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Old 07-08-2009, 07:46 AM   #21
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No doubt, wind generators placed in areas where there isn't much wind is a loss.
And as everyone has pointed out (myself included) residential wind generation is less efficient than commercial. That is part of the reason I didn't go the wind route and buy wind generated energy from my utility.
Few people will jump on a 5k to 15k investment without some research. However, there are always exceptions.
When calculating the costs of wind vs coal, do we also include the cancer, heart disease, and asthma caused by coal plants vs the annoyance of the sound of wind generators?
I ask not to be a smart ass I ask because there are lots of costs we don't consider. Rambler brought up an excellent point of the cost of transmition lines. What other costs are we not considering?
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:56 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Rambler View Post

One more note: I was in the San Francisco airport the other day killling time while waiting for my flight and struck up a conversation with a engineer from Montana, who was heading for Mongolia on some assignment for her engineering firm. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned something about GE more or less owning the market for the wind gennies at the big wind farms, but that they were hard to keep in commission...always breaking down. I know they are complex machines, but if Goodsense or anyone has any insight into this, I would love to hear about it. I had noticed many times on the Altamont in the SF Bay area where there are big wind farms that typically less than half of the huge machines are turning...even though there is sufficient wind. Is it because they are broken down? or is it because they hae been stopped because the natural gas and coal plants were providing enough. If the latter is the case, then we do have a problem with energy policy...

R

I wonder about that also... while in Hawaii (and someone else mentioned about one wind farm in Hawaii)... we were going to the southermost part of the US... and there is a wind farm there.... and NONE of them were turning even though there was a stiff wind... most looked old and rusted, but there was another section in the distance that looked new...

SOOOO, if you have a wind farm, I would think that this would be your FIRST source of energy if you want to be green...
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Old 07-08-2009, 09:44 AM   #23
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Here you go ERD, some numbers for you:
http://www.uvm.edu/~ikubisze/site/Ku...ind%20EROI.pdf
Looks like coal has a EROI averaging about 8.
Wind has one averaging around 18, HOWEVER that is the commercial sized stuff.
Thanks for that ref, very interesting stuff. So, it is encouraging to see the EROI looks good on commercial windfarms. Looks like that personal windmill from the other thread is ~ 2KW plate model, and the chart drops steeply going from 10Kw to 5Kw. You probably can't extrapolate with any certainty, but I wouldn't be surprised if the EROI on that thing was near unity, so one may never get it's energy content out of it before the thing is scrapped.


Quote:
So if the comment I replied to was referring to EROI, I stand corrected. If it was referring to the amount of energy saved,...
My point is, EROI is *all* that matters on something like this. You can't just look at the "savings" w/o looking at the "investment". If it takes 1MWhr to make a windmill, I have not saved a single watt hour until after that thing has produced its first 1MWhrs.

Same with a hybrid car - that extra battery and motor are an energy expenditure (investment) - we initially have used more energy to make those things, and we don't "save" anything, until they hit their EROI break even point. If we never hit it, it was an energy waste, not an energy saver. If someone does not drive a lot, buying a hybrid is very likely an environmentally bad decision. Now, calculating the actual EROI is a complicated process, but I think that using economic payback is a reasonable proxy. That is one reason I am skeptical of anything that does not show a good economic payback.

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Old 07-08-2009, 10:06 AM   #24
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I work on utility-scale wind farms. The wind turbines we use are 2 to 2.4 MW each. Each takes up about 0.75 acre of farm land including access roads, and produces on average enough electricity for 600 households. It's pretty efficient use of land.
Can you put this in numbers that we can compare more easily?

I assume that the 2-2.4MW rating is a plate (max power) rating - what do they actually produce in kWHrs annually? Electric usage of 600 households could vary wildly - A/C, electric water heat, etc.... how about kWhrs?

The 2 watts per square meter from the "w/o the hot air" ref was an average wind power in UK. So select spots in the US may be much higher, esp considering the cube effect of wind speed versus power generation. Also, I'm not sure if you are talking about the maximum density of the windmills ( 1 per .75 acres), or the land that one uses. In the ref, he is talking about trying to get a large % of power from wind, which means you need to space them as closely as possible. At some point, they start to interfere with each other and the output diminishes. That is different than saying one can be placed on .75 acres (or maybe they *are* the same, but I can't tell from your wording).

