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The future of power generation

by Jerome a Paris Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 07:27:21 PM EST

Some numbers below the fold.

Update [2005-7-11 12:31:16 by Jerome a Paris]: See this dKos diary debunking the damage to birds from wind turbines.


Here's an interesting graph from the Economist:

This comes from an article about the revival of nuclear power (possibly behind a subscription wall), a topic on which the Economist is fairly neutral as France's EDF, one of their favorite targets, is the undisputed leader of the sector.

This graph shows that wind and nuclear have a similar long term cost of production, close to the current cost of hydrocarbon (coal or gas)-fuelled power plants.

But the more interesting thing is that both are set to benefit from this:

From another article in the Economist, which includes this amazing tidbit:

The cost of the allowances to produce one kilowatt-hour of coal-fired power is now greater than the cost of the coal itself, reckons Louis Redshaw of Barclays Capital.
If you look at the first graph, that means that carbon trading, as imposed in Europe, increases the cost of carbon-fuelled power by 30% or so, and makes it more expensive than both wind and nuclear.

Carbon trading is based on the fact that carbon polluters, like power producers and a number of industrial companies, have been allocated quotas of carbon emissions (which go down with time), and they have to purchase such "rights to pollute" (or pay penalties) if they pollute more than their quota. Conversely, they are allowed to sell their quotas if they pollute less. This is meant to reflect the cost to society of their carbon emissions, and it provides a market-based mechanism to encourage them to pollute less. It works on both counts. My conclusion:

With carbon trading, wind does not need subsidies to be really competitive. It's a totally home-grown power source, it's job- and technology-rich, it creates activity (including tourism) in isolated areas. It's spectacular.

Display:
Until you Frenchman get your wonderful fusion reactor online.  You guys won the right to put the thing in your backyard, now make it work.

Do you know if that fusion reactor will look into heium-3 and deterium fusion.  It supposedly has great energy potential and creates no radiation, the only problem beeing if we don't want to get our helium-3 from disabled nukes, we'll have to ge tit from space.

Jerome, here's a book recommendation for you: Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets  by John S. Lewis.  It's one of my favorite non-fiction books.  Honestly we could use to revise some of the treaties that govern property (or guaranteed lack of) in space.  And we ought to subsidize commercial exploitation of space too..

Gee, I'm rather stream of consciousness today....

Disclaimer: Despite my user name, I'm not French. I just love French culture and am a former Chem major.

by Lavoisier1794 on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 07:39:48 PM EST
Thanks for the tip. I'll have a look when I can create the time!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 08:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure if I *want* fusion power to work. We are wasteful enough as it it, given a virtually inexhaustible energy source I'm afraid of what we would do with it. I amagine that Global warming would continue due to ambient heating due to wasted power, and also there would be even more poor quality, disposable mass produced goods...

At least I hope that the massive capital costs of fusion will mean that it will be expensive (and therefore valued more), at least for the first few generations of plants...

by Mike A on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 05:54:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm.

The input of energy by the Sun into the Earth's troposphere runs at about (1367 W/m^2) x Pi x (6,380,000 m)^2 = 174,807,372,360,000,000 W ~= 175,000,000 GW. In equilibrum, energy is reflected by clouds and surface or radiated off into space at the same rate.

Yearly total energy consumption is now about 450 exajoules (10^18 Joules) per year. Translated into watts (i.e. divided by the number of seconds a year), this is on average an energy consumption (and, in the end effect, heat input into the climate) at a rate of 5,700,000,000,000 Watts, or 5,700 GW.

So even if there is an increase by one or even two orders of magnitude, I don't see a significant global warming effect. Local warming is another thing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 07:56:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have any idea why carbon prices have risen so quickly?

Cap and trade systems are also used in the USA for some other pollutants, but not for carbon.

by corncam on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 10:32:10 PM EST
IIRC, the New England states have implemented their own carbon-trading regime amongst themselves - which is a neat way of undermining the federal climate change deniers.

