The world’s largest wind turbine is now the Enercon E-126. This turbine has a rotor diameter of 126 meters (413 feet). The E-126 is a more sophisticated version of the E-112, formerly the world’s largest wind turbine and rated at 6 megawatts. This new turbine is officially rated at 6 megawatts too, but will most likely produce 7+ megawatts (or 20 million kilowatt hours per year). That’s enough to power about 5,000 households of four in Europe. A quick US calculation would be 938 kwh per home per month, 12 months, that’s 11,256 kwh per year per house. That’s 1776 American homes on one wind turbine.
The turbine being installed in Emden, Germany by Enercon. They will be testing several types of storage systems in combination with the multi-megawatt wind turbines.
These turbines are equipped with a number of new features: an optimized blade design with a spoiler extending down to the hub, and a pre-cast concrete base. Due to the elevated hub height and the new blade profile, the performance of the E-126 is expected to by far surpass that of the E-112.
WiredForStereo of The Way explains the operation of these new turbines:
[The E-126]… has no gearbox attaching the turbine blades to the generator, in fact, the generator is housed just at the widest part of the nose cone, it takes up the entire width of the nacelle to generate power more efficiently, and provide longer service life with less wear.
Also like small turbines, these have inverters instead of synchronous generators, that is to say, a separate controller that converts the wild AC generated into something the grid can use. This means the rotor can run at more optimum and varied speeds.
Again like small turbines, this one does not shut right off at a predetermined speed due to gusts or just very high wind speeds. It simply throttles down by turning the blades slightly away from the wind so as to continue to generate power though at a lower production rate. Then the instant the wind is more favorable, it starts back up again. Many smaller wind turbines do something similar except have no blade pitch control, they use a technique called something like “side furling” where the whole machine, excepting the tail, turns “sideways” to catch less wind but continue operating.
Money, why else? Big things are cheaper per unit production. If you have 3 2 MW generators, you have to have three (at least) cranes to put them up, build three foundations, have to maintain three machines, and have three times the parts to fail. If you have one, it is larger and more expensive in itself to move, but not as expensive as having to move three smaller ones.
I don’t understand how people can be so concerned about birds becoming mush with modern wind turbines, especially ones this big. It only turns at 12 rpms. That means it takes five seconds to complete one revolution. That is slow but this is much bigger and easy to see compared to the whirring blades of old. The Altamont Pass turbines gave wind turbines such a bad name because they were built in the middle of the natural habitat of rare birds, the turbines were the small fast spinning type, and they were built using lattice towers, the kind birds love to nest in. These are slowly being replaced and all of the new ones are of the slower rotating kind. In the end, it comes down to this. Stationary buildings and moving cars kill literally millions of times more birds than wind turbines. And things like the Exxon Valdez spill kill millions of everything. So let’s go with the best option.
469 thoughts on “New Record: World’s Largest Wind Turbine (7+ Megawatts)”
i think that the the mills that the wind blows could turn to fast that cuses a over power in electricity.
Wow. If I were you Matt, I wouldn’t worry about it.
– The higher energy use per inhabitant in the USA compared to countries such as Germany or Japan is due to several factors, not just to a wasteful attitude on the part of Americans.
The States have much more heavy industry than the other “Western” countries. If you use the energy use per GNP$ then the US numbers are more in line with the European numbers. For example: Norway, The Netherlands and Ireland rank worse than the US.
The population density of the United States is much, much lower than it is in Germany or Japan, making all travel distances further than in other countries. The urban structure in the USA is also very open making it impossible for a large percentage of Americans to walk or use public transportation to get anywhere. Changing this will take generations as it is our entire way of life that needs to be changed.
– The high percentage of wind power being used by some European countries (Denmark, Spain and Portugal in particular) is deceptive because the countries do not exist in a vacuum. If all European countries reached the same high percentages of wind energy (over 10%) their ability to balance the load using neighboring countries’ power generation/consumption would be impaired. With 19% of its electricity produced by wind power and a capacity factor of 24% Denmark is a perfect example. They an installed capacity of nearly 100% of their average demand which means that on windy days 100% of their electricity comes from wind turbines but it also means that all their other power generation facilites must shut down on windy days or they must export the excess power. On low wind days they must make all their electricity in other ways, which in Denmark’s case means either importing it or starting up a whole bunch of fossil fuel generators. If they were an island they would be stuck burning a whole bunch of gas and coal… For this the danes pay the highest electric rates in the World. On the other hand France with 1% wind energy and 76% nuclear energy has one of the lowest electric rates of any country and emits half of the GHG/inhabitant that Denmark does… Draw your own conclusions.
– The comment by Mikemike above that really opened my eyes is the one about solar energy. He is absolutely correct that capturing solar power is contributing to global warming as it retains solar radiation in the atmosphere that would otherwise be reflected and partially lost. Solar power is NOT a good solution to combat global climate change. One suggestion advanced by President Obama a few months ago was that all house roofs in the US should be painted white to reflect as much solar energy as possible and help counteract the greenhouse effect. This should have triggered my radar that installing solar power panels has exactly the opposite effect… If you have solar panels on your roof you are a threat to the environment… That is just plain funny and true.
– The creation of jobs should never be taken into account when evaluating whether something is viable or not. This leads to absurd things such completely unsustainable industries feeding on tax-payer money and making everyone (on average) poorer.
– I believe worldwide population control must be one part of the solution and a worldwide energy policy must also be. The European Community has exported a large part of its heavy industry to China, India and Turkey to appear more “green” but if they continue to import steel, cement, paper and textiles at the same rate they have just exported their GHG emissions which is fundamentally hypocritical.
Consumption of goods should always be added to the energy equation to create a true picture of what is going on. This year China has become the largest GHG producer in the world but they are using a lot of that energy to make goods for Europe and the USA… Who is truly creating the GHG?
Using less energy for the energy consumers in America should be coupled with wise choices of energy production. The global solution is less energy from Co2 creating problems, locally. If an immediate solution for us is energy conservation, than the less energy required to produce energy consumed, is making a wise choice. Education is at the root of change, and often neglected, and ignorance is bliss only for the uneducated.
Well I think this offending comment is just inappropriate. You do not know the people discussing here, but one thing I guess: You cannot be a well educated scientist yourself cause all of them would respect other peoples thoughts and try to comment unemotional .
From the science point of view: We don’t know what the high concentration of CO2 causes, but it is manmade and not comparable to the usual appearance of CO2 after a warming of the planet. Right now it’s beforehand of the warming. And yes, we had higher concentrations about 100 million years ago (just looked it up). No humans being there at that time…
Good times discussing the topic. You rather should stay unemotional though. I’m out again.
Quit talking about science and global warming you uneducated idiot non-scientists. CO2 doesn’t cause global warming. Global warming causes CO2. Northern regions of the world have vast amounts of CO2 in the soil, and when warmed, release this CO2 into the air. This happens over and over on Earth in time cycles measured in thousands of years. People who support the “global warming” hoax should be hanged for treason because they will be responsible for global taxation and removal of national sovereignty in many developed nations. I am a strong proponent of wind farms. Not because of CO2 or other pseudo-science issues, but because it’s renewable. We don’t have to keep digging holes and putting smelly smoke into the air to use wind farms. Another reason is that solar panels are not sustainable. They cause more global warming than any greenhouse gases. This happens because they trap energy from the sun that otherwise would have a larger reflection rate. Wind mills use energy that is already on earth and hasn’t the possibility of leaving on it’s own. Wave power can hurt local ecology, and geothermal power has dangers (only when developed on a large scale) of interrupting the normal processes of the earth’s insides.
I would have to agree with Matt that insulting others is not the way to get your point across.
While there is some questions about the global warming data, especially in view of recent E-mail exchanges between various research institutes showing that they have falsified data to fit the results they wanted to show, there is also no doubt in my mind that man is releasing large quantities of carbon that has been trapped in fossil form for 2 billion years and that this will increase levels of CO2 above those that would otherwise occur.
The main point of all my posts here has been to bring to people’s attention that wind energy is not a viable solution on a global scale.
– It is extremely expensive from a capital cost standpoint, from a maintenance standpoint and from a life expectancy standpoint. On its own (without substantial government subsidies or regulation) it CANNOT compete against any other form of generation.
– It does not significantly reduce GHG emissions because it requires cycling fossil fuel back-up capacity that runs inefficiently and overproduces GHG emissions when doing so.
– Due to its random availability it is limited to a maximum capacity of around 20% of the total power requirement of an area AND it puts significant constraints on the type of generation that can be used to make the remaining 80% of the power preventing any further GHG emission cuts.
I went halfway through the discussions and can’t comment everything, just some thoughts:
– Maybe one should think sometimes about the demand side than about the supply side 😉
– Energy consumption per person is way better in Germany than in USA and I think taking the percentage of wind energy, Germany is still leader although USA produce more MWs in total.
