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Wind Could Provide 100% of World Energy Needs

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the lotta-towers dept.

Power 867

Damien1972 sends in a report on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which finds that wind power could provide for the entire world's current and future energy needs. "To estimate the earth's capacity for wind power, the researchers first sectioned the globe into areas of approximately 3,300 square kilometers (2,050 square miles) and surveyed local wind speeds every six hours. They imagined 2.5 megawatt turbines crisscrossing the terrestrial globe, excluding 'areas classified as forested, areas occupied by permanent snow or ice, areas covered by water, and areas identified as either developed or urban,' according to the paper. They also included the possibility of 3.6 megawatt offshore wind turbines, but restricted them to 50 nautical miles off the coast and to oceans depths less than 200 meters. Using [these] criteria the researchers found that wind energy could not only supply all of the world's energy requirements, but it could provide over forty times the world's current electrical consumption and over five times the global use of total energy needs."

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867 comments

Impact on birds... (1, Insightful)

Ann O'Nymous-Coward (460094) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431021)

...would be bloody terminal.

Re:Impact on birds... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431129)

Paint them black and cover them with photovoltaic cells.
What's that? Birds going 20-30mph should know how to differentiate between a white-painted wind turbine and the nearby decidedly white-looking clouds?

Re:Impact on birds... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431165)

And... How much energy will it take to create these wind turbines? To erect them? Maintain them? Ditto for the network connecting them to the people who want to use the electricity. How do they expect the worlds energy demand to increase with increased access to energy? What type of environmental impact would this network have? Would it have a local/global impact on weather patterns? These results definitely sound interesting enough to warrant looking into these questions.

Re:Impact on birds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431277)

The impact on birds is far from the most important problem with this idea. They are cost and acreage use. The cost of such a program would be prohibitive -there are many reasons why wind power was eclipsed first by water power and then by coal and then all the other fuels. Wind power simply isn't condensed enough except in the few places where the wind and weather would destroy the tower. These restrictions are what holds wind to a purely supplemental source, not total energy available. Frankly, if it was cheap and took little land, the loss of birds would be far less than those killed by other power plants.

Re:Impact on birds... (5, Informative)

jfdawes (254678) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431453)

Some wind turbine designs are far more bird friendly than others. The standard "propeller" based designs tend to be pretty bad. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (Pac Wind [pacwind.com] and Helix Wind [helixwind.com] ) can be much more bird/bat friendly.

Actually its nastier to bats (3, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431457)

there have been numerous stories stating putting the things near where bats dwell in numbers turns it into a massacre.

Regardless where they are put someone will bitch.

Let alone, if we have nearly unlimited electricity what will we do with the heat?

Re:Actually its nastier to bats (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431791)

if we have nearly unlimited electricity what will we do with the heat?

Crank up the air-con. Uses up some of the spare electricity AND cools things down. Problem solved.

Re:Actually its nastier to bats (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431871)

That's easy, we'll put the energy back where it came from. However, we're going to need a LOT of fans for it to work.

What about friction? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431075)

It'd seem having massive wind turbines would slow down the movement of air, which might lead to scenarios where the current global warming scare would be merely a trifle.

Re:What about friction? (5, Funny)

_ivy_ivy_ (1081273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431445)

It'd seem having massive wind turbines would slow down the movement of air, which might lead to scenarios where the current global warming scare would be merely a trifle.

Not if you fit the turbines within the Senate's chambers...

Re:What about friction? (5, Funny)

iCodemonkey (1480555) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431653)

Not if you fit the turbines within the Senate's chambers...

damn that's a lot of hot air right there.

Re:What about friction? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431819)

Without friction, life itself would not be possible.

Well, begetting future generations would certainly be much less fun at any rate.

BEANS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431079)

So if everybody ate more beans, the resulting rushing of air would thusly increase the dynamic output by a factor of 2.2.

well if that doesn't just .... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431091)

...blow me down...

Except (4, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431093)

Now people are whining [www.ctv.ca] about the noise and environmental impact.

overstated or misunderstood wind turbine problems (5, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431405)

Most people whining about noise and environmental impact are talking about older designs, or do not realize there is a net improvement in environmental impact over the alternatives. The alternative to green power is not 'no power', but is dirty power. The NIMBY crowd would be more than happy to Luddite civilization into the stone age, and then complain about the lack of affordable power. Californians are the worst at this -- in the US, anyway.

Newer wind turbines have the blades further away from the supporting tower, which reduces the noise considerably. The bird and bat deaths can be substantially mitigated by making sure your turbines are out of known migration paths, and by making the blades rotate slower. The number of bird & bat deaths that would result from a polluted environment by non-green power is a much more serious problem. Proper wind turbine technology & placement is a FAR lesser evil here, IMO.