Even Bush's own country works around him...

by IdiotSavant on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 11:44:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Mining the Sky"?

You figure out how, in a carbon-poor future, we manage the enormous energy expenditure to get vehicles up there and payloads safely down (for a positive net energy return), and I'll be impressed.  I've never seen those numbers made convincing yet.  Space is a very, very expensive place to go for raw materials.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 10:38:59 PM EST
While we're talking about wind power, I saw an article on No Right Turn that New Zealand has several hundred MW of wind power in the permitting process.  That's not a lot by world standards, but for a small country it can make a big difference.  They were slow to adopt wind, but they are catching up fast because their largest natural gas field is smaller than expected, and may run out of gas by 2007.
by corncam on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 10:45:28 PM EST
It's better than that - we have around 600MW currently in the consents process at the moment, and there are solid plans for an additional 400 MW around Wellington. That sets us on the path to have a GW of wind energy in just a few years - against a total installed capacity of around 8500 MW at the moment.  Ultimately, we think we can generate between 20 and 30% of our electricity from wind, which combined with 60% hydro and 5% Geothermal, is going to make us one of the greenest countries in the world energy-wise.

While the government subsidised early development with carbon credits, and is about to impose a carbon tax on gas and coal, the real driving force is lack of gas.  As you point out above, New Zealand's gas supply is tenuous; a stupid decision 30 years ago has meant we've burned our major supply too quickly (or rather, exported it as fertiliser), and the cheap prices have discouraged further exploration.  But there's also the fact that in NZ, capacity factors are high.  I've been told that European wind farms generate around 25% of their maximum capacity.  The ones I can see from my letterbox generate at around 48% (and due to crap storage and fluctuating demand, our hydro dams do a shockingly low 56%). This makes wind extremely competitive. It also has wide public support, meaning it is easier to get through the consents process.  However, as gas supplies have grown short, exploration has picked up, and a significant discovery may change the equation again (though more likely it will simply mean our gas generators get to stay in business, without having to import LNG).

Because of this, wind generation grew by 365% last year.  It probably won't do the same this year, but it will at least double.  And it looks set to do so for a few years to come.

Idiot/Savant
No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog

by IdiotSavant on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 11:39:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been told that European wind farms generate around 25% of their maximum capacity.  The ones I can see from my letterbox generate at around 48%

48%!!! That's more than what is expected at far-from-shore offshore parks in Germany! Is that not just a seasonal maximum?

Anyway, even with 25% for wind and assuming 100% for the 2500 MW of conventional plants to be replaced by wind, you'd need 10 GW - which is entirely realistic even within the timeframe of the first period of Kyoto (until 2012). Spain is already close to 10 GW, Germany is edging closer to the double of that.

(and due to crap storage and fluctuating demand, our hydro dams do a shockingly low 56%).

Actually, hydro dams whose output can be varied are the perfect regulating counterpart for weather-dependent wind power.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:53:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have strong, consistent winds down here - though it seems I was off by a few percent.  New Zealand's main wiond farms, in the Tararuas, average 45% (from an offline Dominion-Post article I cite here, and the website of NZ's largest windfarm here); the oldest farm, in the Wairarapa, averages 43% (ref), while the large facility planned for Wellington is expected to average 47% (ref).  I don't have any estimates for other planned sites, unfortunately, but most are physically close to these, FWIW.

In terms of Kyoto, we have a rather unique problem there: too many cows. And we already generate close to 70% of our power from renewable sources (mostly hydro, with a dash of geothermal), so there's not much scope for emission reductions through replacing generation capacity.  Instead, we have to focus on transport and agricultural emissions - both of which are more difficult to solve.

Given our large amount of hydro, there's obviously a lot of potential for synergy with wind.  And strangely, it seems to be the companies who own dams who are building wind turbines...

