439

New Record: World’s Largest Wind Turbine (7+ Megawatts)

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.

enercon-e126-emden.jpg

enercon_e-126_worlds-largest-wind-turbine.jpg

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.

enecron_wind_turbine_bottom.jpg

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.

e-126.jpg

largest_turbines_graph.gif
A graph of the World’s Largest Wind Turbines.

Comments 439

  1. The (RSA) DTS unique design allows us to build (wind turbines) HAWT’s over 20 MW per unit operating at a wind speed of 11 m/s. That is three times the size of your 7 MW wind turbine (please publish the wind speed required to generate 7 MW from your wind turbines to readers, it is not for us, because we can calculate that ourselves).

    Anton Cordier

  2. This windmill has been put to shame. The new KiteGen system uses kites to produce renewable wind energy for as low as 0.03 Euros per kilowatt hour. As they build the KiteGen wind power systems to get bigger their efficiency increases exponentially. The largest size being studied so it can be made in the future is a 25km diameter KiteGen that produces 60GWs a year. These create no shadow, take up very little land area since most is in the sky, and create relatively low amounts of noise.

  3. trying to answer people’s questions. I have been in the power generation and finance world for all of my adult life, working for hedge funds and energy companies. Hopefully this will help answer some of the questions.

    1) Reni, no those turbines are not anywhere close to the largest in the world. More than likely they are 1.5 MW GE machines

    2) nuclear is important. BUT, as an energy consultant I see nuclear as the best solution and best answer. its the most effective form of energy, but it would cripple the oil and gas and renewable industry businesses so bad it would devastate the global economy.

    3) average cost per project is about $2.2 m per MW (cost are going down as turbine prices and construction prices are going down)

    4) You cant use rail systems effectively for turbines. You only get savings on rail if you travel 50 cargo loads over 5,000 miles. I have worked with shipping turbines in the past, its very difficult process. rail is ideal, BUT it just cost so much money by rail. Plus, unless the wind farm is right at the off-ramp to the railway, you still have to spend the money to load them on the trucks. Shipping is about $150 k per MW to anywhere in the U.S. thats 50 feet or 5,000 miles. (just very basic rough numbers)

    5) those Enercon turbines work ideal in lower wind speeds…about 7.5 meters per second

    6) if you support wind, then you should support natural gas. Gas sets the margin for energy pricing in most windy states, so wind prices are hedged to gas pricing.

    7) most turbines from India are not financiable and that is why we dont see more turbines from Suzlon in the U.S.

    8) GE, Vestas, Siemens, Enercon, are tier 1 turbines. Gamesa, Nordex, Unison, Suzlon, Clipper, Nordic, Furlander, etc are some other well known brands

    9) U.S. needs an energy bill….period

    10) Most payout on wind is about 10 years or less. Payouts are generated from Tax equity investors from hedge funds, banks, institutional lendors, and oil and gas companies.

  4. reply to…… Neves Terriani Laera.
    I can not believe how short sighted and nieve you are being in thinking there is no place for Nuclear and that wind power is more important !
    Ask the French how their electricity supply would function without Nuclear power stations, ask the french how long they have been operating safely. Ask them how many lives have been lost in comparison to other industries.
    What you will find is that it is safer by a country mile to work in the Nuclear industry than to cross the road and walk to the local shop.
    Yes, Nuclear accidents are catastrophic and headline grabing, however the huge benefits to climate change of zero emissions and the recent step change in safety management and critical fail safe systems (which chernobyl didnt have) make me believe they outway the manageable risks.
    Wind will never be practicable in our energy hungry world. Please do not be fooled.
    Robbie.

    1. comment to nuclear power by anonymous

      1) the french pay about $150 per MW for their energy. Most U.S. cities pay about $50-%80. Nuclear would make our energy bills double or triple…..that is why we use coal and gas as our energy margins. The French have one of the world’s worst grid systems.

      2) Nobody has ever said wind is the solution. Wind cannot be the solution. Its only capable of sustaining about 25% of the nations power….right now its about 3%

      3) coal is the most unsafe. Natural gas is by far the safest form of energy is the entire world and there is not any argument that can be made against it. Its cheap, clean, safe, and effective. Nuclear is very safe in today’s world.

      1. The French also have the lowest carbon emissions/inhabitant of any of the highly industrialized nations when you exclude countries with massive hydro-electric capacity (Sweden and Canada, for example)

        Coal is the cheapest source of energy and really not “unsafe” at all, if you exclude the Global Warming “bogeyman”.

        The threat posed by GW/Climate Change is completely speculative at this time. While I absolutely believe that there is a link between atmospheric CO2 levels and the burning of fossil fuels, the exact impact of a continued rise in CO2 is not an established fact. A large percentage of the scientists who contributed to the studies of temperature and climate variations and greenhouse gas atmospheric concentrations behind the “Global Warming” political movement, disagree with the conclusions that have been drawn from their work by non-scientific hacks with an “agenda” and a stake in the game (Like making billions from the sale of carbon credits or gaining vast powers to control the energy policies of countries).