This report is ... interesting. Placing that many turbines in very remote areas is going to be ridiculously expensive to run transmission lines to, and deal with the effects of intermittent addition of energy to the grid. An electrical grid is a temperamental mistress at the best of times. The technology CAN be had, but it's not as simple as just hooking up a turbine to a grid without some real smarts in between. Also, having trained people available to do regular maintenance on such extremely remote sites (and getting replacement parts there) is not gonna be cheap.

Still, better that that an unlivable planet. But we need to take a serious look at MODERN nuclear power, especially with re-using the waste, gas-cooled pebble bed designs, Thorium designs, etc. Trying to make ONE solution fix the problem is completely idiotic.

Re:overstated or misunderstood wind turbine proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431769)

Environmental impact? You mean like climate change [ucalgary.ca] ?

Hint: when you change the energy in a complex system, you change the system.

Re:Except (5, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431479)

Helen Fraser and her husband lived just over 400 metres from a turbine. She says the sound and strobing effect caused her to develop headaches and body aches, and her caused her husband's diabetes to get worse.

Somehow I'm having a hard time imagining how diabetes is influenced by a big windmill. I suppose she could be ranting and raving about the turbine so much that her husband's stress levels affected his diabetes.

Re:Except (0, Offtopic)

James_Duncan8181 (588316) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431685)

Somehow I'm having a hard time imagining how diabetes is influenced by a big windmill.

<PETER GRIFFIN>
Because it's freaking sweet?
</PETER GRIFFIN>

Re:Except (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431869)

Actually, you'd be surprised, inflammation and poor sleep are linked to all kinds of different diseases. Admittedly the degree of actual support in the documentation varies widely depending upon the specifics, but I definitely wouldn't rule out her claims on a brief look.

Re:Except (3, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431567)

Now people are whining [www.ctv.ca] about the noise and environmental impact.

People are generally ignorant, foolish, and short sighted when dealing with things outside their realm of knowledge.

Re:Except (2)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431775)

I'd assume that those complaining about the noise live near the towers, thus making it well within their relm of knowledge. As a result I'm having a hard time seeing how your post is relevant.

(I do agree that people are as you say, I just don't see how that's relevant in this case.)

Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Needs (4, Informative)

Vuojo (1547799) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431099)

It just couldn't simply because there isn't wind all the time and we don't have any realistic way to store energy for calm days. Wind could be useful as a part of the energy production but with current technology there is no way wind could be used as the only energy source.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431215)

It just couldn't simply because there isn't wind all the time and we don't have any realistic way to store energy for calm days. Wind could be useful as a part of the energy production but with current technology there is no way wind could be used as the only energy source.

Personally I use copper wire to move electrons from place to place. My state runs partly on hydro electricity from Tasmania, 200km to the south across a substantial body of water. Apparently the submarine cable which does the job only carries electrons in one direction. The return path is through the water, which comes built in with charge carriers.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431319)

This would be a massive danger. You are likely mistaken as that would mean a huge current traveling through that water.

This is the very reason for GFI plus on fridges so that you don't get a return current through the ground or water

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431503)

Single Wire Earth Return is a standard way to distribute electrical power to remote places in my country. The current density in the return path is very low because the medium which carries it has a high cross sectional area.

Lets say the cable going one way carries 1000 Amp with a cross section of 0.1 square metres. If the return path uses 100 square metres the current density would be 1000th of that in the cable.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431831)

Lets say the cable going one way carries 1000 Amp with a cross section of 0.1 square metres. If the return path uses 100 square metres the current density would be 1000th of that in the cable.

That would make a current density of 10 amps/meter^2. It only takes 20ma to kill you.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (2, Informative)

BlaKmaJiK_ (101711) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431525)

Actually this is not uncommon. It is called Single Wire Earth Return [wikipedia.org] . It is often used in rural areas to save cost due to the long cable distance.

I didn't know that it was used for HVDC submarine cables, but it seems like it is in use in Germany and Tasmania (Basslink), as the GP stated.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431587)

Oblivious Poster Is Oblivious.

Perhaps the GP should have included this: [!] [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (3, Informative)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431705)

That's an interesting position, because apparently Tasmania is a net importer of power across the Basslink cable - so you aren't actually 'partially fueled by hydro power' so much as 'distributing fossil power to a state that doesn't have the hydro resources to fuel itself'.

http://www.basslink.com.au/ [basslink.com.au] cites: In its first year of operation Basslink supplied 1920GWh to Tasmania and 450GWh to the National Electricity Market.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431279)

um yes it COULD, RTFA

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (5, Interesting)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431351)

The answer to this is fuel cell plants powered by hydrogen derived from electrolysis. Supplemented by nuclear baseload power if desired. There have been some good advances in cheaper electrolysis latley.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431365)

disclaimer: I didn't really read anything.