But, if an average of 2 watts per square meter sounds small, remember that that is: 2 watts *24 hours * 365 days = 17.5kWhrs annually per square meter. .75 acres ~ 3,000 square meters, so that is 53MWhrs annually from .75 acres. Again, this could be much higher if the average w/s is greater than the UK average (it probably is).

How many kWhrs annually does your home use?

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Also, referring to the earlier comparison between a 15-year payback and 5 year warranty, the useful life of a product is often many times more than the warranty period. New construction homes are only warrantied for 1-2 years on everything except for structural elements. That doesn't mean the home is only good for 1-2 years.
Of course. I didn't mean that the 5 year warranty equates to the useful life, but a single homeowner with a single windmill would be on the hook after that - it is a consideration. My real intended point was that we need all those numbers before we can say it makes sense or not.

EROI calculations should be included in any "energy" bill in Congress - it is the real measure of what good the bill might do. I'd be willing to bet that most of them are less than unity (the "cash for clunkers" bill)....

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Old 07-08-2009, 11:21 AM   #25
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I work on utility-scale wind farms. The wind turbines we use are 2 to 2.4 MW each. Each takes up about 0.75 acre of farm land including access roads, and produces on average enough electricity for 600 households. It's pretty efficient use of land.
A more concise way to put my Q: Are you saying you could put 100 of these 2MW windmills on 75 acres?

A little googling brought up the "wind park effect".

Wind farm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wind power in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:
Note: 50m Potential capacity is based on 10D by 5D spacing (D = rotor diameter) of 50 m high turbines in class 3 or better wind with moderate exclusions.

Where land area is sufficient, turbines are spaced three to five rotor diameters apart perpendicular to the prevailing wind, and five to ten rotor diameters apart in the direction of the prevailing wind, to minimize efficiency loss.
Looks like 2MW turbines have a rotor D of ~ 300'. So with 3Dx5D spacing, 900'x1500'=1,350,000 sq feet = 30 acres per turbine; and about 100 acres per turbine with the 5x10D spacing.

So the .75 acre per is not the whole picture. Of course, the windmills are shared with farmland, so it's not just a simple add-up either.

I've seen goals of 20% wind power... with the uneven nature of the wind, doesn't that mean storage (cost, space, waste) or just wasting the peaks? Can other generators respond quickly enough to go from 80% to 100% back to 80% output in a short time?

I guess what really amazes me is all this talk and investment in what is now ~ 1% of our energy supply. We could conserve 1% w/o hardly batting an eye. It is almost a rounding error in our usage. Certainly easier than building, installing, siting, maintaining all these wind turbines. And most of those conservation methods would have an immediate payback - no investment required to turn off a light or adjust the thermostat, for example.

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Old 07-08-2009, 12:37 PM   #26
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Also, I'm not sure if you are talking about the maximum density of the windmills ( 1 per .75 acres), or the land that one uses. In the ref, he is talking about trying to get a large % of power from wind, which means you need to space them as closely as possible. At some point, they start to interfere with each other and the output diminishes. That is different than saying one can be placed on .75 acres (or maybe they *are* the same, but I can't tell from your wording).
Here's a Google satellite view of one of the wind farms in Pecos County (just northwest of Fort Stockton). bakersfield, texas - Google Maps

They're in rows along the roads there (zoom in and look at the shadows to make out where the turbines are placed) about 600-700 feet apart. Not placed in depth like a field though. But if you drive down I-10 back to the east you will see trucks hauling blades, towers and generators toward Pecos County, so I think eventually they may place them in depth. I don't know if all of them are going to Pecos County, but it averages several complete windmills each day. As is, I would say if you drew a square box around each unit the area would be larger than an acre.