Idiot/Savant
No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog

by IdiotSavant on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 11:26:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, even 43% is a dream number here! The token number for far-from-shore off-shore farms is 40%, a number which to my knowledge none of the as yet built near-shore parks approached.

Regarding Kyoto and NZ transport, I heard ocassionally of  the continuing voes of Tranzrail and its reincarnations, maybe some government programme here would make sense.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in Denmark are above 45%, IIRC.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I looked up - Horn Rev, the best, was slated to deliver 0.6 TWh per year with 160 MW, that would have been 42.8%. However, calculating from this gigantic Excel table, I see it didn't yet realise that: 0.46 TWh in 2003 (i.e. 32.8%) and 0.367 TWh in 2004 (i.e. 26.2%). Tough, bad wind years and the replacement of faulty generators might have played a role - this year, it already produced 0.291 TWh in the first five months.

(both images: Horns Rev offshore park, Denmark)



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 05:03:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I now had time to calculate the capacity factor for other Danish off-shore farms as well (based on the same Excel table) - it seems I shouldn't have focused on the big ones!

While Nysted, the other large farm (72 turbines, 165.6 MW) achieved 39.7%, the small Samsø park (10 turbines, 23 MW) managed 40.2%, and the even smaller Thyborøn-Harboøre park (8 turbines, 18.4 MW) holds the record with 42.76%. (Older off-shore parks are all much lower.) As all of them were finished in 2003, all the above records were achieved in their first and so far only full year, 2004 - which was a rather weak year, so I'd expect new records this year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 06:21:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the data. Actually useful for my job!

The Horns Rev windfarm has been beset by a number of problems and Vestas indeed ended up changing the whole gearboxes for the full wind farm. It cost them in the order of 40m$ (some ot if was paid by ABB, which provided some flawed subsystem).

They've had much better number since the changes, but I'm not sure it's been a full year yet.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 06:02:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NZ has really good wind, indeed. I have seen the website for the big wind farm, it's pretty impressive. It is quasi marine conditions.

Just a correction - the total worldwide installed capacity at the end of 2004 was 48,000 MW

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 11:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Wind energy is real, it's no longer a dream," said Bob Thresher, director of the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at NREL. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), businesses around the world invested $9 billion in wind energy technologies in 2003. Explaining why wind energy is growing faster than other electricity sources, Thresher said, "With the current fuel prices, wind is the most cost-effective energy source out there, and it's a clean, domestic, renewable resource that can wean the United States from its dependence on foreign fuel sources. There's enough wind energy resources on- and offshore to more than meet the electrical energy needs of the country."
http://www.nrel.gov/features/

"Colorado's renewable portfolio standard is helping to drive new and substantial developments of renewable energy projects. This week, a company named Greenlight Energy received approval from the Washington County Commission to develop a large-scale wind farm near the town of Akron that could provide enough clean energy to meet the annual needs of up to 90,000 homes."
http://renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=34089

"The area near Thuringer and Franconia, about half way between Berlin and Munich, has escaped progress for the 45 of the last 60 years because it was a Communist country until 1989, and thus the towns are much more picturesque, quaint and old German than the rest. This nation has committed itself at great cost towards preserving its historic sites, and Germany is as homogeneous as any country on earth... But unlike Cape Cod, where our political leaders are attempting to block a wind farm in front of "landmarks" like Nobska Lighthouse and the Kennedy Compound, Germany installs their wind farms wherever the winds blows, even when it blows in front of that nation's equivalent to the Statue of Liberty."
http://www.capecodtoday.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=0181

"June 23, 2005. Wind power subsidy survives. The U.S. Senate last night soundly rejected a measure intended to curtail the development of wind farms in scenic and coastal areas such as Cape Cod... Massachusetts Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry joined nearly all the Senate's Democratic members in voting against the measure... Neither Kennedy nor Kerry participated in the debate prior to last night's vote...  In the past, Kennedy has stated his opposition to Cape Wind. Kerry's vote is the closest the senator has come to date in stating where he stands on Cape Wind. In the 3½ years since it was first proposed, he has repeatedly declined to say whether he favors the offshore project."
http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/windpower23.htm

by asdf on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 11:01:08 PM EST
BTW, you asked me in another thread for more about US wind power potential. Here are some links.