        If CO2 is the main threat from coal energy then natural gas is not a good alternative since it also produces huge amounts of CO2, albeit a little less than coal. And if CO2 is not considered a threat, then coal is virtually as safe as natural gas, because the technology to remove the actual pollutants such as SO2, HCl, NOx, Hg and particulate from flue gas is available and very advanced. Modern coal-fired power plants are nearly as efficient and clean as gas-fired plants and the energy they produce is significantly cheaper.

        Denmark, the leading country in wind-energy worldwide and strong proponent of “green” energy, nevertheless continues to build coal and coke-fired power plants to supplement the nearly 20% energy produced by wind power. Their energy split is about 50% coal, 30% gas and 20% wind – not accounting for hydroelectric and nuclear which are hidden in the supplemental electric power imported over the grid from Sweden.

        Most countries are in the same situation as Denmark, resulting in coal being the source of nearly half of the world’s electric energy. The only source that realistically can challenge coal in the next 50 years is nuclear. Natural gas and oil are currently near their maximum potential with little or no reserve production capacity and could not fill the void. Wind energy is comparatively very expensive and therefore a luxury only very “rich” societies can afford so it will remain a very small part of the global energy picture.

        China passed the United States as the No. 1 producer of GHG this year and this trend will continue as more and more of our industrial production is shifted to countries where labor and energy costs are low and environmental regulation is nearly non-existent. Driving up the US energy costs with more environmental legislation only accelerates the trend and increases global GHG emissions… A losing battle.

        Ironic is when US windmills are produced in China with energy from coal-fired power plants and steel from coke-fired smelters by workers paid dismal wages, without health insurance and unprotected by OSHA rules… But at least they won’t put them up near Martha’s Vineyard or on T. Boone Pickens own 68,000-acre ranch because, as he stated, “those things are ugly”…

  5. Hey guys,

    I stumbled onto this page and I couldn’t help commenting on the fact that 1,776 American homes = 5,000 European homes of 4. That had me laughing for a while.

    Anyways, I’m a sales consultant for a cast iron business in China. For all their ductile iron products, they usually report the price at around 12 RMB per kg. That’s about $ USD1.79 per kilogram. A 2005 study by NREL showed that the standard cost for Cast iron parts in a wind turbine for the consumer costs about $4.00 per kilogram to build. These parts are usually 30 metric tonnes or more per wind turbine, which means (4 – 1.79) x 10,000 x 30 ( or however many turbines are in a farm).

    On cast iron parts alone, that’s a price difference of about 650k USD per turbine, where it only costs about 200k USD to produce.

    Somewhere, someone is making a killing on building these things, nearly (300%)… but it’s certainly not the manufacturer, or the assembler, or the end user.

    And you thought oil companies were dirty…

    P.S. oh and in case you were wondering, a lot of companies use parts from China, from G.E. to Gamesa to Vestas, all the big green energy companies

  6. Very good initiative you done this type of great achivemnt.

    tell how of turbines you want to installl. also let us tell about your future plan for such windmill?????

  7. Hi, just wondering if anyone could help, a wind farm is coming really close to my home, and the proposed tower is 120m high with the blades being 80m, total at height 200m or approx. 600ft. Are these the largest in the world, and is there anyother farm with this size of turbine. Just interested. Reni

  8. Kindly I need to know the minimum wind speed for the E-126 (largest wind power till present)

    thank you

  9. I like to comment by Mr. Pravinkumar on 5th march that, we have need offshore wind farm for future. It is to much noted point for enercon team.Hope that take action on the point for future of enercon and India also.

  10. I like solar water heaters and radiant barrier they both seem to save me money. and didn’t cost that much with tax credits.
    I got mine from company call sunrise solar solutions

    sunrisesolarnow.com

    1. From an individual’s economic standpoint tax credits for “green” energy projects make sense… but any product that requires tax credits in order for people to buy into it, is not economically viable on its own.

      Since tax credits are paid for with taxes raised on the same people that get the credits (as a group) we are actually fools for letting our government do this to us.

      The government pays one person a tax bonus for doing something economically “stupid” with money taken from other people who decide not to make the “stupid” decision. If the government actually succeeded in getting nearly everyone to do the “stupid” thing (which is theoretically their goal with energy tax credits) then they wouldn’t collect enough taxes to actually pay for the incentives. So it is a policy that is designed to fail even if it succeeds…

  11. I think this turbine is quite lame. It is extremely large and produces around 7MW. I have done some researching and found out that one large UNDERWATER turbine produces 240MW. I think that before wasting such materials into building this turbine, waste them into building three underwater ones producing each 240MW, 720MW in total.
    I might be wrong, though. I’m only 15, what do I know, really?

    1. I searched in vain for large tidal turbines. I found some information on an experimental turbine being installed off the coast of the UK. But the size of the 2 impeller structure was 1.2 MW, not 240MW. In theory a 240MW open design water turbine, as could be used in ocean current, would have to be GIGANTIC, I doubt one could be built. One proposed project in Asia has 300 individual turbines at 1 MW each for a total of 300 MW.

      On the other hand, hydroelectric dam turbines where the water is confined and forced through a duct to the impeller housing can be as large as 700 MW each but these don’t work in open waters.

  12. The reason we don’t have freight rail in the US is very simple. In the mid 1900’s, the automobile companies bought up the majority of our freight lines and had the track ripped up. This was done to get people more dependent on autos. If the infrastructure were still there, it would be much cheaper to move our cargo by train instead of car. Less fuel, less manpower, less damage to infrastructure. Trucking would be absolutely prohibitive if we made the trucking companies pay for all the damage to the interstates.