Fun note - grab the right edge of the screen with the hand tool and drag it to the left twice, and you're looking at the Yates Oil Field just outside of Iraan (pronounced Ira-Ann). It is one of the larger oil fields ever - a billion barrels of oil produced by 1985, and it still brings in 27 million bbls of oil and 56 million c.f. of gas annually. Oilfield History, The Yates Oil Field Near Iraan In West Texas
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:29 PM   #27
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A rough rule of thumb is to place 1 turbine every 100 - 150 acres to avoid wake effects between turbines. Since each turbine takes up less than 1 acre of land, the other 99 - 149 acres can still be used for farming.

The capacity factor varies depending on tower height, blade length, type of turbine, wake losses, line losses, etc. For IL, I would say for new wind farms, the capacity factor is somewhere between 27% and 34% (very rarely that high) after all the losses. For the Dakotas, 35% or higher is common. MN and IA could be decent, too. The difference between 80-meter and 100-meter towers is quite significant, too, and that will depend on local ordinance, setbacks, etc.

The quoted capacity factor is the average production. During peak (night and winter) it could be wasted depending on the availability of transmission lines. That was essentially why Pickens abandoned his plan. This could easily happen in the Dakotas and Texas. But if the wind farms are located in areas with high demand and good transmission, it's less likely to happen.

During construction the land taken out of production is much greater due to transportation, trenching, and construction needs. After construction, access roads are generally narrowed down to half of its previous width, large turning radius removed, and foundation area filled back with soil.
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:46 PM   #28
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No doubt, wind generators placed in areas where there isn't much wind is a loss.
And as everyone has pointed out (myself included) residential wind generation is less efficient than commercial. That is part of the reason I didn't go the wind route and buy wind generated energy from my utility.
Few people will jump on a 5k to 15k investment without some research. However, there are always exceptions.
When calculating the costs of wind vs coal, do we also include the cancer, heart disease, and asthma caused by coal plants vs the annoyance of the sound of wind generators?
I ask not to be a smart ass I ask because there are lots of costs we don't consider. Rambler brought up an excellent point of the cost of transmition lines. What other costs are we not considering?
Birds and especially bats don't like wind farms.

Birds donít like wind farms

This could be a show stopper. Especially on migration routes.

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Old 07-09-2009, 08:19 PM   #29
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Birds and especially bats don't like wind farms.

Birds donít like wind farms

This could be a show stopper. Especially on migration routes.

Free to canoe
The trouble with "studies" like that is, they do not consider the alternative.

How many bats and birds would be killed by the pollution from generating 7,500GW with coal? How many birds are killed due to the habitat destruction takes place to mine that coal? How many birds are hit by the trains carrying the coal to the plants? And so on. So we don't know if windmills are "good" or "bad" for birds and bats, w/o looking at the whole picture.

That's another reason I'm in favor of "passive conservation" first. No bats have ever been killed by adjusting a thermostat, or *not* making that trip into town

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Old 07-09-2009, 08:24 PM   #30
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Birds and especially bats don't like wind farms.

Birds donít like wind farms

This could be a show stopper. Especially on migration routes.

Free to canoe
In addition to ERD's comment, also consider that house cats kill far more birds than wind generators
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:35 PM   #31
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No doubt, wind generators placed in areas where there isn't much wind is a loss.
And as everyone has pointed out (myself included) residential wind generation is less efficient than commercial. That is part of the reason I didn't go the wind route and buy wind generated energy from my utility.
Few people will jump on a 5k to 15k investment without some research. However, there are always exceptions.
When calculating the costs of wind vs coal, do we also include the cancer, heart disease, and asthma caused by coal plants vs the annoyance of the sound of wind generators?
I ask not to be a smart ass I ask because there are lots of costs we don't consider. Rambler brought up an excellent point of the cost of transmition lines. What other costs are we not considering?
The cost that I haven't seen mentioned is that which is the 800 lb. gorilla, the railroads.

So, they move more than just coal on any particular rail line; pick 10% of the capacity or something, then. Each train leaves Dakotas/Montana/Wyoming with approx. 16,000 tons of coal and goes 300-500 mi., minimum. How many resources does that take? What about the coal that blows out of the rail cars along the way, etc. etc.

The locomotive refueling yard (Bailey Yard) for Union Pacific uses 14-20 million gallons of diesel a month. More Bailey Info.

/end rant.