The AWEA website's FAQ has a table on wind potential in the windier US states. For reference, the US electricity production (which due to losses is usually higher than consumption unless there is significant net import) is 4,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year, and generating capacity gets close to 1,000 GW - so there you already see a potential exceeding demand.

However, this table, like the entire FAQ, is a bit outdated (the table is 1991 data). For an up-to-date estimate, I'll do some calculation. I start from this Stanford study, which looked for wind potential at higher altitudes than earlier studies, in line with the increase of wind turbine tower height since. They found "that U.S. windpower at 80 m may be substantially greater than previously estimated. It was found that 21% of all stations (and 39% of all coastal/offshore stations) are characterized by mean annual speeds >=6.9 m/s at 80 m, implying that the winds over possibly one fifth of the U.S. are strong enough to provide electric power at a direct cost equal to that of a new natural gas or coal power plant."

That's about 2 million square kilometres. Now, assuming 2 MW turbines which are placed at a typical density of 3.5/km^2, and which all produce only 4.4 million kWh at a 25% average power, the full potential would be 30.8 TWh per year, and 14,000 GW. That is, an eighth of the one fifth of the US land sureface suitable for wind power development (or less than 3% of all) would be enough - and that can be done easily even if inhabited areas, natural reserves, bird-nesting areas and bird migration routes are avoided.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 06:02:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
*!%@&#!!!

Of course, I meant to say, the full potential would be  30,800 TWh per year, and that with a maximum generating capacity of 14,000 GW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 06:05:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some more precise numbers for US production: in 2003, 3,848 Twh was produced, import from Mexico was insignificant, even import from Canada was just 30 TWh; capacity in 2002 was 905 GW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 06:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also need to factor in distribution loss if the wind farms are away from populated areas...it's a long way from North Dakota to NYC!

But it does look pretty good. And taller towers would even be better, I suppose. Now all we need to do is figure out how to get our "most liberal senators in the country" to support it!  :-)

by asdf on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 09:39:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, North Dakota can serve Milwaukee/St. Paul, Chicago and Detroit. There is a windy seashore to serve New York. (BTW, both nearshore and offshore plants have higher average power output than in my conservative calculation.)

However, you still have a point, I submit transmission losses (and costs) would probably rise. But the issue is uneven production, which is worth a separate treatment.

The first point about uneven production should be that it is not a problem for today. Due to the small size of an individual plant, short-term fluctuations are levelled with multiple parks on the local grid, while for slower changes due to weather, there is plenty of spare capacity to compensate - the reserve capacity already kept for peak hours or to jump in for a major, say a nuclear power plant that malfunctions().

But should wind achieve a larger segment of the electricity production, something more is needed. One possibility is to organise the power system on very large scales, so that entire weather zones (say from front to front) are covered, and it is always possible for electricity from wind parks that happen to have strong winds to be transferred to areas with low winds.

Another possibility is energy storage. The most obvious way (and one applied on a smaller scale by Denmark in cooperation with Sweden and Norway) is to use hydroelectric power passively - i.e., regulate power (and thus water) output in opposition to wind power and in line with demand. There is also pumped storage: excess electricity from wind power used to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher one, and let it back through turbines when wind is low. There are experiments with another kind of pumped storage: air into disused mines. Maybe others read of further technologies and can supplement.

Finally, since we are speaking about something whose need arises over decades, there is the possibility of combination with photovoltaics. The typical daily output curves of wind power and PV can be combined to roughly match the double-peaked curve of human consumption, and there is also a rough compensation for weather dependencies. So if non-crystalline, non-rare-metals PV cells (especially film cells that can be applied to a great variety of surfaces and can have different colours to solve problems of aesthetics) can be made cheaper (something researchers promise), the age of truly decentralised energy production could come.

