Wind farms

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  1. #1

    Wind farms

    Prsboogie and DRJeff, I do not mean to bait anyone.Suggesting that wind farms will help with our electrical situation…. Well, onthe surface, it sounds like a good idea. IT certainly is politically correct tostand behind them, and they seem to hold promise. But is that the reality?

    I recently built my geothermal home here in Bryant Pond Maine, at the base ofspruce Mountain, where there are 10 wind turbines. I like the whole idea ofrenewable energy to put my money where I live, as it were. My carbon footprintis quite small, I am comfortable in this home, and happy with the results.

    When you put your money into your beliefs of renewable energy and clean energy,you start to get a real feel for the entire expense. Sure, it is peanuts for meto heat or cool my house, and it is so cheap that I truly cool it or heat it, Idon’t just take the curse off to get it “bearable”. For the upfront cost of thesystem, I suspect I could have installed a traditional system and paid theenergy costs for 4 decades on the difference. But I am still happy with mysystem. No I do not have a personal wind generator, or solar panels on the roofor solar water preheaters. The budget only allows so much to be done in mycase, and the geothermal ate it right up.

    Living here, and smiling every time I see those wind turbines rotating andmaking “free” energy, and pulling into my driveway, it’s a tree hugger’sparadise, really. But after someresearch, I have found that wind energy is not so cheap. If you count the costfrom the first shovel in the ground to build the facility to the final decommissioningand planting of grass, the true costs per kWhr become more apparent. I presentto you what I have learned:

    Actual costs to produce power over the lifespan of any production facility

    Hydro 3.3cents per kWhr
    Nuclear 3.5cents per kWhr
    Natural gas 3.7cents per kWhr
    Coal 4.1cents per kWhr
    Wind 4.3cents per kWhr
    Solar 7.7cents per kWhr

    There are many articles out there and you can do your own research. Wind andsolar (currently) are nowhere near the cheaper ways to produce energy. With thetax breaks available and other state and federal incentives, I am not at allcertain that the true costs of these “renewable” methods are fully calculatedyet.

    Bear in mind that I have a 57 million dollar facility out my front yard, 10wind generator capable of producing 3 megawatts each, and producing it between22 and 28% of the time (exact figures not published). None of them in Mainehave hit the advertised 30%. If they have, they’d be broadcasting that andshouting from the rooftops. And I’d be applauding with them. But for that 57million dollars, they could build a natural gas plant and fuel it for how manyyears, decommission the plant, and still save money over a wind farm.



    Just a little background of my situation before I get into the reality ofliving near a wind farm. Of course, there is the visual effect. Many do notlike looking at them. (It does not bother me at all.) Then there areallegations of bird kills due to the blades. I have not hiked up to them yet tolook on the ground for myself. I suspect if this were the case, they would havesomeone daily pick them up and dispose of them for PR reasons. I simply do notknow.

    But there is a huge negative to living near one. If you have a fan, take theblades off it and turn the motor on. You’ll find the motor is actually prettyquiet. Put the blades back on, and you’ll find there is quite a bit of noisedue to wind turbulence. Now imagine wind turbines with their, what, 80’ longblades. On a windy day, when they can make some real energy, the noise vortexbehind them is something else. It much more than the wind that is blowing. Basically,it sounds much like a train, off in the distance, as it goes by. Trains comeand go, you may here it off in the distance or ignore it for the few minutes ittake for it go by. But that same sound, going on all day and night is a wholelot different to live with.

    There are a couple reasons the wind farms are built where they are. First,obviously, is you need a somewhat reliable source of wind, so mountain tops areideal. Second, you need setbacks from residences, who have typically moved outhere in the mountains for the peace and quiet and serenity. These are truenoise makers, and trust me, you don’t want in your back yard. The wind farmstry to get 100 foot setbacks, truly not enough. Local folk try for 1-3 miles. 3miles rules out most anyplace in the state, but 1 mile just isn’t enough.

    I am fortunate in that the wind typically blows from my house to the turbines,and it is the area behind the turbines that gets the brunt of it. Some days,though, the wind blows from the turbines to my home, and let me assure you, itis not peaceful quiet tranquility.