I really doubt your claim that wind could not provide 100% of all electricity by the fact that there are clam days occasionally. Yes, sure, there are calm days, but I cannot imagine a day in which there's virtually no wind anywhere where these generators are placed. From my extremely cursory knowledge of the idea, I would posit that the energy is designed to be shared by everyone, and should be transmitted to a hub for distribution. As such, it wouldn't matter if there were clam days at some locations, the rest of the locations would pick up the slack (or at least, would be able to cover for it).

Of course, I think this is infeasible for other reasons.

Not many choices... (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431395)

Every joule of energy we get on the earth, without tapping geothermal sources, originally comes from the sun. The only question is which source is the most economically (from an energy standpoint) obtainable and environmentally sustainable.

Wind and sun to electric current seem to be the best bets, since they don't require any intermediate steps like biomass or super old biomass, also known as oil. Solar-thermal molten salt storage for overnight and cloudy weather with natural gas backups will probably be the winner for much of our electricity needs. Colder climates will rely on wind and geothermal differential generators.

The important thing is that we invest now in technologies that allow high efficiency transfers of electricity, because we're going to need to balance the load across the country. This, in combination with building efficiency improvements and abandoning the urban sprawl model, should have us well on our way to sustainability.

Re:Not many choices... (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431851)

I think everywhere I have ever lived was primarily powered by nuclear energy. Not everything has to come from the sun... and let's not forget the prospects of fission: mc^2 is a lot of energy.

Covering the planet with windmills may end up looking barbaric 100 years from now.

Re:Not many choices... (5, Insightful)

chuchmo (1013291) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431877)

Every joule of energy we get on the earth, without tapping geothermal sources, originally comes from the sun.

Not true; you forgot nuclear. Uranium and other heavy elements don't come from the sun. Sure, they came from a star, just not ours.

Re:Wind Could NOT Provide 100% of World Energy Nee (4, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431577)

Pumped storage, nanotech ultracapacitors, flywheels, fuel cells even will store energy for a calm day. If you have a fairly efficient electricity grid you won't even need to store that much because the chances are it will be windy in some place within reach.

On calm days the sun usually shines so photo voltaic cells come into play. Don't like those? just use solar concentrators or stirling engine-based solar panels, wave energy, put alternators into the stationary bikes at the local gym.

Of course the amount of energy required is greatly exaggerated these days because there are a lot of poorly insulated houses and an awful lot of people using incandescent lighting and 'wall warts' (and also wall marts) powering stand-by equipment are ubiquitous. It would be great if everyone had a 12v transformer providing power to 12v sockets around the house and maybe an ultracap that would store some energy so the transformer wouldn't be going all the time.

I'd go off the grid if i could. I kind of feel people have become overly dependent on electricity - one day I was in a shopping mall in London and a girl actually started screaming the second the power went out. I have a generator and a 600w invertor here but the last time the power went I didn't even bother using them

Hmmm interesting but not (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431107)

Right so this is assuming we put these rather large ugly things everywhere that hasn't already been greatly disturbed by people. I know they are excluding forests. but just because you don't have to cut down a tree doesn't mean it isn't a spot worth preserving.

Personaly I think that we really ought to build more nuclear power plants. Yes there is waste but overall it is fairly clean and cheap and would do more for preserving the environment and supplying electricity than this would.

Re:Hmmm interesting but not (1)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431419)

and there are ways to reduce the amount of waste: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor [wikipedia.org]

The OP is trying to solve a political problem with technical analysis. We have plenty of technology. We just don't have the mass political will yet. What will make the difference? When the undesirables are taxed so the desirable energy sources are competitve. When those tax revenues are used to fund research and production of nuclear, solar, and wind, we'll end up with cheap and clean power sooner than we think.

I wonder how long it would take... (5, Funny)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431109)

... to have a noticeable impact on the Coriolis force?

Re:I wonder how long it would take... (3, Informative)

Scott Carnahan (587472) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431691)

The basic answer is, "a really long time," because the main power source for the wind arises from the sun, rather than the rotational energy of the Earth. Tides leach much more rotational energy, and they've been at work for over 4 billion years.

Think of the birds! (1)

Mr.Bananas (851193) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431131)

Won't someone PLEASE think of the birds!!

Re:Think of the birds! (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431499)

The long term plan is to let evolution take its course. Eventually we'll be left with Ninja birds that have learned how to avoid wind turbine blades. These will then be put through further training to teach how to stop crapping on my car right after I've washed it.

