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View Full Version : Science A wind power stat that may surprise you.


Rain Man
08-17-2012, 09:22 AM
At least, it surprised me.

The figure is a little misleading because it was apparently a short-term peak in the wee hours of the morning, but it's nonetheless quite impressive. I had no idea they were anywhere near that level, and I'm perhaps even more impressed that the annual average in Colorado (edit: from this provider, which is Colorado's largest) is 17 percent.

http://money.cnn.com/2012/08/06/news/economy/wind-power-Colorado/index.htm?iid=EL

Wind power hits 57% mark in Colorado
By Steve Hargreaves @CNNMoney August 6, 2012: 5:18 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- During the early morning hours of April 15, with a steady breeze blowing down Colorado's Front Range, the state's biggest utility set a U.S. record -- nearly 57% of the electricity being generated was coming from wind power.

As dawn came and the 1.4 million customers in Xcel Energy's service district began turning on the lights, toasters and other appliances, the utility's coal and natural gas-fired power plants ramped up production and brought wind's contribution back closer to its 2012 average of 17%.

Utilities have long been wary of placing too much finicky renewable power on the grid.

"A lot of utilities don't want to contract large amounts of wind because it's volatile," said Amy Grace, a wind analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "Anything over 25%, and utilities get nervous."

Colorado's overnight high-water mark demonstrated that utilities can indeed incorporate cleaner power sources into the mix.

It also provides hope that, under the right conditions and policies, wind will be able to provide a significantly larger share of the nation's power than its current 3% rate.

Donger
08-17-2012, 09:27 AM
Meh.

Rain Man
08-17-2012, 09:30 AM
Meh.

If it helps, they generate the wind using giant fans that are powered by oil and coal.

Donger
08-17-2012, 09:32 AM
If it helps, they generate the wind using giant fans that are powered by oil and coal.

LMAO

While "green" alternatives to fossil fuel generation are neat, they tend to cost a lot more "green" than fossil fuel generation. It's a shame that the article doesn't mention that.

bobbymitch
08-17-2012, 09:44 AM
I'll be impressed when all government owned and leased buildings, including the White House, are powered by off-the grid power sources that do not have to rely upon any fossil fuel back-up options. That and when all government own and leased vehicles are non-fossil fuel powered. This includes the Presidental limos.

Then and only then will I believe that wind and solar power are "the" option. I see them as decent alternatives, but not the sole options of the future as so many want to believe.

Bump
08-17-2012, 09:49 AM
Wind Power is really really bad. /republicans

I mean, the nations top priority is keeping the mega rich, rich and getting them richer. how is wind power going to contribute to that?

Dr. Facebook Fever
08-17-2012, 09:50 AM
I for one am surprised RM.

Dr. Facebook Fever
08-17-2012, 09:51 AM
Wind Power is really really bad. /republicans

I mean, the nations top priority is keeping the mega rich, rich and getting them richer. how is wind power going to contribute to that?

Tax it?

Donger
08-17-2012, 09:52 AM
Wind Power is really really bad. /republicans

I mean, the nations top priority is keeping the mega rich, rich and getting them richer. how is wind power going to contribute to that?

No, wind power (and other renewable sources) are just fine. They just happen to cost twice or more per kWh than does fossil-fuel generation.

DA_T_84
08-17-2012, 10:00 AM
No, wind power (and other renewable sources) are just fine. They just happen to cost twice or more per kWh than does fossil-fuel generation.

Infinite > Finite

Let's hope they find a way to make it affordable.

DJ's left nut
08-17-2012, 10:09 AM
Wind power will remain throttled by battery technology. Until they can store the wind generated into batteries that don't waste 90% of it, it's just not reliable enough to use on a widespread basis. Moreover, wind turbines are ugly. And they're gigantic. And the places they tend to be the most effective are the high deserts, central plains and other places that actual people wouldn't really want to live in large amounts. This creates a massive problem with actually getting the energy to the grid and to large population centers. Our ability to 'transport' it without losing it is still pretty lousy.