– Nuclear power is no solution for peak power as plants can’t be started or shut down quickly. Regarding all investments (government,…) for research and establishing the technology nuclear power is the most expensive energy supply ever. Not regarding the waste we will run out of uran in about 25 years.
– Wind turbines are not able to be the only energy supply, but they are a good addition for reducing pollution.
– Visual pollution and bird kill are rather inappropriate arguments. How many animals have you killed with your car already? And why not living in a cave underground so that we don’t have to see all these ugly houses and skyscrapers anymore?
There will be always pros and cons, one only has to decide which arguments are more important. And it’s not a one men’s decission…
The problem of low to no wind can be solved.
1. We can use hydro more as storage rather than base load.
2. We use energy from waste and biomass to store enough methane to power gas turbines which can see us through those periods.
3. We can build a big enough grid that can make up for drops in one area.
4. We can develop new storage techniques e.g. compressed air.
One point – all functioning grids have to be “overdesigned” to deliver reliable energy. Otherwise, for instance, large parts of the UK would have had no electricity recently when 7 out of 12 of its nuclear reactors were out of commission.
An oversimplistic view of the issue:
Using hydro as “storage”. .. If we simply reduce hydro output when wind is available how does this improve the GHG emissions? Cutting down one none polluting source to make room for another…
Trying to put excess wind energy into hydraulic storage: Most hydro plants are not designed for reverse operation and since there is typically no lower storage reservoir on most hydro projects (on rivers) these cannot be reversed.
Finally given the total hydro capacity in the world this could only be used to back-up a tiny fraction of the wind energy that is proposed.
Biomass energy contributes just as much CO2 as burning conventional fuels if it from waste that would otherwise be allowed to retain carbon in a non-gaseous form… The only way biomass is better than burning NG, oil or coal is that IT IS ASSUMED that crops will be planted to replenish the biomass fuel (Corn for ethanol, forest for woodchips etc.)
Capture of natural released methane to convert it energy is not practically feasible at this point.
If what is meant by “size of the grid” is the capability to carry more power from point A to point B it really does not help with the low availability of wind power, unless a fast response power source is available nearby. The losses associated with transporting energy many hundreds of miles kills any environmental benefit derived from it.
The grid capacity is not “overdesigned” at all, they are actually close to maximum capacity because environmental pressures have delayed and cancelled construction of needed new capacity.
When 7 of 12 reactors go down, many high GHG emitting standby sources go online to replace them. These sources are must less cost-efficient than the base loaded nuke plants. You don’t want to use those sources to back-up wind energy as they will wipe out any environmental benefit.
European countries are electrically interconnected so when UK had a shortage they probably imported electric power from France… didn’t you notice a garlic smell coming from the outlets?
I want to make clear that I have nothing against wind energy, but I have a problem with utopian plans that make it MAJOR part of a global plan to reduce GHG emissions. With the current technology, it simply cannot be done, yet politicians and special interest groups pretend that it is THE solution and the masses are buying it.
Hi Michael N,
I’ve been reading your comments with attention as I’m very interested in the whole renewable energy subject. I understand a lot of your concerns regarding the ups and downs of wind turbines and the needed stability for the grid.
Now is my question, how do country’s in Europe manage those up&downs? Country’s like Germany and Spain (both in the top 10 of biggest economy’s in the world) know how to handle that kind of inconveniences.
Spain uses already 35% (!!) renewable energy. How are they able to manage that with al the drawbacks you describe? Is their a huge inefficiency?
About the costs: Aren’t we just paying the price for independent energy supply? For example in Europe (where I live) in 2030 we will have to import 90% from our oil from the middle East and 60% from our gas from Russia. Imagine what kind of problems some geopolitical tensions could cause.
Imagine what kind of problems this can cause in a world where we can’t play the imperialist any more. Where new economy’s start dictating the rules. Our kind of capitalism is very vulnerable and is overdependent on foreign energy import. Think about the impact of a high oil price on our economy.
About the looks: Here in Belgium we are proud if they build such an e126 in our backyard. They’ve build eleven e126’s in Estinnes (+70 MW or ~50.000 family’s). These are the best windmills in the world:
It’s a symbol of modern society and independence. We can produce our own energy no matter what happens in the rest of the world.
If the EU wants to guarantee security, stability, a nice environment, peace and prosperity in and around Europe, Renewable energy is the way to go.
Even if it’s not that much cleaner for the environment, it has still huge advantages above the alternatives. It’s nice, it’s cool, it has obvious advantages, it’s a business. Give the money to your own people instead of Russians or the Middle East. Germany employs around 250.000 people in the renewable energy sector. Within 10 years there will be 400.000.
Create your own energy business instead of financing some misty Russian or Middle East regimes.If the government wants to put a green jacket above al those motives, well, so be it 🙂
um…wow. green technology 8)
I can also be followed on
Interested in lowest possible MW windmill for industrial power in INDIA !
I can try to design based on your cost/budget/power requirements any size wind machine for you. from kW to gW We can build wahtever you need. Ours is a flexible design.
I can design custom wind machines based on your cost/budget/power requirements any size wind machine for you. From kW to gW We can build what ever you need. Ours is a flexible design. low tech servicing, high efficiency power
For all of you disbelievers to see and know: See the future here:
Spain, 8th of November at 5:50 a.m. Windpower covered 53,7% of Spain´s electricity consumption. You can see it in this here:
Left down you can search the date, and click “consultar”. (in green colour – wind power)
Go Renewable energy!!
What they are talking about is a one-time event.
Spain has enough installed wind capacity that during this one-time event 53.7% of the electric energy used in Spain came from wind.
Denmark has exceeded that percentage a long time ago but still only produces 19% of their yearly energy via wind power. Spain produces 13% of their yearly energy with wind.
Denmark is the leading nation in the World in regard to percentage of energy produced with wind AND has the absolute highest electric rates in the World… you draw your own conclusions.
Fortunately, Denmark is also a very wealthy nation and the Danes can afford to pay for it.
Of course, they exported all their heavy industry to Turkey, India and China where they don’t have be concerned about expensive energy and environmental regulations…
I am interested in offshore 7+ mW. Including what the cost of infrustructure to get power from turbines to mainland in australia.
We can support onshore as well as offshore wind machines.(all patented and built to your requirements)
We also have a patented commercial sub sea generator.
Please email your requirements and you are cordially invited to
Palatka, Florida laboratory. Guest accommodations included.
We can supply 2 megawatt wind machines for $ 2 million dollars per megawatt installed here in the U.S.A. . All you need is to bring the grid service connections in to the site.
I am wondering what these 7+ mW wind turbines costs to purchase, what the cost to install, what they cost to maintain etc?
I can not find this information anywhere?
i love trees
Michael N – You are seriously misinformed on the macro-economic effect of wind power versus coal/nuclear et cetera. Furthermore your comment on hydrogen production and storage as a transmission solution is way off base. How much would it cost to build these supposed hydrogen pipelines. NO LINE LOSSES ???!!!!???? Hydrogen is the TOUGHEST gas to store – it leaks through glass, iron, et cetera. FUEL CELLS??? You argue AGAINST wind and FOR fuel cells?? Have you done an economic analysis of the amount of energy it takes to produce Nafion versus the cost of wind-produced energy? Please read and do more research before spreading misinformation. And I believe that you’re just SLIGHTLY biased since you work on coal-fired projects and depend on them for your income.
You seem quite upset about my posts which contain valuable information aimed at trying to advance a real solution to our energy/climate change issue. You make unfounded accusations yet do not provide any useful information of your own.
I am an environmental & process engineer and I do work on all kinds of energy projects so I have no special allegiance to coal-fired energy. If you had read all my posts you would know this.
The basic problems with using wind energy to replace fossil fuels are the following:
– Low and erratic availability (22-26%)
– No practical means of storing the energy on the scale required if wind energy becomes more than the minute portion of our energy production it is now.
– Extremely expensive capital costs/kwh compared to other energy production methods (more than triple coal/gas generation). This makes wind projects non-profitable without massive government subsidies which means no private investments.
– Short equipment lifespan compared to conventional energy production equipment.
– Currently requires back-up through conventional fossil fuel generation, such as NG combustion turbines, making the net GHG emission reduction quite small.
If you want to contribute in a useful manner please tell me how you address the above concerns.
In regard to my comments on hydrogen production you completely misunderstood my position. I suggested that future large scale hydrogen production was one of the potential means by which we could store energy produced by non dispatch-able sources such as wind and solar and make them viable. If hydrogen could be produced and stored at the wind generation site and then used to power fuel cells to produce power when the wind dies down the erratic nature of the wind energy could be overcome, contrary to the current method which consists of firing up NG gas turbines to replace the missing wind power. If you want to say that this is not currently viable then I will agree and tell you that’s why there is no useful application of wind-energy on a large scale today.