Re:Think of the birds! (2, Funny)

guppysap13 (1225926) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431527)

I'm worrying about what they've got against birds. This will wreak absolute havoc on African Swallows migrating with their coconuts.

Energy has to come from somewhere... (4, Interesting)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431147)

The thing that always seems to concern me is this: is it possible for the large amount of energy pulled from the winds to change weather patterns even slightly? I know it sounds stupid, but could even a very slight change over the planet potentially have an impact? Perhaps it is safest that we diversify our energy production. So much wind, solar, atomic etc.

Re:Energy has to come from somewhere... (2, Insightful)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431437)

For "sustainable" (ie we have a long term supply that we can't imagine exhausting) non-fusion-based energy, we're pulling the energy out of the ecosystem regardless. Solar and wind have more or less the same impacts, albeit at different points in the cycle. Wind impacts are problem more friendly than solar simply because the cross-section is vertical and blocks very little sunlight, whereas solar is largely lateral and therefore can't be implemented where there's a significant amount of vegetation without massive non-energy-consuption-related impacts. If you're familiar with chaotic mathematics, you know it's almost certain that pulling increasing volumes of power out of the planet's energy will have significant impacts simply due to the fact that there are always going to be incalculable tipping points present in any complex system. We can't operate based on fear rather than knowledge. The world really is more complex than we can manage in any real sense. Doesn't mean we don't take care of the obvious things - global warming seems pretty clear-cut - but we can't cut ourselves off completely. Industry and citizen both need to become more efficient if possible, because that will mitigate the threat as effectively as switching sources, but switching sources still counts as a good option.

Re:Energy has to come from somewhere... (1)

lannocc (568669) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431589)

I have seriously wondered this as well, and have yet to see any significant studies in this area. Does anyone have any links on related research?

Answer (3, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431753)

2004 NIH study on this: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=526278 [nih.gov]

Ambiguous results. Naturally "they" confuse the results by suggesting that energy extracted offsets the energy increase caused by global warming, thus a small net change and happy bunnies everywhere.

My guess: pulling tens of terawatts of energy out of the atmosphere will effect the climate.

Call it Atmospheric Thermal Depletion, and credit me. :)

A more Viable option (5, Insightful)

exabrial (818005) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431175)

Nulcear YES Wind YES Oil YES Solar YES Coal YES Natural Gas YES Tidal YES There is no one size fits all people! You 'open minded' people need to open your minds to the real problems and solutions we already have available!

Re:A more Viable option (1)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431461)

Oil is one size fits none. We're pretty sure about this one at this point. Everyone wants it, because it's the "best" choice economically. What do you do if everyone wants what everyone cannot have? Solomon's choice, that.

Math (-1)

psyclone (187154) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431185)

researchers found that wind energy could not only supply all of the world's energy requirements, but it could provide over forty times the world's current electrical consumption and over five times the global use of total energy needs.

So which is it? Forty times or five times the world/globe's current energy use?

Re:Math (2, Informative)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431221)

Read it again. Forty times the electrical needs or five times the total energy needs.

Re:Math (1)

SpiderClan (1195655) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431253)

Both? There are many forms of energy that aren't electrical. I assume that for the most part, though, they're talking heating and transportation.

Re:Math (1)

psyclone (187154) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431511)

I see...

I guess IF other non-electrical energy sources could be converted to electricity, then this could work. Pretty close to impossible, but some people [betterplace.com] are trying.

Re:Math (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431263)

Our energy use isn't quantified solely by electricity. For example, oil use counts as energy use but oil is not electricity.

Re:Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431299)

I think they mean 40x the ELECTRICAL consumption, like the electricity you use in your house to power your computer, but 5x total consumption, like the gas we use in cars and to heat our homes.

tourism (4, Funny)

binarybum (468664) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431197)

And Holland's tourism industry would crash, I mean without the windmills, why would you want to go to the Netherlands... I mean isn't that what draws all those young folks to Amsterdam these days?

Re:tourism (-1, Redundant)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431303)

I thought it was the copious amounts of marijuana that made Amsterdam a compelling destination. LOL!

Offshore (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431199)

I've often thought that if it's economically viable to go to the trouble of all that engineering for offshore oil exploration, extraction and processing, surely it's viable to build vast offshore wind farms where there's plenty of room, plenty of wind, and no neighbours to object.

The world has a surplus of solar and wind power (0, Redundant)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431217)

Our reserves of this are so massive that we could easily provide the total global energy needs just from solar or wind in the USA alone.

Including the loss from storing said energy for transmission and usage.

That said, all energy sources have pros and cons. Some are extreme (nuclear,coal) but even the most benign source has impacts.

The same goes for tidal and geothermal.