    Tom Waite, MD-PhD
    New York

    1. Tom..

      We still have freight by rail, a tremendous amount of it actually.
      As far as the comment about trucking companys being made to pay for road repairs…..they do, every mile a truck drives in the us they are charged for, some states charge more than others but surficeit to say, they Do pay….Do you pay for every mile you drive over and above fuel and upkeep…I think not. Please try to be informed before stepping in on a discussion

  13. Dear Sir,
    Here in Brazil, I feel is possible to locate these two systems together ( wind and solar ), because of environmental condition, positive for both of them. BUT, costs are already limitant factors to be considered… over strategic priorities, naturally. I feel is a matter and a question of time… just time will show, how good ans positive are these two ways to produce clean and permanent energy.

  14. Would it be sensible and practical to install a solar farm under an already existing set of wind turbines/windmills, so the land that is otherwise left alone can be utilized?

    1. For both wind and solar the selected location is a critical part of the project viability. It is very unlikely that a good wind site would also be a good solar site, so locating them together doesn’t make much sense.

  15. Dear jj guncsaga,

    You said that, “One of our wind machines (grid connected) can be installed for less than 2 million USD per megawatt.”

    Isn’t it pretty costly? The turbines from India, I think, are available at almost 1/3rd of this price.

    Any comments?

    Azfar A Khan (Mr.),
    Islamabad, Pakistan
    azfar44@hotmail.com

    1. >> Isn’t it pretty costly? The turbines from India, I think, are available at almost 1/3rd of this price.<<

      The turbine is only a fraction of the installed cost. The infrastructure (access roads, grid connection, construction, land purchase/lease & preparation) is the bigger part of the project. Most good wind sites are located in logistically difficult places (ridges, mountain passes, at sea) and therefore are expensive to develop. But I am sure that Indian or Chinese-built turbines would be cheaper than US built ones.

  16. All this data is amazing and precise!? Us “Average Joe’s” appreciate the explanations, thank you. Here’s a question I’d like answered? How much of the power generated by these windmills is lost, traveling up to 10, 20, 30+ miles, from the windmills down to the power station…? Seems like it’s not very cost effective, either way. There’s got to be a more efficient way!

    J. America

    1. Joe….
      food for thought…
      as we type there is a plan being implemented, and under construction, for a new power grid to transport, wind generated, power from the texas panhandle down to the houston area. And as i’ve been told, asfar as flordia. The new grid is not here-say,

  17. Bob H
    Could anything like this be constructed?

    We just happen to have something that would work. But Money money, And because the propeller icon is the norm who will listen?

  18. Instead of thinking about 5 o r 7 MW turbines, what specially built wind generator could handle over 120 mph winds continuosly? Any ideas? Blade size would have to be compact (less than 2 meters in diameter). Could anything like this be constructed?

    1. Hi Bob
      Most things are possible with a full spec.
      What variation in wind speed and density do you need catering for?
      Are the up stream flow conditions steady state?
      Why limit to 2 metre diameter?

      1. Guy,
        The application would be coordinated with the outflow winds produced from a skydiving wind tunnel (Skyventure is the franchise). Most wind tunnels that draw outside air through the chamber utilize 4 outflow vents. Steady state ranges from 15 mins up to 1 hour continous flow. Inner chamber wind speeds range from 110 to 160 mph. With the outflow vents, the speed would be less. I always thought that investors in this type of tunnel design could utilize small wind generators to recoup some of the power.

        1. Hi Bob
          For Skydiving tunnels the energy efficient method woul be to recirculate the air investing in a little more ducting.
          The vents and an extra small centrifugal fan can the be used to pressurise the system to vary the density marginally if required.
          The main fan is then only keeping the flow moving at the required speed an will use much less power.

  19. After Chernobyl, I really do not understand how people still think in nuclear energy projects. Today, and in the future, people need to develop projects where other aspects are considered, over efficiency. In this sense, even if wind energy is not so effective as nuclear energy, the final and positive results of wind energy are much bigger, especially when environmental and human health aspects are inside the balance .

    1. I, on the other hand, can’t believe how many people continue to deny the true effect of a bad return on energy investment because they “like the idea” of windmills.

      Wind power costs 3-4 times as much as fossil fuel based power to produce. The costs are real and indicative of the energy investment in manufacturing and erecting the project, the poor availability of the power produced and the short lifespan of the equipment.

      If it was implemented on a global basis the cost of the energy component of every commodity would go up by a factor of 3 or 4. This would cause basic foods to become unavailable in the 3rd world and cause millions if not billions of deaths.

      Cheap energy is necessary for the world to sustain a 6-7 billion population. Wind power is and will always be a special application high cost power source for isolated communities or government-subsidized showcase projects in very rich countries that can afford to WASTE resources on such ridiculous ventures.

  20. I think fusion power has the potential to be another one of those energy wasting potentials, ie its another joke, BUT, I’m prepared to sit and wait for people who have done solid research on fusion to post whether it another windmill special or has a potential.