() OK, recent events suggest that in some US regions or Italy, this may not be the case - but then, this is a problem to be solved anyway.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 10:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two things to consider about hydraulic pumped storage:

- High fatality rate associated with dam failures. Hydro power rates poorly by this metric.
http://www.uic.com.au/ne6.htm

- Environmentalist non-acceptance. The dam at Lake Pedder in Tasmania was what triggered the birth of the Green Party. Hydro-electric power requires dams on beautiful undeveloped wilderness, but pumped storage is worse because it uses dams on lakes that don't even have stable beaches.

by asdf on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 02:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for the bold, but I still don't get what the software interpretes as a HTML tag...

BTW, the picture Jérôme has chosen shows the ex NEG-Micon, now Vestas NM-110, a 4.2MW, 110 m rotor diameter, 100 m hub height prototype for off-shore turbines, erected at the Risø test field in Denmark. (One German series unit and two prototypes are larger than that, and Vestas's series model - the V-120 - will also be larger.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 10:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't forget the Multibrid M5000!

http://www.multibrid.com/english/index.html

by Greco on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 07:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's one of the mentioned two German prototypes that are larger.

The other is REpower's REpower 5M, another 5 MW unit but with more traditional technology.

The one giant in series production I mentioned (five in service, three in construction) is Enercon's E-112, a 4.5 MW critter. Enercon is the leading German manufacturer, they pioneered gearless turbines - which are more silent -, and were the first to aim towards 5 MW. However, on the low side, their unit has the largest head weight [weight of generator & its house, nacelle, and blades] among these giants - just compare the image below to Jérôme's NM-110 image.

One nearshore and two on-shore E-112s in construction (the latter two are the closest in the wind park in background, the one to the right without head yet)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 08:58:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does anyone know of Enercon's entry into the North American market? I've seen that they have started a couple of small projects in Canada and that they have come to some sort of agreement with GE in regards to the variable speed patent issue but no details.
by jam on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 09:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, that nice old case of industrial espionage... the parties agreed one year ago to drop all charges and to both continue to develop the technology. Apparently, GE feared patent rights won't be enough if its predecessor's dirty laundry is presented to court. (Yes, I'm speaking of yet another nastiness by Enron: they patented secrets stolen by three agents who broke into an Enercon turbine in 1994 - and at the time, Clinton's Department of Commerce played along with them.)

However, there are currently no Enercon turbines working or being built in the USA. Either that was an inofficial part of the agreement, or local connections have their effect. Even in Canada, they sold just a single turbine.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 04:48:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two colleagues of mine went to visit Enercon and got to climb inside that prototype. They tell me it's pretty impressive, and I'm sorry I missed it...

Enercon has a very different technology from other manufacturers, and they do everytyhing in house. It's generally considered to be a highly reliable technology, but hte company will face the same problem as Vestas, i.e. they are seen as too small to provide the necessary financial guarantees (to back up their technical performance commitments over a number of years) for the increasingly big projects that are being developed, and it is not clear ho long they will manage to remain independent.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 06:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know a couple people on the cape.  Their environmentalist credentials are not in doubt, and they are opposed to the wind farm on the cape for a list of reasons.

  1.  It is using public money and public land for the enrichment of the private corporation building the wind turbines.

  2.  The company never consulted with any of the locals (towns, etc) in asking for input on the wind farms.

  3.  The company would use out-of-area people to build and maintain the turbines, instead of local people (unemployment is relatively high on the cape).  The turbines wouldn't bring very much money to the cape either.

  4.  The placement of the turbines will harm local fisheries.  The wind company has refused to place the wind turbines further off shore where they would not interfere with fish due to the higher cost, despite public financing.