I’m not sure this is the forum or the Website to get into long philosophical discussions, so I’ll make this my last comment on any subject. However, I can’t let stand the last writers suggestions that there is no global warming, that man has affected the world climate and that windmills don’t kill birds. What planet are you on? The writer is simply wrong on all these proven facts but can only support the argument with some illusion to a god. A myth of a god whose presence has never been proven. Get out of your church and travel around the world a bit. For example, I frequently fly to Europe over Greenland, and have been for 30 years (contributing to global warming in the process no doubt). The Ice has retreated massively. You now see ground that was covered 30 years ago with ice, and has been covered by ice for millennium. It’s a simple and frightening example of the effect mankind has on the world, to suggest this is a natural part of the world’s evolution defies understanding of the slow changes that take place in nature. On the other hand I doubt the writer even believes in evolution, and probably believes the earth is 4,000 years old. I’m less concerned about the world than I am the future of mankind. The world is resilient and will recover once we’ve all gone. The trouble is that the end of mankind’s existence on the world will be a very ugly sight as people struggle for the last remaining resources. I am only thankful I lived through the luckiest generation in history, and won’t be around to see the end.
I agree with you on the evidence of climate change being caused by mankind and having potential serious repercussions on the future of the species. But I see no reason to attack the person’s beliefs because he is misinformed on the scientific evidence.
Unfortunately, this whole issue has been hijacked (by both camps) for political gain and common sense has been killed in the process. You can either be conservative, religious, pro-business, pro-America and don’t believe global warming is real or you are liberal, atheist, anti-business, pro-environment and believe global warming is real. No crossing of the ideological lines allowed…
First you have to sign on to the whole GHG thing, which I and millions of intelligent people refuse to do. Short of a nuclear winter caused by man, man can no more cause global cooling / warming than windmills be responsible for the deaths of millions of birds! The world has and will continue to heal itself no matter what we miniscule creatures try to do to it. If GOD wished us to change the global climate, we’d have been given teh power to do so. We don’t have such power, therefore, we cannot have a substantial impact the Earth cannot rebound from. Why not worry about getting food to people in countries with rougue governments? Why not try to spend money here to improve this country? Why waste millions on “Carbon Credits” that do absolutely nothing but provide a job for those who hwould operate a ruse to defraud hard working companies and people of their money? Get over it. There is NO global warming. The GHG’s you refer to have been there for eons and will be there for eons, long after putz’s like yourself are gone and no longer hurting the economic base of this country. The Earth has been cooling for some time and will continue to do so. Get over it.
Steve, here is the explanation of the relation between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours (which admittedly is a bit confusing). There are 24 x 365 = 8760 hours in a year, so a 7 megawatt turbine producing at 100% capacity year round would produce 7 megawatts x 8760 hours = 61,320 megawatt-hours; since a wind turbine produces at about 33% capacity factor this is equal to 1/3 of the above, or about 20,000 megawatt-hours. That is the same as 20 million kilowatt-hours.
Michael has a number of valid points about the technical limits of wind, but also he makes some important mistakes. His data regarding the percentage of wind power (0.5%) and coal (over 50%) in the US, is years out of date. Wind output has tripled and will pass 1.5% this year, with total renewable electricity growing to over 3%. The result for coal use is the opposite of what he claims: in the 1990s coal amounted to over 50%, but fell below this level years ago, and today is shrinking to near 46% (for 12 months rolling to july 2009) as natural gas and renewables displace it successfully. for up to date info see– http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1.html
In other words, Michael is missing a key turning point, and declares wind and renewables a failure just as they are actually beginning to have a real effect.
Michael is correct that wind does not reduce carbon as much as people think if the wind is backed up by fossil fuel, as is commonly the case. However, his value of 9% reduction is a gross underestimation. Simply replacing coal with relatively low efficiency, simple cycle natural gas plants will cut carbon emissions by 30% to 40%, even without further displacing some of that natural gas power with wind.
As for the intermittant character of wind, that is a technical challenge, but one that is currently not very significant. Except for a couple of local areas in the country, we are a long way from wind producing 20% of our power.
The argument that we need storage for wind is correct; however we don’t need to wait for hydrogen technology. We can use pumped water storage, which is well proven and relatively cheap, and the nation has over 20,000 megawatts of existing capacity. In addition, output of wind and solar can be balanced by conventional hydropower, which is not just operated as “baseload” as Michael claims. Much of 77,000 megawatts of conventional existing US hydropower can be used to follow variable load or to meet peak demand, and can respond much faster than natural gas.
If we include hydropower and biomass as renewable (which I know many enviros are reluctant to do), then renewable energy provides 7% of US total primary energy (as opposed to only the sources of electricity cited above), vs. 9% for nuclear and 23% for coal. In fact, renewable energy is worth more than the nuclear, due to the gross inefficiency of nuclear power–less than 30% of of heat from uranium fission gets delivered to customers as electricity. This is in addition to all the other serious problems of nuclear, such as outrageously high cost for new plants, radioactive hazards from mining, transport and waste disposal, not to mention the threat of accidents and international security issues. To illustrate: I suspect that the world’s major nations would not have the slightest concern if Iran and N. Korea were building solar or wind manufacturing plants.
So, I will go with renewables over nuclear or fossil fuel. Also, I strongly agree with comments saying we need to invest much more heavily conservation and energy efficiency as, in general, these are the most cost effective ways to reduce carbon emissions and avoid wasting resources.
I still don’t think you get it. The ONLY solution to our energy requirements is population control. All we’re doing in the meantime is moving the deckchairs around on the deck of the sinking Titanic. Wind power is an interesting concept, but nothing else. It will likely make some people very wealthy though. However, it won’t come even slightly close to resolving today’s energy needs, to say nothing of the needs of a world population that will increase by approx 40% – conservatively – over the next 50 years. In order for wind generators to be a solution we would need thousands of these 500 ft monsters all over the country. Think NIMBY. This will be unacceptable to a vast majority of the population. If the world, which is dominated by religious nutters of all flavors, continues to ignore the need for birth control the solution can only be Nuclear. With regards to Iran and North Korea, the west is less concerned about nuclear power plants than nuclear weapons plans.
From your comments you appear to have “a horse in the race”. Let me address a couple of the misrepresentations you made about my prior postings.
– The total GHG reduction possible with wind power IS 9% when compared with the alternate of building a new combined cycle gas generating unit as I stated. Wind generating stations have an average availability or service factor of 19.2% worldwide. I generously allow 26% (Not 33% as you state which totally unrealistic as an average). Therefore the best possible outcome would be 26% GHG reduction since 74% of the time the demand has to be generated by burning fossil fuel. Since cycling power plants are significantly less efficient than base loaded ones the average net GHG saving is only 9%. This is directly from two engineering studies done by companies I work with on cost evaluation and feasibility of building new wind farms. These rules apply when you consider wind energy as a large scale alternative to building new base loaded gas-fired units.
The comparative capital cost study of a combined cycle gas unit versus a wind farm with gas turbine back-up power also reveals that the wind farm/gas turbine installed KW cost is more than twice the cost of the combined cycle plant. The 9% fuel saving cannot come close to covering this differential cost.
– Your statement that you can cycle hydroelectric plants to compensate for the fluctuations of wind power is anecdotal at best or at worst a smoke screen to cover the fact that wind power is not a real large scale solution. With only 6% of the US electricity generated by hydroelectric stations the most they could realistically back-up through drastic cycling is a 0.5-1.0% wind energy share, so we have to face that if we move forward with wind power as our main energy strategy the overwhelming majority of the back-up power will be fossil-fuel based.
– Using the potential reduction in GHG emissions caused by replacing an old coal-fired power plant and a new gas-fired one and extrapolating that to imply that building wind turbines would make more sense has no logical basis. Building new super critical coal boilers to replace older units would also reduce GHG emissions by 30% or more. Because more than half of the US coal- and gas-fired power stations are over 30 years old it would make perfect sense, from an environmental standpoint, to replace them all with new technology. This is not happening because of environmental activism and the media-induced anti-coal frenzy so instead the old dirty plants continue to operate under extended consent decrees approved by the same politicians who kill the new projects. Absurd!
– My previous numbers on the fraction of the US electricity generated by coal is a bit out of date but still at 48% according to my source. Wind is now at 1.2% and total renewable energy at 3% although suspect those numbers are skewed by “fake” information. Most new coal-fired projects I have worked on in the last 4-5 years have been designed to also burn 20% “biomass” according to the permitting which may allow them to be classified as partially renewable energy sources.
– Your numbers on the percentage of total renewable energy use in the US are completely wrong or have been manipulated to appear favorable. For electric generation 9% renewable (when including hydroelectric) is correct but that percentage decreases drastically when adding non-electric energy use for transportation which is nearly 100% petroleum based, for direct residential and commercial heating, which is nearly 100% gas and fuel oil based, for heavy industry, which is almost exclusively petroleum (petro-chem industry) and coal (steel-industry) and construction, which uses almost exclusively diesel fuels. My numbers are closer to a 4% share.