  21. It always seems that getting higher energy efficiencies out of the traditional technologies is the way to go – instead of this new age subsidised crap.

    With carbon nanotubes to name only one technology, I am sure a bit more efficiency can be gained. The only trouble is developing the technology requires significant new technology.

    It’s like “wow, on an “x Nanometer” cpu process I can get a quad core cpu at 3Ghz and at 40 watts……amazing….The only troulbe being that this finer technology requires total refinement and more precision of every part of the process….. It really just goes on and on.

    Only those in these industries really know exactly what the potentials could be.

    Also sea-bourne turbines need anchoring… How the fook will they achieve that cheaply?

    It’s just pointless. I’m not even going to think about it, not that I was much anyway…… :/
    I think the world’s in total decline anyway, why bother, yada yada..

  22. Hi Friends,

    From my point of View these High Capacity wind turbine need to install in Sea so that the Turbine will be utilized fully. And the Great Draw back is that Manufacturing of this turbine is too costly & if you install in onshore it is waste unless if you have high potential site. Investing Hugh money in this High Megawatt turbine we can design in such a way that we can utilize offshore.

    1. The cost of large plant as you said would be high, but harvesting 100x the energy with a small fraction of the land compared to a wind farm and the ability to store energy more than offsets the cost factor.
      The marine version could be designed to also harvest wave energy but it will cost more per unit of power. Where total energy recovered is the primary goal the marine version may be the right choice.
      The lower maintenance and capital cost of a land unit may make such units attractive, especially when other features such as quiet and environmentally safe operation are considered.

  23. I agree with a previous comment about this being a way for the rich to get richer… Wind turbines are a total joke, almost as big as green hybrid cars. They dont work if there is no wind and the return time is pathetic. So leave it to our government to give massive cash to anyone wanting to put them up. If world governments were any kind of smart they would all use nuclear fission power plants and give all their research funding to nuclear fusion and there might actually be an answer to the worlds power needs.

    1. you can get a piece of that money if you invest in these companies manufacturing and buying the wind turbines. so all i hear is ‘wah wah im a little baby and the big man is stepping on me and i just want to complain’. Invest your money and perhaps you can be RICH and get richer. The cycle starts somewhere

  24. Dear Mercer,[If you see any prospective to develop any kind of job in Brazil, and if you need to establish a PARTNERSHIP, our small consulting company ( http://www.agroterriani.cjb.net ) is located at Rio de Janeiro-Brazil. We are sure about the huge market to be exploited in Brazil and, over the other companies that are begining similar ventures, the market space is still very positive. I am Agronomic Engineer, 55 years old and I lived in a large number of provinces of my country. So, I am sure about my personal knowledge of brazilian potentialities. On the other hand, I have full personal interest in wind turbines, because I believe this is one of the most important technologies for the future. kindest regards. Please, be in contact.

  25. Dear Mercer,[If you see any prospective to develop any kind of job in Brazil, and if you need to establish a PARTNERSHIP, our small consulting company ( http://www.agroterriani.cjb.net ) is located at Rio de Janeiro-Brazil. We are sure about the huge market to be exploited in Brazil and, over the other companies that are begining similar ventures, the market space is still very positive. I am Agronomic Engineer, 55 years old and I lived in a large number of provinces of my country. So, I am sure about my personal knowledge of brazilian potentialities. On the other hand, i have full personal interest in wind turbines, because I believe this is one of the most important technologies for the future. kindest regards. Please, be in contact.

  26. Dear Mercer,[If you see any prospective to develop any kind of job in Brazil, and if you need to establish a PARTNERSHIP, our small consulting company ( http://www.agroterriani.cjb.net ) is located at Rio de Janeiro-Brazil. We are sure about the huge market to be exploited in Brazil and, over the other companies that are begining similar ventures, the market space is still very positive. I am Agronomic Engineer, 55 years old and I lived in a large number of provinces of my country. So, I am sure about my personal knowledge of brazilian potentialities. On the other hand, i have full personal interest in wind turbines, because I believe this is one of the most important technologies for the future. kindest regards. Please, be in contact.

  27. Dear Mercer,[If you see any prospective to develop any kind of job in Brazil, and if you need to establish a PARTNERSHIP, our small consulting company ( http://www.agroterriani.cjb.net ) is located at Rio de Janeiro-Brazil. We are sure about the huge market to be exploited in Brazil and, over the other companies that are begining similar ventures, the market space is still very positive. I am Agronomic Engineer, 55 years old and I lived in a large number of provinces of my country. So, I am sure about my perssonal knowledge of brazilian potentialities. On the other hand, i have full personal interest in wind turbines, because I believe this is one of the most important technologies for the future. kindest regards. Please, be in contact.

  28. Hi guy,

    I’m going to presume that a HAWT is a Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine and a VAWT, a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine but I might be wrong?
    It’s good having acronyms, but I’m sure not everyone knows what it means until detailed. I always find it helpful to mention the acronym and its meaning at the beginning of any thread or post.
    Oh, and I don’t know what AOA means…..

    1. Hi Andy
      Sorry for not explaining the acronyms.
      You are correct : Horizontal & Vertical axis wind turbines.
      AOA is the angle of attack : The angle of the chord of an airfoil to the airflow relative to that airfoil.
      Independent control off the angle of attack of all airfoils on a vertiical axis wind turbine enables much greater energy harvesting than unit with fixed airfoils. Control of the angle of the airfoils also enables self starting and controlled stopping if the latter is required.