But only oil, coal, and nuclear fission will likely lead to the extinction of our species due to the greed of the people involved.

Re:The world has a surplus of solar and wind power (2, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431295)

Please state your source of knowledge on nuclear power and the dangers of same.

Re:The world has a surplus of solar and wind power (0, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431507)

Please state your source of knowledge on nuclear power and the dangers of same.

ScienceDirect - many scientific peer-reviewed papers.

Plus the fact I did a TV show backed by research on all the energy sources in the 1980s.

Please state why you think we should become French.

Re:The world has a surplus of solar and wind power (2, Insightful)

fenring (1582541) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431729)

Please state your source of knowledge on nuclear power and the dangers of same.

I'm not an expert, but dont't nuclear power plants have the best output/waste ratio? Environmentaly speaking, isn't it better to have some radioactive waste than build a trilion plastic/metal/whatever wind turbines?

Re:The world has a surplus of solar and wind power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431415)

Sorry, greed also has it's part in wind power. Search around and you'll find out stuff about wind "bubbles" and other fun stuff.

PS: Unless some of the problems of wind and solar power are resolved quickly, nuclear is still the safer bet.

Sure... but... wow. Missing the point. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431219)

I mean, really, this kind of talk is nonsensical. The more we invest in such technologies the better, but how do exaggeration and fanciful claims help investors take the industry seriously?

How about start with "Less dependence on terrorist-funding nations" and go from there... Plenty compelling without the bullshit science fact afterthought.
 

business plan (0, Flamebait)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431225)

  1. assume all cities with more than 500,000 people in them are perfect spheres that are 1 meter in diameter
  2. assume there is wind all the time, except weekends and holidays
  3. assume we do not live in a petro-military dictatorship
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

We COULD do it (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431241)

but PMG, we would stop the wind! The environment would be destroyed! And birds! Won't someone think of the birds!

cheap wow gold (-1, Offtopic)

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All we need now (1, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431251)

is a cost effective wind turbine design. Sheesh.

I live in Australia and we use coal. This is not even slightly environmentally responsible. In an effort to placate the greenies the government has been looking into clean coal and co2 sequestration. The general opinion of the green movement is that "clean coal" is an oxymoron and co2 sequestration is "just burying the problem". Wind and solar are continually touted as a realistic solution. They are not. If you were to ban coal, they say, wind and solar would be the only option so it would obviously grow. So long as you maintained our current ban on nuclear of course. Oh, and ban burning oil. This is nonsense. The result would simply be that the cost of power would go through the roof and all our industry would shut down. The economy would go into the toilet and that would raise the real cost of power to even higher, and the demand would go down even more. By the end of the year we'd be all living in dirt huts.

But, ya know, reality.. never let it get in the way of an indignant cause.

Re:All we need now (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431903)

In what way is solar not an option in Australia? We have HUGE amounts of unused land with high solar irradiation year round. Large scale solar-thermal with molten salt energy storage plants will provide more energy that you can use 24/7 if scaled up. The technology is here, it is proven, and environmentally responsible.

Energy storage? (5, Interesting)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431261)

This article doesn't mention anything about mass energy storage. Without that, if we try to increase wind's share of power generation too much, it'll destabilize the grid (I've heard figures of 20-30% for this previously, but can't find a convenient reference).

Has anything panned out on that front? (i.e. been cheap enough for wide-scale use?) Pumped-storage hydro [wikipedia.org] , Sodium-sulfur batteries [wikipedia.org] , etc?

Re:Energy storage? (1)

wd40 (157441) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431619)

This article doesn't mention anything about mass energy storage

Already solved by the Better Place [wikipedia.org] people, there's nothing more to add than "do it".

The usual comment... (5, Funny)

MWoody (222806) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431285)

Let's fill the world with gigantic metal spinning blades suspended hundreds of feet in the air. What could possibly go wrong?

Best Idea Ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431305)

Harnessing the wind in such high quantities will have absolutely no unexpected effects on any environmental issues whatsoever.

Seriously, I'd bet that fossil fuels are probably a better (less bad?) idea, ecologically speaking.

40 times what we currently use? So what? (1)

typidemon (729497) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431313)

Is it just me or isn't that very impressive? If global power consumption continues growing at 7% p/a then in just 50 years we'll the wind power that we're talking about here will be almost tapped out.

I think we're missing the point here... (4, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431317)

From TFA: "despite these limitations, it is clear that wind power could make a significant contribution to the demand for electricity"

I don't think they're saying that the would should be entirely wind-powered. They're pointing out that there's so much untapped wind power that we should stop thinking about wind power as only a minor source of energy and invest more toward developing the resource.