    Now, just to rub salt in the wound a little bit, the power generated by thesewind farms is bought up by folks in Mass and Connecticut, buying their carboncredit offsets. I have to live with these noisemakers and receive none of thepower they generate??? (There is the reference of pouring your gallon of waterinto a large pool and dipping your gallon of water back out later, how do youassure yourself it is actually your water you are pulling back out?)

    There is one huge advantage of having such a facility in your town thoughroperty taxes. No matter how you slice it, you basically have a 60 milliondollar factory on the hilltop. In this small town, the addition of 60 millionproperty value is huge in tax collection. And this property comes withextremely small requirements of emergency services or schooling of children asthere is a skeleton staff at all times, it is so automated. My taxes arereduced some 25% or so, as well as additional capital improvement projectsbeing funded throughout the town as a result of the huge tax payments from thislarge facility in a small township.

    In closing this admittedly long post, there are many advantages anddisadvantages to consider in wind farms. It would be unfair to say it is allgood, and it would be unfair to say it is all bad. But it is not as inexpensiveas many would have you believe.
    Last edited by uphillklimber; Nov 20, 2015 at 9:07 AM. Reason: Poor writing
    lovin life,

    Bob

  2. #2

    An article on the subject

    YOUR GUIDE TORENEWABLE ENERGY




    WHY ALTERNATIVES ARE IMPORTANT


    Fossil-based fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) currently provide about 85% ofall the energy use both in US and worldwide. We all know that these resourcesare being constantly depleted and can't be replaced within any practical timespan. People often wonder how long exactly would they last? The remainingamount of a particular resource is often characterized by so-called Reserves-to-Productionratio (R/P). In plain language, R/P basically gives us the length of timethe reserves would last if their usage continue at the current rate. Here areestimated world total R/P ratios for the main conventional fuels: oil - 46years, natural gas - 58 years, coal - 118 years. Of course, the usage isconstantly changing and once in a while new deposits are found. That's why theabove numbers are corrected every year.
    Aside from being finite, energy production from fossil fuels results inby-products of combustion, or emissions. These emissions affect our environmentand may be causing the climate change. In contrast, renewable energy(RE) resources, as the name implies, are constantly replenished naturally andwill never be exhausted. Their use generally has a much lower environmentalimpact than that of conventional fuels. That is why the technologies thatutilize them are often called "green". In addition, RE can boost USenergy security by reducing our dependence on the imports. All these factors,coupled with the government incentives and mandates, result in growing interestin using alternative sources of energy.



    While some green technologies are large-scale, many of them are also suited toprivate homes, especially in rural areas. This website provides quick renewableenergy comparison information with emphasis on its home use and
    cost.
    THE LIST OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES


    Renewable energy is derived from various natural processes, such as the Sun'selectromagnetic radiation, tides or heat generation within the Earth. Here is alist of the main types of practically utilized alternative energy sources:


    • Sunlight: the solar photon flux can be converted to heat, electricity or chemical energy;
    • Wind: the motion of air molecules can be harvested in wind turbines that spin the shaft of electric generators or in windmills;
    • Biomass: organic materials can be used for cooking and heating, as well as to produce electricity and liquid transportation fuels;
    • Earth's internal heat: can be used for heating and electricity production;
    • Water: potential and kinetic energy of flowing water can be tapped to produce electricity or mechanical tasks.

    Note that there is somecontroversy about classification of nuclear power. Usually it is excluded fromthe list of renewables. However, it is known, for example, that rivers erodingthe Earth crust replenish Uranium dissolved in seawater. Also, nuclear fissionin so-called breeder reactors creates more fissile isotopes than it consumes.So, although technically raw nuclear fuels are finite, because of theirenormously large amount and because of the above replenishing processes, theymight be considered RE as well. After all, bio-fuels are finite too, but theyare treated as RE.
    ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES


    Not surprisingly, each method of power generation has its pros and cons. RE ofcourse is inexhaustible and environmentally friendly. It has another importantadvantage. Small individual power generators that are integrated into the gridreduce the impact of blackouts caused by a failure of centralized equipment ordistribution lines. The distributed power technologies in general improve theoverall system security.
    Notwithstanding their clear benefits, all forms of RE have their disadvantagestoo. Renewable resources are not always available where and when they areneeded. For example, hydropower resources are limited by geography and areoften located in remote areas. They require installation of expensive electriclines to the cities. Solar and wind power are intermittent by nature. Whichbrings us to another major technical issue with RE: the storage. One of theproblems of electricity is that it cannot be efficiently stored in largequantities for later use. It is unpractical for example to have a batterybackup in a gigawatt-scale power plant. Also, while RE systems generally do notproduce as much air pollution as fossil fuels, they too have a certain negativeimpact on the environment. Finally, RE is still more expensive that traditionalone. All the above factors are limiting the growth of RE. Currently, the shareof renewable energy sources in net energy production is only about 10%worldwide and 8% in the United States.

    Power Plant Type
    Cost
    $/kW-hr
    Coal
    $0.10-0.14
    Natural Gas
    $0.07-0.13
    Nuclear
    $0.10
    Wind
    $0.08-0.20
    Solar PV
    $0.13
    Solar Thermal
    $0.24
    Geothermal
    $0.05
    Biomass
    $0.10
    Hydro
    $0.08
    Adapted from US DOE2




    COST COMPARISON OF ENERGY SOURCES 2015


    While raw
    forms of energy are both free and practically infinite, theequipment and materials needed to collect, process, and transport the energy tothe users are neither one. Currently, the RE costs are generally higher thanthat of fossil-based and nuclear energy. In addition to this, unlikewell-established conventional designs, the advancement in different REtechnologies still requires substantial investments. The economists often useso-called levelized energy costs (LEC) when comparing differenttechnologies.
    The LEC represents the total cost to build and operate a new power plant overits life divided to equal annual payments and amortized over expected annualelectricity generation. It reflects all the costs including initial capital,return on investment, continuous operation, fuel, and maintenance, as well asthe time required to build a plant and its expected lifetime. This tablecompares the US average levelized electricity cost in dollars per kilowatt-hourfor both non-renewable and alternative fuels in new power plants, based on USEIA statistics and analysis from Annual Energy Outlook 2014. Note, that thenumbers for each source are given for a different capacity factor, whichcomplicates direct comparison. Notwithstanding, I believe these figures are usefulin comparing different power generation methods.

    Also note that thevalues shown in the table do not include any government or state incentives. Inother words, they represent the actual cost to the society. We can see that atpresent natural gas, geothermal and coal are the most economic fuels. However,in future the price of coal-based electricity can nearly double due togovernment imposed cost on CO2 emissions. Photovoltaic systems arestill more expensive than fossil-based ones. The values in the chart representjust the cost of electricity production- the retail prices of course are alwayshigher.

    In conclusion, it is our responsibility to advance alternative power. However,we should remember that low-cost electricity generation is crucial to theeconomy. It increases income and employment in all sectors, the purchasingpower of the consumer, and makes U.S. exports more competitive. RE certainlycan supplement conventional power, and its use will likely continue to steadilygrow. Nevertheless, realistically speaking, it can't entirely replacenon-renewable fuels anytime soon.


    References andadditional information:
    1.
    The homeowner's energy handbook: your guide to getting off the grid.
    2.
    US DOE Annual Energy Outlook 2014.
    3. Statistical review of main
    world energy sources.


    lovin life,

    Bob

  3. #3
    A European company I think Danish has proposed putting a wind farm south Martha's Vineyard farther out to sea than the failed Cape Wind project. The cost of power for these offshore turbine is quite a bit higher than on land turbines. It baffles me at times.
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  4. #4
    Uhhhhhhh...
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  5. #5
    I've never once thought that wind or solar were on par with other means of power generation both in terms of cost per kw hour to generate and also typically with the size of the footprint needed to scale these types of facilities up to anywhere near the size they'd have to be to generate what a typical oil/gas/coal fired plant generates, let alone what a nuclear plant generate.