  5.  Apparantly the turbines will need a several thousand gallon petroleum tank, which, if it spilled, would be an ecological disaster.

I don't consider myself well-enough informed on this particular wind farm; this is what my two friends have said.  They are strongly for wind-farms in general and also acknowledge that they're in the minority in opposing the turbines.

I read 'dinosaur blogs'.
by a517dogg (adrian [dot] r [dot] martin [at] gmail [dot] com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 02:27:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to live on Cape Cod, and understand these arguments. But they basically boil down to Not In My Backyard.

  • Electric power generation in Massachusetts is all done by private companies; why should this be any different?
  • Sure they did.
  • It is true that the very powerful Massachusetts labor lobby likes to try to get all projects to use a local unionized workforce. This is an ongoing issue in Mass in general and not specifically related to wind power.
  • The fish don't care about the turbine foundations.
  • I don't know anything about the turbines needing fuel oil, but every single boat out there has an oil tank and they spill stuff all the time. I would think it pretty easy, in comparison, to put a double-walled oil tank on a fixed platform...

All you really need to know is that the REALLY rich folks live on Nantucket (or, actually, have "cottages" there), and the view of the towers from Nantucket is not too bad. So they'll support it, from their winter houses in L.A. and NYC.   ;-)
http://www.capewind.org/index.php
by asdf on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 02:43:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf addressed all points, I just add that off-shore wind farms built in Europe actually led to an increase in fish stocks - presumably, due to new habitat on the foundations, and less harrassment from boats.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember reading a debate on dailykos a while back regarding the potential threat to migrating birds from wind turbines. (Regardless that orders of magnitute more birds are killed by impacts with glass windows, perhaps as many as a billion bird deaths per year. I remember that it was the old style, small diamter and fast rotating turbines which were potentially deadly, with birds being able to evade todays modern massive turbines with ease. Well recently (18 June 2005) New Scientist covered a paper in Biology Letters with some proof:

MIGRATING birds seldom dice with death among the spinning blades of wind turbines. Instead, they give them a wide berth, according to a study of a Danish offshore wind farm.

To see whether the 13,000 offshore turbines planned for European waters would be a hazard to migrating birds, Mark Desholm and Johnny Kahlert of the National Environmental Research Institute in Rĝnde, Denmark, used radar to track flocks of geese and eider ducks around the Nysted wind farm in the Baltic Sea. The farm's 72 turbines are laid out in rows with their blades 480 metres apart.

Desholm and Kahlert found that the birds flew almost exclusively down the corridors between the turbines, with less than 1 per cent getting close enough to risk collision. The birds gave the turbines an even wider berth at night, sticking more closely to the middle of the corridors. Many also avoided the wind farm altogether. The researchers found that while 40 per cent of flocks in the survey area crossed the wind farm site before construction started, only 9 per cent ventured among the turbines once they were operating (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0336).

by Mike A on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 05:42:09 AM EST

Source: Erickson, et.al, 2002. Summary of Anthropogenic Causes of Bird Mortality. A study done in the US; at the time, there was 4.5 GW installed, and a few eighties parks, especially Altamont Pass, were responsible for most birdkills. So even if wind is developed in the extent I calculated in reply to asdf (i.e. a 400-fold increase on 2002), birdkills will stay below that of any other significant causes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 07:25:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a link for this? Thanks.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 11:19:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
found it

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 11:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is really interesting stuff! I'd like to get more active on it in Finland if someone could point me to more background.

I know that there are windfarms up in Lapland eg. One of the problems has been icing on the blades in winter - increasing weight and turbulence. But they have found a solution with teflon coating.