Forget the birds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431331)

The problem isn't birds. Newer turbines rotate much more slowly then the old ones (which resembled Cuisinarts). Most birds can easily avoid the larger slower blades that these new turbines.

The problem is the transmission. Right now companies like First Solar claim to be able to produce electricity for less cost than coal? The problem is, the deserts don't have power lines to get the power out.

Oh and cover the world with wind turbines? You think global warming is a problem? What do you think will happen if we lower air flow around the world by say... 30%?

interesting (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431335)

While I don't believe deploying wind farms all over the damn place is the best solution, this study does demonstrate that there's a ton of energy out there waiting to be used. We need a mixture of many different sources of energy: some wind, some solar, maybe nuclear, some hamsters on wheels, etc. We have options.

News From Slashdot 2029 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431369)

Scientists confirmed today that Global Slowing is real. After years of speculation, it's now been confirmed that our harnessing of wind power for our energy needs is slowing the Earth down, and within a matter of decades, the Earth will come to a complete stop. Scientists are currently unsure whether this Global Slowing can be reversed, but some have proposed using fossil fuels to create artificial wind to help the Earth keep moving.

Cost? $$ and practicality? (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431385)

Sure, wind could do it. So could solar, if we spot a shitload of solar cells all over the world cover a decent portion of it.

But is it practical? It seems like people are perfectly fine dismissing "clean" coal (aka carbon sequestration) as a pipe dream, technology doesn't exist, etc., and then turning around and throwing scheme's like these out there as perfectly reasonable.

Re:Cost? $$ and practicality? (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431575)

Building a wind turbine is proven, and cost effective. "Clean coal" or as we call it in real life, bullshit, has yet to be proven as either successful or economically viable. The faster we drive a stake through coal's heart, the better.

Re:Cost? $$ and practicality? (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431723)

Yeah, but we do not have an infinite coal ressource, but solar resource seems infinite (Of course it is not, but we will have worse problem to deal with at this time).

This may be the Year of Linux on the Desktop. (0, Offtopic)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431387)

Or not. Every so often, the blogosphere erupts in furious exchanges on the subject, with the Pollyanna set trilling 'This is the Year!' and the Eeyore types giving Linux on the Desktop about the same odds as the Cubs winning the World Series. But wait -- summer's just beginning!

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, summer is unofficially here. What better way to celebrate than with another rousing "Year of Linux on the desktop" debate?!

Sure enough -- it may be an oldie, but it's clearly a goodie, and in recent days, bloggers far and wide have been ready and willing to entertain the question again.

In fact, two such topics have dominated the Linux blogs lately, and they're inherently related. First came the well-worn question of whether Linux needs marketing Click here to get the Free Email Design No-No's Guide from Lyris -- includes the top 10 things you need to know., a topic that was kicked off when Danijel Orsolic noted that "Linux is not an OS."

"Good luck with that," quipped tuxchick on LXer, leading to more than 100 lively comments.
'Marketing Fail'

Orsolic went on to argue that because Linux is not an OS, attempting to sell it as such causes "Marketing Fail." That conversation, in turn, intensified when H. Kwint asserted that "Linux doesn't need marketing," spawning a fresh round of debate.

A few days later, that good ol' "year of" debate surfaced apparently independently --almost like the Swine Flu, one might say -- in multiple spots throughout the blogosphere, where many -- and we mean *many* -- bloggers succumbed to the urge to have their say on the matter yet another time.

Carla Schroder of Linux Today began by asking, "When will it really be the year of Linux?" Almost 40 comments followed on that site before it was picked up on LXer as well.
'It Will Never Be the Year'

Meanwhile, Thomas King asserted on LXer that "It will never be the year of the Linux desktop," sparking another joint round of spirited comments there.

Around the same time, however, Slashdot bloggers were pondering a published list of reasons "Why Linux is not (yet) ready for the desktop" -- to the tune of more than 1,300 comments there.

Some questions just can't be debated too much, especially if you're a Linux geek! We here at LinuxInsider felt we had no choice but to take to the proverbial streets for more.
'There Is a Disincentive'

"Of course GNU/Linux needs marketing as in advertising, publishing, spreading the good news," blogger Robert Pogson told LinuxInsider by email. "It does not necessarily need someone planning to make money from GNU/Linux to do that, but advertising is expensive so the two are usually connected."

An ad "showing off some good features and advantages of GNU/Linux could indeed bring in customers, but the retailers/OEMs already get loot from M$ for pushing their stuff, so there is a disincentive for established merchants to push GNU/Linux," Pogson noted. "It will have to be someone big enough to stand up to M$ -- like IBM (NYSE: IBM) More about IBM or Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) More about Google --or it will have to be a smallish outfit with nothing much to lose in the way of business connected with M$."