  29. The largest HAWT may produce 7 + MW but that is less than 1% of what is possible using a lift based VAWT with a simple mechanical control system for the AOA of the vertical airfoils for all wind speeds.
    A 750+ mega watts VAWT would be huge:
    There are limits to the height of airfoils , even those supported by stays.
    With a large diameter such that the rotation is measured in mpr instead of rpm there is virtually no limit to diameter. A high diameter to height ratio also enables air velocity to partial recover prior to reaching the leeward airfoils, increasing the efficiency substantially. The energy recovery per land/sea area could be substantianly greater with such VAWTs.
    The large mass of such a VAWT also has an advantage in that it enables the seperation of energy harvesting to that of electrical generation. In fact the greater the mass the better.
    Happy to expain to interested parties.

  30. I am sure about the potentialities of wind energy, especially in countries with coast territories. BUT, on the other hand, the innitial costs of instalation and the maintenance costs, the use of wind turbines is a limitant factor for the use of this energy source in porr countries like mine ( Brazil ).
    So, I think is important to work in the development of smaller wind turbines to be used in small comunities and, evventually, in private properties. This is the ideal solution for energy problems, today. I really do not know if this is interesting for the companies who have the technologic sources, because this procedure can excessivelly open the market for this kind of product.
    In terms of results, I feel this is the best solution for this anergetic alternative.

  31. Michael N is correct. I can’t really agree with Union Glashutte watches comment. In fact Union’s comment seems more like an uneducated viewpoint.

    I believe that these devices are just the latest way for “rich men” get richer through their “contacts” and contracts.

  32. These machines are absolutely amazing. The kicker is being able to produce them cost effectively.. It’s hard when people are so tied to one way of living that they can’t open their minds to something new– even if it is better. People are scared of what they don’t understand, so if we want to get these out in the public, the info needs to come out pronto.
    -Sylvia

    1. Amazing they are… but in my view useless technological wonders.

      Many people who post on this site have a pretty good idea of what the issues are and what the potential for this technology is, not your average “I don’t understand it so I don’t like it mentality”. I’m mercenary enough that if I thought wind had real potential I would jump on the bandwagon in a second.

      Production cost is not the main problem with windmills. Installation costs, maintenance cost, short life cycle and low availability make them dinosaurs bound for the museum of bad ideas.

      They will never be more than a special application high cost power source for isolated communities or government-subsidized showcase projects.

      1. Thank God someone else sees wind the same way as me. I am sick to death of wind power purveyors telling porkies about what a wind farm can and cannot do. Most don’t even seem to know the difference between power and energy, and think that simply placing a few more wind frams over a wide spread geography will solve the problem. Except for limited energy applications wind is a waste of time.

  33. All I could say is great. There are people thinking. I am waiting for windmills. I am Waiting for the day we are not dependant on foriegn oil. What about the birds? Can we put a warning sounds on the blades? Neon Lights?
    Is there funding for these windmills? Who pays 50 cents per killowatt?The average cost is more like a dime. But New York is more like 10 cents for the electricity and 10 cents for the delivery. Which means the most you could get retail prices is 10 cents per kilowatthour

    So Michael N correct me if i am wrong but the cost will take at least four times as long to recover than you estimated But still handsome return.

    1. Joseph,

      The analysis above is much too rosy for a typical competitive market. Change the installed cost to $2,000 per kW (Typical). Change the availability to 22% (Worldwide average) and the value of the kW generated on the open market to $0.06 (These kW, because they are not available on demand, fall in the lowest value tier of electric supply)

      Now the cost of the project is $150MM and the value of the electricity generated in a year is $8.6MM… A 17.3 year payback without including maintenance and interest costs… No investor in their right mind would go for that deal!

    2. Joseph,

      The analysis above is much too rosy for a wind project in a competitive market. None of the factors used can transpose to the “real world”.
      Replace the installed cost with $2,000/Kwh (Typical) the availability with 22% (Worldwide average) and the value of the electricity produced with $0.06/Kwh (Wind Kwh fall in the lowest value tier because they are supplied “when available” rather than “when needed”).

      Now the project cost is $150MM and the value of the electricity produced in a year is just $8.6MM, which means the project payback is over 17 years without taking maintenance or interest costs into account… No sane investor would go into this type of venture without heavy government subsidies.

  34. can someone tell me if the electrical out put from a wind power site can be storesd and used later someother time, for example in days of little wind or in a still or calm air?

    thankx,
    sam.

    1. The ability to store days worth of electricity is a costly endeavor. Current storage methods utilize a solar collector and molten salts to provide enough heat to drive steam turbines . The other is battery storage. During a no wind event, a compressed air storage method ( air compressors driven by turbine to provide compressed air to storage tanks which supply air motor/generator) allows the wind farm 5-15 minutes to power down the grid connection and afford the utility company time of notice that the wind farm is offline for the time being.

      1. Another “easy” way on storaging this energy is by a reversible dam system. It is a hydroelectric generating dam with the possibility of pumping water to the higher position. That way you storage potential energy by night that you can recover by day.