“Birth control at replacement levels would stabilize the population, and it’s long-overdue. Current world growth tops 75,000,000 per year!”
–EA: this is awesome. Plus, to be even more “green,” we should kill off the old people once they become useless to the rest of us.
Plus: if we kill unemployed people, that helps reduce a lot of energy, righ there.
-Plus, those convicted of major crimes more than once ought to be sacrificed as well, for the envinronment. Of course, not by electric chair, since that is inefficient. You can kill someone with much less power by inserting an electrode into the heart.
Maybe we could ask for volunteers to sacrifice themselves. Again, electric chair should not be used, as this is very inefficient. Visually, makes a great impression, with all of that buzzing and sparks, like in the movies, but inefficient.
Instead of killing humans before birth, we could just give everyone the right to life, but you only get 30 years. That way, we all get to share in life equally, and in a “green” way.
We are putting too big of a burden on the earth as can be seen by …uh, global warming, I mean global cooling, I mean … climate change.
Look at all of the starving kids, who are starving because of political instability and foreign nation-building, er, I mean, because of “famine.”
We need to kill ourselves off. It is obvious that nature cannot do it herself, in her own “green” way.
Wow, this looks really attractive. I live in the hills of Sonoma County North of San Francisco. It’s pretty bucolic here. Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to see a bunch of these 400 plus feet monstrosities on the surrounding hillside. Ok so assume you like that sort of thing. Where did this article writer learn mathematics? How does 7 Megawatts translate to 20, million KW a year? And even if it did where does the wind blow nonstop 365 days a year? It actually calculates out at 61.32 KwHours per year, enough to power approx 6900 houses (average USA use is 8900 Kw per year). seems like the writer is using a 25% utilization rate. Assuming a figure of 1766 houses per generator and a local population in Northern California of 10 Million people (rough number) at 4 persons per house, that’s 2.5 million homes or 1415 of these pretty towers. While the new Green’s spout nonsense like how the worlds going to be saved by wind farms and solar panels manufacturers are making lots of money and the real green solution is being avoided. We have too many people in the world and the world population is exploding! The ONLY solution is population control and/or Nuclear Energy.
Has any of you seen or heard about a Solar Tower in Spain that works on Green House effect. It looked like a damn good idea. Check this video on youtube:
What do you all think about this idea.
people who say that wind energy is useless because: – a) energy cannot be stored b) wind does not blow 24/7 … such people are very naive!! Conversion of wind energy to hydrogen (which can be easily stored) causes no more than 20% “energy” wastage.
This hydrogen can be used to generate electricity and used directly in vehicles. Unreal!
This is a great way to produce clean energy instead of using coal. I am all for wind power, but there are also many steps that could be taken to ensure the energy that is produced isn’t wasted. For the high price of one of these towers, the government may well have run a tax credit for the purchase of better insulation, double-paned windows, and a ‘cash-for-clunkers’ type program for less-efficient home cooling/heating appliances.
its a great Idaer…..my cell # is 914-602-2453 good to hear from you
I visit the Amish, the Amish use windmills and windturbines, they would not use them if they did not work. The Amish do not waist money or time, on things that do not work, and yet Amish are heavily investing in putting up windmills and wind turbines. These windmills and widtubines compress air, to run everything from water pumps to powered compressed air equiptment. They use large tanks to store compressed air, actually used propane tanks, maybe they are on to something here?
I live in Michigan, which surounded by great lakes, that said have vast resource of untaped wind power. I think windturbines are beautifull majestic sculptures in the lanscape, I love to see more and bigger the better. I think their is money be made in long term business scheme, putting up more windfarms, which also provide local jobs. I would love to see windturbines, double even triple in size next couple years, as a mega windturbine would be very interrsting to look at.
I see allot of comments, dumping on the use of windturbines. I Just have to wonder why, and what are the motives, of these individual and their affiliation status, with competative power producers. I hear in the news, that consumers are using less electricity. Their are more alternative electric power suppliers, contributating more percentage wise, to electric power production. Still though, the electric companies are pushing need for more coal and nuclier power plants to be built, and you got to ask yourself and wonder why as they are not needed!
Because the Amish use them it’s got to be the right way to go with our National Energy Policy… Are you serious? Oh, and I also think they look beautiful and cool… Get real!
Electric Energy consumption has been steadily rising in the United States in the last 20 years and coal burning’s share of that energy has been steadily increasing past the 50% mark.
Meanwhile wind power has been massively subsidized in the past 20 years yet still can only muster a measly 0.5% of the American energy production. If there was real money to be made in windmills there would be heavy investments, but like any program that is kept alive by government dollars, it’s not a “healthy” place to invest. The wind industry is basically on government life-support.
Mega-turbines like this one may improve the costs marginally but we are still talking about an energy source that is several TIMES more expensive than competing technologies per KWh produced. While fuel cost is zero, capital costs are similar, installation costs are higher, maintenance costs are prohibitive and due to mechanical stress factors the turbines have relatively short lifespans, which makes it even more difficult to recover investments.
Some will object that the costs should not be a factor when the goal is to “save the planet”, but reality is that it is. Raising energy costs in the USA will only drive industry out, to countries that do not have the same scruples about protecting the environment and we will accomplish nothing.
Denmark has the highest % of wind energy use in the World… and the highest energy cost of ANY country in the world… and they import all their cement, steel, raw materials etc. from countries like Turkey and India who have no significant GHG reduction programs in place. Is that where we want to go?
My vote is for 80% nuclear by 2050 because it is the only realistic path we can start on now that takes us anywhere near the 80% GHG reduction targeted by the administration. In 20-30 years maybe a new development will allow us to change paths and I would applaud that, but let’s not waste resources on subsidizing wind-power. It’s a dead horse for the word go.
Most studies I have read point to the relative cost effectiveness of conservation and efficiency vs changing the way we currently produce electricity. Wind power is getting about 90% of subsidy dollars while C and E is getting practically nothing by comparison. Why are we not doing the most cost effective things first? C and E provides a return on investment unlike any form of generation. When C and E are no longer the most cost effective solutions to reductions in fossil fuel consumption, we go to the next most cost effective method, which will likely be nuclear. Nuclear is proliferating around the world, just not in the US. The charts accompanying the Waxman-Markey bill show massive construction of nuclear generation beginning in about 15 years. C and E also ramp up considerably beginning in 10 years but the there is a tremendous push for wind power over the next 10 years. I conclude that the wind industry has successfully lobbied for favorable treatment, and that it has nothing to do with the contribution that wind power will make to our energy needs. Wind power is a waste of precious resources that should be directed toward C and E, but public policy firmly backs wind power at the moment, because the wind industry has done a good job of misrepresenting itself to the public and to government.
I was certainly happy to read all your good posts about the real truth of wind energy technology and its place / effect on the grid. It is almost unbelievable to me where our energy policy is being guided by this administration and the Democratically controlled congress. It is hard to believe they can be so ignorant so you have to assume they have some other agenda. Who are advising our leaders?
Anyways, I just hope through the internet and other modern day information sources the average American soon wakes up and starts to demand that our leaders begin to do what is best for our country. Our energy and probably most especially our electrical energy is too critical to our long term survival.
Interesting discussion. From my view, there is no “answer” to the 80% reduction at this time. There will probably be a combination of solutions, all of which will be dependent on future technological developments and it may take longer than 41 years. As for the current technologies, the cheapest and best is energy conservation. You don’t need: to drive to work in a vehicle the size of your living room; to live in the middle of nowhere commuting from a former cornfield that has been converted into concrete and grass that is mowed every week by a 2 cycle machine that emits more GHG’s than the family car (why not convert to vegetables and mow the remainder with a person powered machine (might solve the obesity problem)); to live in a 5,000 sq ft house; to use 2 cycle man sized toys; etc, etc. Over time, better urban planning, smaller vehicles, public transit, and more cycling and walking will help and will also lead to a better social life. Smaller & hybrid cars can make an immediate dent since hybrids do not idle in traffic congestion and electric cars hold promise for the suburbs but note the cars will be small.
Nuclear energy can form part of the solution but it is also dependent upon some developments. For whatever reason, many of the projects went 5 or 6 hundred per cent over budget and may have something to do with no (or at least very rare) new plants built in the last 25 years. The fuel will not be almost free as the cost for uranium will skyrocket and the waste will still have to be put away for thousands of years.
I am familiar with 2 existing wind power farms in Eastern Canada approx 30 MW each and one very large project (over 1,000 MW). One project is exceptional at 46% capacity and the other is the average for this region at 38%. This does not mean that other fuels pick up the remaining 54 & 62% because full load electricity is not required all of the time and most of the wind blows in the winter when the load is highest. They are balanced against hydro power (store water when the wind is blowing) and savings from oil fuel avoidance. Neither of the projects is subsidized and both actually save the Utility money. However, they cannot be scaled to save the world, just form part of the solution. The larger 1,000 plus MW project(s) will be built in Northern Quebec and Labrador. They will balance against the huge existing hydro projects storing water when the wind load is sufficient. The primary energy market is New York State which is several thousand miles away. The line losses are I think about 20 or 25% at the most. Line losses are largest at each end of the system.