    What gets me, bar none, is when the environmental lobby does what it can to shut down/prevent development of a coal/oil/gas powered power generation facility because of environmental concerns and then will often follow up with a NIMBY line of attack to prevent what they claim is a better power generation alternative (usually wind or solar), let alone the claims that they (the environmental lobby) often makes that wind or solar is close to as cost effective to generate or produce as oil/gas/coal. It can't be both ways with current capabilities!!

    Heck I have a microcosm of this basic scenario literally playing out right now less than a 1/2 mile from where I'm typing this at my office. A developer who is refurbishing an old textile mile wants to put in a small hydro electric power generation facility using modifications to an existing old sluiceway that is in the textile mill. People were saying that it would be a clean, efficient way to generate power (which hydro sure can be), now some of these same people who were for the hydro plant have found out that in times of lower water flow, along the damn floodgate controlled section of the river near my office, that there will be some limited times that the water flow through the new hydro plant will prevent water from flowing over the adjacent scenic water fall that is one of the most recognized landmarks in the center of the old mill town my office is located in. Suddenly there are lots of people who were for this project a week ago that are now against once the report of times with no water going over the waterfall came out this past Tuesday!!!

    There are pros and cons to pretty much everything!! Some people sure don't seem to get that!!
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  6. #6
    Thanks for sharing, admittedly this is a long post an very fact filled. I personally think everyone can do more to reduce our dependency on fossils but think we really should be using more nuclear and better burning fossil plants in addition to renewables. But there is a huge push from our government and environmentalists for wind and solar advancement at the cost of those who don't have the political voice to oppose it. Thus the term NIMBY - not in my back yard, But in the back yards of those who can't say no.
    15-16 Killington 11-17-16

  7. #7
    Just as an aside, when they built the Hydro Dam inBrunswick, Maine, we watched as they built it and learned some. After oneparticular storm, the river was raging and we figured the turbines were just aspinning. The local spokesperson showed that the turbines, were in fact goingslower. It has to do with the power generated by falling water. When the dam isoverwhelmed, the water has less to fall, as the “pond” below the dam seems torise faster and empty slower than the water coming over the dam. Granted, wewere only talking very minor amounts, so we didn’t lose all power generation,but it was a minor loss, as opposed to a major gain.

    lovin life,

    Bob

  8. #8
    PRSBoogie, much like on a personal level, when we go from incandescentlights to CFL’s to LED’s, I could not afford to just trash the perfectly goodbulbs and buy all the new style all at once. I used up the old and transitionedto the new over time as my budget would allow. (Getting rid of incandescentswas a huge money saver on the energy bill, eh?) Price of the new bulbs comesdown with mass production, of course, finally making it a no brainer.

    I feel the same way with renewable. It is incredibly expensive, now and it maybe some time before it gets truly affordable. (or not). Passing legislationrequiring their use will not keep pricing down, it will assure the industrythat they will sell some and will price accordingly, knowing it will sell atwhatever price point.


    lovin life,

    Bob

  9. #9
    Funky_Catskills's Avatar
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    I wonder if wind farms are going to create genetically modified wind..?

    Im against that shti...

  10. #10
    Uphillklmber, as a self described tree hugger I greatly commend you on that post.

    I am one of the people who is typicaly acused of wanting to "destroy the planet" and such by enviromentalists for being against most forms of "green" energy. But the truth is that I and most people who are against "green energy" are all for true green energy. The problem is basically exactly what you posted. "Green energy" is not that green.
    -Huge pieces of land must be cleared to install the systems.
    -They do not produce as much power as other options.
    -They are not as dependable as other options.
    -They do not last as long as other options.

    I have spoken to many people who have installed solar systemsnon their homes. None of them would have done it with out tax credits from the government to help cover the cost. What does that tell you about the true efficiency of it? Its just not worth it, unless you can get others to pay for it.

    I am all for making the world a better and cleaner place for me, and future generations. I just want it to be truly better, not just "warm and fuzzy fealings" better because we can say we put up a windmill, but that turned out to just cost a ton of $ and not really do anything....
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