  35. The island of Kauai HI (pop. 63k) has a utility cooperative, oil-fired 75MW generating capacity and charges homeowners between $0.40 – 0.50 per kwh.
    There is reliable (to the extent state/fed.govt. data is trustworthy) data about wind availability, min class 3 E and N, class 7 S, close to shoreline. Except for Pacific Missile Range, no populated areas near the class 7 wind areas..

    Would off-shore installation of 15 x 5MW turbines (estimated US$75 million installed) make economic sense, keeping existing plant on weekly stand-by maintenance ?

    With populated areas near shorelines and MAJOR (2 lane road) along coast, wind-generated hydrogen could be dispensed along road. Pipe trench could also accommodate power transmission line, which currently overhead and subject to frequent (high wind generated) damage and outages.

    This nonagenarian keeps dreaming, hopefully not Don Quixote like ?

    Would appreciate comments, thank you.

    20100108 20:16 UTC

    1. The first thing I notice is an installed cost of $1,000/kW which is half of the typical total installed cost of a wind project. Is the price the purchase price of the 15 turbines alone or a complete installed cost for the project? I am a bit suspicious that this cost is too low.

      With 75MW installed to replace a 75MW oil-fired facility and a typically wind availability of 25% the project will not generate enough power (even if unlimited energy storage was available) to cover the energy that is currently produced by the oil-fired facility. In a coastal area with a good exposure and higher than average winds these turbines might reach 30% availability which means that they could replace 22.5MW currently produced with fossil fuel but the oil station will have to stay operational and will just run at reduced loads most of the time except on high wind days.

      In an open market environment, the current electric cost of $0.40 to $0.50 per kWh is extremely high and would make the wind power very competitive especially at $1,000/kW installed cost. The “market” value of the electricity produced in one year (75,000 x 0.3 x 24 x 365 = 197 million kWh) is between $80MM and $90MM at those rates which quickly pays for the $75MM estimated project cost. The wind generated power would be significantly cheaper than $0.40-$0.50/kWh

      The only question is that the current electric supplier might raise their rates if their fixed costs (personnel & maintenance) remain the same and they only save a fraction of their fuel cost while selling less power. If you are still forced to buy supplemental power from them when the wind is not blowing (not a true free market situation) then the savings realized with the windmills will be wiped out by the increased cost of the fossil fuel power.

      I hope this is useful to you.

    2. Dear Sir,
      One of our wind machines (grid connected) can be installed for less than 2 million USD per megawatt. The hydrogen production has been solved at our 500 acre Palatka, FL laboratory. I am positive that we can get down to that magic $1000 per kW mark on 100 land based machines or more. The 100 offshore machines will be around $1,500-$2000 per kW.
      We have already successfully done it with an ocean turbine which operates in the North Sea near Scotland.

  36. You are damn £$£$£$£ right.

    Another thing is that, global production of goods mostly happens in those “cheap” countries, so they can hardly be criticised for having fuel pollution issues can they as they produce probably 80% of the worlds goods.

    The gross hypocrisy. How many crappy old toys with limited educational value or longevity were produced for “most of us” to enjoy this christmas. Whatever the gadget, be it really well used, or a e-penis, or bragtool/keeping up with the neighbours tool, it keeps people occupied and quite happily disassociative from their family, friends and neighbours. My point may not get across properly, but I hope it’s understand by some.

    Computers and the internet are extremely useful communication, opinion sharing tools (which is what I’m doing now) but unfortunately they have definitely blunted my social qualities lol and e-opinions have no value to those who need to be influenced ie governments et al.
    However, the technology is a double edged sword and can be used for wonderful things (apparently!)

    So, the energy point you raise about “green” trendy energy sources, but with a horrendous emboided energy status, subsidised by rich economies. You are certainly right on that. I think we should also nod to hewlett packard (I think) extreme packaging waste…. How many energy is wasted, that could be saved.

    Are companies wasting tons of energy or are they, in effect overall, more energy efficient than homeowners lol.
    Anyway, I think these turbines are shite and nothing more than the latest attempt to “redirect” money from taxpayers into “dubious sources” company pockets.
    Whenever you have moving parts, there will always be energy loss.
    Solar power, when a cell is developed that reaches a “provable and credible” 30% conversion efficiency, with a good ratio of embodied energy cost, will be better in some ways. Maybe we should stick panels onto the wind turbines lol……….

    Sometimes, though, I am not sure if my information sources are misinformation or just plain hearsay/urban legend…

    Without testing things myself (which I cannot do) I really don’t know what is fact and fiction. It’s quite irritating.

  37. by my figuring 413 ft diameter/2 = 206ft radius x pi 3.14 = 646.84 feet circumference x 12rpm x 60 minutes for feet/hr / 5280 to get mph means that the blade tips are going 88.2mph.

    I agree the birds have far worse things to worry about (like cats for example which kill 100 million birds /year), but any bird (or anything else) that meets one of those blades (and there are 3 blades every 5 seconds) is totally dead.

  38. In regard to the above discussion of the relative cost of fossil fuel energy versus wind energy, some will say that the “cost” is not an important consideration because we are dealing with “more important matters” such as climate change….