As for future technology needs: economical electrical power storage and conversion; better, cheaper and smaller nuclear plants; more efficient engines; more efficient peaking plants to support intermittent wind and solar; and more eco-friendly lifestyles.
Wind power may not solve all the worlds problems but i don’t find anyone here coming up with better ideas. Ferrel cats kill 10 times as many birds as wind farms do but i don’t here anyone complaining about them! I build wind farms and the ones i put up don’t make any noise at all, unless you have youre ear pressed up against the tower! As far as i’m concerned the tree huggers have run out of things to complain about so they are nit-picking anything they can. Every one on this blog has used a computer to post: which uses electricity, which uses energy of some sort. so when your done chasing oil tankers with you diesel powerd boats maybe you will find a real cause to pick on.
Nick: Most people objecting to wind power in this thread do not oppose it on environmental impact grounds but rather on the fact that windmills do not come close to solving the problem and provide cover for those who want to “appear” to be green while refusing to face the real magnitude of the global GHG emission problem.
Having lived near several large windmills I do agree with you that (while they ARE annoying and ugly) windmills are not a major threat to wildlife or quality of life.
How can you admit that turbines are “annoying and ugly” yet call them “not a major threat” to quality of life? What IS “quality of life” if nature continues to be visually degraded?
Some of us put very high value on keeping the landscape as unfettered as possible. We are dismayed by mindless population growth for the same reason. It’s no trivial thing to industrialize what’s left of nature, which continues to shrink in the face of growthism.
Turbines are increasingly visible from protected areas, which degrades the whole experience of escaping to nature. Climbing a mountain in a national park and not being able to screen out turbines on the horizon cheapens the whole experience. Their movement sets them apart from power lines, which are rarely white and contrasty also.
And remember, they’re talking about dramatically increasing the scale of these things. What you see today could be repeated 100 or 1,000-fold in worst-case scenarios. This is not something to casually dismiss. Both aesthetic and economic arguments should be used.
I also place a high value on the beauty of nature and my tranquility, but those considerations have become secondary to trying to solve global environmental and economic issues.
While we live in a highly industrialized, efficient, convenient and “pampered” environment, we can afford to worry about such things as impact on wildlife and visual impact. On the other hand, if your life depended on the power from that windmill you would probably not care as much if it killed a few birds or cluttered a “beautiful” view.
The world population has reached such a level that it can no longer be sustained without heavy industrialization. Rapid growth in countries such as India and China, both striving to achieve the “lifestyle” of western countries, is adding a huge new stress on the world’s already damaged environment… And they are still in the early stages of their industrial development. This will be getting a lot worse.
We have to face the fact that there is no status quo possible and there is no way back to “the way it used to be”.
If windmills provided a real solution to the energy problem I’d advocate covering every shoreline, every National Park, every mountain range with them.
You and I radically differ in that I DON’T accept the inevitability of mindless population growth. I’m not anthropocentric or a Creationist, i.e. one who thinks everything revolves around human needs because some old book said so. Nature is actually more important than people because it keeps us alive, not vice versa. Blindly putting people above nature is a dangerous priority. It can only be gotten away with up to a point.
Biologists have stated that the optimal world population might be as low as 2 billion, not the depressing 9 or 10 billion we’re currently headed for. Society needs to stop treating large families as a “freedom” since they are more of a burden overall. Pragmatic choices must be made on a finite planet.
Birth control (two or fewer children per couple) is old technology that could solve far more problems than building skyscraper turbines. Reducing demand is far more intelligent than coddling it on auto-pilot. Societies throughout history have collapsed when they pushed the growth envelope. Newer technology doesn’t make us immune to that.
I would NOT trash a view just to satisfy my own energy needs, so speak for yourself on that. Solar and safe nuclear (like the new “portable” reactors) can help minimize the visual impact of the energy grid. It’s not inevitable that views must be sacrificed to the God of overpopulation. It’s only happening because people don’t respect limits to growth.
Michael N wrote: “If windmills provided a real solution to the energy problem I’d advocate covering every shoreline, every National Park, every mountain range with them.”
That’s a disturbing display of anthropocentrism that contradicts your other statements. If do you have aesthetic values they must be easily bought and sold. I’m guessing you’re a Republican.
In that scenario, unspoiled nature would be reduced to film footage, like the scene with the old man in Soylent Green. A depressing legacy for the human race.
Sure. Instead of wisely using birth control to restore balance, let’s just convert the remaining scenic parts of the planet into industrial parks to satiate techno-drones. Then, we might find another planet to spoil in the same manner. Growth for the sake of growth itself, like a tumor set free from one body to invade another. Progress with no soul.
E.A. wrote: “That’s a disturbing display of anthropocentrism that contradicts your other statements. If do you have aesthetic values they must be easily bought and sold. I’m guessing you’re a Republican.”
I think the issue is not selling my values but realizing what the extent of the problem is and how high the cost to survive it might be. You are quick to label me so you can take refuge in the fact that I am not “enlightened” like you and thus you don’t have to deal with the issues I raise.
Are you willing to make the sacrifices it will take to keep the planet alive? I mentioned paving the parks/mountains/seashores with windmills only to highlight what extremes we might need to go to in order to reverse the environmental destruction that is in progress.
Would you be willing to cut your personal energy consumption by 90% in order to use only “your” share of the current worldwide production? This would include also cutting all forms of consumption by 90% as all consumption equates to energy. Producing and distributing goods including food, accounts for a huge portion of your energy footprint.
Advocating birth control as the solution in a society where the population growth rate (minus immigration) is already seriously negative is not going to take you very far.
Advocating population and industrialization growth limits on foreign (developing) countries where the real growth is, will get you labeled as an American Imperialist but will not do anything to fix the problem either.
Since I can’t see a realistic way to stop the world wide growth trend I choose to look for the least damaging solution to allow us to survive until reason sets in. Wind Energy isn’t it as I have repeatedly stated here if we are to roll back our GHG emissions by 80% in 40 years.
You build wind farms and refuse to criticize them? What else is new with the profit motive? It’s apparent that the turbine business is run by the same mindset that’s happy to scar the land with oil wells. Wind is worse in many ways because the structures are permanent, spinning and usually larger. It perpetuates the trashing of nature under a “green” badge.
Give a specific example of a turbine that makes “no noise” except up close, as you claim. Evidence debunks that claim. The noise is often broadcast long distances in unexpected ways, especially at night when ambient (masking) noise drops and people are trying to sleep.
A video project called “The Voices of Tug Hill” (on YouTube, etc.) goes in-depth about life around monster turbines. Noise a is a major issue, in addition to visual blight, the strobe effect of blade shadows, and the impact of service roads.
Your (well-worn) comment about everyone using electricity misses the point. Just because one is born into a wasteful society doesn’t mean one must either live in a hut or be a full-on glutton. People use energy at different rates based on personal choices.
Many people calling themselves “conservatives” have little interest in conserving anything but money. They think nature owes them a ravenous lifestyle with no sacrifices. Many Creationists think Jesus will return and wipe out nature, so why should they conserve?
I’m for halting population growth via birth control, using solar panels on roofs and making nuclear as safe as possible. Freezing demand-growth (sheer numbers of people) would finally give us a stable supply target. It will fix countless other environmental problems as well.
I do agree with you on this point. The current crisis is brought on by continued growth of world population and the rapid development of previously non-industrialized giants, India & China.
But since there is no realistic way to decrease world population rapidly, impose population growth limits on a global scale or prohibit industrial development in other countries, I see no solution along that route short of direct catastrophic environmental changes forcing global policy changes or causing a massive population decrease.
Rajeev, at last somebody who makes sense talking about wind energy. I participated in the beginning of this blog as a fervent opposer of this ridiculous idea that windpower could make a serious dent in world wide fosil fuel consumption. And got a little tired of the total lack of understanding by the general public (and about 70% of the bloggers in this blog) with respect to energy.
But I like to pint out there is at least one project in the world where windpower could make sense. Have a look at the following link:
This type of example is commendable as long as people understand that this cannot be duplicated on a large scale. The island is a very low energy consumer with no industry, no mass transportation and a very mild climate… basically a residential community in the middle of the best wind power conditions you can get (Windy coastal area with hilltops). The pumping system to store energy is absurd from an economic standpoint but with an unused source of power (excess wind energy that can’t leave the island) an energy storage system that returns about 20% of what you put into it is better than nothing. You can disregard economics when you build a utopian green energy showcase like this island using government money but it would be economically disastrous to scale this up. If the islanders were asked to pay for the true cost of the equipment and infrastructure themselves they would all move back to the mainland and there would be no need to produce any energy on the island… Problem solved!
