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Assembling a wind turbine
Old 05-29-2015, 10:17 AM   #1
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Assembling a wind turbine

I thought the engineer types might find this interesting.

http://youtu.be/84BeVq2Jm88
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:03 AM   #2
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I've always wondered how the force from the wind doesn't make the blades very difficult to raise and secure to the tower. Do they raise them on a windless day? They seem to have no problem with it in the video.
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:13 AM   #3
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Incredible - Thanks for posting!
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:41 AM   #4
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A few short miles from our campground, there is a spot on the road where you can stop and look to the horizon in the east and west and see nearly 200 windmills in three different wind farms.

The earliest was built in 2003 and the latest is still under construction. The original cost per tower was $1 million. Our towers are somewhat different than the ones shown in that excellent video... being 314 ft high and the newer ones using smaller nacelles, (I think made by the Chinese).

It's an awesome sight to see them all working on windy days, but even on days that are almost still, the blades rotate very, very slowly.
Here are the two fields, closest to our camp.

Shady Oaks Wind Farm - Goldwind Americas

...and the original, which was constructed in 2003.

Mendota Hills Wind Farm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The wind "valley" runs from central Iowa to Central Illinois.

There is a tremendous battle going on in these states, over the construction of the Rock Island Clear Line... a proposed electric high voltage line to cross the states.. There is a bitter fight going on with opponents of the line fighting to stop the project. There have been dozens of legislative sessions and hundreds of citizen meetings. Almost every farm and farm house has large signs saying "BLOCK RICL. An ongoing battle that continues daily, weekly and yearly.

It is rather surprising that despite the huge implications for energy in the near future, that windpower sees so little media exposure. Even in my hometown, Peru, few people seem to know or care about these projects, going on within 10 miles of their homes.
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Old 05-29-2015, 01:57 PM   #5
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About thirty miles from us is a wind farm.

THey have had a few failures. Video is of one elsewhere. Typical time for all pieces to hit the ground after catastrophic failure is about 25 seconds.

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Old 05-29-2015, 08:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jon-nyc View Post
I thought the engineer types might find this interesting.

http://youtu.be/84BeVq2Jm88
Very cool.

Interesting to see that huge concrete base during construction. It gets covered with dirt afterwards, so it is hidden. Makes sense that they need something that large to hold it up against the wind.

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Old 05-29-2015, 10:35 PM   #7
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Okay, let's see:
53 trucks worth of concrete, 10 cu yds per truck, 3000 lbs per cu yd, 139 watt hours of embodied energy per pound of concrete = 221 MWH of embodied energy.
96,000 pounds of rebar, .0025 MWH/lb embodied energy per pound (at industry avg recycled content) = 240 MWH of embodied energy
Base tower: 97,000 pounds, .0025 MWH/lb embodied energy per pound = 242 MWH of embodied energy
Mid-tower: 115,587 pounds: 289 MWH
Top Tower: 104,157 pounds: 264 MWH
Nacelle: 181,000 pounds: 453 MWH

Total embodied energy for these components: 1709 MWH.

The average US 1.5 MW wind turbine produces 3,285 MWh per year (that's with a 25% capacity factor, typical for the US. In Europe, the capacity factor is generally lower)

The total embodied energy costs didn't include everything (site prep, transportation of the components, dredging of the sand for the concrete, power lines going to the site, etc), but it still looks like the average US turbine will have "paid back" the energy needed to create it in relatively short order, probably between 1 and 2 years. That's better than I would have guessed.

Now, if we could just run all those steel and concrete mills only when the wind is blowing . . .

Embodied energy source: Wikipedia
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:24 PM   #8
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A local farmer put up a pretty big wind tower a couple years ago but it self destructed not long after completion. They replaced it with five smaller units which seem to be lasting.

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Old 05-30-2015, 08:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
It is rather surprising that despite the huge implications for energy in the near future, that windpower sees so little media exposure. Even in my hometown, Peru, few people seem to know or care about these projects, going on within 10 miles of their homes.

I'm not highly knowledgeable on wind power, but my guess is that while some areas have established wind patterns, it's even more potentially variable than solar power -and as such, you can't really have a significant % of it devoted to a grid due to it's variability (unless, as with all solar-based power, you are willing to live with unpredictable blackouts or buying expensive storage). AT least with solar, you can count on a good part of it matching peaking demand (i.e. when it's very sunny out, it's probably hotter, and in the summer that means more A/C demand, which puts large demands on the grid). But wind power, while ultimately powered by solar radiation, isn't as (relatively) predictable at an elevation from ground level to about 200ft up or so.