Finally, environmentally they've proven to actually have some pretty dire consequences. If you watch one of those large turbines, they appear to be moving pretty slowly. The problem is that the outer tip of those rotor blades absolutely hauls ass. The average large rotor blade is about 110/120 feet long and the outer tip has to make a circle in the same amount of time that the inside does. On a pretty mild day, that's still going to be in the 4 second range. Do the math and the circumference of that circle is about 700 feet. So in a 4 seconds, the tip has to go 700 feet; or about 175 ft/second. That's roughly 120 mph.

Go ahead and count how long it takes one of those massive turbines in Western Kansas or Oklahoma or Montana to rotate when it's just going easy. 4 seconds is routine. Now you and I don't have to worry about the optical illusion there...but the birds do. The wind turbines are creating massive bird-strike problems out where they're being used because birds don't understand math. They, like us at first glance, see the center spinning fairly slowly and take a leisurely path through these wind farms...and get cut in half.

Wind energy is a farce with our present technology. If we can ever get it stored effectively or transported efficiently, we may have a start. But it's nowhere close to a viable energy source for any sort of 'urban' populace right now and too expensive to justify on more rural areas.

Rain Man
08-17-2012, 10:14 AM
While I realize that the wind turbines are huge, it seems like there should be a way to screen them so that birds bounce off the chicken wire instead of going into the blender.

Braincase
08-17-2012, 10:16 AM
No, wind power (and other renewable sources) are just fine. They just happen to cost twice or more per kWh than does fossil-fuel generation.

Not to mention the loss of lives due to "windlung" disease, and the ever present threat of sunmines collapsing, trapping and possibly killing the sunmine workers.

Saul Good
08-17-2012, 10:17 AM
Wind Power is really really bad. /republicans

I mean, the nations top priority is keeping the mega rich, rich and getting them richer. how is wind power going to contribute to that?

So you think that Joe Sixpack could just buy a wind turbine and make a bunch of money? Who do you think owns them? (Hint: it's a big fucking corporation)

Braincase
08-17-2012, 10:18 AM
So you think that Joe Sixpack could just buy a wind turbine and make a bunch of money? Who do you think owns them? (Hint: it's a big ****ing corporation)

You can buy kits to generate your own wind power. If you are connected to the grid, you can generate enough electricity for yourself and others, and sell it back to the power company.

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:20 AM
While I realize that the wind turbines are huge, it seems like there should be a way to screen them so that birds bounce off the chicken wire instead of going into the blender.

Reducing efficiency and adding cost, sure.

AndChiefs
08-17-2012, 10:20 AM
Wind Power is really really good. Unless it ruins my view. /democrats

I mean, the nations top priority is keeping the mega rich, rich and getting them richer. how is wind power going to contribute to that?

FYP

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:20 AM
Not to mention the loss of lives due to "windlung" disease, and the ever present threat of sunmines collapsing, trapping and possibly killing the sunmine workers.

:spock:

Braincase
08-17-2012, 10:21 AM
:spock:

Some things you can't put a $ on, unless you work in the insurance industry.

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:23 AM
Some things you can't put a $ on, unless you work in the insurance industry.

Sorry, I'm not following your argument (if you have one).

bevischief
08-17-2012, 10:25 AM
They are all over West Texas, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. They have a plant that makes them here in Fargo.

Braincase
08-17-2012, 10:25 AM
Sorry, I'm not following your argument (if you have one).

You were mentioning fossil fuels being less expensive than wind/solar.

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:29 AM
You were mentioning fossil fuels being less expensive than wind/solar.

And they are.

Rain Man
08-17-2012, 10:32 AM
And they are.

I think braincase's point is that there are downstream costs that may not be attributed to fossil fuels, but which exist and are borne by society more than the industry. There may be for wind as well, but we don't know that yet.

ghak99
08-17-2012, 10:33 AM
You can buy kits to generate your own wind power. If you are connected to the grid, you can generate enough electricity for yourself and others, and sell it back to the power company.

Have you seen the real world ROI and estimated time to break even on these kits?

jiveturkey
08-17-2012, 10:35 AM
Have you seen the real world ROI and estimated time to break even on these kits?
I have and it's not good.