Sorry if I sound sarcastic. So much of this green talk is “doublespeak” that I even get mad when I hear about a very nice project like this. I know that some will seize this “banner” and use it to advocate that we should convert our entire power production to wind mills and pumping stations even if it makes no sense at all.
100 % in agreement. But lets give the windmillers something 🙂
Hi….my two bit.
The only way i believe wind can play a part in our quest for alternate sources of energy, is when we master a cheap and efficient way of storing this unstable power. It could either be building wind plants together with pumped storage or with a reverse fuel cell unit (breaking up water into H2 and O2 and then using H2 to recombine to produce power)
Another interesting technology could be compressed air…using the wind turbines to compress air at low demand periods and then using this compressed air to drive generators
Or perhaps someone will come up with a simple idea….
Keep it (b)flowing…….
Although solar is more “predictable” than wind it is still a non-dispatchable power source.
The capability to convert and store electric energy in a large scale, cost effective and energy efficient way is the key to making both solar and wind viable options. In my opinion the most promising technology is electro-catalytic conversion of seawater into hydrogen which can be stored in tanks and transported in pipelines.
That’s where I would invest my “green” dollars if it was up to me. You can make it whenever the wind blows, the sun shines and the atoms split. Then you can use it in fuel cells in your own home to create the electricity you need on demand or fuel your hydrogen powered car with it… no more grid losses… no more black outs… no more gas stations… no more oil imports. Forget solar panels and rooftop windmills, get me a hydrogen tank and a fuel cell!
Frankly, nuke for now and solar when it gets more efficient, in the long run, are going to be our best bets.
Although…if they could figure out how to harvest the energy produced by kindergartners at recess we might have a longer term solution to our energy problems…j/k 🙂
This article explains very well why subsidizing ineffective renewables to fight global warming is causing us to miss the only opportunity we have to reduce fossil fuel consumption – massive conservation and efficiency. Wind power will not push the fossil fuel horizon out more than 4 or 5 years in the next century. C and E could push it out 40 or 50 years. 90% of subsidies are going to wind power. Almost nothing, by comparison is going to C and E. Government are in complete denial about the real target.
OMG! This is the first time I had seek wind turbine in picture. I could generate (7+ Megawatts) of electricity.
It has to be in japan!
this is big verry big can i see closely i live in Pakistan City Karachi i have a poultry forms but here is not electricty i made one small windterbine i made generator work is finish his weight 102 kgs i still working his blade i fiber glass
i think i finish this month and nest month i installed in my form
Michael, may I ask if you have a technical background in wind energy?
Not specifically in wind power but I have 30 years technical experience in all forms of power generator, power distribution and environmental engineering. I work daily with people who produce and sell power, people who analyze power project feasibility and who deal with all these issues. Although I currently work on several coal-fired projects I am in agreement with a long term plan to phase that type of power out but not in favor of something that will cost more and not significantly improve GHG emissions… that would be stupid.
######Your experience: Not specifically in wind power but I have 30 years technical experience in all forms of power generator, power distribution and environmental engineering.#####
As my experience is basically zero i always rely on various sources to check the information and the attempt to find a medium that matches the answer sought.
While your explanation of the technology is quite fulfilling and would satisfies my thirst to find a balance to what is being spilled out as we in Australia call ‘spin’ I also make a habit of questioning the ‘truth’ from both sides when attempting to find the ‘medium’.
As i have no basic knowledge in the field of energy (power) production or transmission I rely on what is available out there to fulfil my thirst to clarify technical jargon.
####You wrote:It is unrealistic to expect that a MW produced in Kansas can back-up a MW missing in New England because the transmission losses would eat up 50% of the power.####
And i thought to myself that 50% seems a little over the top as far as high voltage transmission is concerned, and especially in the US where the electrical transmission is basically networked as a whole to ensure a stable current to keep the infrastructure stable hence not causing blow outs due to transformer shut down.
This text is purely a copy of what I’m reading so it may not be as accurate as to what your knowledge is so I expect a lecture of some sort :=)
Why is it then that the official figures state the power loss in transmission around 7% but you state it as 50%?
If the figure is the 7% I would be inclined to say that if your figure in one item is so far out of whack, then how can do I translate the remainder of your text?
The reason I am asking this question, is that while there are a lot of people out there seeking answers to make an uneducated decision in the daily medial/political spin on the environment issues, we are entitled to get a fair go at finding answers are not?
The one outcome of the Copenhagen B-S festival was that there is a lot of doctoring of documents behind closed doors to ensure the data matches the ‘spin’ and that does not help the cause.
Nor does incorrect or overstated figures in technical text.
I say this without prejudice and hope for a fair outcome for the whole humanity, which i am afraid will not happen without the gradual reduction of population.
Thank you for your reply and for staying very focused.
The figure of 7.2% is the 1995 US power losses in distribution of power which is correct. In the US the average kWh produced travels approximately 100 miles from the placed it is made to the place it is used.
Power losses in transmission are proportional to the distance traveled. They are due to resistances losses (Electricity converted to heat and lost to the environment) and Corona losses (Ionization of the air surrounding the conductor causing electrons to migrate off the line to the environment).
The reason transmission distance averages 100 miles is because fossil fuel generation plants (coal boilers, gas turbines, combined cycle plants) and nuclear power plants are generally placed near populated areas.
IF we were to transition to wind power as our primary power source we would now have much longer transmission distances to deal with because the effective wind generation areas (areas with frequent AND stable wind conditions) are concentrated in the mountains, some open plains and some coastal areas. I was speculating that high concentration of wind farms would occur in Kansas-Oklahoma, New England, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas where current and proposed wind projects are mostly located. This would mean much longer average transmission distances to population centers and would result in much higher losses (My 50% number is a speculative figure assuming power produced in Kansas being used in New England which is an extreme case).
I completely agree with you in regard to the population issue. There are not enough resources on this planet to support 7 billion people living at the current consumption levels of the USA, Europe, Japan and other “Western” cultures, yet all countries strive for this “standard”. Something is going to have to give but I don’t see anyone willing to give up what they “have” until something catastrophic happens to force the issue.
I concur with your explanation and this is evident with anyone building turbines. The only way to provide true non-GHG energy is to make sure
these wind farms are offshore and producing hydrogen. We have done it with the wind and ocean turbines in our grouping of patented commercially available systems. We as business people and inventors have successfully swayed investors to our inventions. Once we make green energy sexy enough, you will see a tidal wave of investments come to the aid in building super efficient non-GHG power systems. BUT, dirty power is more profitable right now. We’re getting closer though!
Soon the real power of the people spoken through their 401k’s, etc… will be the change the earth needs.
I agree 100% – I only want people to know what the real issues are and make informed decisions. The route to Green Energy, which we all should want, seems to pass through development of new efficient energy storage or energy conversion technologies. While these are being developed let’s not invest in dead-end technologies that are expensive and resolve nothing.
However, don’t put too much stock in the investor’s mood. They will invest in anything that can make money even if it’s a bad idea. Investments in conventional wind farm technology is 100% driven by government subsidies not by real market factors.
Because the net GHG emission reductions from using wind energy are so modest it makes more sense financially AND ENVIRONMENTALLY to replace old inefficient gas and coal boilers with new super critical units which produce as much as 20% more electricity for the same GHG emissions. Engineering Companies in the power industry know this but it is not a politically acceptable position because it makes it clear to all that we are settling for cutting our GHG emissions by only 20%.
On the other hand, moving forward with current wind farm technology on a large scale, with a maximum potential GHG emission cut of 9% is acceptable because the public perceives that wind farms are “clean”… As with the investor’s mood, public acceptance of an idea is not a criteria that should be used to decide if it is a good one.
Good points Michael, we should be seriously investing in Hydrogen conversion and storage for the long term energy future.
In the meantime ? well i for one see wind energy as a big white elephant.
More efficient generation systems and our old freind Nuclear would be a stop gap for the rest of this century while we wait for new technology and energy breakthroughs to occur.
But governments are taking the easy way out and pleasing the green lobby by subsidising wind turbines.
While I see a lot of well-meaning people supporting the use of wind power, they don’t really understand the “big picture”.
It seems logical that putting a windmill up and having it “pump” energy into the grid would be a positive thing because it would logically reduce the use of “bad power” (GHG-producing fossil fuel power).
This is the simple “Happy Face” the wind power industry puts on the issue.
But the secondary consequence, which is overlooked by most people, is what happens to the grid when this variable (basically unreliable) source of power is added?
The grid is designed to follow the demand which varies seasonally but also from day-to-day based on temperatures, other weather conditions, human events/schedules. At any instant the power produced must equal the power used because there is no “storage” capacity in the grid. You can’t put more in than is used or put less in than is used.
