Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
No, nuclear plants aren't the only ones capable of that, though the nuclear industry would like us to believe that. The ecological footprint of a plant itself may be small, but when we count the mines, the fuel factories and waste too, I don't think so. Furthermore, Europe doesn't have big uranium resources either - those have to be imported just like oil, and will face a shortage just like oil. (At least this is my opinion, I know some here at ET are of an opposed opinion.)

Well said, but can you point out a power source with such a good ratio between produced energy and space for exploitation? We need about 1000-2000 medium output windmills to produce the power of just one nuclear power plant. I suppose people won't mind having an ugly windmill in their backyard if they knew how many people die in uranium mines and that there is no glow-in-the-dark waste around their town.

Unfortunately, no. China is just trying to keep increase supply enough to keep up with rising demand for electricity, and doing so by building everything possible at breakneck speed (coal-fired power plants, giant dams, and wind power too). Unfortunately, at the same time, they facilitate a massive expansion of car traffic, which doesn't decrease their fuel dependency at all.

Why doesn't China use windmills then?

The obvious solution: erect 2000 windmills 500kW(=0.5MW) each. Or 200 windmills 5 MW each. (Actually four times that many: average power is less than maximum power.) For scale: last year, 2450 MW of new wind power was erected in the USA, and 1800 MW in Germany; at the end of the year, Germany had a total of 18,000 MW working, Spain 10,000 MW, the USA 9,150 MW, India 4,430 MW, small Denmark alone 3,130 MW (this gives 15-20% of Danish electricity). Much more wind capacity is erected each year as nuclear coming on-line, and the rate of buildup could be raised by magnitudes.

It makes no sense to compare single units. In fact, there is an advantage to have power production in smaller units: when one unit breaks down or needs repairs, there is no need for a sudden massive replacement power.

On the other hand, big power plants are a nice basis for economic and political power: large companies that want to keep control of the market, as well as corruptable politicians hoping for some funds to get back into their pockets, will prefer them.

You are right, but have in mind that some countries have a specific geography, which limits the possibility of introducing a chain of windmills in a certain region. I will refer to Bulgaria again - there is a big mountain passing through the long side of the country, basically separating the territory in two climate zones, northern and southern. Open spaces are usually privately owned agricultural lands and owners are either not interested on buying windmills or can't afford it.

However, later studies at other sites showed magnitudes lower birthkill rates. It turns out there are specific factors that enhance the danger: mountain passes (where birds fly through and fly low as they have to climb), bird migration routes, freshwater close by. Such danger zones can be (and, in form of a planning requirement, should be) identified beforehand. In EU countries with large wind power buildup, there is usually such a planning requirement, it would be good for Bulgaria to adopt one too.

You are thinking big. Bulgaria is a small country, with many natural reservations. The "Atanasovsko" lake is just 10x7km wide (approximately). The warm currents of the wind pass through that area, which is the reason why birds nest there - but also the reason why this is the perfect spot for a chain of windmills (wind all the time).

As the big rail advocate here, it falls on me to state: alternative fuels aren't enough, changing the transport system (e.g. a massive buildup of public transport/railfreight) would also be a good part of it. (In countries like Bulgaria or my home Hungary, that would mean that governments stop letting their state railways degenerate and its trains turning into unwashed foul-smelling rolling slums.)

Hungary and Bulgaria are going through a process of Americanization - where everyone needs to have a transport of his own. Why use the train system, when we can use our cars, right?

Be careful! Is it classified?

by darin (dkaloyanov[at]gmail.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 06:53:47 PM EST
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