    Cost is important because the cost of an energy production facility is almost directly proportional to the energy expended to create it and wind energy has a very low return on this “invested energy”. The energy used to produce the concrete, steel, aluminum to make and install the turbines, the energy used prepare the site and erect the turbines, the energy used to maintain them during their useful life adds up to a significant percentage of the total energy output of the turbine during its lifetime…

    It would equate to planting a low yield crop where you need to use 70% of your harvest to reseed the field for next year…

    The bottom line is that wind energy cannot truly replace fossil fuels. It is “window dressing” for the benefit of the Green movement but it is close to useless in the global world energy picture. Only extremely rich nations can afford to produce energy in such an inefficient manner because they can subsidize it with money from their high tech economies that are less dependent energy costs.

    Nations like India and China need “cheap” energy to continue growing and providing for the basic needs of 2.5 billion people through their energy-intensive heavy industry and manufacturing.

    Another 3 billion people live in far worse conditions and WILL eventually follow behind China and India when given the opportunity. When you are starving, freezing or dying of disease you can’t afford to worry about environmental impact and if you live in the USA or Europe, in obscenely opulent luxury by their standards, you cannot morally deny them this opportunity.

  39. Andy,
    conventional central station thermal power plant efficiency in the US ranges from a low of about 30% for nuclear, about 37% for new coal and load following/peaking natural gas, and 45% to 55% for a natural gas plant operating in combined cycle mode. These are nameplate out-of-the-box efficiencies; actual operating efficiencies can be and often are lower. Additional energy loss in transmission and distribution is about 7% as Michael points out. You can see the efficiency of the entire US energy system in an interesting flow chart here: (click on charts to enlarge) https://publicaffairs.llnl.gov/news/energy/energy.html

    Note in 2008, that the total energy input to electricity was 39.97 quads (quadrillion btu’s), while electricity delivery was only 12.68 (plus a tiny bit more from imports, mostly from Canada). Total system efficiency is 32%, not counting inefficient appliances and consumer waste. From coal to incandescent light bulb, system efficiency drops to about 1% after taking into account 7% efficient lightbulbs (15 lumens per watt out of about 220 max possible for white light), and then subtracting for misdirected light (about 50%). This does not include further deductions for leaving lights on when people are not in the room, or burning lights in the day when the sun could work just fine. Lighting accounts for about 14% of US electricity (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity_faqs.asp) ; by comparison 19% of US electricity comes from nuclear fuel.

  40. Thank you Michael, that is a better start to a comparison that I could have achieved.

    I can see the maintenance costs, the dismantle costs, embodied energy impacts and quite massive.

    as for 92.8% energy, that’s far far better than I expected.

    Just to clarify on energy delivery…….

    You are stating, based on your knowledge sources/education that for every 1 KW that leaves the building: 928 watts will make it to the end user.

    Are there any losses in the power plant due to heat loss etc? or is that dealt with by heat exchangers?

    For instance, 1KW of energy is produced directly by burning, how much is lost to the atmosphere as heat. There must be some even if it’s 1%, so now we are down to 999watts……does the 928 watts figure take all this into account.

    I suppose I should have asked the following to be clearer.

    If the energy value of the fuel source is 1KW pre-burning, how many watts WILL get to the consumer?
    Is it still 928.

    If so, that is almost brilliant.

    1. The 7.2% loss is strictly distribution losses in power lines and transformer stations between the power plant and the end user.

      The net efficiency of converting thermal energy in fossil fuels to electric energy is not nearly that good. It is variable depending on the type of fuel and type of equipment used.

      There are always losses due to heat escaping with the flue gas after combustion and these are minimized by using heat exchangers.
      There are losses of heat to the cooling water or cooling air (through the cooling towers) used to condense the steam after all useful mechanical energy has been extracted from it.

      There is a significant portion (up to 10%) of the electric energy produced that is used to operate catalytic converters, scrubbers and particulate collectors to clean the flue gas.

      There is another large portion of the energy that is used to drive ID and FD fans, feed water pumps and other auxiliaries.

      Finally there is the efficiency of the turbine(s) and generator(s) which is not 100% either.

      A modern coal fired power plant can convert up to 47% of the thermal energy in the coal to electric output leaving the plant.
      A combined cycle gas plant (Gas Turbines + Steam boiler + Steam turbine) is more efficient (up to 60%) but makes up for it by using more expensive fuel (Natural Gas)

      This has an impact on the amount of CO2 and H2O formed in the production cycle but not on the net cost of the kWh produced since the efficiency of the conversion is accounted for in the fuel cost

      For coal the fuel cost is around $0.01/kWh produced – The number $0.006/kWh I used above is too optimistic… I found it in a internet article discussing the cost of various forms of energy but I question it now having done my own calculation. It doesn’t change the comparative economics much but it should still be corrected.

      1. You are forgetting about all the power that leaves the plant and ends up stolen. Grow ops are on every block and many use more power then 1o or 15 houses, it is these larger size grow ops that have to steal power to operate safely and there is really no telling how much power is being stolen, I have known people who have bypassed their power meter for legal purposes too (though it is still illegal obviously)

  41. (waits for someone to mention keywords embodied energy costs of an entire project for one turbine……From start to finish………)

    Seriously though, has anyone got any data on the embodied costs?
    I mean, it’s some serious amounts…………

    Tons of plastic
    Tons of concrete
    Tons of communication, email, radio comms for working on site, batteries, steel cost, co2 released, and much more…………Transport.