Only in the netbook realm has GNU/Linux been able to compete with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) More about Microsoft on price and quality, "and that is because there is not a big enough price to hide all the slush the suppliers and M$ have been dividing up all these years," Pogson added. "Now consumers will be aware of the M$ tax. Before long, M$ will have to cut prices everywhere and they will no longer have the slush to bribe the market."
'It Does Need More Visibility'

On the other hand: "I don't think Linux needs to be 'marketed' in the traditional sense of marketing," tjonnyc999, an Internet marketing consultant and Slashdot blogger, told LinuxInsider via email. "It does need more visibility and to be 'de-stigmatized,' or cleared from the overtones of being the 'weird' system of choice for 'geeks and hackers' -- not brought into the mainstream, but accepted as an equal."

Then, once Linux's virtues are exposed to a particular individual, "they do the marketing for themselves," he explained.

Indeed, the "marketing Linux" posts "tend to miss the fact that there is actually a great deal of Linux marketing going on, either on the distro or service provider level," Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, told LinuxInsider in another email message. "I don't think that 'Linux' can be marketed in a central manner because the Linux community is not organized to do this, but there is a lot of decentralized marketing going on."
More Harm Than Good?

Whether the net effect of that decentralization is good, however, may not be so clear.

"Linux has always been 'viral,' and while that's probably great, hasn't it hurt Linux more than it helped it so far?" wondered Slashdot blogger Badpazzword in an email to LinuxInsider. "A lot of the FUD I read so far about Linux are install nightmares from 2000ish; those stories are viral too."

Either way, the statement that Linux 'needs more or better marketing' "implies that Linux is competing with Windows and MacOS for desktop dominance," tjonnyc999 added. "This is both untrue and unfair. Linux is both 'free as in beer' and 'free as in liberty,' so it's not competing with the mainstream OSs on either the price point or its core philosophy and intended purpose."

We also "don't know what distros will be around tomorrow, so it will help to keep everything as one family should a new distro manage to be better than the current lot," Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack added. "Most marketing involves simplifying the message and not making it more complex."
'Not Ready for Prime Time'

But when will it be The Year??

"At the present time, it's a bit silly to talk about the 'Year of Linux on the desktop,' because it's not ready for prime time yet," tjonnyc999 said. "Linux is ideal for power users, but until the majority of hardware vendors can be relied on to release stable Linux drivers, until the software publishers expand the selection of business-oriented software, and until the differences between the multiple distributions are resolved, it's not going to be the first choice of the vast majority of casual users."

That said, "Linux does not need to be 'in prime time'," he added. "Surely, it's nice to think about the end of the Evil MicroApplesoft Empire and imagine the day when everyone will throw off the chains and dance happily under the bright sunshine of the One True Distro, complete with 100 percent hardware drivers and slick GUI... but the reality is that the vast bulk of users out there are not ready, not willing, and do not have the time to RTFM and configure kernel options from the command line."

Trying to force the current realities of Linux onto "this un-ready user base is a recipe for trouble," he warned. "Let the power users and developers continue to support and improve the system. Let the evangelists spread the word, and let early-adopter business users lead by example. Those who have the mental capacity, the need and the time to understand what Linux has to offer will convert."
'I Would Love to See a Giant Billboard'

Of course, once converted, "there is no going back to the expensive, unreliable, closed-in reality of the MicroAppleSoft Matrix," tjonnyc999 added. "It will take time, but eventually Linux will crush the Windows/Apple duopoly just as surely as a glacier will move a mountain."

One thing that would help hasten the process, in fact, would be for major industry players to start integrating Linux into their marketing, he pointed out.

"I would love to see a giant billboard in Times Square, advertising the latest (US)$600 cell phone, with a little slogan in the corner along the lines of, 'Imagined by Samsung More about Samsung // Powered by Linux'. This would go a long way toward de-stigmatizing Linux in the eyes of the mainstream users."

Indeed, "the melting point for Linux-based operating systems will happen once Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) More about Wal-Mart and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) More about Best Buy start carrying PCs loaded with Ubuntu or Mandriva or Fedora, and not just low-cost subnotebooks or a token offering that they don't promote," Damian Yerrick, a Slashdot blogger based in Fort Wayne, Ind., told LinuxInsider. "Ubuntu on Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) More about Dell N series PCs is a start, but it isn't promoted either, and a lot of people are still afraid of mail order."
'I Think We Will See Slow Growth'

Whether there even is such a thing as 'desktop Linux' is far from clear, Travers noted: "There are many different desktop roles, and Linux is better at some of these than others."