Another technology is ground heat pumps. There are lots of areas of geographical strata around the Baltic that make this practical. It's not deep down and can be done on a house by house basis. The 4-6 C you get from it doesn't seem much, but when it's -30 C outside, a 'basic' threshold heat means your full heating doesn't have so much work to do to keep at liveable temperatures.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 10:42:56 AM EST
There is a wind park high in the Austrian Alps, and some in more northern regions of Canada, both with special systems from the onset - so I guess icing is now suitably under control.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 10:59:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wind does not really have much growth potential in Finland. The wind studies show very low potential except in selected (and now built-up) coastal areas and top of hand. However, I think that off-shore has plenty of potential (off-shore was not realistic possibility when the study was made) that should be studied again for possible opportunities.

The heat pump technology offers huge potential for housing at cold winter time. It is being rapidly taken into service in Sweden at at least.

by Nikita on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 01:28:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this. I have to look into any offshore projects.

I was visiting Iceland, doing an article on the experimental hydrogen station for fuel cell buses in Reykavik, where I was shown maps of the ground heating potential in Nordic area. I haven't seen much attention paid to it in Finnish MSM.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 03:02:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be interesting to see whether wind turbines would work in the third world. What about China, India Southeast Aisa, and Africa?
by asdf on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 02:04:30 PM EST
Of course wind turbines would work there. The problem is how to pay for their construction. This is an equipement that costs a lot to build and then very little to operate, so you need all the money upfront, and you get repaid over a very long period of time. So the problem is the uncertainty over your ability to get repaid, especially as your revenue will come from selling electricity, whose price is heavily regulated everywhere in the world.

So, who will trust the electricity regulated from country X or Y for the 15 years typically needed to repay the investment?

On the other hand, offering to build wind turbines in poor countries would be a smart form of aid - with just a little bit of training to do the necessary maintenance, it would provide something valuable to the locals for many years.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, India is one of the wind superpowers. With 3595 MW installed (more than nukes, even if only at maximum power), it is now fourth behind Germany, Spain and the USA (and just ahead Denmark). Suzlon is one of the major producers (tough mostly for the domestic market).

China may be world leader in grid-independent wind power, with lots of mini-turbines in Inner Mongolia. It catched on to the global trend of large grid-connected parks only recently, but is moderately ambitious: China had 764 MW at the end of 2004, and plans at least 3500 MW more by 2010. And, reflecting complaints in other high-tech sectors, Chinese producers are already copying Western technology :-) (Unfortunately, this is nothing compared to what the Party concrete heads plan in new coal-fired power plants.)

In Southeast Asia and Africa, I only know of Western-financed projects. The largest is in Egypt, where a total of 146 MW is on the grid.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 04:33:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.
Dutch energy policy is directed at 17 percent of electricity demand being covered by renewable energy sources by 2020.

Martin Junginger has demonstrated that this can be achieved at considerably lower costs than is the case now. He also found that it might be more financially advantageous to realise part of the objective outside of the Netherlands because, for example, more space is available there for wind turbines or because more biomass is available there.

Recently, Dutch government has decided to build a large wind farm off the coast by Egmond aan Zee N-H. It will be a mega park, I did not find a link yet. It will be 10 km out in the North Sea, not to be visible from the Dutch beaches!

Thirty-six wind turbines with an overall capacity of 108 Megawatts will be constructed 10 km off the coast of Egmond aan Zee (the Netherlands). On a yearly basis, the wind turbines will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000 Dutch households. From the end of 2006, the wind farm will start generating sustainable energy, which Nuon will supply to the Dutch market. The project involves an investment in excess of €200 million.


Shell Wyoming

Wind Farm Zeeland Kreekrak


USA WELCOME: Make Yourself Known @BooMan Tribune and add some cheers!
by Oui on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 02:19:44 PM EST
There is an article on new windpower technologies in this month's IEEE Spectrum (July 2005).  It is primarily focused on GE, but there is some commentary about the industry as a whole, as well as other technologies like photovoltaics and fuel cells.  Unfortunately, it looks like the article isn't on their web site yet.
by corncam on Mon Jul 11th, 2005 at 09:10:08 PM EST


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