenate the water.  However, it would be a good point that the surf of ocean waves crashing into the land likely is very important to the ocean ecosystem.  So, if we manage to take away the waves, then we could significantly damage the oceans.

Yes, in theory it would be easy enough to tear down a few wind turbine towers.  However, in reality it may not be so easy.  There is a raging debate in Oregon on whether we should remove hydroelectric dams to preserve the salmon runs. 

Yet, the dams provide flood control, power, and in some cases irrigation.  Taking them out is not an easy decision.

Wind turbines may not provide the secondary benefits, but with power and expense, should we build coal plants so that we can remove the wind turbines along the Columbia Gorge? 
 

Offline kierae0608

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #10 on: 08/05/2012 17:24:30 »
so really anything that does not effect our climate is a bonus for us. so what about the future climate, should we stock up our options for when it changes. and pre-build possible ways to create (green energys). instead of putting so much money into just now when there is so much humanitarian problems still out there.?
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #11 on: 08/05/2012 21:23:09 »
If we, as a species have the time, technology and long-sightedness to deal with today's climatic challenges, let alone worrying about what's over the next hill.

With the exception of trying to reign back the spiralling population growth and the growing (understandable) expectation of developing nations... if only we (by which I mean 'the west') could lead by example and get rid of our cars, etc...
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #12 on: 08/05/2012 22:21:46 »
if only we (by which I mean 'the west') could lead by example and get rid of our cars, etc...

The price of fuel in the US is beginning to have an effect. The cost of housing in many suburban areas is depressed because of the high cost of commuting. There seems to be a migration back into the towns and cities.

A lot of people who live in major cities in the US, New York for example, don't even own cars. It's too much of a pain in the neck!
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #13 on: 08/05/2012 22:44:01 »
A lot of people who live in major cities in the US, New York for example, don't even own cars. It's too much of a pain in the neck!

There's at least seems to be strawpole evidence for fewer youngsters bothering to learn to drive in the UK from what I see (from a city perspective).
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #14 on: 09/05/2012 10:02:08 »
There's at least seems to be strawpole evidence for fewer youngsters bothering to learn to drive in the UK from what I see (from a city perspective).
Interesting.
I see that is happening both in the USA and the UK
US:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15847682
UK:
http://uk.autoblog.com/2011/08/04/fewer-young-people-learning-to-drive/

I know that some college students delay learning to drive, and a person living in NYC could potentially live their whole life without driving.  However, one is very limited to getting out of the city without driving, and it would be difficult in many rural areas. 
 

Offline kierae0608

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #15 on: 10/05/2012 22:23:51 »
well as acollege student myself, i have vowed not to drive my car to college every day if the price rises above £1.50. so maybe well all decide to stop polluting and start  green commuting.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #16 on: 11/05/2012 15:20:22 »

.......... There seems to be a migration back into the towns and cities.


This, however, presents a bigger logistical problem and increased pollution in as far as getting food from the farms to the cities is concerned.

Large, dense populated cities equate to food being transported 100's and even 1000's of miles.

The cost getting a bean to Ms Jones in London or NY is perhaps 20kgs of carbon, while the cost to get that bean to Ms Brown in Lower Pucklington-on-the-Wold might be 20gms.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #17 on: 11/05/2012 17:15:43 »
Well, yes, but if Mrs Jones was to move to Chipping-Gruntfuttock, she could probably grow her own beans.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Wind turbines
« Reply #18 on: 12/05/2012 11:47:10 »
Are you aquainted with the Williams's of Chipping-Gruntfuttock?

They spondle a most glossop gander bag.
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #19 on: 12/05/2012 16:25:40 »
well as acollege student myself, i have vowed not to drive my car to college every day if the price rises above £1.50. so maybe well all decide to stop polluting and start  green commuting.
Is green commuting what we used to call walking? :D
... or cycling?

Are you aquainted with the Williams's of Chipping-Gruntfuttock?
They spondle a most glossop gander bag.
All right Rambling Sid  ::)
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #20 on: 12/05/2012 18:04:45 »
Are you aquainted with the Williams's of Chipping-Gruntfuttock?

They spondle a most glossop gander bag.

Anyway, as we are talking about energy here, don't you think the answer lies in the oil?
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #21 on: 12/05/2012 20:08:14 »
So called 'green energy' may also prove expensive and, as yet, cannot meet demand, but it has to better than burning fossil fuels or leaving a legacy of highly radioactive waste.
Actually, for new builds, on-shore wind power is about the same costs as new gas fired power stations per delivered kilowatt hour. The costs have come wayyyyy down. Off-shore is about 1.6 times as expensive.

The downside is the variability, sometimes you'll get about 10% of peak. On average you'll get about 30-35% peak, sometimes, 100% peak. So you have to back it up with something else.

It's not inconceivable we could run the whole country off wind and export spare energy when we have a glut, and import energy back if we had a lull; a lot of the variability is simply the jet stream flopping around, and if it's not aimed at us... it's aimed at somebody next-door.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #22 on: 12/05/2012 23:38:21 »
The downside is the variability, sometimes you'll get about 10% of peak. On average you'll get about 30-35% peak, sometimes, 100% peak. So you have to back it up with something else.

It's not inconceivable we could run the whole country off wind and export spare energy when we have a glut, and import energy back if we had a lull; a lot of the variability is simply the jet stream flopping around, and if it's not aimed at us... it's aimed at somebody next-door.
Unfortunately there is a transmission power loss.  This can be reduced somewhat by super high voltages and big low resistance wires. 

However, it is a good point that there is always wind somewhere.  So, perhaps the wind energy would even itself out somewhat by pushing it onto a national grid, then also combining wind with solar for peak daytime power generation.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #23 on: 12/05/2012 23:57:41 »
That's how it works right now of course, almost all wind farms are connected to the grid.

It mainly helps because the wind doesn't just suddenly die completely, and the grid has longer to respond to variations.

But it's still very variable with long periods with little wind. Hydro schemes like Dinorwig help a lot though, you can pump them up with wind power and take it back during lulls.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #24 on: 13/05/2012 00:20:14 »
But it's still very variable with long periods with little wind. Hydro schemes like Dinorwig help a lot though, you can pump them up with wind power and take it back during lulls.
I've mentioned several times that the big hydroelectric dams that we have need to all be designed to not only have background generation levels, but also have a quick response peak power system.

Thus, no pumping water uphill, but rather stop releasing it when demand drops. 

Of course, it is a little more complicated than that, but there is a lot of variability one can put into river flows.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Are wind turbines a viable alternative energy source?
« Reply #24 on: 13/05/2012 00:20:14 »

 

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