When I visited Bailey Yard, the numbers were astounding. And that's just one railroad. So, what's the cost to get the coal to the power plant and then transmission lines to distribute electricity vs. moving the wind generators to the wind and getting the wind generated power distributed.

-CC
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:59 PM   #32
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The cost that I haven't seen mentioned is that which is the 800 lb. gorilla, the railroads.

. . . . So, what's the cost to get the coal to the power plant and then transmission lines to distribute electricity vs. moving the wind generators to the wind and getting the wind generated power distributed.

The energy cost of moving the coal is very small. Rail transport typically uses .002 gallons of fuel per ton/mile. So, to move 1 ton of coal 500 miles uses 1 gallon of diesel fuel. That gallon of diesel fuel contains 130 K BTUs, and a ton of coal contains approx 24,000 K BTUs (anthracite coal) or 14,000 K BTUs (lignite coal). So, moving the coal had an energy cost of somewhere between 0.5% and 1% of the energy content of the coal. Actually, moving the coal by rail entails far lower energy costs (i.e. is more efficient) than moving the resultant electricity the same distance over the power grid. If we cared more about energy efficiency than air quality in our cities, we'd ship the coal right to our cities and burn it there.

The small amount of coal blown out of the cars isn't lost--it'll just be buried to be recycled in the ground and re-dug up in a few million years.
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:10 PM   #33
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I wonder about that also... while in Hawaii (and someone else mentioned about one wind farm in Hawaii)... we were going to the southermost part of the US... and there is a wind farm there.... and NONE of them were turning even though there was a stiff wind... most looked old and rusted, but there was another section in the distance that looked new...

SOOOO, if you have a wind farm, I would think that this would be your FIRST source of energy if you want to be green...
The biggest manufacturers of utility-scale wind turbines are Vestas, GE, Gamesa, and Siemens, pretty much in that order. The other names you hear often are Clipper, Suzlon, Acciona, Mitsubishi, RePower, and a few others.

I would say GE is better than overage in terms of quality, although they did have a tower collapse earlier this year due to faulty wiring. Suzlon had a series of blade problems. Compared with other heavy industries, though, I think the overall quality isn't bad.

New turbines made today have much better reliability than those made even 10 years ago. The older ones indeed had a lot of issues. The new ones made today are designed to have a 25-year useful life or so. i believe Altamont was developed in the 80s, so it's probably close to being obsolete if not already.

Turbines shut down for many reasons. It is maintained twice a year. It can be struck by lightning. It will shut down if the wind is too strong (often somewhere between 50 - 60 m/h), and will need to be manually restarted. On rare occasions, if blade issues are discovered, the turbines may need to be retrofitted with new blades.

As you suspected, turbines are also shut down when there is too much supply of electricity and not enough demand. I think that happens most often in the late evening/early morning, when not enough people are using electricity. It is far easier to shut down a wind farm than a nuclear power plant or coal plant.
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Old 07-10-2009, 09:09 AM   #34
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So, what's the cost to get the coal to the power plant and then transmission lines to distribute electricity vs. moving the wind generators to the wind and getting the wind generated power distributed.

-CC
That is why I tend to look at the economics to give us an estimate of the energy involved.

In this case, the coal plant charges for their electricity. So, they have to include the cost of shipping the coal, and the coal that fell off, and the losses and cost in distribution in their kWh price. It all has to get loaded into the cost, or they could not make money.

Environmental issues are probably not fully accounted for, producers get a "free ride" for much of the damage they cause. And govt subsidies knock the formulas out of whack, which is why I don't like govt subsidies.

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Old 07-10-2009, 10:05 AM   #35
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The locomotive refueling yard (Bailey Yard) for Union Pacific uses 14-20 million gallons of diesel a month.
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Rail transport typically uses .002 gallons of fuel per ton/mile. .... So, moving the coal had an energy cost of somewhere between 0.5% and 1% of the energy content of the coal.
This is a perfect example and response to one of the problems that MacKay points out in "Sustainable Energy ó without the hot air " - using numbers out of context. While 14-20 million gallons of diesel is a "huge" number, intended to impress, it tells us nothing about the context. How much coal was moved? So samclem put it in context for us, which is much more meaningful.

1% is much less "scary" than "millions of gallons of diesel", but which leads to better decisions?

BTW, I was surprised that shipping coal is more efficient than shipping electrons. I've heard an 8% number used for average losses in electricity distribution. So instead of personal windmills, should we have personal coal fired electrical plants in our yards? Nah - the same poor relative efficiency due economy of scale would apply - for windmills and coal plants.

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Old 07-10-2009, 10:34 AM   #36
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Driving through Kansas I was surprised at how few turbines I saw (route 70). There was a strong steady wind all the way across the state.

I see that there are a lot of wind projects on the drawing board, however:

wind.jpg

Quote:
BTW, I was surprised that shipping coal is more efficient than shipping electrons. I've heard an 8% number used for average losses in electricity distribution.
Are you talking about economic efficiency, or just power loss? For example, it could cost 10 times as much to move the coal, but unless some of the "briquettes" fall off the train, there's very little power loss.
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Old 07-10-2009, 11:02 AM   #37
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Are you talking about economic efficiency, or just power loss? For example, it could cost 10 times as much to move the coal, but unless some of the "briquettes" fall off the train, there's very little power loss.
Well, samclem put it in terms of BTUs, so it keeps it on equal footing. True, some BTUs cost more than others, but w/o looking it up I'd guess that a BTU of coal costs roughly (within 2:1) the same as a BTU of diesel (see edit).

In the case of electricity distribution, it is electricity (KWhrs) that is being lost. In the case of coal, it is diesel that is being lost, but you equate the diesel energy to the coal energy to figure how much "coal equivalent" energy is being lost, though not the coal itself.

If you think about it, these calculations are done all the time. The electric company figures the cost of thicker copper wires and supports versus the electrical losses. It all comes down to costs, but a lot of that cost is the embedded (embodied?) energy.

edit/add - note that just cost/BTU isn't really the best measure - samclem's numbers were good, because it shows the actual BTUs *used* to perform the task (gallons of fuel per ton/mile). This way, efficiencies in using the BTUs are accounted for.

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I'll be impressed when I see...
Old 07-10-2009, 11:11 AM   #38
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I'll be impressed when I see...

a windmill powered windmill factory

Actually, that is a somewhat "tongue-in-cheek" statement, the ref that Zathras provided showed that commercial wind turbines have a very positive EROI. So they actually look pretty good in that regard.

I've said the same about solar cells, the EROI is not as good with those.

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Old 07-10-2009, 02:01 PM   #39
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Driving through Kansas I was surprised at how few turbines I saw (route 70). There was a strong steady wind all the way across the state.
But was the "strong steady wind" still there after you left?
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:36 PM   #40
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This is a perfect example and response to one of the problems that MacKay points out in "Sustainable Energy — without the hot air " - using numbers out of context. While 14-20 million gallons of diesel is a "huge" number, intended to impress, it tells us nothing about the context. How much coal was moved? So samclem put it in context for us, which is much more meaningful.

1% is much less "scary" than "millions of gallons of diesel", but which leads to better decisions?

BTW, I was surprised that shipping coal is more efficient than shipping electrons. I've heard an 8% number used for average losses in electricity distribution. So instead of personal windmills, should we have personal coal fired electrical plants in our yards? Nah - the same poor relative efficiency due economy of scale would apply - for windmills and coal plants.

-ERD50
The big numbers can work both ways. Sure it's a fraction of the BTU's. "We only used millons of gallons of diesel a month because we burn a trillion tons of coal." That makes it OK?

It's all relative, not trying to pick a fight, etc. But, when 16 coal trains a day on one mainline aren't enough, maybe it's time to turn off some lights/my computer/etc. Heh.

So, as it stands now, cost of moving the coal to the plant, distributing the electricity is cheaper than moving the turbines to the wind and distributing the electricity due to "economies of scale", and not taking environmental factors into account. I think I'm stating the obvious, but, pure economics is our only measure, now. Whereas the question was what factors aren't taken into account. Mostly everyone's saying the coal transport and transmission issues have been taken into account. Correct?

-CC
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