I have heard people make comments about high altitude wind-powered generators (like 1,000ft+ up), where the wind is much stronger and has greater potential...but have only seen a few random comments over the years on that.
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Old 05-30-2015, 08:34 AM   #10
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I'm not highly knowledgeable on wind power, but my guess is that while some areas have established wind patterns, it's even more potentially variable than solar power -and as such, you can't really have a significant % of it devoted to a grid due to it's variability (unless, as with all solar-based power, you are willing to live with unpredictable blackouts or buying expensive storage). AT least with solar, you can count on a good part of it matching peaking demand ....
Good point - the peak solar is very predictable. A clear sunny day around noon in late June, that's it. You simply aren't going to get a burst of sunshine, like you can with a tornado, hurricane, or just exceptionally high winds.

Maybe later I'll start a thread on the future of renewable energy - that's kind of taking over the Tesla thread.

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Old 05-30-2015, 08:43 AM   #11
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My preference would be hydro power on a large river like the Mississippi. They tried these a number of years ago, had a few plants on barges. ITIR it worked out ok but the economics of that time didn't play out. And of course there are the "environmental" factors to consider in todays political climate.
Lots of energy flowing down a river and unlike a dam you aren't impeding the river flow.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:00 AM   #12
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My preference would be hydro power on a large river like the Mississippi. They tried these a number of years ago, had a few plants on barges. ITIR it worked out ok but the economics of that time didn't play out. And of course there are the "environmental" factors to consider in todays political climate.
Lots of energy flowing down a river and unlike a dam you aren't impeding the river flow.
I was just looking at the potential for more hydro. It was a quick search, but in very general terms, we get ~ 7% of our energy in US from hydro now, and the additional from run-of-the-river or other hydro that could potentially be developed just isn't that large. Maybe we could add another 2% to the hydro category?

Everything helps, a diversity of sources is good, but I don't think that more hydro is going to be a major player.

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Old 05-30-2015, 09:15 AM   #13
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In Canada, all their electricity is hydro.

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Old 05-30-2015, 04:12 PM   #14
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In Canada, all their electricity is hydro.

I think we're only around 60% - 63%. It's cheap where I live...about 8 cents per kwh. Other places are close to double that.
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Old 05-30-2015, 08:38 PM   #15
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Hydro power here in the West where we have had no rain? And so many rivers have been diverted for irrigation that there's little flow left. And forget about putting up more dams where there's still some flow; the environmental issues of today do not make it easy. And I suspect that no potential sites for dams still exist anyway, as we already exploited them all.

In my current RV trek, I have seen some sad dry lakes and reservoirs in northern CA and southern Oregon. And the trees look stressed.
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Old 05-30-2015, 08:47 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jon-nyc View Post
I thought the engineer types might find this interesting.

http://youtu.be/84BeVq2Jm88
Yes, very interesting.

Back as early as 1975, traveling on I-10 through Indio CA, I saw that they already had a large windmill farm. The windmills back then were a lot smaller, and many already failed when I first saw them. Even on a strong wind day, more than 50% were not turning. And it appeared that they were just abandoned in place, instead of getting dismantled. The failure rate seemed very high.

As the years progressed, as I traveled this section of freeway, I observed the change in design. They made them bigger and bigger. Many of the old ones were left there, so you can observe the generational design change through 4 decades.

PS. The wind though Indio/Banning was exceptionally persistent, hence it was an early site for windmill power generation. And it can be very strong. I usually could get from Phoenix to Long Beach, a distance of 375 miles, with one tank of gas. One time, I had to stop for fuel in Indio, which is 100 miles out. Thought I had an engine problem causing such a poor gar mileage until I stepped out of the car. I had to lean into the wind to walk to the fuel pump.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:17 PM   #17
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I have not traveled this section of I-10 for a few years. According to some info on the Web, the derelict old broken windmills in this San Gorgonio Pass have been dismantled.

I guess it took a while to take them down, because many companies that installed and operated them went bankrupt.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:42 PM   #18
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I think we're only around 60% - 63%. It's cheap where I live...about 8 cents per kwh. Other places are close to double that.
I think that one zinged over a few heads.
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