    Solar power is perhaps going to be the better method in the end, IF solar cells can reach 40% conversion one day at least, no noise, but then you need trackers.

    Really, in my opinion we should also look at reducing energy full stop…..

    Also, how many kilowatts of electricity, produced at a power station, are needed to produce a usable 1KW, to the consumer?
    Maybe it sounds silly, but, high voltage power lines, transformers 750kv to 400 V, then 400 V to 230 etc all have losses don’t they?

    I would consult the internet oracle, but there is a lot of misinformation or just purely incorrect information these days, due to affiliations with money…….

    1. This may be useful to you:

      Wind turbine project installed cost: $2,000/kW
      Typical mechanical life of a wind turbine: 20 years
      Hours per year: 8,760
      Average availability of wind power: 24%
      Market value of 1 kWh of electricity at production site: $0.07
      Value of total electricity produced during wind turbine life:
      20 x 8,760 x 0.24 x $0.07 = $2,943/kW installed
      As you can see the payback on wind turbine projects is iffy even with no maintenance and operating costs included in the equation.

      For comparison here is the same equation for a coal-fired power plant:
      Coal power project installed cost: $2,500/kW (High end number – Some coal fired plants are built for $1,500/kW)
      Typical life of a coal fired plant: 30 years
      Hours per year: 8,760
      Average availability of coal-fired power plant: 88%
      Total electricity production during plant life: 231,000 kWh/kW installed
      Value of electricity produced: $16,188/kW installed
      Lifetime Cost of fuel = 231,000 x $0.006 = $1,388/kW installed
      Net Value of total electricity produced during plant life: $14,800/kW installed.

      This is of course oversimplified. Excluding maintenance and operating costs is not reasonable and these impact the economics. Operating cost for wind turbine projects are lower because there is no manpower required to run them, however their maintenance costs are surprisingly high. Gear boxes last 6-7 years and are extremely expensive to replace and any maintenance is difficult because the turbines are typically in difficult to reach areas and require huge cranes for any substantial repair.

      What should be clear is that wind power is several times more expensive than fossil fuel power and that, without international regulation it cannot compete. As long as burning fossil fuels is an acceptable alternate ANYWHERE, production will move there to find the lowest energy cost (Just like it has done to find low labor costs). All we will do is triple US consumer electric bills and export the few heavy industry jobs that remain in the US to China and India.

      The answer to your other question about the losses incurred between production point and use point for electricity is 7.2% (At least it was in 1995). 92.8% of the electricity that leaves the US power plants ends up going through a meter at an end user’s facility (Industrial/Commercial/Residential)

    2. we need high voltage lines to transfer power as it keeps resistance in the line low therefore you can move energy long distances more efficiently . if the voltage was low you would lose so much power in the lines it would be impractical to use as there would be not enough power to supply homes hence putting the earth back into the stone age=]

  42. Michael N. I think you really need to back up what you say or for that matter what anybody says. This sure is just a lot of talk back and forth of apparently I know everything. After reading everyone comments it be easy to look at anybody’s point and throwing out statistics, proving them right. How about if anybody wants to be taken seriously how about some references or links to some references. Other wise this doesn’t matter I can pull statistics out of thin air.

    My thoughts are that I agree that there are other places to put money first energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to first attack this problem head on. One thing I don’t understand is why they do not use more efficient transportation of good updating the rails instead using trucks.

    And another curious thought what about small wind and solar for high usage areas such as factories or say Wallmarts. There is no transmission loses .Is it just not cost effective say even for Wallmart, if they produced there own materials.

    anyways sorry if the spelling and grammar are a little off. Up late and found this thread I found very interesting. So somebody please actually take this question seriously very interested in what is thought.

    1. Charles,

      Thank you for the feedback. There are multiple sources for all the statistics I cite and they are easy to find via Google.
      I am sure that others would immediately point out where I cite incorrect numbers if I did so. If there is specific data you would like to know about I will be glad to provide a reference.

      I am not trying to release some earth-shattering new statistics, but just to make people aware of the fact that the wool is being pulled over their eyes in regard to the benefits of wind power and more generally in regard to the impact of the energy policies our government is trying to promote.

      Our economy is profit/cost-driven and this means that rail has to compete with road trucking for the goods transportation business. Railroads are more competitive in Europe because people live in much more concentrated urban areas so the rail system can serve a bigger percentage of the people. In the US people are more spread out so the more flexible trucking system is needed to reach them where they live. Running freight trains into a remote town of 2,000 people is neither cost effective nor energy efficient.

      In regard to the comment about making the Wal-Mart stores self supporting with solar and wind power I would suggest to you would end up with all the stores located in the Arizona desert and on mountain ridges where those power sources are abundant. It would just require the customers to drive a little further to do their shopping… Just/Kidding of course but my point is that where you can harvest solar/wind power efficiently and where you need the power is typically not the same place. You can’t choose to ignore that fact because of one “Green” building located in a windy & sunny area of Spain that provides 100% of its own power. If you transplanted that same building to Minnesota the occupants will sit in the dark and die of cold before long.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *