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Old 05-03-2011, 05:43 PM   #41
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And I don't really understand the large production cost for wind. The marginal production cost is pretty close to zero.
Lots of turbines. Lots and lots of turbines. All running under varying wind loading, in fancy gearbox assemblies that need to be steered into the wind, with more gearing to adjust blade pitch with wind speed. Then figure on around 1% of the blades breaking each year. Then there are the new roads, and buried cabling and control systems.

It's more labor-intensive to maintain than a big coal plant with a relatively few huge generators just sitting on the ground.

The Shiloh II development near me has 75 of the REpower MM92 turbines. That's a 92 meter rotor diameter, just over 300 feet across. They put in 40 miles of trenches for the underground wiring, and 21 miles of road. That all has to be maintained.
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Old 05-03-2011, 05:58 PM   #42
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The big challenge (aside from cost) is moving power from the remote areas where wind and solar resources are greatest to load centers which tend not to be in the middle of the desert or windy plains.
I see a cartel coming. Once OWEC (Organization of Windpower Exporting Counties) is operational, the coasts will beg America's heartland for a few more watts. And the price will be high!! Bwa-ha-ha! The map below tells the tale--remember that available wind power is a function of the square of the wind speed: A turbine in those purple 9 m/s areas will crank out 4 times the energy of an identical turbine in the puny green 4.5 m/s areas. Add this to the lower (for now!) land costs in the wind belt and likely greater acceptance of the presence of turbines by the locals and we can see how things are gonna be. The flyover states will have the last laugh while the pitiful denizens of the right and left coasts are forced to whip their lattes by hand.


(I think if you zoom in you can see a very localized windy spot over DC)
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:05 PM   #43
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It's more labor-intensive to maintain than a big coal plant
Understood. But $30 / Mwh (eyeballed from the chart) is an enormous amount of money for that.
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:06 PM   #44
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I see a cartel coming. Once OWEC (Organization of Windpower Exporting Counties) is operational, the coasts will beg America's heartland for a few more watts. And the price will be high!! Bwa-ha-ha! The map below tells the tale--remember that available wind power is a function of the square of the wind speed: A turbine in those purple 9 m/s areas will crank out 4 times the energy of an identical turbine in the puny green 4.5 m/s areas. Add this to the lower (for now!) land costs in the wind belt and likely greater acceptance of the presence of turbines by the locals and we can see how things are gonna be. The flyover states will have the last laugh while the pitiful denizens of the right and left coasts are forced to whip their lattes by hand.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:06 PM   #45
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I see a cartel coming.
I was actually toying with the idea of a vertical-axis turbine until a local high-school student's science project used that chart and a data recorder to show that it'd be a waste of time. Oh, it'd work, but the money would produce more power if spent on photovoltaics.

But you can only grow so much in South Dakota. I bet more than one Native American tribal council has debated roofing their casinos with turbines.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:24 PM   #46
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And rockyj there are indeed posters here in many threads over the years who toss around solar and wind as the solution to our energy issues, with no qualifying statements whatsover or acknowledgement of the capital or unit costs...
Shame on them.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:32 PM   #47
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I see a cartel coming. Once OWEC (Organization of Windpower Exporting Counties) is operational, the coasts will beg America's heartland for a few more watts. And the price will be high!! Bwa-ha-ha! The map below tells the tale--remember that available wind power is a function of the square of the wind speed: A turbine in those purple 9 m/s areas will crank out 4 times the energy of an identical turbine in the puny green 4.5 m/s areas. Add this to the lower (for now!) land costs in the wind belt and likely greater acceptance of the presence of turbines by the locals and we can see how things are gonna be. The flyover states will have the last laugh while the pitiful denizens of the right and left coasts are forced to whip their lattes by hand.


(I think if you zoom in you can see a very localized windy spot over DC)
This map explains why a wind farm was put up about 35 miles west of my home. There is a tiny red area at that point. It required construction of about 50 miles of new power lines and supporting towers along with the roads and other things. There are about 120 generators in the farm.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:44 PM   #48
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The big challenge (aside from cost) is moving power from the remote areas where wind and solar resources are greatest to load centers which tend not to be in the middle of the desert or windy plains. Upgraded transmission would go a long way, but that too is expensive and difficult to build.
Rooftop solar (either photovoltaic or thermal (e.g. hot water)) don't suffer from the new transmission lines problem, and can put any excess capacity back into the grid. I have no idea how well that approach scales compared with large arrays n the desert, for example. But my intuition tells me distributed rooftop sources may be more practical in the long run than large plant solutions.

Solar thermal home sources are different beasts in that the power only gets used at the source (as far as I know, you can't contribute excess thermal to provide community power on the grid). But it seems that collectively such units could put a significant dent in household energy demand in some areas. I remember standing on a hotel roof in Athens a couple of years ago. The area was densely built with five or six story apartment and hotel buildings as far as you could see. Virtually every building in sight had one or more rooftop solar hot water systems in place. From the feel of the sun on my head, I suspect that hot water wasn't a big problem in that neighborhood.

http://www.cpsolarthermal.com/applic...-applications/
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Old 05-04-2011, 11:35 AM   #49
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Rooftop solar (either photovoltaic or thermal (e.g. hot water)) don't suffer from the new transmission lines problem, and can put any excess capacity back into the grid. I have no idea how well that approach scales compared with large arrays n the desert, for example. But my intuition tells me distributed rooftop sources may be more practical in the long run than large plant solutions.
The U.S. finished building out a hard-wired telecom infrastructure before cell phones took off. Third-world countries had the luxury of skipping right over the hard-wiring phase and going straight to cell phones. That seems to be working well.

However the same hasn't happened for third-world electrical infrastructure, unless you count the number of "rich" homeowners with backyard fossil-fuel generators. It'll be interesting to see if photovoltaic tech does for electrical power what cell phones have done for telecom, but it may take another 20 years.

Until we invent a better battery (lead-acid's been the standard for over a century, don't hold your breath) then I think the problem with distributed power generation is sharing power by controlling grid voltage. It's technologically feasible but it's a whole 'nother type of infrastructure which has yet to be designed, let alone built. And nobody wants to pay for it.

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But it seems that collectively such units could put a significant dent in household energy demand in some areas. I remember standing on a hotel roof in Athens a couple of years ago. The area was densely built with five or six story apartment and hotel buildings as far as you could see. Virtually every building in sight had one or more rooftop solar hot water systems in place. From the feel of the sun on my head, I suspect that hot water wasn't a big problem in that neighborhood.
Hawaii generates over one-third of its hot water from rooftop solar water collectors. It's finally been mandated for new construction. Homeowners retrofitting their existing homes get an immediate $750 rebate from HECO (which may soon rise again to $1500) and retrieve roughly another $4000 in state/federal tax credits. Payback is 3-8 years. Yet the reason people hold back is they claim to not have the money for the capex.

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Solar thermal home sources are different beasts in that the power only gets used at the source (as far as I know, you can't contribute excess thermal to provide community power on the grid).
Sopogy sells a commercial parabolic reflective solar concentrator to heat oil for hot water, process steam, or even air conditioning. (M_Paquette and Gumby are smirking with pleasure at our rosy memories of the submarine force's steam-fed lithium-bromide air-conditioning technology.) In a demonstration plant on the Big Island, they cycle the hot oil through an insulated tank of salt to liquefy it, and then use that stored heat to run a CO2 version of a Stirling engine to generate electricity. By the end of the morning the tank has usually stored enough BTUs to run the electrical generator for an hour at full capacity. The generator is tied into HELCO's grid, who apparently really appreciate having the standby capacity immediately available-- just like a coal-fired or gas-turbine utility generator. Unlike all the photovoltaic panels scattered around the Big Island, Keahole can produce that standby power even after sundown.

Sopogy's pushing hard to shrink the Keahole plant down into a rooftop version for independent commercial or even residential air conditioning. The sunnier it gets, the more cooling it generates...
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:40 PM   #50
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Until we invent a better battery (lead-acid's been the standard for over a century, don't hold your breath) then I think the problem with distributed power generation is sharing power by controlling grid voltage.
In the MacKay book referred to by ERD50, it's proposed to put the batteries of electric cars on the grid, once we've converted away from gas. The batteries won't necessarily be that cheap, but we'll need lots of them, anyway.

Edit: The MacKay discussion begins here: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/w...page_194.shtml
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:44 PM   #51
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Here in Oregon someone seems to think wind is viable as they keep putting up these enormous windmills along the Columbia

My husband heard that the farmers who lease the land for them get $10,000+ per windmill per year...making more off the lease than growing plants.
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Old 05-04-2011, 03:42 PM   #52
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DW has some farm land. 158 acres rents for $8400/yr. The 2 acres with the cell tower brings in $5K.

I don't know how many acres a windmill uses but at $10K each, I think we could live nicely off her 320 acres. How do we move the land to Oregon and sign up?
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:49 PM   #53
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DW has some farm land. 158 acres rents for $8400/yr. The 2 acres with the cell tower brings in $5K.

I don't know how many acres a windmill uses but at $10K each, I think we could live nicely off her 320 acres. How do we move the land to Oregon and sign up?
National Wind Watch | Size of Industrial Wind Turbines

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How much area is required for a wind power facility?

The huge turbines require a correspondingly large area around them clear of trees and other turbines to maximize the effect of the wind and avoid interference. They should have 10 rotor diameters of clearance in the direction of the wind and 3 rotor diameters in every other direction. In a line of several turbines perpendicular to the wind (as on a mountain ridge), the GE 1.5-MW model would need at least 32 acres and the Vestas V90 78 acres for each tower. In an array that can take advantage of the wind from any direction, the GE needs 82 acres and the Vestas V90 111 acres per tower.
Maybe, but only about 2 or 3 of those big turbines on 320 acres. It's pretty amazing how much room they need between turbines. I know what 320 acres looks like, and just 2 or 3 towers seem awful far apart, but that's what it is.

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Old 05-04-2011, 08:11 PM   #54
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Gimme another couple of cell towers then.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:24 PM   #55
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Using the best case of prevailing wind, it looks like you can put 20 GE 1.5MW turbines per square mile. Assuming a 25% utilization rate. That means 7.5MW (non-base load) power generation per square mile. Contrast that with Fukushima nuclear powerplant which generated 4.7 Gigawatts and it looks like the site is roughly a square mile.

Another way of looking at is if we filled the entire 20KM evacuation zone with windmills it won't generate as much electricity as the plant it replaced. Fortunately the US has a lot of sparsely populated areas with pretty high wind speed, so wind can be minor contributing factor. In a place like Japan it can't
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:33 PM   #56
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I know what 320 acres looks like, and just 2 or 3 towers seem awful far apart, but that's what it is.
Well, I see models of the GE 1.5 MW wind turbine with rotor diameters of 70.5 to 82.5 meters (http://www.gepower.com/prod_serv/pro...15mw/specs.htm). At 10 rotor diameters in all directions, that's an area of 825m in 4 directions, or 1650 x 1650 square meters, or about 673 acres for one large size 1.5 MW turbine.
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:29 PM   #57
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several shots in this video about the wind farms along the columbia river make it look like there are a lot more than 1 windmill per 100 or so acres, but it could be just a perception thing.

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Old 05-04-2011, 11:31 PM   #58
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The Oregon windmills are located along the Inter-tie power lines and in an area noted for sustained winds (east of the Columbia River Gorge). Not just any acreage will do.

World's Largest Wind Farm Planned In Oregon CleanTechnica: Cleantech innovation news and views

Pentagon OKs huge Oregon wind farm despite radar interference concerns | OregonLive.com

GE Energy - Image Gallery

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Old 05-05-2011, 07:49 AM   #59
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several shots in this video about the wind farms along the columbia river make it look like there are a lot more than 1 windmill per 100 or so acres, but it could be just a perception thing.
Why not look it up and tell us?

As Brat mentioned, and was listed in my quote, in some particular settings the space requirements are somewhat less. But those aren't prevelant enough for the kind of wide scale people are talking about.

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"In a line of several turbines perpendicular to the wind (as on a mountain ridge), the GE 1.5-MW model would need at least 32 acres and the Vestas V90 78 acres for each tower."
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:54 PM   #60
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I have not looked into it... but one would think that geothermal would be a viable source of energy.

Not sure if it is cost effective.

Geothermal requires appropriate geological thermal reserves and the U.S. doesn't have that many.
I did geothermal at the lake. Water comes up at a steady 47 degrees ... returned at 32 degrees in the winter (after extracting heat) ... much warmer in summer (after cooling the air for AC).

Problem has been maintenance issues. I have not seen a penny of "return" on my 24k "investment" ... heck, heating with propane would have cost me the same (or less).

Frankly, being the first on the block with this stuff is WAY over rated.

Best I can see the federal tax credits have only increased consumer costs (same system runs +30k today).

So my neighbors - across the lake - brought in a solar consultant to see if they could reduce thier $700/mo electric bill (winter ... they heat with electric). They were told because of the mountian behind them, they are gong to loose 60% of the available sunlite. This, after they clear 20-30 mature trees off the lot. "No thanks" they said.
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