To follow the variable demand the power producers use a variety of “building blocks” from steady running constant load units (Nuclear, Hydroelectric) to slow load-following power plants (Gas & Coal boilers) to rapid start high demand units (Combined Cycle Gas Units) to peaking units (Gas & Diesel generators). Typically, the further up on the demand curve a unit is the more expensive it is to run and the more GHG gasses it makes. It is optimal (economically) to run the base loaded units at maximum capacity and only use the expensive units to fill-in the ripples at the top of the demand curve.
When you add a new source that itself is fluctuating based on wind velocity in a short time span and also fluctuates from 0-100% availability from day-to-day, you can no longer rely on a few small peaking units to fill the ripple, because the “ripple” becomes much larger than the demand ripple and becomes bigger the more wind power sources are added. Large Coal & Gas fired power plants are not designed to be taken in and out of service on a day to day basis. When they are staffed, maintained and fueled they need to run at high capacity to justify their operating costs.
These units would have to be phased out in favor of new peaking gas-fired turbines and huge numbers of them equal in capacity to the added wind power capacity.
This is a terrible idea, basically forcing the building new GHG-producing generating units, and not very efficient ones, in order to be able to insert wind-power into our grid. It is definitely not the route to 80% reduction in GHG by 2050…
And please don’t tell me that because there will be so many windmills spread over a large area they can be interconnected to even out the load so they will need no back-up. This is fantasy. Wind is a large scale phenomena which comes and goes over entire regions. Transporting electric power more than a couple of hundred miles is unrealistic until we develop commercial ambient temperature superconductors. The average KWh in the USA travels less than 100 miles from the place it is made to the place it is used yet 7.2% of the power is lost in the process. Double or triple those distances and you have more than wiped out any GHG emissions savings with line losses.
“I don’t understand how people can be so concerned about birds becoming mush with modern wind turbines, especially ones this big. It only turns at 12 rpms.”
That shows your ignorance. the blade tip speed of a blade that long is more than fast enough to kill bats and birds.
Sure, 12 rpm doesn’t sound like it could harm a fly. However, a rotor diameter of 413 ft at the above mentioned rpm equates to a tip speed of 177 mph. Sounds lethal to me. Buildings, cars, and oil spills are still a big pet peeve to birds worldwide, but I provided this simple calculation just so the original author does not trivialize the impact this device will have.
Ich glaube nicht alle, was die Windturbinen die Leistung ereichen koennen, weil die Windturbinen mit horisontalen Achsen viele unten Nachteilen:
1- Durch die schraegen Fluegel wurde meiste Windstroemmungen gerutscht.
2-Das Windradempfaengt nur eine Windrichtung beschraengt die Leistung
3- Niedrige Effekt
4- Mit langen Fluegeln dreht der Rotor sehr langsam, weil der Luftwiderstand sehr gross ist.
5- Bei Rechnung wurde die Leistung dÎ Windturbine mehrmal Uebertreibt
We have Renewable Energy Management Expert™ certificate program. Could we have a case study on this t”oy”? I would like to include in my presentation.
I agree that wind farms are not a solution but only a bandaid. Nuclear is our best choice. Wind would work well on an individual basis; ie, not one where the consumer pays the wind company but one where the consumer owns his own windmill. This as well as solar panels on every new home would ease costs. Having any entity other than yourself provide basic energy is why we never get ahead. We have become slaves to coal, gas, and oil. None of which can be harvested by individuals at home.
All this talk of “non-polluting” wind farms doesn’t account for their massive VISUAL pollution at great distances, plus clear-cuts and access roads that pollute the immediate terrain.
There are also big problems with turbine noise and shadow-flicker for people and animals that live up to thousands of feet away. The whole concept of wind “farms” is a misnomer, since “farm” conjures images of pastoral, quiet scenery.
Wind power (on an industrial, land-grabbing scale) is the mean side of Green. It’s disturbing to see these eyesores pushed as “clean” energy when they defile almost every landscape and seascape they’re built on.
We need proactive solutions to counter the growing demand for energy. Everyone reading these blogs just plugs in. We must all account for this power useage. We are private companies using our own monies to create energy and jobs as well as clean energy. It is not a perfect world and we as inventors must try to alleviate as much of the future burden with ingenuity and development.
Half the problem in the first place is the idea that “growing demand” must be coddled no matter what. Why is it so hard to question human numbers? We expect other species to live in balance while we run rampant over nature with housing-starts, roads and turbines.
You can tell a superficial environmentalist from a pragmatic one by the former’s blindness to overpopulation. You don’t solve overpopulation by treating it as inevitable. It’s an unnatural situation caused by death control overriding birth control. Birth control at replacement levels would stabilize the population, and it’s long-overdue. Current world growth tops 75,000,000 per year!
The planet is FINITE and the population/economy can’t grow ad-infinitum just because there’s money to be made in a pyramid economy (false prophets chasing false profits). One of the truest quotes ever written was: “Perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell.”
Ok, overpopulation is a problem..
I tell you what.. lets start getting rid of some.
Land grabbing? It’s still possible to use the land for other activities – eg. farming.
Defile a seascape?! – reminds me of that Daily Show skit about that “horrible wind farm project that’s visible 7 miles out to sea from some expensive homes off Marthas Vinyard” and how much physcological damage it would do to the owners of their million dolllar mansions seing these tiny white specs in the distance!)
Shadow flicker on animals? That has to be a joke right? Name me a study about squirrels (or cows that people will eventually slaughter anyway) going crazy from shadow flicker! If the animals are in a field I’m sure they’re perfectly capable of moving somewhere else by themselves. And noise… wind turbines aren’t that noisy – I’ve stood underneath a 2MW turbine and it’s barely audible in average winds … you could argue that we should ban airplanes they are noisy, lorries and roads are noisy too. And if they’re in an upopulated area who’s going to hear this noise?
Anyone who believes resources (oil and gas especially) but coal and nuclear are depletable (ie. not infinite) should realise that 1 MW from wind, wave, tidal, solar is 1MW of non-renewables we didn’t use (and can use in the future). So its stupid that some people say JUST because you need a backup for when there’s no wind that you should rule out wind power completely.
UK Studies show given an efficient grid we can hit 30% wind (unreliable renewables) before the grid would suffer. Portugal, Germany, Holland are already at 15-25% renewables already. But 30% is possible due to several factors:
1. pumped hydro or just plain hydro (can typically start in under 90 seconds to meet grid fluctuations – the US is 20% hydro power).
2. gas (again has a better start time than coal)
3. grid usage is often predictable (kettles on during TV advert breaks) and small fluctuations in power are made by experts, adjusting the voltage so as to make sure demand=supply. You underestimate grid balancing done every day for decades if you don’t understand this concept.
4. There is always grid excess capacity – inefficient coal power plants are often mothballed for days or months because they are only brought in during peak use (summer daytime 11am – 6pm when air conditioners in homes and offices are running).
Now there are vast open tracts of land in the world with no people, and few animals, and are not an area of “outstanding natural beauty” (but also close enough to a grid or populated area for transmission purposes). Stick wind farms in these places.
I would much rather have a little “visual pollution” though I think wind turbines are graceful in any case…than a coal fired, smoke belching power station or an invisibly radiating nuclear power station shredding my genes.
Would you offer up your backyard for nuclear waste or coal ash EA? If not, get used to cleaner and truly renewable energy!
Smoke-belching power station? That’s a scare tactic from the 1960’s… How many “smoke-belching power-stations” are in your back yard? The flyash disposal is so minute compared to the hundred million tons of garbage the US population produces each year. Having a municipal landfill in your backyard is much closer to reality.
Modern coal fired power plants are actually very, very clean. The issue is CO2 emissions which are clear, non-toxic, but contribute to global warming. Coal-fired power stations produce a little over 50% of the electricity in the USA and their share is growing every year because other electric power sources (nuclear, hydroelectric) are stagnant. Wind, solar, geothermal and other “renewables” account for less 1% in total.
The true cost of wind energy is approximately 4 x as much as coal energy. Would you be willing to pay 4 x as much for electricity and for the energy component in every service and product you buy? Most people wouldn’t be able to. That’s the primary reason I don’t see wind power as a “real” solution to any of our current problems.
I’d rather see endless windmills the one coal fired power plant.
this is incredible. we have urgent need for turbines like this if you’ll be gracious enough to mail us a full literature on its spec, output, land area requirement if we need it modules to give 100mw.
we need urgent reply please.
well done and keep breaking through.
Tolu Ala, Please send me your email address so I can send you an answer to your request
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Because energy cannot be stored and production has to follow demand wind power is a “fake” solution to GHG reduction and global warming stabilization.
Contrary to hyped claims by the ill-informed, Hawaii will not get off fossil fuel by installing 100% wind turbine generating capacity instead they will guarantee that they can NEVER meet the 80% GHG reduction by 2050 set as a goal by the Obama administration. Even in Hawaii they can’t summon the wind so the turbines will on average produce around 26% of the power they need… the other 74% will have to come from a variable source that can come in and out on demand: single cycle gas and oil turbines. On windy days no problem 100% power from the wind. On the “average” day 26% power from the wind 74% from gas and on bad days 100% power from gas and 0% from wind. Because gas/oil units with fluctuating demand make much less efficient use of the fuel than modern combined-cycle base-loaded gas units the TRUE savings in GHG emissions savings realized in this scheme is only around 9%.