Those ROI's don't include resale value but in suburbia it doesn't matter what you do to your house anyway. It's all based on what your neighbors houses sell for.

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:35 AM
I think braincase's point is that there are downstream costs that may not be attributed to fossil fuels, but which exist and are borne by society more than the industry. There may be for wind as well, but we don't know that yet.

Oh.

LMAO

I suppose my sarcasm detector needs calibration. I actually thought "WTF is a sunmine?"

Rain Man
08-17-2012, 10:37 AM
Have you seen the real world ROI and estimated time to break even on these kits?

I bet my neighbors wouldn't like me doing this on my 3,600 sq. ft. lot, but one does wonder how it compares to solar. I have a great hunger to put solar panels on my house and am just trying to win my wife over on it. Our neighbor got solar panels and was told that it would be an eight-year breakeven, so I'm looking forward to hearing how his first year goes.

DJ's left nut
08-17-2012, 10:42 AM
You can buy kits to generate your own wind power. If you are connected to the grid, you can generate enough electricity for yourself and others, and sell it back to the power company.

The power company has no obligation to buy from you if you're not a consistent power source.

In order to be considered a consistent power source, you're probably going to be spending close to a million bucks to get a reliable, consistent enough generator put up and running.

You can find rural farmers all throughout central and southern Kansas that thought they were going to build a $50,000 windmill and make millions off it, only to get the bird.

Wind energy just doesn't work right now. Electric cars will continue to push battery technology forward and perhaps someday it will get to where it needs to be to make wind energy worthwhile.

But right now it just isn't.

cdcox
08-17-2012, 10:43 AM
No, wind power (and other renewable sources) are just fine. They just happen to cost twice or more per kWh than does fossil-fuel generation.

Before we make this comparison let's do the following:

1. require all middle eastern armed conflicts to be paid for in real time by a gasoline tax

2. require all "excess" healthcare bills associated with bad air quality be paid for by a coal tax

3. establish the economic impact of other environmental impacts (including climate change) and pay for those by a tax on the appropriate fossil fuel.

Iowanian
08-17-2012, 10:45 AM
If turbines kill enough birds, they'll eventually turn into fossil fuels.


The larger issue isn't batteries, it's getting the utility grid built to handle the peak production. They're rarely running even close to capacity.


Placement is based mostly on wind. It's not about the perfect plain with no homes in quarter mile increments as much as it is about consistent wind.
Gusty is bad and the lack of wind in the summer months stop development in most places.

I also don't think they're ugly. Windmills have been part of the rural landscape for centuries, and are one of the things you think of in other countries, like Holland.

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:47 AM
Before we make this comparison let's do the following:

1. require all middle eastern armed conflicts to be paid for in real time by a gasoline tax

2. require all "excess" healthcare bills associated with bad air quality be paid for by a coal tax

3. establish the economic impact of other environmental impacts (including climate change) and pay for those by a tax on the appropriate fossil fuel.

1) I don't understand why you are bringing up the Middle East.

2) How much "excess" healthcare needs have been generated by burning coal for generation of electricity?

3) How do you quantify that?

DJ's left nut
08-17-2012, 10:49 AM
Before we make this comparison let's do the following:

1. require all middle eastern armed conflicts to be paid for in real time by a gasoline tax

2. require all "excess" healthcare bills associated with bad air quality be paid for by a coal tax

3. establish the economic impact of other environmental impacts (including climate change) and pay for those by a tax on the appropriate fossil fuel.

Can we also incorporate an "I like having energy when I need it" tax for wind energy?

It. Won't. Work. Not right now.

It's just the cutest, neatest, friendliest little theory in the world, but it's not a hell of a lot less useful than saying we should just all run our homes on Nuclear fusion. We don't have the technology in place right now to do this well.

Iowanian
08-17-2012, 10:50 AM
When I hear people mention birds being knocked from the sky as a reason to discourage wind power, I ask them how many insects they smashed with the hood and windshield of their car on the way to that particular location.