Overall, the problem with the idea that there will be a 'year of Linux on the desktop' is that "it supposes that suddenly Linux will break through and suddenly become a major player -- I don't think this is likely," he opined. "Instead, agreeing with the LXer post, I think we will see slow growth into some areas of desktop use, and then gradual expansion. This will happen slowly over the course of years or decades."

At the same time, there may be a time when we will see a "year of" in a more limited sense, Travers added. "I think that we will eventually see a consortium of computer hardware vendors come together to build a desktop Linux distro for their customers' use. At that point we can consider Linux to have 'broken through' the main barriers, but that time is fairly far off for a number of reasons."
'Linux Is a Support Nightmare'

Others saw it differently.

"The reason it will never be 'the year of the Linux desktop' is actually quite simple: follow the money," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet told LinuxInsider via email. "As my dad always says, you can learn a lot about someone's true motives by following the money. And the simple fact is, all the money being spent on Linux is being spent on server and not desktop support."

Specifically, "Red Hat and Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL) More about Novell and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) More about Oracle and all the other major corps that actually spend money to develop Linux drivers don't care about the desktop; all they care about is the server," he explained. "So the vast majority of hardware Joe and Jane consumer are going to find in retail stores doesn't work. This is why Linux is a support nightmare for retailers."

In order for there to be a "year of the Linux desktop," Linux aficionados need to do several things, hairyfeet asserted:

        * "Demand a stable ABI that makes writing drivers for Linux easier than writing drivers for Windows."
        * "Reach out to the hardware manufacturers and offer free labor and expertise."
        * "Make a serious effort to make damned sure that EVERYTHING in Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) More about Staples 'just works'."
        * "Make a serious effort to reach out to all the small Mom & Pop shops like mine to help build a nationwide Linux repair and support network like what Windows and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) More about Apple currently enjoy."

Failing that? "I'm afraid Linux will remain a niche for programmers and others with IT experience," he concluded.
'This Is the Year'

Finally, an upbeat view: "Those who claim it will never be the 'Year of GNU/Linux' should wake up and smell the roses," Pogson asserted. "There is fresh air out there."

This is the year, in fact, "because everything is going right for GNU/Linux," he added. "Netbooks are on fire all over the world at prices from $100 to $500, and children/women/geeks/youth love them because they are small, cute, cheap and they work.

"Business has rejected Vista, and is seriously examining GNU/Linux," he continued, and "thin clients continue to grow and live long."

In short, "this is the year when GNU/Linux cannot be ignored, laughed at or fought -- we are winning," Pogson concluded. "Even M$ is advertising for GNU/Linux by raising their prices and recommending against migrating to Vista. It doesn't get much better than that."

An interesting counter-article (5, Informative)

dougsyo (84601) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431409)

I was looking for a quote about "open mouth, change feet" - completely unrelated to this topic - just a few moments ago, and ran across this post that really fits:

http://papundits.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/salazars-wind-power-first-open-mouth-then-change-feet/ [wordpress.com]

The summary of the numbers in that article (replacing US coal-burning plants with offshore east coast windmills):

So, we have, just for the towers nacelles and fans:
- A workforce of 170,000 people, just to work at the plants to construct them.
- 120 huge factories to construct.
- Wind towers every 375 feet for the whole length of the Atlantic Coastline and stacked 38 rows deep.
- Construct those towers, nacelles and fans at the rate of one every 8 minutes for 40 years, in the Atlantic Ocean.
- $10.4 Trillion in today's dollars (conservatively).

It gets more ludicrous than that, when you consider continental shelf, keeping shipping lanes open, etc.

Admitted, adding on-shore windmills would be more doable, but still - it is quite pricey and impractical.

Doug

Re:An interesting counter-article (5, Insightful)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431825)

Large industries operate with those kind of numbers all the time. How many power plants have been constructed over the years, and what did it cost?

The worldwide auto industry produces roughly 50 million cars a year [worldometers.info] . That works out to ~1.6 per second. Scary statements like "OMG We have to make one every EIGHT MINUTES" are peanuts to large-scale industrial production: we make cars roughly 750 times faster than you're saying we'd need to build turbines.

Wind towers every 375 feet for the whole length of the Atlantic Coastline and stacked 38 rows deep

The aesthetic impact of that is the only part of your post that gives me any concern. The rest is perfectly doable.

Re:An interesting counter-article (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431865)

If we stop wasting money blowing up Iraq we've already found 10% of the money that is needed...

What happens when it breaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431427)

A broken wind would be a stinky situation to be caught in.

But... (2, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#28431665)

What will lubricate the turbine bearings?

how will we paint the machines?

how will be mine the materials that go into these things?

how will we make the fiberglas?

without oil?

RS

100% wind power is certainly possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28431699)

especially if everybody starts eating a lot of beans.

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