There is a reason natural gas barons, such as T-Boone Pickett, promote wind farms: They virtually guarantee a huge future demand for natural gas and a “WINDFALL” for them because you can’t back-up wind farms with base-loaded nuclear or coal-fired units. Don’t be fooled, the “wind promoters” are not all selfless environmentalists.
US Utilities that have recently bought wind-energy contracts from the big wind farms in Kansas know it: The yearly number of starts on their small gas-fired peaking units has skyrocketed and their natural gas consumption along with it while they have reduced their consumption of cheap coal.
If our aim is to cut GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 (just 41 years) wind power cannot even be a part of the solution because it locks-in a large GHG producing back-up capacity. As much as I hate it, the only existing technology that can get us there is nuclear combined with electric cars and (wishful thinking) an efficient electro-catalytic method of producing Hydrogen from water for applications where a combustible fuel is required. If we started right now building enough nuclear power plant to replace all older coal and gas units as they fade out and building additional ones to cover growing electric transportation needs we have a small change to get to the goal of 80%.
If we go the wind route I predict we will be at 110% of current GHG emissions in 40 years, still making over 70% of our electric power with coal and gas power plants.
Michael, you’re right, and you’re wrong..
If the turbines are spread geographically, there’s always wind somewhere, and the average production value will prove to be more stable than is the case now, so the solution is to interconnect the windfarms. On the other hand, I don’t think those turbines alone will prove to be the answer for the carbon emission problem.
It’s not or, it’s and. Build the turbines and build the nuclear power plants. Build them both.
Toon: I tried to keep it rather simple with my example of Hawaii which can physically not be interconnected with other power grids.
But on a 48-state basis we are facing exactly the same situation:
Wind is a large scale atmospheric phenomena which affects areas too large to interconnect. It is unrealistic to expect that a MW produced in Kansas can back-up a MW missing in New England because the transmission losses would eat up 50% of the power. There is a capability to “shift” moderate amounts of power between adjacent areas so wind can exist as a small (and expensive) GHG reducing factor IF we plan to continue to use gas and coal as our primary power source. If we decide on a wholesale move to nuclear wind becomes unnecessary and diverts effort and resources from replacing existing fossil plants with nuclear. Wind power is a distraction that politicians use to avoid dealing with the problem. As religion was called the opium of the people, wind power is the opium of the green movement…
Michael: I totally agree with you. Nuclear is the best way to go – technically. Sorry to say though, I don’t believe we will see any new nuclear plant coming online in the next 20 years. We want them but people will not have them approved. And placing them in the dessert – well – we run into those big losses of 50% in those high-voltage power lines. So we are mmh, screwed, unless we reduce the losses to – let’s say 10%. Isn’t that more realistic? So while we can start saving (?) money for nuclear which may never spend, we could complement what we have with todays technology, readily available: wind and solar. BTW: Just a few weeks ago I saw an entire summer school class understand that solar works on the grid, even though at the beginning of class most of them had the notion that it did not, since at night, well – no sun. Then again, we hang out in CA. We have a history with working wind energy (about 30 years) and being weird.
While I have nothing against solar and wind power technology, neither is ready for “prime time” on wide scale. Wind, solar, geothermal and other green technologies account for less than 1% of the electric power generated in the USA today (50% coal-20% Natural Gas-20% Nuke-7% Hydro-2% Petro-1% Other) and that is electric power only.
The other big energy consumer is transportation which is almost 100% Petro and finally direct use energy (Habitation heat and direct processing heat) which again are 90% Petro-based. Wind/Solar is no solution for those either.
Converting a significant portion of the US electric production to wind and solar, which are non-dispatchable power sources (You can’t decide when they produce power) and also geographically restricted puts a huge constraint on how the rest of the power generation facilities will operate. A grid with 20% non-dispatchable power is practically uncontrollable and requires a huge percent of the remaining power to be rapid on/off sources such as gas fired turbines. The portion of our electricity produced by natural gas turbines would have to go to over 50% to accomodate 20% wind power. If over 50% of your power comes from burning Natural Gas it is obvious that you will NEVER achieve a 80% reduction in GHG emissions.
Transmission losses in electric power lines are currently 7.2% of the power produced in the USA but power is typically produced within 100 miles of where is used. Wholesale power transfers from solar zones (southwest) and wind zones (mountains, coasts, plains) to population zones could easily triple or quadruple those losses. There is no current technology to reduce electric transmission losses as we are already using the highest voltages possible (Balancing resistance and corona losses).
Many new technologies could change the whole picture such as massive energy storage, efficient electro-catalytic hydrogen production, ambient temperature superconductors etc. but with the current technology investing in wind/solar over nuclear will aggravate our GHG emission problems not improve them.
michael: you said before…
there is no current technology to reduce transmission losses – well, there is, high voltage DC.
wind energy is not ready for “prime time” on wide scale – it is widely used and integrated in europe, much more than 1% of the energy produced in countries such as germany, denmark, UK, spain.
It is unrealistic to expect that a MW produced in Kansas can back-up a MW missing in New England – true, but it is very realistic for MW in the wind rich New England coast to power New England. Again, proven in Europe, the US only needs to catch up.
High Voltage DC is nothing new and does reduce line losses because it eliminates the voltage drop due to line inductance, but it is a rather small factor. Corona losses due to extreme high voltage (over 750KV) is what limits the capability to transmit power over long distances. This is also a problem with DC power. That is why DC is barely used in power transmission. The power saving is offset by the huge cost of converting AC to DC then back to AC.
As far as New England is concerned you just proved my point. If you chose to use New England wind power in New England only you have 26% of your power need covered (Average wind availability = 26%). But that’s an average number. You also have committed to a secondary rapidly variable power source equal in capacity to the wind turbines that covers the other 74% of the electric energy needed in New England. This will be a mix of single cycle gas turbines and combined cycle (Turbine/Boiler) gas units.
Because these units will operate up and down depending on the wind load their efficiency will be reduced. Net result is only a 9% reduction in GHG emissions and a guarantee that you won’t go any lower than that in the future. The USA is targeting an 80% GHG-reduction by 2050. It is impossible to achieve if we opt to spend our resources subsidizing wind power. Spending money on wind power is a BAD idea from an Environmental standpoint. It’s like having to cross the Atlantic as fast as possible and deciding the best option is to get into a row boat and start rowing. Sure you will make progress in the right direction but you’re never going to get there and once you are 30 miles off the coast your options are used up.
Europe already made those bad choices and they are realizing it right now. Danish power engineers say that they have reached the absolute limit of the amount of wind energy they can use (20% of total power) because their grid is becoming unstable. Being a little country with big neighbors they have the added benefit of being able to sell their excess wind power to Germany & Sweden and use back-up capacity from their grids when the wind energy production drops off. This cannot be done on a global scale.
The US has the largest capacity of wind turbines installed.
the logistics to connect these turbines globally would far exceed their value. and not to mention the volt loss over hundreds and thousands of miles would proove not practicle.
I rotation every 5 seconds means the tip of the blades are moving at 180 miles an hour in case any didnt catch that! i think that could kill a bird???
People keep saying that because “wind turbines are only aprox 33% efficient you need to have 100% grid backup”… but forget 2 BIG points!
1. They are 33% efficient – but that means 33% of max capacity… it does not mean they sit idle for 67% of the time!… the wind CAN be blowing 100% of the time but turning the blades slowly (this is what 33% means) it does not mean 10 days a month of 30mph winds, 20 days of nothing! That means 100% grid backup is NOT NEEDED. There is never really “no wind” (apart from the doldrums)… at ground level there may seem to be “no wind” often – but that is because wind is disturbed for a long time by trees and buildings.. but pretty much every day you will see clouds moving across the sky – and that’s why turbines are tall! Trust me – go 100metres up in the air – and you will feel wind on what seems like a non-windy day! And it won’t be gusty (like near the ground it will be sustained). When you have an efficient grid then when there’s less wind in one end of the country, there can be higher wind speeds somewhere else… (this is the same way insurance companies work… not everybody has a car crash at the same time), it is very rare for the wind to not be blowing fast enough to blow a turbine somewhere.. and when there is this is how the grid works – there are old, inefficient coal power stations that are almost never used because there cost per MW is so high – they are turned on at peak time!!
2. Every watt of energy saved by generating electricity from alternatives is oil / gas / coal (and yes even nuclear) saved for the future… these are not renewables… oil is peaking, 83 MILLION barrels a day is NOT sustainable… estimates put max production at 50 million barrles in 15 years, 30 million barrels in 30 years… gas is peaking, oil HAS peaked in 60 countries (UK 1999, Norway 2002, USA 1970, Venezuala, Mexico, China, etc).