Didn't stop them from driving.

bsp4444
08-17-2012, 10:50 AM
LMAO

While "green" alternatives to fossil fuel generation are neat, they tend to cost a lot more "green" than fossil fuel generation. It's a shame that the article doesn't mention that.

What about current subsides to the oil industry? If those were removed, would we not be ona more level playing field?

DJ's left nut
08-17-2012, 10:50 AM
If turbines kill enough birds, they'll eventually turn into fossil fuels.


The larger issue isn't batteries, it's getting the utility grid built to handle the peak production. They're rarely running even close to capacity.


Placement is based mostly on wind. It's not about the perfect plain with no homes in quarter mile increments as much as it is about consistent wind.
Gusty is bad and the lack of wind in the summer months stop development in most places.

I also don't think they're ugly. Windmills have been part of the rural landscape for centuries, and are one of the things you think of in other countries, like Holland.

They can be throttled or the blades turned to 'sluff' the wind off if energy gets too high. The problem then becomes one of simple inefficiency.

If the battery technology advances to where they aren't sluffing, but rather storing, that energy - it can be trickled into the grid in a manner that is commensurate with use.

EDIT: As to your second inquiry - I'm not a hippy. I don't so much care about the birds (they'll make more, birds are good at finding ways to kill themselves). I'm just pointing out that people that act like there aren't environmental impacts from these things are fooling themselves. They disrupt the ecosystems in the areas they're placed a fair amount (you have to get vehicles in/out for maintenance, dig for transmission, etc...).

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:52 AM
What about current subsides to the oil industry? If those were removed, would we not be ona more level playing field?

We use very little petroleum in the generation of our electricity. So, no, it wouldn't.

Donger
08-17-2012, 10:52 AM
When I hear people mention birds being knocked from the sky as a reason to discourage wind power, I ask them how many insects they smashed with the hood and windshield of their car on the way to that particular location.

Didn't stop them from driving.

Yeah, but bugs aren't cute.

ghak99
08-17-2012, 10:55 AM
I bet my neighbors wouldn't like me doing this on my 3,600 sq. ft. lot, but one does wonder how it compares to solar. I have a great hunger to put solar panels on my house and am just trying to win my wife over on it. Our neighbor got solar panels and was told that it would be an eight-year breakeven, so I'm looking forward to hearing how his first year goes.

ROFL Probably not.

They have distorted the numbers on wind so bad most people don't realize how bad it is. I know a company who tried to sell small "single home" units and have a family member who worked on a couple of the big fields in NW Missouri. They both laugh anytime people bring up the cost "savings" of our current wind technology and like to bring up maintenance costs to top it off.

I've considered a solar system a couple times, but simply couldn't wrap my head around the numbers. Hopefully our government doesn't impede the technological advances in either industry and they either vastly improve or go back to the drawing board.

Lonewolf Ed
08-17-2012, 11:02 AM
Wind Power is really really bad. /republicans

I mean, the nations top priority is keeping the mega rich, rich and getting them richer. how is wind power going to contribute to that?

I am a Republican and wind power is NOT bad. I think it is really, really good. Chinese wind generators are bad. Danish ones are the best; they are large and don't have to spin fast to generate electricity. One of my cousins in Denmark is the CEO of a huge energy company and they had more than a 2 billion dollar, not kroner, turnover last year. Wind energy is their thing as well as other renewable energy sources. My cousin bought a nice new Range Rover and an expensive speed boat, so he's doing very well.

cdcox
08-17-2012, 11:22 AM
Can we also incorporate an "I like having energy when I need it" tax for wind energy?

It. Won't. Work. Not right now.

It's just the cutest, neatest, friendliest little theory in the world, but it's not a hell of a lot less useful than saying we should just all run our homes on Nuclear fusion. We don't have the technology in place right now to do this well.

The smart grid technology isn't out of reach and is being developed right now. Saying it won't work isn't really accurate.

Donger
08-17-2012, 11:25 AM
The smart grid technology isn't out of reach and is being developed right now. Saying it won't work isn't really accurate.

What smart grid technology?